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August 2006

LAUGH ALL YOU WANT
What will happen to Iran
Jacob Cohen
August 31, 2006

As U.S. officials draft sanctions against Iran, there are a lot of unanswered questions. For instance, What will happen? What is the objective? Is it to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear? Is it for making Iran democratic?

The US can follow the steps it has taken for Iraq and Afghanistan. It should state that it is trying to "liberate" the Iranian masses.

It should also repeat that Iran is an "Evil" nation. The "Axis of Evil" terminology should be changed to just "Evil".

The American government should equate Iran with Nazi Germany. The leaders of Iran, the people of Iran should all be demonized.

Nato, the EU, the Arab League, and specifically Iran's neighbors: Iraq, Turkey, Turkmanistan, Pakistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan should and will supply soldiers for a ground invasion into Iran. Within 2 weeks the Iranian military, the Revolutionary Guards, the volunteer basijis will all be defeated. And American Freedom will rule in Iran.

The US should then announce that Iran will become the 51st State. The US must change the formal language of Iran to English. Azadi or Shahyad Square should be abolished and on its site should stand a large flag pole with a big American Flag. And why not?

God bless America. Comment

TRAVELERS
Subtle warmth and admiration
Farid Parsa
August 30, 2006

Jason Elliot's journeys in Iran in his recent book, Mirrors of the Unseen (London : Picador, 2006), is both entertaining and revealing. As he travels in various parts of the country he unobtrusively weaves the past into the present, informing the reader of the culture with a long history that has contributed copiously to the narrative of human civilization at various junctions of time. Elliot's observation and interaction with people draws a realistic picture of the Iranians today, with their proclivity for pleasure, protest and piety.

Elliot has a great ear for humor as he diligently notes them down whenever he sees them, whether in the eccentric behavior of his individual guides, or the paranoia of his bourgeois hosts who believe Iranians leaders including ayatollah Khomeini are the puppets of the Western governments.

During his journey he encounters very colorful characters and tries to do justice to them by telling us about their unique, isolated and in case of Louise Firouz (Iranian-American horse breeder) heroic lives. 

Elliot writes in the great tradition of the travel writers like Byron, Burton and Chardin but he also corrects whenever there was an oversight or mistake in their observation. For example, for Byron the discrepancy in alignment of the entrance portal and dome in Lutfullah Mosque is described as 'careless of symmetry to a grotesque degree'. But for Elliot , 'the alignment of portal and dome, so obviously attainable was deliberately forsaken.' About Gombad-e Qabus he writes, 'Byron, among many other Western visitors, has described in detail of this starkly beautiful eleventh-century monument... Yet I have read nothing that describes the building's extraordinary acoustic properties.'

Elliot's writing is imbued with subtle warmth and admiration. He penetrates deep into the culture and connects meaningfully with the people he comes to contact with. Comment

PSYCH
Post Iran depression
Shahireh Sharif
August 30, 2006

Depression is defined as a clinical condition that associates with insomnia, an inability to concentrate, loss of appetite, feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness and even thoughts of death (*).

As part of an annual ritual this is exactly what I go through after coming back from Iran, having been there for my vacation. A severe punishment to endure particularly for such a petty crime! Talking to others it amazes me how frequently other people can relate to this. For a "silent killer", it is happening to too many of us too often. Ironically, for most of us the quality of the time spent in Iran does not have such a huge impact on experiencing post Iran depression. It seems that coming back is particularly difficult for those of us who have most of our relatives back home even if we have experienced a relatively hard time in Iran (of course, there are exceptional circumstances where this is not the case).

Once you go through this depression you wonder how you ever managed suppressing this much pain so effectively before. Where does this feeling of loss suddenly appear from? What is this grieving process that you go through? What exactly is it that is missed so much, and can this be somehow substituted for? For me a visit to Iran triggers asking myself fundamental questions such as "what am I doing living outside Iran?" or "shouldn't I be experiencing life back home with the rest of my family?" Questions that I normally, consciously or unconsciously, filter out of my mind, but somehow cannot ignore after visiting our homeland.

I appreciate that there are some of us who cannot have the luxury of an occasional visit to Iran. Additionally, there are people back home who cannot relate to this. Still for a good proportion of Iranians living outside Iran this depression seems to be an inseparable part of any trip to home. Incidentally, despite its apparent common outbreak, there does not seem to be that much information on how to best manage this condition. Neither as individuals are we inclined to come up with a plan for this stage of the trip. We have simply learned to accept this as a norm.

A wider acknowledgment of the existence of this condition is probably the first step towards achieving a greater understanding of how to best manage it.  Although this condition is referred to as depression in this article, clinically it might not be seen as a form of depression. It could be just an alarm bell to get us to think carefully about the experience of living away from home? Or maybe it is a phase that we go through; something that could safely be ignored by keeping ourselves busy.  Anyhow, finding the courage to live one day at a time till finally the unleashed beast is back in the lock and chain, at least till my next trip to Iran, is my way of dealing with it; what's yours? Comment

BUSH vs. AHMADINEJAD
Amuse us for once
Siamack Baniameri
August 30, 2006

Forget debate, I want to see Bush and Ahmadinejad take it to the ring. Twelve rounds of full contact. Put your money were your mouth is. Let's see the two of you kick the shit out of each other. Resolve the problems while you're in there. Bite each other's ears off, kick each other in the nuts, poke eyes, pull hair, crack skulls, do serious damage and amuse us for once. While you're in there, resolve the nuclear crisis, solve the Palestinian homeland, reduce oil prices, secure the region, chat about the holocaust, work out the Iraq issues and disarm Hezbollah. A round kick in the head, a punch in the chin, a bite in the ass, a knee in the balls, a smack or two in between. Oh the entertainment ... Oh the entertainment. Comment

PLOT
Fabricating terror
Ardeshir Ommani
August 29, 2006

Details that have emerged from the previously hyped and front-page, wide coverage of the alleged terrorist plot to blow up airplanes between Britain and the U.S., and the patchwork of 'facts' have created more questions than answers, and forced even mainstream publications to throw a different light on the 'thwarting' of another 'terrorist plot'.

The fabricated terror plot 'discovered' in London, after more than a year of surveillance by Britain's M15 intelligence services, was put to quick use by the White House in its campaign to keep the national security issue at the center of the mid-term elections, suppress the U.S. defeat in Iraq, and, at the same time, cover up the crimes in Lebanon committed by the Zionist regime of Tel Aviv.

The news of the arrests of 24 Muslims of different nationalities dictated by the Republicans to their British counter parts, came as a God-sent gift and a temporary relief from the doldrums of their own creation. To the Republicans and even some pro-war Democrats, the arrests were viewed as a turning point in a year in which the U.S. has been on the defensive over the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and on Iran's civilian nuclear energy program.

The fact that among individuals in the group arrested none had a plane ticket and many did not even have passports, shows that the U.S.-British intelligence service had a lot to do with the inception of the plot and the group's further entrapment.

This episode in London, like many others before it, is a fabrication aimed at restricting civil liberties at home, provoking national chauvinism against Muslim and Arab communities in the West and diverting attention of the public from the failures of U.S.-U.K. foreign policies in the Middle East.

It is interesting to know that the news of the arrests of the allegedly terrorist group was announced less than 24 hours after Vice-President Dick Cheney suggested that only the Republican Party in the U.S. is prepared to lead the nation in today's dangerous times.

To turn the news of the arrests into an opportunity, Mr. Bush triumphantly strolled off Air Force One to appear before waiting television cameras and announce that the United States was safer than it was before Sept. 11, 2001. The only question remains is that if the U.S. is safer, then why passengers are prohibited from bringing more daily items onto airplanes? Comment

FRIENDS
What I know now!
Saeideh Mohajer
August 29, 2006

The significance of our friendships with others only grows. Why, then, do we have fewer and fewer friends?

When is it too late to make new friends? By friends I don't mean your boyfriend's best friends girlfriend who you hang out with every Saturday night because your boyfriend wants to hang with his buddy and you by default have to make nice with his girlfriend, just so you could spend time with your guy.

By friend, I mean real friends. The kind of friend who sat with you through third period study hall, so that you can cry on her shoulder about the guy who didn't call you when he said he would. By friends I mean the friend you made your first day on residence when you didn't know anyone and were terrified of life at your new school, or the ones you made in University when you were pulling all-nighters.

I ask this question because I know there have been times in my life where my friends were crucial to the choices I made and even to my growth as a woman. Looking back to when I graduated from University, I had a very close network of friends and at that time we all thought that we would continue to maintain this close relationship for life.

However, a couple of years have past since graduation and it seems as though life has taken each of us into different directions. Some have completely been swallowed by the corporate world, others have chosen the family route and are busy keeping house, some have moved overseas and I am working as an actor.

Perhaps it is hard for us to maintain the contact that we once had, because we have all chosen such different paths for ourselves. I mean when we were in University, we were all in similar programs, we all had to cram for the same tests, all went to the same clubs and lived so close to each other. Now, we work in different careers, we live in different parts of the country or perhaps even world and of course we have different activities that entertain us now than we did back then.

So I guess it is understandable why it is harder for us to maintain contact, or perhaps even okay that some of us have lost touch all together. Our lives have taken us into different directions and frankly we are not the same people we may have been two or three or ten years ago. Time and more importantly life has a way of changing people, as we get older we become a more furnished version of ourselves and hopefully, the true self we were meant to be.

Some of us become better people capable of great things and some of us become defeated by the game of life. In the midst of all of this we call life, we don't have the same pool of people to draw from. When we are in school we have numerous people to choose as our friends, but as we move on to the real world the pool of friends to choose from somehow becomes smaller and so does the possibility of making new friends. Hence, I ask, when is it too late to make new friends?  

Of course the optimist in me says it is never too late to make new friends but then the cynic in me says that since there is a time limit to everything else in life then there is a time limit to when we can make new friendships with ever lasting bonds. The kind of bonds that can carry you through the next stage of your life, which could for some people be getting married, having kids, discovering cures for diseases or perhaps just making some really good movies.

But how do we know when that is and how do we make sure that it's not too late? I'm sorry to disappoint you, because I don't have an astounding response to this question, but I guess common sense would tell me that its late to make friends when you stop being open to making new friends.  Somebody wise once told me, that the only way to have good friends is to be one. Comment

NTP
A semantic exercise
Guive Mirfendereski

The development of nuclear weapons ensures deterrence of the highest order in what is know as the doctrine of "mutual assured destruction." This maintains the peace, if not outright promoting it. Therefore, the development of nuclear weapons by Iran is also a peaceful use of nuclear technology! After all, did not President Reagan call some nuclear ballistic missile or some such thingy "The Peacekeeper?" What is good for the goose, should be good for the gander -- even doublespeak! Comment

GRUDGE
Apology not accepted
Kobra Maleki
August 27, 2006

In response to Hiedeh Farmani's "Belated apology": Hiedeh, I knew it was you. All these years I had to through the humiliation of evrybody thinking I had peed in class. Every time I saw one of our classmates I had to be reminded that they think I was the one who peed in the classroom. How do you dare writing this story with my name now and publishing it for so many readers? Your apology is not accepted. As far as I am concerned, it's a false apology just to attract more attention to yourself. Who do you think you are accepting me for a higher level English course and thinking that this will erase your sin? I don't need your pity thank you very much. Because of your 'ebtekar', now I can't even speak English and I had to leave the course. You always were 'toodar' and 'moozi' and now I know that you will always remain 'badjens' too. That is why I never liked you. You proved it again with what you have done. You are a very arrogant person. The day will come that other people will look down on you and you will see how it feels. I hope our paths will never cross again.

60 MINUTES
Why now?
Arash Mahmoudi
August 17, 2006

I just saw the 60 minutes episode with Mike Wallace and Ahmadinejad [Part 1 Part 2]. The whole interview was nothing but a meaningless argument, Ahmadinejad said the same things since he became the president and Wallace asked the same questions that Condi Rice did in her UN speech. However despite all that, there was one moment that could have potentially impacted the modern history, as we know it.

Wallace asked Ahmadinejad, if he is willing to start a direct talk with the U.S and heal the bridge that was broken after the 1979 revolution. This question was huge, although Ahmadinejad ignored it and one might say, “what did you think he was going to answer?”,  I have to say: Mr. Wallace why now?

Why couldn’t you ask this question 6 years ago, when Khatami was the president in Iran and Clinton was the president in U.S, there was no 911, no war in Iraq, no war in Lebanon and the general population in both U.S and Iran were open to create direct talks.  Why didn’t you start a move back then? Why now? Does he not know that people in Iran think of Bush as bully who wants to destroy every country in the Middle East to get cheap oil? And people in U. S think of Iranians as bunch of terrorists who don’t think about any thing but how to attack U.S? 

That question if asked 6 years ago could have possible prevented all the chaos that we are living in right now and prevented thousands of civilian deaths and save billions that was spend for the war. Mr. Wallace knew that Ahmadinejad will dodge that question, after all he has been doing this for more than 30 years. So what’s the point of asking such questions?

That interview was nothing new for any body who has been following the news in Iran and U.S, but for people who don’t know much about Iran, that interview painted a new picture of Iran. A picture that described Iran as country that supports American defined terrorism and wants to build nuclear weapons to harm U. S and it’s allies. We saw this trend happening when Saddam was ruling Iraq and let’s not forget Dan Rather interviewed Saddam right before the war. Comment

FILM
Jafar Panahi at Melbourne Film Festival
Farid Parsa
August 16, 2006

This year's Melbourne Film Festival featured Panahi's retrospective, The White Balloon, The Mirror, Crimson Gold, The Circle and his most recent film Offside. Offside has won the Silver Bear at Berlin this year and is liked by both the critics and audiences alike. Panahi himself was the guest of the festival as part of the program, Filmmaker in Focus. Panahi maintains a good pace of satire and irony throughout the dialogue driven film.

Offside is another slice of life in an Islamic society that stubbornly refuses to wake up to the modern world and yet is surrounded by it and as the result it has become contradictory, irrelevant and oppressive. Offside is more reflective, clearer and direct than Panahi's previous films. He addresses the civil rights of his fellow citizens in this case the oppressed women in the Islamic country ruled by the elite clergy. It is a brave film that challenges the medieval religious shariaw law that does not allow the female spectators to attend football matches, not even accompanied by parents or guardians.

The young female characters who are the main focus in this film are intelligent, funny and very aware of their predicament in the society they live in. Panahi's sympathetic treatment of his subject makes the cries of their protagonists echo far louder than the cheers of spectators in the stadium from which they are forbidden to step into. One of the girls knowing that some Japanese female spectators during the Iran-Japan game were allowed to watch the game at the same stadium poses a pivotal question to her prison guard. She tells him as a statement that perhaps their biggest "sin" is not that they are female but it's the fact that they are born in Iran.

Panahi, like Kiarostami, uses non-actors and manages to get great perfomances out of them . He also includes people from diverse ethnic backgrounds and gives them validity and integrity in his films.

The festival also featured two other Iranian films, The Willow Tree by Majid Majidi and It's Winter by Raffi Pitts. Comment

HUMOR
Eskandar & his little friend
Siamack Baniameri
August 15, 2006

If you're sleeping in your bed and you suddenly feel a sharp pain in your behind, chances are good you are locked up in Adel-Abad penitentiary and your cellmate Eskandar is about to introduce you to his little friend:

Fifty percent of new inmates are raped within the first 72 hours of arrival to notorious Adel-Abad prison in Fars Province. The privately-managed prison houses political prisoners, juveniles, maximum security felons and petty criminals all in the same ward. In the last seven years, several juvenile prisoners have been killed after being repeatedly raped by other inmates.
-- IRI News Agency

>>> Baniameri's iranican-dream.com

GANJI
Bedeh bestoon: Akbar Ganji at Stanford
Ari Siletz
August 15, 2006

During this Sunday's talk at Stanford University, Akbar Ganji devoted a lot of time pointing out the differences between his views and those of his ideological rival Saiid Hajjarian. The audience, some of whom hadn't even heard of Hajjarian, perhaps wondered at this premature electioneering. Highlighting this impression of candidacy was Ganji's clean shaven face. It seems he now knows his revolutionary stubble is too Islamic fundamentalist, so he has adopted a less threatening public image. Ganji's gradual transformation from dissident intellectual to politician is a positive development for Iran as a nation. With his proven track record of courage, sacrifice and shrewd politicking Ganji may turn out to be Iran's first charismatic force for democracy since Mossadegh.

He as much as said so himself. It is not true, Ganji declares, that the age of heroes is behind us. He insists that even enlightened democratic movements need role models of bravery and leadership. Looking around at Iran's political landscape there is no one else Ganji could possibly nominate to this hero role but himself. With his death defying 56 day hunger strike, Ganji stood toe to toe with the most powerful elements of the Islamic regime and delivered them a huge moral defeat.

Unlike Mossadegh, however, Ganji is methodical in his approach to politics. His thinking incorporates many lessons from history, and he seems to have digested voluminous amounts of historical facts and social theories to help him avoid mistakes. Also, he seems less intransigent than Mossadegh. Several times during his Stanford talk Ganji mentioned the term "bedeh bestoon," give and take. Unfortunately Ganji's English interpreter, the distinguished Abbas Milani, chose to translate this term as "bickering," which implies a trivial or impetuous arguing. This interpretation does not give credit to Ganji's subtle bargaining mind, something Mossadegh could have used more of in his dealings with the British. Ganji seems aware that the power of Iran's Islamic regime is not a castle in the air; there is a social basis for this power that must be respected as a reality and bargained with.

For the forces of democracy to be able to bargain from a position of strength, first they must demonstrate their political power. Here, Ganji advocates civil disobedience, openly ignoring and deliberately violating unjust laws. He calculates that the regime will then attempt to exact a price on this disobedience. Beatings, imprisonments, torture, death. The higher the price we are willing to pay, the more power we can buy. Simply put, Ganji's recommended strategy for democracy in Iran is to purchase power with courage.

Will the strategy succeed? Judging from Ganji's statements I don't think he is so sure himself. He pointed out that tens of centuries of despotic rule in Iran must in some way reflect the mentality of the Iranian masses. Though he relies heavily on political science and social philosophy as tools of analysis, Ganji gave us no data as to why he thinks this mentality may have changed. Here's where Mossadegh has the edge over Ganji. Mossadegh believed in his ability to inspire his followers, Ganji merely believes in the lessons of history as laid out by Western thinkers. To become the new Mossadegh, Ganji must complete one more step in his transition from intellectual to politician. He must reverse engineer the ideas of his Western mentors Karl Popper, Jurgen Habermas, etc, into a uniquely Iranian format, then begin speaking his mind in the creative and inspiring slang of the Iranian political ethos. Comment

>>> Ari's blog www.arisiletz.com

LIFE
Why I draw these cartoons
Hossein Hajiagha
August 14, 2006

I was working as care taker for $7 an hours painting, cleaning, rent apartements colect rent go to banck for deposite... clean washroom and ripair gardening....because 12 of my tennets on drugs and on walfare I will end of the tennecy of two of them and try to bring educated and nice people to this building, but after all the company ask me to I left my job and I am happy because I did not mack money for this job and also dealing with crazy and canadian on drugs or divirced women  may you ask why all the times I draw cartoons like this the only reasion because I can not meet or live in a place I was had dreams about I left Iran nice job in Ghola Agha and government and family to Canada only to meet a nice educated people and study hard and find better job marride childeren and dreams, now all I saw freacking people on drugs hashish selling sex and crazy around me. please edite my letter as friend and add to my cartoons page because some Iranian or canadian and american do not understand why I darw cartoons like this, this is a reality a part of daily life here I saw every days, I did't meet a nice people or if they are few here, British people are having dirty life they are leasy and on on drugs not like in Los Angeles or place in Iran :o( Comment

BALLOT BOX
See you in November
Ali Mogharabi
August 14, 2006

As I assumed (or guessed) last week ... "What's amazing is that now the sleezeball politicians, these neocons, these Likud party lovers, these ISRAELIS, only have the agenda to attack Iran and Syria. Amazing when we hear Iran and Syria in every sentence that these neocons are saying. This bombing of Lebanon is the first step towards reaching israel's goal of demolishing my country of Iran."

Well, Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker and one of the most well-respected journalists, published his thoughts and findings about the Lebanon/Israel war and why it is taking place. The piece is titled "Watching Lebanon: Washington's Interests in Israel's War". He has provided evidence that yes, this Lebanon crisis is a precursor to an attack on Iran. Amazing, isn't it? Some, within the Pentagon, are also saying that unfortunately, the so-called evidence about Iran sending arms to Hezbollah is being mis-handled in the Pentagon (very similar to how they handled the so-called evidence of Iraq's WMDs about 3-4 years ago)!

Read the article and take out your frustrations in the voting booths in November! Study each candidate and make sure to vote based on a candidate's INDIVIDUAL stance on each matter, and not based on his/her affiliation with a political party. Hopefully we will see peace for EVERYONE ... soon. Comment

AHMADINEJAD
Help my people
Amir Nasiri
August 14, 2006

I visited the Iranian presidents blog today and posed my questions to him which I doubt he even will look at any of those questions. The address of his blog is: Ahmadinejad.ir. In the are where it asked for address information I put down "I don't want to be assassinated". Here are my questions to the president of Iran Mr. Antarinejad:

Mr. President:

As an Iranian citizen who has followed Iran's politic for almost 20 years I would like to ask you a few questions. I watched your interview with Mr. Wallace on 60 minutes. There you criticized the US government for jailing 1% of the population as well as the lack of Medicare for 45 million.

Sir, I would like to ask you what have you or the government been doing with the oil revenues which is now selling at $75/barrel. As well as why is there a 2 digit unemployment rate and a two digit inflation rate. Why that is when you travel outside Iran every other city looks like a village.

Why that is the students have to go and fight or sell them in order to attend the university? For the past 30 years what was the major accomplishment that Islamic republic has done. Why that is my people are still starving and dying from basic nutrition? Why is that Iran in science and technology lack behind UAE, Kuwait and even Pakistan?

Stop worrying about Arab countries and help my people. Comment

AHMADINEJAD
Despite his looks and stature
Far
August 14, 2006

Message from the interpreter/translator for Mike Wallace interview with Ahmadinejad:

Dear All,

Just spent the last week in the company of CBS's "60 Minute" crew here in Tehran.

I was employed by the local CBS man was as a local Monitor to look after the 9 individuals in the CBS team and we went round Tehran sightseeing and filming for some of the time whilst awaiting the interview.

After a very nerve-wracking delay period of 6 days, the interview finally took place on Tuesday afternoon in the main reception room of what used to be Princess Shanaz Pahlavi's palace (the late Shah's daughter) located in the palace complex of downtown Tehran...

Due to a last minute cock-up of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in not sending 2 simultaneous translators, yours truly ended up doing half of the translations to Mike Wallace and the President!

Despite the fact that I hold no love for this regime and this President, none the less he is a very accomplished speaker and extremely nimble in his responses. Additionally suffice it to say that Mike Wallace is not the man he used to be.

Unfortunately the questions asked were not up to much and, in that context, President Ahmadinejad definitely outwitted Mike Wallace. No mention of Human Rights including the hot topics of the day such as the killing of a student dissident in prison, the closing down of Shirin Ebadi's office, the thousands of political prisoners, the suppression of ethnic minorities and regional leaders, terrorism etc.

However having said that, the responses and comments to the questions that were asked were very telling and, despite myself, I was impressed with the logic therein! The President comes across as a very relaxed and totally sane self-deprecating individual who, despite his looks and stature, is much like Alfred E. Neuman, likeable!! Comment

WAR
Bombers and teddy bears
Aras Shahzadeh
August 12, 2006

The mysterious blanket of night sky, sprinkled with shiny stars and a silvery moon; the rocking horse that will soar high into the skies to meet the glowing sun; the teddy bear that will lie in your embrace, rubbing its cheeks against your soft fingers;

Home-made cookies and honey on toast; a father's caress and a mother's light kisses; orange leaves of a spirited autumn, blue mountains and pink flowers.

Yes, a child's world is fantastic. It is beautiful and magical. It is sensitive and simple.

Yet, children also live in fear and insecurity. Theirs is also a world of tall figures and heavy shadows. They look up in confusion at the lanky forms gabbling away in their own realm, a world unyielding and unfeeling.

These alien forms, the egocentric adults, quarrel and bicker, shout and snicker. Instead of teaching love and respect, they blame and gesture in fury. They refuse to listen...refuse to feel. They refuse to be human.

The deafening noise, the harsh screech of a bomb, a warning of horrors to come; the suffocating smoke that burns the eyes and paints the sky pearl gray; crimson blood splashed on the stony doorsteps;

The ringing noise of bombers, and the towering figures dashing in terror; the heavy clatter of a tank crushing its way through concrete--now soft as cotton candy;

From afar, a tall form rushing forward but suddenly, stopping dead in its tracks.

He puts away his gun and very slowly bends down. His trembling hands feel for something. He looks down...he shakes his head sheepishly. He picks up his gun, hard and long, and rushes forward as he kicks away the object furiously.

Muddied and spongy, with one eye and ear missing, the teddy bear lands awkwardly on its face. You can still feel where the child's fingers touched her cheeks. Comment

PETTY
What goes around eventually comes around
S.B.
August 12, 2006

Like most people I have also been saddened by the news of civilian casualties on both sides of the Israel-Hezbollah/Lebanon conflict.

Watching the innocents' pain and suffering and most importantly, the loss of life caused by bombs and rockets on T.V. screen, refreshed some personal, sad and long-buried memories of mine.

When Iran-Iraq war started, I had just started 3rd grade, when war ended 8 years later, I was a junior in high school. I experienced Iraqi war planes bombing Tehran residential areas first hand, as so many other Iranians did in other towns and cities.

I still remember the reports on radio and T.V. about Iraqi daily missile (rocket?) attacks on Dezful, as well as bombing and missile attacks on Isfahan, Ahvaz,...

I recall vividly the air strike sirens and that how the power went out, next thing was that everyone ran to their basements or hide under the stairs. I remember hugging my knees, squatting in our basement, shaking uncontrollably at the sound of explosions and wishing that it would be over without us dyeing; I was 8 years old.

Air strikes and missile attacks, like the war itself, became part of our lives. People started to predict Iraqis coming attacks. They knew that Iraqis would start hitting the towns during Norooz, the Iranian new year, or other important occasions; nonetheless they shocked us repeatedly with their surprise attacks too. Those of you living in Iran in those days, must remember how some who had the means fled their homes and those who had nowhere to go stayed behind and prayed.

The last year before the war ended, during the missile attacks, my family fled Tehran and took refuge in Maygoon, a village in Tehran's suburbs. It was right before Norooz in early March and all schools in Tehran were closed; our second quarter exams were cancelled. We were among the lucky ones, when it all finally came to an end, thousands had perished, lost family members or their houses.

Now, you may or may not remember those days but I assume that whoever lived in Iran during the war will never forget. I am also positive that some of you may not like what I am going to say next: I clearly remember that not one Arab country and its people protested the Iraqi regime and its actions in attacking civilian areas throughout the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war -- not one. They all backed Saddam and his crimes. He was one of them and we were others.

Yes, I feel sad and heartbroken when I see those little dead bodies and destroyed neighborhoods on both sides of the conflict, after all I was taught that "Bani aadam azaaye yekdigarand" (All in Adam's race are members of one body) ; I doubt though if there are any of Sa'adi's poems included in any Arab country's school books. Arabs back each other in conflicts against non-Arabs, maybe that is a part of their tribal background. Bottom line is that they kept silent during Iraqi attacks on civilian neighborhoods in Iran and what is happening in Lebanon today, in part at least, is an example of "What goes around comes around". Comment

WAR
Poor man's tank & fighter jet
M. Ghorji
August 11, 2006

On August 9th, 2006, in a meeting of Hollywood luminaries with Ganji, The Israeli Hollywood mogul Haim Saban, asks, "When was the last time you saw a Christian or a Jew put a belt around their stomach, go on a bus, and kill innocent women and children?"

I don't know what Ganji's response to this question has been, but I am appalled by the question. This question is not Saban's alone. One can hear it continuously from every major media owned by Zionists such as Haim Saban.

It is now over a month that we are watching the carnage created by Israeli jet fighters and bombs over Lebanon. More than 700 women and children are killed and 1000's are maimed. It is now over sixty years that we see Palestinian women and children are blown into pieces by Israeli tank shells and bombs.

I don' know Ganji's response. But I do have an answer for Mr. Saban.

No Mr. Saban, Christian and Jews don't need to put a belt around their stomach and kill themselves together with some innocent women and children. They have tanks and fighter jets and cluster bombs and every imaginable weapon to do the job. Why should they kill themselves?

Give Palestinians one of your tanks or jets or cluster bombs. I promise you, they won't use a belt around their stomach.
And if you are not convinced by my answer, you are a famous hollywood producer, you must be into movies, right? Watch Gillo Pontecorvo's of Algeriers. You will find your answer. Comment

LIST
Arabs vs. Israelis
Morteza Loghmani
August 11, 2006

In response to politically correct "rules":

Fact 1
The young people in Israel dream of being inventors, and entrepreneurs and their role models are the Israeli innovators who made it to the NASDAQ.

Fact 2
Hezbollah youth dream of being martyrs, and their role models are Islamic militants who made it to the Next World to have 72 virgins.

Fact 3
The Arab world exports potato chips and suicide bombers, while East Asian countries make microchips and smart phones.

Fact 4
Arab-Muslims get their ''pride'' from fighting Israel instead of pride from constructing a society and economy that rest of the globe would respect.

Fact 5
Beside invention of IAD and suicide belts/bombers, what scientific inventions and medical breakthroughs has the Arab world produced?

Fact 6
Arab leaders, the Islamist fascists like Nasrallah, use all their power and resources to start a new Arab-Israeli war rather than build a new Arab university.

Fact 7
Arab media and intellectuals refuse to speak out clearly against those who encourage their youth to embrace martyrdom with religious zeal rather than meld modernity with Arab culture.

Fact 8
The Arab streets get their buzz from hating Israel and burning Israeli and American flags.

Fact 9
There is no outrage in the Arab world when their Arab brothers behead each other in Iraq , as well as slaughter thousands of Muslims in Darfur.

Fact 10
Americans are sacrificing their children for people who hate each other more than they love their own children.

RETARDATION
Sense vs. non-sense
Payam Bakhaje
August 11, 2006

Lets go over your made up rules; I would really like to see where these rules comming from? My comments are in blue.

Rule # 1
In the Middle East, it is always the Arabs that attack first, and it's always Israel who defends itself. This is called "Retaliation".
Sound real true and makes sense.

Rule # 2
The Arabs, whether Palestinians or Lebanese, are not allowed to kill Israelis. This is called "Terrorism".
Is killing OK at all? No mater who you are Israeli or Arab and Ajam?

Rule # 3
Israel has the right to kill Arab civilians, this is called "Self-Defense", or these days "Collateral Damage".
That is what we call "az Abe gel alood maahi gereftan". Honey this is war and sadly at war, innocent people get killed too. What do you expect Israel to do? Just sit and get attacked by Arabs? Why is it a problem each time Israel tries to protect its civilians? I just do not understand. When 9/11 happened, US government in reaction invaded two countries and Israel has been living under 9/11 conditions for more than 50 years. Please be reasonable.

Rule # 4
When Israel kills too many civilians, the Western world calls for restraint. This is called the "Reaction of the International Community".
This is not killing, this is war.

Rule # 5
Palestinians and Lebanese do not have the right to capture Israeli military, not even a limited number, not even 1 or 2. This is called "Kidnapping".
Why do they have the right? Do we have the right go and kidnap our neighbors' military peole? That just doesn't make sense.

Rule # 6
Israel has the right to capture as many Palestinians as they want (Palestinians: around 10,000 to date, 300 of which are children, Lebanese: 1000s to date, being held without trial). There is no limit; there is no need for proof of guilt or trial. This is called "War on Terrorism".
Oops I guess you forgot to mention terrorism. You just have no idea what you are talking about. Israel is a country and follows the International Law. All Israel wants to do is to live in peace, and all Arabs want to do is to destroy Israel. We have heard Mr. Ahmadinejad not once and not twice, talking of Israel's destruction, just like Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad and Fattah and ...

Rule # 7
When you say "Hezbollah", always be sure to add "supported by Syria and Iran". this is called: "Axis of Evil".
Agreed.

Rule # 8
When you say "Israel", never say "supported by the USA, the UK and other European countries", for people (God forbid) might believe this is not an equal conflict. This is called "Helping our Friends".
You have no Idea what are you talking about? Do you see any American troops in Israel? Or Lebanon?

Rule # 9
When it comes to Israel, don't mention the words "occupied territories", "UN resolutions", "Geneva conventions". This could distress the audience and is called "Anti-Semitism".
Brother, I do not know where you are coming from? There are about 5 million Jewish people living in a country called Israel. But I have not seen any country named Palestine or how we say, Felestine? Mmm I am wondering where it is on the map? Last time I asked my teacher to point me the country in the map she just couldn't and she failed me for the whole semester :(

Rule # 10
Israelis speak better English than Arabs. This is why we let them speak out as much as possible, so that they can explain rules. 1 through 9. This is called "Neutral Journalism".
I guess that is because they are civilized and they are more social than Arabs. Or maybe they just believe in living than fighting all their life.

Rule # 11
If you don't agree with these rules or if you favor the Arab side over the Israeli side, you must be a very dangerous anti-Semite.
As long as you are educated enough and willing to work toward peace rather than hatred.
Comment

POKER
Persian Bro
Manouchehr Mehrparvar
August 10, 2006

The 2006 World Series of Poker started almost a week ago in Las Vegas. Thousands of professional and amature poker playerspaid $10,000 each to participate in the largest ever tournament in the world for a chance at a minimum $12,000,000 first prize.

Of the 8,773 enterants, only 27 were left on Monday night. I was not one of these people! But I atleast lasted 3.5 days and finished in the money. I won my seat by playing another tournament for $1,500 and won $12,500 in this one which is called the main event. So it was not as painful for me as it was for many others who had paid the full $10,000 entry fee but had only lasted a few hours.

As of 10:45am this morning, 25 players are left. It is estimated that the top 9 players will all win over $2M. The tournament pay schedule pays down to the 700th player or so. For example, a person who finished at the 35th postion will get $330,000 and the player who finished at the 500th position may get $15,000 or so.

The most interesting thing about this years tournament is the absence of big name professionals such as Brunson, Chen, Hellmuth, Cloutier etc.

Allen Cunnigham is the only well known pro left in the last 27 players. There is one Iranian player named Sirus Jamshidi amongst these 27 and he is gauranteed to win $500,000 if he lasts a few more hours.

3 of the top 10 and 5 of the top 27 players are Amercians of Jewish descent. There is one Arab American and 2 Asian Americans among this group.

I don't know this Sirus guy but because he is a Persian Bro, I am rooting for him and hope to see him on the final table on the TV. Comment

RULES
Arab-Israeli political correctness
Author unknown (Do you know?)
August 10, 2006

Rule # 1
In the Middle East, it is always the Arabs that attack first, and it's always Israel who defends itself. This is called "Retaliation".

Rule # 2
The Arabs, whether Palestinians or Lebanese, are not allowed to kill Israelis. This is called "Terrorism".

Rule # 3
Israel has the right to kill Arab civilians, this is called "Self-Defense", or these days "Collateral Damage".

Rule # 4
When Israel kills too many civilians, the Western world calls for restraint. This is called the "Reaction of the International Community".

Rule # 5
Palestinians and Lebanese do not have the right to capture Israeli military, not even a limited number, not even 1 or 2. This is called "Kidnapping".

Rule # 6
Israel has the right to capture as many Palestinians as they want (Palestinians: around 10,000 to date, 300 of which are children, Lebanese: 1000s to date, being held without trial). There is no limit; there is no need for proof of guilt or trial. This is called "War on Terrorism".

Rule # 7
When you say "Hezbollah", always be sure to add "supported by Syria and Iran". this is called: "Axis of Evil".

Rule # 8
When you say "Israel", never say "supported by the USA, the UK and other European countries", for people (God forbid) might believe this is not an equal conflict. This is called "Helping our Friends".

Rule # 9
When it comes to Israel, don't mention the words "occupied territories", "UN resolutions", "Geneva conventions". This could distress the audience and is called "Anti-Semitism".

Rule # 10
Israelis speak better English than Arabs. This is why we let them speak out as much as possible, so that they can explain rules. 1 through 9. This is called "Neutral Journalism".

WAR & MORALITY
Go ahead, support the bastards
Golnaz Motarassed
August 10, 2006

I keep reading letters and articles of people who are unilaterally against the current regime in Iran. However they are crying for Lebanon. I would like to pose the question, The actions of which party in Lebanon has caused the current situation?

It is Hezbollah, this is not a Lebanese organization. It is funded and rooted in Iran, with the beginning of the Islamic Revolution. People want to be moral relativists when they see war so they are comfortable with their positions. The reality is MORAL ABSOLUTISM. You are against Hezbollah and what they stand for you need to be intellectually honest and responsible and be against Hezbollah and what it has done to Iranian citizens and Israeli citizens.

I have lived in both Iran and Israel, regardless of my religion, Hezbollah was a terrifying experience in both. They murder innocent men women and children every day whether by blowing them up in the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem etc.. or the prisons of Iran, most recently Akbar Mohammadi in Evin.

We have to see why Israel is attacking, they didn't wake up one morning and just start attacking. The Hezbollah party moved into Israel proper and kidnapped an Israeli soldier, we waited a period of time and demanded his release and the common response was is not 1 life worth another life lets exchange. However, that 1:1 ratio was one soldier whom we have no confirmation of life for in exchange for 100's of PRISONERS, who have done g-d knows what to Israels state of security. Also recall prior to exchange of fire we met with multiple heads of state.

Ehud Olmert is a strong leader and he has started something and g-d willing he will see it to its conclusion. An Israeli Fire-fighter recently putting out a fire in a high school in Haifa broke down and cried.. he said why does Hezbollah hide behind its women and children why? Why do they use them as shields it is a truth. The artillery is in their homes and their garages and their cars. Why do they hate Israel so much? Why they are not Palestinians they have economic issues as well as social.

They are brainwashed to be ammunition for this disgusting organization. As mothers knowing they have children it is their responsibility to not affiliate with such groups, to not live amongst known murderers. It may seem easier said than done but when it is a matter of life and death you choose life and your children's future.

Israel is being hit by Katusha rockets every day in the hundreds... do not believe they were not being hit by these rockets before this invasion it just has not made the international news, remember these are rockets found in homes, and garages. Ask yourself honestly if it was another country not Israel and not Jews protecting themselves against the hated Hezbollah what would your reaction be?

Iran's Hezbollah party has arms as far out as Sub-Saharan African countries, it has caused enough civil unrest for Iraq, enough is enough. Many of you can't stand walking past pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini in the streets of Iran but you are crying for those who have his pic up all over their streets and would fight in Iran and they have against Iranian citizens, there was an influx of non Iranian pro Hezbollah basijis in Iran, at the heights of the revolution they beat our women in the streets they harassed our youth. Please by all means be Anti-Israel and support those bastards.

Or be Honest and a MORAL ABSOLUTIST and say this is war it is a terrible tragedy but it has happened because of Hezbollah who has terrorized enough people. Comment

Golnaz's blog, golnazsoul.blogspot.com

PEOPLE
Time flies
Sholeh Ja
August 7, 2006

I was taking a 3 days trip to Southern California for pleasure. I usually take a trip any chance I get, even if it is for a day. Getting away in my case releases a lot of stress. I was at the airport few hours prior to my departure looking at people and all of a sudden they all looked similar in groups. Wondering what I mean? Well listen:

Group 1
VP of some sorts, 6'2'' in height, clean-cut and obnoxious, shinny shoes, their laptop carry-on bag.

Group 2
New Yorker salesman with that charming accent and smile, who can sell sunglasses to the blind.

Group 3
Typical arrogant Joe, who acts like knows everything. He's loud so he can get every one's attention.

Group 4
Then there are leftover salesmen from 70's. He still has to work because his mortgage is not paid off. You can see how tired he is. This group can be differentiated easily because they are still taking notes by hand on a piece of paper, and not on their laptop, Tablet PC or Trio 750.

Group 5
Typical Suzy who weights 120lb and wears high heels, who can not tell shit from sugar but got the job because her breasts are size 34D.

Group 6
Jane who is trying so hard to keep up in this competitive world of business. She weights around 180lb and is trying to have a new generation hair cut, but her red suit from 10 years ago speaks for itself and doesn't fit into the picture.

Group 7
New Generation female CEO or Founder, God forbid if you ask them which company they "Work For?"... They are both unbearable and conceited. They are on top of the world and nothing matters. They are taking over.

Group 8
Then there is the guy in front of me in line. He is trying to increase the company's profit with few phone calls and a proposal to the board of directors. He hasn't stopped talking since I got behind him in line which was almost 2 hours ago. He has a very crisp, dark suit on. He has made few calls to few VP's and trying to find why the board of directors can not see the outcome of his proposal which can make them all millionaires. He is acting like the company will crash without him. The stock options can rise to its all time high if they let him to make few changes.

And I am wondering if this all is true, someone so influential like him, why is he standing in line C on a Southwest flight, where even the seats are not assigned, instead of a 1st Class seat on a descent airline?

He is still taking to VPs but seems like no one is agreeing with him because he is still try to convince them...

And last but not least, My Group:
Visitors who travel for fun every chance they get. I am just a simple employee, paying bills and have to work to survive. It is a Rat Race, but I am trying to figure out a way out. Life is simply too short not to live it.

I am in my unassigned seat, on my way to Los Angeles and a pack of salty peanut is handed to me, on it, it says: "Time Flies".

MIDDLE EAST
Seperate aliens
Nema Milaninia
August 4, 2006

I'm not going to play political niceities on this one. And honestly, the wrongfulness of Hezbollah's kidnapping of two soliders is irrelevant at this point. Morally speaking, if the subsequent action is so grave and atrocious and disproportional, the initial action cannot be used as a justifying mechanism. The fact of the matter remains: over 900 people dead, 90% of which are civilians, half of which are children, the country has been destroyed, half a million people are now homeless, and for what?

What justifies these atrocities? Does the government of Israel and its supporters actually believe that violence begets peace? Do they honestly believe that it targetting Hezbollah when 90% of the casualties are civilians, or dropping pamphlets before bombings justifies their action.

You know what I see in Israel, the US, and in the fact the entire Middle East. I see racism, prejudice, and fear. I see people who are incapable of seeing the other as themselves. I see people who continuously want to divide, distinguish, and destroy. People who see Jews, or Muslims as alien. Arabs as the enemy. Muslims as fascists. Jews as colonists. Americans as warmongers. I see complete and utter ignorance and racism. This is the one region in the world where we don't demand integration, but we expect seperation.

We don't expect Palestinians and Jews to live together. We expect them to live apart, to seperate them from each other, to create borders. We wish to divide them. By doing so we create disassociations, we emphasize differences, we recognize divisions. We persuade them that the self is not the other. That the other is alien to the self. And that the other does not think, feel, act, behave, rationalize, live, or die like the self.

In other words, we have created the groundwork for atrocities. We no longer see humans, we see cockroaches, terrorists, and conspirators. The more I read, the more I realize that we in the U.S. are doing nothing to collapse these notions. Instead, we keep emphasizing differences. Until that changes, peace will never come to the Middle East. Never. Comment

Visit Nema Milaninia's blog, IranianTruth.com

WISH
Pull my eyes out
Mazloom
August 3, 2006

On Monday night I spent over three hours looking at war pictures and video clips of Israel-Lebanon war. I looked at AP, AFP, Reuters, NBC, CBS, PBS, BBC, Fox News, Fars News, Mehr News, Al Jazeera, bloggers, propaganda websites for Israel and Hezbollah, and on and on. I looked at pictures of babies blown to pieces, half missing torsos, burned bodies, children without eyes, vertebrates without bones, and people without homes. I did it because I wanted to become sick of this world and throw up on it. Instead my brain wiring got short-circuited, and neurons in my head created a looped circuitry. In my head I hear this phrase over and over again all day and night: "I wish Mongolian invaders had pulled my eyes out of their sockets". It's been days and I can't break the loop. Comment

REJECTION
Late cancellation
FH
August 3, 2006

More than 150 participants to the Global Gathering of Sharif University of Technology Association (SUTA) [in Santa Clara, California,] have received visas to travel to the United States to attend the gathering. Suddenly, without advance notice and while people were on their way, the State Department revoked all granted visas, probably in response to the current developments in the region. Those who arrived were told at the airport of their visa cancellation. They were not allowed to enter the country, had to stay in immigration detention centers and were sent back the next day, some with wife and children. Comment

WAR
Anti-Dershowitz: Israel's continuum of barbarianism

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi
August 2, 2006

Every war has its army of apologists and in Israel's case, leading the march is Harvard's law professor, Alan Dershowitz, enjoying open access to the US papers' opinion pages, spinning the horrific atrocities of Israel in Lebanon as legally and morally justified, including Israel's cold-blooded murder of innocent women and children.

Thus, in his recent piece in LA Times, Dershowtiz writes: "The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of Sourhtern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones." He also writes of "conditionality of civilianity," the premise being that those civilians who do not heed Israel's call to leave and "voluntarily" stay behind are "complicit."

A key issue here, of course, what is meant by "voluntarily" when civilians are huddled in their homes with bombs falling around them and all roads and bridges knocked out of commission? A poor Lebanese Shiite, having no means of trasportation, may decide that it is better to risk death at his or her home than on the dangerous trek to safety somewhere else and, yet, according to our distinguished law professor, beguiling the esteemed institution that employs him, that person is complicit in his or her destruction, not the true culprit, Israel, indiscriminately bombing them and trashing the basic fudamentals of international humanitarian law in the process.

In fact, the underlying theme of Dershowitz's narrative is a tacit call for re-writing the international humanitarian laws, which form the backbone of the similar international provisions against genocide and other similar crimes, in order to exonerate Israel from its current crimes against humanity in Lebanon and Gaza (where it has reportedly abducted some 300 children some as young as five years old). But, don't expect the apologists for Israel such as Dershowitz to decry Israel's atrocities, their eyes are open in only one direction, blaming Israel's foes, while white washing Israel's state terror.

Indeed, why don't the pundits such as Dershowitz call a spade a spade and refer to Israeli terror campaign in Lebanon, reserving this terminology only for the Hezbollah and Hamas? The double standard has been so flagrant as to make a mockery of Dershowitz's background as a law professor and legal advocate, nominally committed to equal justice. But, as Orwell wrote in the Animal Farm, "we are all equal, but some are more equal than others." Comment

WAR
Lebanon tragedy

Sima Nahan
August 1, 2006

Last week a friend of mine called just to hear my reaction to the war on Lebanon, she said: "I knew you would be as angry as I am."

I know the feeling. I contacted two Lebanese friends myself, just to exchange fits of rage. As I told them, if this situation is making a peace-loving, conflict-avoiding, middle-aged woman sitting comfortably in California this angry I shudder to think of the rage it inspires in people who bear the brunt of this grotesque campaign of violence and -- as ever -- lies.

After my initial paralyzing rage I hit the blogs on and/or from Lebanon. Below are some great sites -- and do not forget to check out their links. Please visit them and lend your support. We are in this together, now more than ever, and we must be visible and vocal about it.

* To support humanitarian efforts, check out Sanayeh Relief Center, which is a coalition of grassroots groups in Beirut: www.sanayehreliefcenter.blogspot.com

* For bullet-point information and to lend other kind of support, go to Save Lebanon: www.saveleb.org. The purpose of this website is to "facilitate and support the cessation of the acts of violence Israel is committing against the Lebanese people."

* For minute-by-minute update of what is taking place in Lebanon: www.lebanonupdates.blogspot.com.

* For analysis: www.lebop.blogspot.com. This site "is intended to provide in-depth analysis in English on the political situation in Lebanon."

* For a list of Lebanese bloggers: www.lebanonheartblogs.blogspot.com. Comment

* The blogs I particularly like:
-- www.salamcinema.blogspot.com
-- www.jamalghosn.blogspot.com
-- www.abutakla.blogspot.com
-- www.yawmiyat-yawmiyat.blogspot.com.

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