Friday, February 20, 2009

Iranians welcome respectful behavior

Foreign Policy Journal - Kourosh Ziabari: Prof. William O. Beeman is the head of anthropology department at the University of Minnesota. His inimitable and unprecedented approach toward the current affairs of Iran, one of the most controversial countries of the world, resembles the attitude of Noam Chomsky in terms of perspective and mindset and has cost him his reputation, professional credit.

Regrettably, he was insulted and attacked by a number of American mainstream media and fanatic neoconservatives over the past years and even his academic colleagues blamed him for what they called his support for the main pivot of the "axis of evil".

Prof. Beeman, who speaks the Persian language fluently, believes that Iranian people should not be treated with disdain and arrogance as their ancient superiority and historical backgrounds causes them to be impervious toward the hostile rhetoric and inimical literature.

He says that it's not justifiable with any conscious and knowledgeable mind to allow Israel to accumulate an arsenal of 200 atomic warheads while putting lethal pressure on Iran to suspend its civilian nuclear program.

Passing a few days of the anniversary of Iranian Revolution, I talked to Prof. Beeman on a variety of Iran-involved topics including the media propaganda, nuclear dossier and the prospect of revolution.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Iran and 1979: The Revolution of Aspirations

Turkish Weekly Journal - Kourosh Ziabari: For the Iranian people, the 10th of February which annually corresponds with the solar date of 22nd of Bahman in the Persian calendar is not merely the reminiscence of pouring into the streets and chanting the traditional, familiar anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans. "22nd of Bahman" which is the horizon of "Ten-day dawn" reminds Iranian adults, grandmothers and grandfathers of the heroic saga which they composed 30 years ago under the supervision of the most charismatic leader of the century, the late Imam Khomeini.

To 14 millions of Iranians living under the poverty threshold in the descending years to 1979, it was not palatable to crash out in the slums of Tehran's suburb and witness the marches of Imperial Guards of Mohammad-Reza Shah before the Sa'dabad Palace; the most magnificent royal citadel of the Middle East at that time.

To 14 millions of needy Iranians who should have spent their nights scrambling for the regular daily meals and a very piece of meat, it was indigestible to witness the consignments of French champagne and Italian mutton berthing in the anchorages of Persian Gulf to be departed toward Tehran for the sumptuous dinner parties of Carter and Kissinger with the members of Royal family.

However and so forth, the unpopular, undemocratic government of Shah which was pushed to the verge of collapse thanks to its own suicidal policies was gradually turning the matchless, ancient Cradle of Civilization into the marionette of USA and its European allies in the region.

The dominance of American forces over the national companies, organizations, communities and assets of Iranian government which was started under Reza Shah and continued during the shuddering tenure of his son, soon turned Iran into the colonial state of U.S. and Israel in the Middle East, undermined the national pride of Iranian nation and divested the people from equal living opportunities.

A renowned Iranian historian, Dr. Khosrow Mo'tazed, once revealed in a program broadcast by the Channel 2 of Iranian TV in 2008 that over two third of Iran's Finance and Properties Ministry staffs were American or Briton brokers who had been employed in the last 5 years of Mohammad-Reza's kingdom. He had asserted that except the Minister himself, all of the high-ranking officials were Americans, even the deputy minister.

The American-backed coup d'etat of 1953 which under the direction of CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. lead to the overthrow of democratically-elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh was another cause of excessive flames of anti-Shah sentiments in the last years leading to the revolution. The coupe resulted to a grievous deposition of Dr. Mossadegh and the replacement of General Fazlollah Zahedi.

People believed that Shah's inability to control the country, his reluctance to allow the free flow of information in the mass media, his frequent demands for the suppressions of demonstrators and freedom advocates, forming the underground prisons and incarcerating the journalists, intellectuals and opposition proponents which were all emanated from his despotic manner and complacent deportment prepared the grounds for the establishment of an overthrowing coalition against the popular government of Dr. Mossadegh and the admission of Anglo-American agents in the dossier.

However, the rise of a plain and austere cleric in the late 1950s who first sparked the flares of anti-Capitalism and dared to criticize the invincible hegemony of U.S. such harshly revived the hopes for a new ascendance in the oppressed hearts of the subjugated Iranians who were jostling for their own independence, self-determination and lost ethics.

Imam Khomeini, who was soon put into the exile for his sever and uncensored criticism of Shah's regime and encouraging the masses to civil unrest, traversed three countries i.e. Iraq, Turkey and France in less than 10 years and finally managed to spearhead the revolution from the tiny commune of Neauphle-le-Château, northern France and without having any tangible access to the inside of Iran.

Interestingly, he was neither equipped with any special or extraordinary munitions nor possessed the military troops or arsenals to overthrow the autocratic government by force. He organized the movement of Iranian people solely through words, sentences and gestures and captivated the Islamic world by his unique, exceptional catchphrases. The fervent generation of Iranian youth who were geared up biddably to track on every single point of his fingers also committed all of the possible sacrifices to fulfill the decrees of their alluring leader and even bargained their lives purely; 3164 martyrs in the period between the civil insurgencies of spring 1963 and the final breakthrough of 1979 prove the veraciousness of the claim.

The country, anyhow, is now approaching the fourth decade of theocratic government with its own ups and downs. As the concept of absoluteness does not make sense anymore and the "relativity" is what the cooperative societies look for robustly, it's not rational to claim that Iran could accomplish the aspirations of the founder of revolution, and realize the perspectives which he had sketched for the future of country thoroughly. However, it should be confessed that Iran is now deemed an influential hub in the regional and international developments, and it would not be flattering if one claims that Iran is a superpower in the 21st century.

From a mere consumer and user in the late twentieths, Iran is now changed into a major producer and exporter. Having self-sufficient in the production of agricultural corps, Iran manufactures its national car brands, possess the world's largest gas field and the world's 3rd largest oil refineries, launches its domestic satellite and stands 17th in the world ranking of GDP estimates for 2009, passing Australia, the Netherlands, South Africa and Switzerland.

The swiftness of scientific productivity and inventions of Iran is the highest among all of the Islamic countries, and it has got lot to say in all fields of sports, culture, arts, economy and politics. Indispensably, it suffers from its own political and economic deficiencies and short-comings, but what matters is the volition of its own people. They want to improve their quality of life, their freedoms and their portrayal in the mass media themselves, decide on their own and never reiterate the appalling days of invasion and colonization. That's what makes their revolution respectful and prestigious.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Iran’s nuclear program is perfectly legal: U.S. researcher

Tehran Times Political Desk - Kourosh Ziabari: Stephen Lendman is a research associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization based in Canada. 

He holds a master degree in journalism from Harvard and is a co-writer of The Iraq Quagmire: The Price of Imperial Arrogance. 

Kourosh Ziabari conducted an interview with Mr. Lendman for the Tehran Times in which he discusses Western media outlets’ anti-Iranian and pro-Israeli bias and the corporate media’s one-sided coverage of the Zionist regime’s merciless attack on Gaza. Following is an excerpt of the interview: 

Q: In your view, what is the reason for the Unites States’ double standards toward the Iranian nuclear program? 

A: America’s relationship with Iran is long and disturbing going back to the 1953 CIA coup against Mohammad Mossadegh. It was the agency’s first one ever, followed by decades of more, assassinating foreign leaders, and all the rest. A true rogue operation that reins terror against America’s enemies, generally posing no threat whatever to us or anyone else. 

As for relations today, I see no change whatever under Obama. Talk about negotiating or conciliation is meaningless. Washington doesn’t negotiate. It demands and unless it gets compliance will stop at nothing to get its way. So against Iran there have been repeated rounds of sanctions and threats of war. Over what? Iran is remaining out of America’s orbit of influence and it’s commercial nuclear program is perfectly legal. Iran signed the NPT and as far as it’s known, is in compliance. Yet it’s an enemy. In contrast, Israel, India, and Pakistan signed nothing, have nuclear weapons, and are nuclear outlaws. No problem with Washington or the West because they’re valued allies. 

Q: It is said that public opinion in the West is manufactured by the media, to such an extent that most people believe whatever is presented to them. What do you think? 

A: I absolutely agree for the most part, but growing numbers of Americans are getting fed up with what our dominant media call news and information. Yet, too many still rely on them and their morning newspapers and major magazines like Time and Newsweek, BBC, and National Public Radio here as well, that are seen as acceptable alternatives, when they’re just as corrupted as the others. 

Another factor here is important. People are largely apathetic, too preoccupied in their daily lives; their work, families, and various distractions and interests; sports, films, shopping, and so forth. Even when they’re angry about things, it’s just talk, no action. So for a time we got anti-war protests, including in Chicago where I live, but to no avail; an hour or two of sounding off, then going home to business as usual. Without follow-through, it’s futile. Iraq and Afghanistan are still occupied, and no one even talks about them anymore. 

Public anger over Israel’s Gaza war is encouraging. It’s greater than anything previously I remember. But to have effect, it’s vital to keep the resonance, momentum going, day after day, and have it grow to a global mass effort to demand governments act to stop this business, not keep supporting it. A huge job, like for me climbing Mt. Everest. But it has to be done, and I’m hopeful about that. The problem is too few others will join me. 

Q: Mr. Lendman, what do you make of the Western media’s coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza? 

A: Very sadly and disturbingly, the major media in America and the West disdain truth and provide undisguised support for Israel, whatever its governments do. So slaughtering Gazans is “self-defense” because “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Imagine the absurdity. Israel has the world’s fourth most powerful military. At best, Palestinians are lightly armed. They respond only when attacked, never as an aggressor or terrorist, yet the media portray them that way, and, in the 1990s, the U.S. State Department listed Hamas as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” even though it’s nothing of the sort. Today, it’s the most democratically elected government in the Middle East. In contrast, Israel is nothing of the sort. It’s a racist apartheid state in which Arab citizens have no rights. 

Q: How do Western media outlets justify the fact that they have been either deafeningly silent on the Gaza massacre or significantly downplayed it? 

A: Indeed so, on how the dominant media cover everything related to Israel, whatever its actions, regardless of how egregious. Israel can do no wrong. Poor Israel, surrounded by hordes of hostile Arabs and Iranians just waiting for a chance to pounce. It’s laughable, but people believe it, and the idea gets repeated day in and out. Also the notion of Islamic “terrorists”. It’s not new. I remember it back when I was a boy and saw Arabs portrayed that way in films -- in the 1940s before Israel became a state. Now it’s a tsunami against Islam, independent Middle Eastern states, a democratically elected government like Hamas, and anyone that Washington or Israel calls an enemy, a threat or whatever. 

It’s very sad and why America and Israel get away with murder repeatedly. We call naked aggression against defenseless opponents “self-defense” and protecting “national security”. Amazing how propaganda gets people to believe this and shows how fundamentally ignorant and indifferent the public is. The challenge is how to change this. I work at it every day but need millions more involved. 

Q: How can we counter the hegemony of the Western media? 

A: There most certainly are ways to combat the dominant media. The Internet overall and important web sites like Global Research play a vital role. Also, online radio programs like The Global Research News Hour and organizations like Project Censored that promotes vital news stories that get suppressed in the mainstream; your country’s Press TV as well. We have nothing like it reaching a mass audience. 

These and much more are antidotes to the poisonous influence of CNN, Fox, The New York Times, BBC, our National Public Radio, and all the others. It’s an uphill battle. They reach mass audiences. We attract small numbers but hopefully in time more people will rely on us, not them. I like to say that the way to defeat the dominant media is to ignore them. Against that, they’re defenseless. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Aberrations of Bush undermined US

Kourosh Ziabari - Froeign Policy Journal: Andy Worthington is a British investigative journalist and historian. His recent book "The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison" is a key resource of information for those who want to have a collection of detailed dossiers of Guantanamo captives, their nationalities, family background and the illegal excuses for which they had been jailed.

He has opened up several cases to investigate the terrible and heart-rending methods of torturing which the prisoners of America's undergrounds jails have been subject to during the tenure of George Bush.

He has also unveiled that Dick Cheney, the then-Vice President of U.S was a prominent accomplice of the criminal treatments with teenager prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, such as Mohammed El-Gharani, the 14-years old Saudi boy who spent one-third of his life in the custody of America and has been persecuted in the most humiliating and shameful manners.

In an exclusive interview, Andy Worthington revealed that Guantanamo prison is now an international cage with detainees from 47 countries who are mainly put there without any habeas corpus, trial or official charge.

Interview with Prof. Wayne O'Neil

Kourosh Ziabari - Asian EFL Journal: Language, whether deemed a communicative tool of transmitting the individual purposes in a communal interaction or a conceptual matter which should be looked at through sociocultural aspects, is fundamentally vital to explore its complexities, intricacies and reflective contradictions.

Aside from the applicative usages, clarification in the theoretical study of language is something that needs the exchange of dissimilar, disparate and distinct viewpoints, and this importance becomes underscored when one attempts to look at the matter of language from the spectacle of EFL.

Second language learners, particularly those who consider English as worthwhile enough to be their second tongue of communication and social engagement, regardless of the omnipotent pervasiveness of this hyper-international language, usually stumble upon cognitive and reflective complexities and even standoffs.

In order to understand these matters from an academic viewpoint, we interviewed 
Prof. Wayne O'Neil , Professor of Linguistics, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Prof. O'Neil received his Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin in 1960, published books and scholarly articles including:-

La lengua: El último de los prejucios, entervista con Wayne O’Neil. Zorros y erizos 2, 8, 1997.
Ebonics in the media, Radical Teacher 54, 13-17. 1998.
Linguistics for everyone -- a plenary session lecture. On-line proceedings of the 1998 meetings of the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia and the Australian Linguistics Society ( ). Brisbane: The University of Queensland. 1998.
(with Alec Marantz and Yasushi Miyashita) Image, language, brain. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 2000.
(with Maya Honda), Understanding first and second language acquisitionSanta Fe NMIndigenous Language Institute, 2004.
(with Maya Honda) Developing materials and activities for language teaching. Santa Fe NM: Indigenous Language Institute. 2008.
(with Maya Honda) Thinking linguistically. Malden MA and Oxford UK: Wiley-Blackwell

Continues here

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Un Irán diferente

Kourosh Ziabari
traducido por Beatriz Valerio

La imagen de Irán en los principales medios de comunicación e informaciones globales es una imagen distorsionada y parcial, los acontecimientos internacionales actuales muestran el "otro lado" y no enfrentan la realidad misma.

El ámbito de la cobertura mediática lucha por un nuevo planteamiento de presentación de las opiniones intentando cambiar la vieja imagen, muchas falsas en una opinión pública vigorosa, en noticias realistas, sin falsedad.

Sin embargo, en medio de la angustia de las noticias de medios de propaganda unilateral contra Irán, se puede contemplar, usando la percepción, la búsqueda, ese deseo de los artistas comprometidos que contribuyen a la mejora de la conciencia mundial con sus obras y del razonamiento moderado.

Un ejemplo interesante de artistas que han dedicado mucho tiempo y su carrera profesional a la exploración de los países es IASON Athanasiadis, fotógrafo griego y periodista, con cuyo trabajo fotográfico se realizará una exposición internacional de fotografía en el Museo de Arte Popular de Los Ángeles, California.

Hasta el momento, IASON ha viajado por todo el mundo para cubrir Afganistán, Armenia, Cuba, Pakistán, Turquía e Irán, que son considerados como países con riqueza cultural, patrimonio histórico y, sin embargo, en los medios de comunicación existe una realidad mostrada distorsionada y falsa.
Es un hombre becario de la Universidad de Harvard y ha publicado artículos, informes importantes en Guardian, Christian Science Monitor y el Financial Times entre otros.

En sus fotos de Irán, Athanasiadis ofrece una visión justa de Irán, que comprende los paisajes naturales inadvertidos, temas antropológicos, lugares de interés histórico y características de la arquitectura persa, que es raro que en los medios de comunicación se muestren.

En una entrevista exclusiva con el Guatemala Times, Sonja Cendak, Administrador de la galería de exposiciones y artesanías del Museo de Arte Popular (CAFAM) anunció que "EXPLORANDO EL OTRO IRÁN CONTEMPORÁNEO" es una exposición que se expondrá del 25 de enero al 29 de marzo con el objetivo de dar una visión realista, diferente de Irán a través de imágenes y fotografías que los ciudadanos tal vez no hayan visto nunca hasta ahora.

"Abrir este invierno con la Artesanía y Arte Popular en el Museo de Los Ángeles, California, EE.UU. es una nueva exposición del Irán contemporáneo. Esta presentación es una vista fotográfica de la cultura de Irán, ya que realmente sabemos muy poco acerca de este arte y esta cultura"-dijo Cendak."Esta exposición permitirá conocer el factor humano de la población iraní, cuya vida diaria no es tan diferente examinando el papel de la fotografía y los medios convencionales de comunicación que dan una opinión pública desfigurada"-añadió.

Explicando los detalles de la exposición, Sonja Cendak destacó: "Esta exposición presenta fotografías que Athanasiadis capturó en escenas de un Irán contemporáneo rara vez visto en los medios de comunicación occidentales incluídos los diversos paisajes de montañas, desiertos, sub-trópicos, después de la floreciente cultura juvenil revolucionaria".

"La Exposición además será apoyada por una gran cantidad de programas educativos incluyendo conferencias, libros y lecturas de poesía, proyecciones de películas, actuaciones musicales y talleres diseñados para ofrecer a los visitantes una comprensión más completa de Irán".

Sin embargo, parece que el mundo occidental está tratando de desvelar la realidad oculta de Irán y salir de lo que nos han contado hasta hoy los medios de comunicación.

El creciente entusiasmo de los ciudadanos en los países occidentales, especialmente EE.UU. para descubrir la verdadera identidad de Irán desde la perspectiva de los artistas independientes, periodistas, fotógrafos y su afán por ponerse en contacto con los iraníes para impugnar la credibilidad de sus principales medios de comunicación indican que la hegemonía global de las empresas de periódicos, sitios web y canales de TV está perdiendo su fiabilidad en todo el mundo y promueve la investigación pública.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Adora Svitak and providing the opportunities for success

Kourosh Ziabari - The Comment Factory: The story of Adora Svitak’s childhood speaks to me in a number of ways. The 11-year old child prodigy is a writer and illustrator who has authored storybooks for children, with two books published so far and another three in the pipeline.

Once ABC’s Diane Sawyer called Adora a “tiny literary giant” which is a good description. It is these tiny giants, who are traditionally overlooked by so-called “superiors” and “elders”, that can really shake the world if given the opportunity.

I remember myself as a young child having quixotic dreams of myself as the UN Secretary General of 2050 or winning the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2000, at the tender age of 10, I could already speak four languages fluently, had published near to a 1,000 articles and short stories both in English and Persian, and had given several lectures and interviews on local stages.

However, I failed to climb the pinnacles which I’d planned for my life, and this failure has underscored for me the critical importance of patronage and sponsorship. The fact is you cannot lift yourself up when you are deprived of the aides to help you realize your talents.

The outlets which had promoted me, in spite of their noble endeavors, were not appearing on a global level and their influence on the mainstream was on the whole insignificant.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Germany to Host Persian Culture Fair

Historical Building in the ancient Iranian city of Yazd

Press TV
: Germany is slated to host an exhibition which will be held in 2011 to display museum items relating to the history of Iran.
"All the arrangements have been made to hold the exhibition in one of the biggest museums in Germany in 2011,” the curator of Iran's National Museum, Mohammad Reza Mehrandish, said on Saturday.

"Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization has held several exhibitions in the past few years in various countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Britain, Japan, Mexico, South Korea," he added.

According to Mehrandish, Iran has so far held two historical exhibitions in Germany.
The first exhibition was held in Bochum in 2004 to display 533 Iranian historical items. Germany hosted the second exhibition in 2005 when Iran displayed three items in Genghis Khan Exhibition.
Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations with historic urban settlements dating back to 5000 BCE.

Different Iran through the lens of Greek photographer

Sanandaj Museum, Iran

MNA - An interesting example of those artists who have long dedicated their time and professional careers to the exploration of misunderstood countries is Iason Athanasiadis, Greek photographer and journalist, whose photographs and images will be displayed at an international photography exhibition to be held in the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) in Los Angeles.
So far, Iason has journeyed all over the world to cover Afghanistan, Armenia, Cuba, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, all of which are considered as countries with a profound cultural and historical heritage and yet are portrayed with a false and unrealistic image in the Western mass media.

Athanasiadis is a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and has published articles and pictorial reports in the Guardian, Christian Science Monitor and the Financial Times.

In his photos of Iran, Athanasiadis offers a fair and balanced view of Iran that includes views of unnoticed natural landscapes, anthropological subjects, historical sites and hallmarks of Persian architecture, which are rarely shown in the Western media.

In an email interview with Tehran Times, CAFAM Exhibitions and Gallery Manager Sonja Cendak announced that “Exploring the Other: Contemporary Iran” exhibition will be held from January 25th to March 29th with the aim of giving a realistic, alternative view of Iran by showcasing pictures and photos that American citizens might not have seen so far.

“This exhibit is a photographic view into the culture of Iran, which we really know so little about,” Cendak said.

“This show will reveal the human side of the Iranian population whose daily lives are not so different from our own and also examine the role that photojournalism and conventional media play in shaping our public opinion,” She added.

Explaining the details of exhibition, Cendak noted, “This exhibit features Athanasiadis’ vivid photographs that capture scenes of contemporary Iran rarely seen in Western media including its diverse landscapes of mountains, deserts, sub-tropics, and most significantly, the thriving post-revolutionary youth culture.”

“‘Exploring the Other’ will be supported by a wealth of educational programming including lectures, book and poetry readings, film screenings, musical performances, and workshops—designed to provide visitors with a meaningful and more complete understanding of Iran,” she explained.