A New Year; Full of Concern
March 21, 2012 by Editor
From Editor’s Desk- Shahrokh Ahkami – Issue 65, Spring 2012
The 17th year of Persian Heritage begins with Norouz. My staff and I are so grateful to all of you, who have kept this magazine alive with your support. We thank you. I also want to personally thank my staff, who continue to donate their time to Persian Heritage. Their goal, as is the goal of this magazine, is to continue keeping the culture and traditions of Persia alive for generations to follow.
Should we or shouldn’t we do a preemptive strike on Iran’s alleged uranium enrichment centers?
This is the question on the front page of every newspaper and magazine, the lead story of every news program, the main topic on television political programs and I am certain in most households. Basically the percentage of those in favor of the attack is 51%- 53%.
Recently, I was on the Voice of America site. They were discussing the imminent attack on Iran. I was shocked to hear that 49% of Persian speaking people were in favor of the attack, 42% against and 7% undecided. Of course these statistics were gathered from Persian speaking people outside of Iran. It is doubtful that those residing in Iran would support any aggression and I was shocked to read that the 49% in favor of an attack were made up of Iranian Diaspora, I guess still hoping that a successful attack would permit them to return to Iran. Is it possible for such selfishness to exist among us? On the other hand, maybe they cannot help but feel this way. After all, the headlines are trying to convince the public on the necessity of this attack, for western protection and preservation of world peace. Add to this, the hard headedness of Iranian politicians, baiting the west, makes an attack inevitable.
Not long ago the same public preparation, for an attack on Iraq, took place in the United States. For months prior to the invasion, there were campaigns to convince the public that the invasion of Iraq was necessary. Saddam Hussein, we were told, possessed “weapons of mass destruction” and that if we did not preemptively destroy them, this “mad man” would use them on his enemies.
But, one has to ask, did Saddam Hussein wish to destroy himself? This of course is what would have happened if he used a WMD? The answer is, probably NO. Yet, he continued antagonizing the west with verbal bantering and idol threats. His actions, along with the Iranian counterpart leaders, during the Iran-Iraq war led to the death and injury of over 500,000 of his people and the death of over 1 million Iranians. Eventually his puffery caused his embarrassing demise. To date people in Iraq, who fought in the name of freedom, continue to lose their lives to bullets, bombs and mines.
Destruction, which results from the wind of threats such as Saddam’s, leaves, like a tornado, mass destruction and death of the innocent. A tornado, however, and its destruction brings people together while the destruction resulting by idol threats, further alienates nations and in the end results in greater separation and destruction.
It seems as if it is now Iran’s turn to face “the music of war.” The anti Iran campaigns strengthen support and sadly some Iranian Diaspora have joined. It is my sincere hope that everyone understands that war with Iran will result in more than just the destruction of alleged nuclear power installments, more than the deaths and injuries to the Iranian people and more than physical destruction. IT WILL RESULT IN THE DIVISION OF IRAN, as was done to Yugoslavia. With that division comes the end of Persian history and culture.
Thirty three years ago Iran had a revolution. With it, the people believed that they would be given the freedoms of speech, press and equality. Sadly, this has not happened. I am frightened that not much time remains for their DREAMS to become a reality. WHEN will these leaders of Iran recognize their bantering, like Saddam’s, is compromising the future of its people. Your people look up to you for guidance and strength and what is returned to them is starvation, imprisonment and the possible of the destruction of their borders. WHY? It certainly cannot be in God’s name.
On February 26, 2012, I watched the Academy Awards. Sandra Bullock presented the award for Best Foreign Film. After she read the nominations, I watched her open the envelope. Like a surgeon, she carefully undid the flap and read Mr. Farhadi’s name. My mind wanted me to stand up, cheer and clap. It was my heart, however, that ruled. With its beats increasing, my wife and I sat together and cried.
Mr. Farhadi, unlike other winners of the prestigious award, did not spring to his feet with excitement and childlike joy. He walked graciously towards the stage. He knew the world was watching and waiting to hear his words. He knew that this would be the most important speech of his entire life. He knew that he did not stand before the Academy as one individual. He knew he stood in front of them as a representative of an entire nation. Slowly he took out some papers and began to speak. What others have been unable to accomplish through articles, debates, parades etc. he accomplished in a few short sentences. In his soft, sincere voice he educated the world on Iran and Iranian people, “I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilization and despise hostility and resentment.”
As the camera swept through the audience to capture reactions, it was clear that the academy was certain they made the correct choice. Even the competition of the category, which included a film from Israel, Mr. Farhadi’s “so called enemy,” was proud of his artistic achievement and words.
The “alleged” hatred between the United States, Israel and Iran exists only as a result of those in power. The people of these nations, out of the hands of politics, truly and not rhetorically, know the true bond of friendship that has existed between them. In the case of Israel 2500 years of friendly relations, relations where both sides came to the aide of each other in their darkest hours. Politicians do little to educate the public on the acts of friendship between these nations. Instead, they repeat the same political rhetoric of hatred.
Perhaps these leaders are not aware themselves. How many know that the Iranians were one of the first nations to offer condolences to the U.S. and the victims of September 11, 2001 and have mourned them every anniversary? How many know that Queen Esther was the first Jewish Queen in the world and was the Queen of Persi? How many know that the Prophet Daniel was the Prime Minister of the Persian Empire? How many know that Abdol-Hossein Sardari (like what the Christian Shindler did in Poland) saved thousands of Jews from extinction by issuing them Iranian passports? How many know that Cyrus the Great helped the Jews return to Israel and that Iran remains the largest home to Jews in the Middle East outside of Israel and Turkey?
We can no longer continue to allow leaders, hoping for reelection, to influence people’s values. It is time for all of us to educate ourselves through books and conversations, rather than take for face value what we see and hear in political campaigns and slanted media.
U.S. military ships and personnel rescued Iranian soldiers and vessels from the Persian Gulf. They welcomed and cared for them. Yet, in the future they may be targets of each other’s wrath. I FIND THIS CONFUSING. During the time of an earthquake or other deadly act of nature we all rally around each other, to save those buried under rubble, hungry from starvation or cold from exposure only to perhaps kill them during an act of war. I FIND THIS CONFUSING. And, politicians who wish to deprive people from basic freedoms or implement sanctions all in the name of a vote, I FIND CONFUSING. BUT people choosing peace over war IS NOT CONFUSING. We are the majority and if given the same coverage in the media as the minority who seek war, PEACE could rule the world.
As we enter into the 17th year of the existence of Persian Heritage I ask we join together and call for our leaders to stop their madness. Let them know that their terms in office will end, but what they do during that term impact a nation and its people for a very long time. But I fear the foundations are being weakened by the rhetoric of its leaders.
I pray that, before I pass on, I will see peace for Iran, and the people of the world. Over the past 16 years keeping this magazine and its goals alive has not been an easy task. I make a promise to you that I will continue my efforts until no longer possible. I do this out of love for all of you, and the future of our Persian heritage and culture. I hope that the world will be able to share the sweet smell of freedom.