For those of you who don’t know what Ghorme Sabzi is, it’s a popular Iranian stew made of beans, chopped vegetables, dried lime and minced meat cooked in a certain order, mixed together and cooked again to be served with white rice. You may ask what does this stew have to do with bombing Iran other that the fact that eating too much of it feels like being bombed from the inside?
A few years ago a friend in England sent me an email expressing his concern about the possibility of a preemptive American attack against Iran and thought this would be a disaster for both countries. He asked me to assist him in launching an organization in the United States that he had just founded in London called the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran casmii.org. To help out, I contacted some peace activist friends I knew and arranged several meetings here in Atlanta and a few places on the west coast.
The same friend sent me an email a few weeks ago to let me know that one of the CASMII volunteers in the US was visiting Atlanta with a group of peace activists (afsc.org) to give a talk about the same subjectó”Iran, is it a threat?” He asked if I could help him get the word out and publicize the event among the Atlanta Iranian community. CASMII has grown into one of the largest grass root organizations opposing military intervention in Iran and regularly provides speakers at various events and makes appearances on TV stations such as Aljazira.
I immediately contacted Rustan Pourzali, the president of CASMII US, one of the speakers living in Washington, to let him know that I would be contacting folks in Atlanta to attend the main meeting on Saturday November 10th. I formulated an email that I thought would shake the Iranian Americans to the core by inserting the quotation by Norman Podhoretz, “I pray that Bush Bombs Iran.” Norman Podhoretz is a political advisor to Rudolf Giuliani and the author of the book World War IV, George Bush’s bedtime reading according to some reports.
In addition, I started calling people to invite them to the event and impress upon them the importance of attending. Well, first I contacted my next door neighbor, who is an Iranian American.
After giving me an apologetic look, he asked where the event was and I said downtown. To make a long story short he was invited to a mehmony (Iranian party) and downtown was too far for him to travel to attend both events. I called another friend who seems to be very politically active and aware. It turned out that he too had been invited to a “mehmoony.”
Yet another seemingly politically aware friend who spends half his life listening to short wave radio transmissions from France, Israel and god knows where else brought up the excuse that he had to clean his house since his wife was tired. After accusing him of being worse than the Ghajars with regard to caring for his native land, he promised to come.
By Friday night it was apparent that most if not all of the Atlanta Iranian community had various functions that were more important than dealing with the prospect of bombing Iran and the only Iranians who could be there were misfits and outcasts and those who had nothing better to do. Little did I know how right I was. Saturday night people started trickling into the Church where the event was being held. A few friends who had a genuine interest or nothing better to do, showed up as well.
The event started with Phil Wilayto doing a slide presentation of his trip to Iran. Phil is a long time anti-war activist who, at his own expense, organized an 11 day tour of Iran this past July and met with some Iranian officials, students and others with goal of building goodwill.
Afterwards, Rostam took the podium and outlined his reasons why Iran is not a threat and any attack would be a bad idea for everybody. Further, Iranians should be left to their own devices to change the regime as they have done before. Finally Simian Royanian co founder of Women for Peace and Justice in Iran and a Northeast Feminist Scholar made her point that there are many progressive movements in Iran and any military move will hamper their efforts further. In any case at no time is war an answer.
The fun began during the question and answer session. A man in the audience asked Phil if he visited the southern part of Iran. When Phil said no the man shouted, “Shame on you,” and sat down. Most Americans including Phil were left wondering what had just happened. Afterwards, the Iranians had to explain that this was a protest of a separatist who believes Iran should be divided along so called “ethnic boundaries” with the middle part, called Iran, left mostly barren.
After another question, three or four MEK cult members started shouting in protest and showing pictures of hanged people from cranes in Iran. They accused the speakers of being agents of Islamic Republic and asked how much they were being paid. And there lies the problem with opposing any military attack against Iran. I guess you cannot be highly critical of the government in Iran and at the same time oppose the destruction of your native country. On the other hand, maybe Ghorme Sabzi and Mehmoony are more important anyway.