Saturday, July 5, 2008
You begin to wonder what he might have thought were he alive these days...
The Shah of Iran is buried in a small mausoleum in the corner of a mosque in Meydan Salah-id Deen here in Cairo... The area was locked off while i was there, but telling the guard I had come from iran to see this (+5 pounds) allowed me access to the tombs..
It was vaguely emotional standing there and seeing the ornate tomb (far above what egyptian king farouk had received in the next room) with freshly laid flowers, the peacock crown adorning it.. To imagine, the man who did so much, who inspired so much anger and so much emotion and captivated millions, today sat useless beneath the marble. it was kind of like seeing the mummies of Egyptian pharoahs at the Egyptian Museum the other day- they all just look useless, frail, defenseless- you can't imagine them ruling over great empires. At the shah's grave I felt the same.
If anything, it's the personal tragedy of the matter that captivates me (for at the end of the day we're all just little stories caught up in the waves of politics, right?). I try to imagine what he would think, 30 years later- if he ever thought he would be buried in relative obscurity in a far off country with no visitors and no family.. i can't imagine it would have crossed his mind how his life would change in it's last 2 years, to become a refugee after decades of greatness, of ruling over an empire with 2500 years behind it. And now, looking at his family- spread across the world, one daughter having committed suicide, one son still a delusional "prince (of what? Connecticut these days?) and iran on the brink of a war with the world that's hard even for myself to justify (despite being the great ahmedinejadist i've become)- it's very sad, on some level of national tragedy.
but who in iran has time to think about the personal tragedy of some delusional, dead monarch?
I recently realized that the arabic word for Farsi also means "domain of the knight".
I feel ridiculous, cliche, and overly emotional saying this, but i have to- and where is our knight now?
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Some more reliable reporting from the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/29/world/middleeast/29mideast.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&ref=world&pagewanted=print):
A Palestinian mother and her four young children were killed in northern Gaza on Monday during an Israeli operation against militants there, and a dispute quickly arose over exactly how they had died.
Mind you, the mother and 4 children were killed “during a raid”, but not by anyone or anything in particular. They just happened to be killed, and passively at that. Who killed them? Apparently, it is disputed who was shooting missiles into
Language is incredibly powerful, and Western & Israeli media’s avoidance of terms that seem to fault
Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed Hamas. “We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens there, for all injuries,” he said while on a tour of an Israeli weapons factory, Israeli radio reported.
They’re just responsible, it doesn’t even matter for what, they did it, too. Then this: “Militants have tried to infiltrate the border crossing into
This, only a few weeks after the Deputy Defence Minister of Israel told the entire Palestinian nation (for this is what “Palestinians” means, right?) that they risked inviting a Holocaust upon themselves if they not stop the rocket attacks. It is shocking how an Israeli official could make a reference to the Holocaust when discussing the Palestinians, when they Israelis can barely fathom the idea that they might actually by “killing” people, much less “murdering” them. (I understand that he used the word “Shoah”, which means a disaster or calamity, but from every source I’ve found, “shoah”, and particularly “ha-shoah”, is a reference almost exclusively to the Holocaust in the Hebrew language.)
The intensification in the last few months of the fighting in
“A commenter called Noga of the Contentious Centrist blog explains the many many ways in which the word "shoah" is used in
Thank goodness Noga has cleared that one up.
I see little hope for the future: for
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
First: I was in professor Lamy’s office the other day discussing research that I would like to do over summer while in Egypt & Iran, and at some point, after some (half-) kidding remark I made regarding Iran’s political situation, he remarked, “ah, so you’re a Persian nationalist, aren’t you?”
Second: A friend of mine called me because she was writing a paper for a discussion she was having in an international relations course that centered on contemporary Western relations with
This was, sadly, the truth of the matter. I read As’ad Abu Khalil’s Angry Arab blog on a daily basis, and am always reminded of the follies of nationalism (except for the Palestinians, as he always qualifies). I myself think nationalism is a base appeal to emotion that stirs people up illogically, but at the same time it is hard for me not to feel nationalistic when I see the world around me, and how
I found once a blog called Ibn Bint Jbeil (http://ibnbintjbeil.blogspot.com/) and at some point there is a post where the writer explains that while he was actually born in Beirut, his father’s attachment to his natal village Bint Jbeil was so strong that he could not bear to have his children registered as being born in Beirut, and thus registered them officially as having been born in Bint Jbeil. The father had gone to work in
Another article I read a bit ago in foreign policy also explored the positive side of nationalism (“Is Nationalism Good For You?” March/April 2008 http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4170&page=2), discussing how people who are more nationalistic tend to be less corrupt and contribute more to their society at large (which makes sense). If this is the type of nationalism
A tangent, but
Freshman year I wrote a paper for my PPD minor (International Urban Development) on
The other day I was sitting with a friend who had recently been in
“Where are you from?”
“Right now, no where.”
“I don’t know, it depends on uncultured folk.”
Monday, April 7, 2008
I do research at the Center for Public Diplomacy, and I have just started a project on Hizballah’s public diplomacy strategy. The first thing that struck me was- why is this organization called “Hizballah” in English? For that matter, why is Al-Qaeda “al-Qaeda”? It bothers me that the English translation is used for some organizations (like the IDF) but not for others. A recent article in the LATimes by Rabih Alameddine captured my frustration, as he lamented that by calling God “Allah” when speaking about Islam it is inferred that Muslims pray to some special, separate deity unrelated to the “God” of English Christianity or Judaism. By referring to Hizballah as such (and not as the “Party of God”), what does the Western media accomplish, I wonder? After a bombing in
Besides that initial misgiving about the project’s name, the word on Hizballah has been informative, especially my research about Hizballah’s videogame diplomacy, involving the production of slick, Western-style computer games about the historic resistance against
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev responded by saying: ''It should come as a surprise to no one that Hezbollah teaches children that hatred and violence are positive attributes.'' (http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/08/16/hezbollah.game.reut/index.html)
Where is the Israeli anger when Activision releases a videogame involving American soldiers shooting up Arab villages (like I had the chance to play when I was younger), or the 2005 “Assault on
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I work for the campus UNICEF chapter (UNICEF@USC), and while I have doubts about the amount of good UNICEF can achieve in the long haul (it acts as a stopgap measure most of the time, reacting to crises in ways that rarely touch upon deeper issues) I take seriously our chapter’s mission of educating students and spreading awareness of global issues on campus seriously. Recently I gave a talk on the humanitarian crisis in
The crisis in
It is very hard for people in this country to understand the roots of terror, or to understand that just because they forget something, the rest of the world will not. Over and over, Americans repeat the same mistakes- in 1979, instead of looking to the CIA-backed coup of the popular leader Mossadeq or
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I cannot help but be shocked everyday that goes by as the Arabs remain silent about the massacres going on in
Last semester for a class on Peace & Conflict Studies I wrote a research paper on Arab pop music and how it had interacted (i.e. reacted or been influenced by) with the Arab political situation. My research spanned from the 1950’s onward, and the last few pages had to do with how contemporary Arab pop has become completely alienated from the audience it addresses. It is hard for me to imagine what the average Palestinian or even Egyptian family, sitting on a rotten couch in an overcrowded refugee camp or anonymous slum thinks when they watch TV and see Haifa Wehbe singing about a naughty child she is babysitting (a child who wears Burberry outfits in her video “Wawa”) or Maria switching off between Geisha costumes and a Louis Vuitton-themed car in “Stop Ta3ala Bas”. This is probably the most disturbing aspect of Arab culture today- the complete chasm between the high culture of the Gulf and the elites of other countries and the low culture (read: the reality) of everyone else, from the Palestinians on up. (I should note, though, that even Arab pop music can claim a higher moral position than the governments of the Gulf, stemming from the recent 25-minute music video “al Dameer al 3arabi”, which probably tops by far anything the Gulf has ever done [or even thought of doing] in the way of Arab “consciousness”…)
For many Arab intellectuals today, it seems that the inertia and resulting hopelessness that was sown in the wake of the Setback of 1967 has never faded, and understandably so- their governments have been lulled to sleep by Western cash, and the people are too busy trying to scrape out a living (or, after work, too busy watching Haifa) to care about their brothers and sisters in Palestine. It is telling that the biggest demonstration in the wake of the recent massacres occurred in Nouakchott, Mauritania, a city I doubt many Arabs have even heard of before, much less could locate on a map.
It is on these days that I am tremendously proud to be an Iranian citizen. The Iranian government has emerged as one of the few major voices in the world to actively challenge Israeli and US actions, despite the little benefit
When I look at
Sunday, March 2, 2008
It is amazing how the Israeli leadership blatantly lies to the world! After reports that militants had launched Soviet-made missiles towards
Also, I enjoy how the Western media goes out of its way to make American viewers feel comfortable by giving the view of middle-class Israeli people when discussing the war the Israelis are waging against Gaza, and not the view of the actual people being affected or hurt by it. When people are dying on one side of the security fence, how is it even ethical for the BBC to ask the residents of Sderot, who moved there from somewhere else, how hard it is for them for homemade rockets that rarely hit their target to land in the desert in the general region of their city? Poor people (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7270650.stm).
This article by former Ma’ariv correspondent, Yonatan Mendel, rails against this ridiculous treatment of the Palestinians by the press: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n05/mend01_.html. For example, when a militant Palestinian group takes an Israeli hostage across the security fence (in this case a soldier) it is “kidnapping”, but when Israel does the same across the security fense (in this case, a parliamentarian) it is “arrest”. Similarly, the IDF never “murders” anyone; it merely “hits” them. How can these writers even take themselves or their reporting seriously?
This passage in particular sticks out, because it very accurately describes the type of reporting depressingly common when the situation in
‘A Qassam fell next to a residential house, three Israelis had slight injuries, and ten others suffered from shock.’ One should not make light of these injuries: a missile hitting a house in the middle of the night could indeed cause great shock. However, one should also remember that shock is for Jews only. Palestinians are apparently a very tough people.
During the July War I was at home watching CNN when some reporters interviewed a family in the north of
Never mind that the woman in