February 10, 2005
is an extensive network of Iranian-American organizations
across the US. IraNexus currently has over 50 community
based groups signed up with more joining each day.
It allows you to find a group who may be dedicated
to cause or have a specialty that you need.
is a completely free service and anyone can use
and access it's contents. Although no personal
private informationis stored, there are some required
fields and all submissions are verified before
being made available to the general public.
connecting organizations, IraNexus enables our
community to respond immediately and effectively
to discriminatory policies, humanitarian emergencies,
and other issues.
learn more about IraNexus please Click
ago, we all began hearing the first rumblings of the National
Geographic's Persian Gulf debacle concerning the updated
8th edition of their world atlas and the controversial
inclusion (in parentheses) of the words "Arabian Gulf" below
it's historically relevant and rightful label.
the old days what would have happened was some emails would
have gone back and forth for about a month before anyone
suggested the now outdated and altogether useless activity
of signing a petition, and someone agreeing to fax it from
their office (as soon as the boss left).
how times have changed. Following is a step by step action
log of the activities leading up to the community's reaction
to the National Geographic's cartographical blunder;
soon as the first emails from the community began to surface,
from people like Pejman Akbarzadeh in Tehran who is the
keeper of all things Persian, people began sending out
alerts to their respective email lists, and blogs began
clogging with reaction.
Executive Director, Dokhi Fassihian, someone caught perpetually
in "the loop", received the many emails along
with others from NIAC members and began to monitor the
too often we have seen too many community groups led by
self sacrificing (and self appointed) concerned board members,
tear off to fight for an issue without first getting the
support and backing of the very community they intend to
serve. This often leads to accusations and criticisms,
and although their intention may be noble, their demonstrated
lack of respect for the voice of the community backfires.
so with NIAC's approach. Rather than act on it's own, NIAC
takes realistic action on feasible issues they have a real
chance of winning based on real feedback it receives from
it's members and the community in general. All of this
within very limited resources. Frugality is the
keyword here. Because of this approach, some accuse NIAC
of not acting as quickly as possible, or not acting at
all (on issues of fringe concern to the general community).
But by reacting to community feedback, at least you know
there is community support before you get going on an issue.
Smart and very democratic if you stop to think about it.
the next 2 weeks, NIAC received dozens of emails and telephone
calls by the community asking about the issue and what
was being done about it. This was serious feedback, and
a clear call to action.
in previous situations NIAC had successfully used a strategy
we will call "Pressured Engagement". Take Monster.com
for instance, one of the leading job sites took it upon
itself to discriminate against Iranian resumes, or another
example was the Don Imus nationally syndicated morning
radio program, in which Imus commented callously on the
insignificance of Iranian deaths from an Iranian passenger
plane crash near Kish.
time however, NIAC went to it's newly launched community
organization database aptly named IraNexus. In this database
which catalogs the many community groups in the US, was
the Persian Gulf Task Force (PGTF) a group dedicated specifically
to the preservation of the name of the Persian Gulf. Asking
Dr. Mohammad Ala the director of PGTF, what they could
do to help, NIAC quickly digested what PGTF was already
doing, and crafted and coordinated a complementary response.
than send hollow emails to an even hollower general inbox,
or send mail to the organization's main address, NIAC staff
contacted the National Geographic offices and gained the
email address of the President of the National Geographic,
as well as the chief cartographer (the person who actually
makes the maps!). They then engaged a nifty mechanism called
an "Action Alert" which notified thousands of
subscirbers across the country about the issue. Quick,
days, the 36 groups that have already been added to Iranexus
an official letter objecting to the National Geographic's
gulf name change, and thousands of emails were pouring
into the email boxxes of the NG executives. From every
corner of the country, becasue part of the strategy was
that NIAC asked the groups to send the action alert at
their local level, to magnify the spread.
worked. Soon Iranians abroad in Canada, Europe, Australia
and even Iran began requesting that the alert be reformatted
to include them as well.
December 6, 2004 NIAC met with the President of the National
Geographic to discuss the issue. In the end, the islands
issue was corrected to the favor of the community, and
the variant term used on the map in paranthesis was removed
and replaced with small-font explanatory text reconfirming
the Persian Gulf's proper status. Although the term still
was used in this text, the victory was huge. It was something
the Japanese were unable to do when the Sea of Japan was
subclassified as East Sea by the National Geographic in
1999. As a result of extenive lobbying by the Koreans,
that body of water is still subclassified on National Geographic's
maps with two names, East Sea in paranthesis.
won the fight against subclassification, NIAC is continuing
its pressure on National Geographic to ensure that no variant
name is used for the the Persian Gulf on its maps in any
shape or form.
the meeting, John Fahey President of the National Geographic,
clearly impressed by the response quipped, "Your megaphone
the end, an attack (knowingly or unknowingly) against our
culture was made, and was responded to quickly and maturely
by the community, acting together. NIAC's IraNexus showed
it can play an viable and effective role in enabling the
response as we move forward, faster, into the breach of
add themselves to the IraNexus database and network, groups
need only fill out a short form which defines their area
of expertise so it is visible on the site, the idea being
collaboration, and stopping the re-inventing-the-wheelism
that is all too often the case with Iranian groups today.
The idea is to use the strengths of each group and work
with and combine yours with theirs to accomplish greater
goals. No more going it alone. That's just stupid.
does not endorse the members in IraNexus for obvious reasons
but once it has a cause or issue, it will use the database
to locate and work with the group(s) most likely to have
the resources or expertise to help mobilize as many Iranians
as posible. All groups can use this tool in the same manner
and organizations can maintain their independence to choose
the issues they wish to cllaborate on.
would hope that the community will realize the tremendous
power of our collective voice against a threat to our rights,
and those disparate groups that are currently operating
in their own voids might find their way to the fountain.
Who knows what we may be capable of doing, if we adopted
the today far concept of teamwork. If you know what I mean.
learn more about IraNexus and how you can benefit
from it, please Click
learn more about NIAC please visit their website: Click
learn more about how you can help to protect the
Persian Gulf: Click