Friday, September 26, 2008

Jewish Rabbis, Quds Day and Zionism

I met a group of anti Zionist Rabbi in Tehran , in 2005 on the sidelines of the International Conference on Environment , Peace and Dialogue Among Civilizations. As the Vice President of Iran I welcomed them and stressed upon the difference that we see between Judaism and Zionism and our common Abrahamic values. I also met some Rabbis from France in the sidelines of the Arctic Cruise I attended last year in Greenland. In reaction to a Russian Scientist who said in her speech that divine religions have nothing to say about the environment , I told them if leaders of Abrahamic Religions had worked together on the valuable themes projected in the Torah, the Bible or the Quran on nature and conservation , this Russian lady would have known better than to say such incorrect words. They were first taken aback, hearing this from me from Iran, but then they appreciated it and agreed that we need to work on some of the common themes that we have and to emphasize on the unity of the Abrahamic tradition.

Our President spoke at the UN General Assembly a couple days ago, I believe he stroke a more moderate and reasonable tone. Even though most of what he has to say has been the core themes in Iranian foreign policy for a long time now, I would not agree with the way he put his speech , as if it were a sermon, nor would I emphasize so much on the differences and disparities in today's world.

We are celebrating the Day of Quds today. What began in Iran as a proposal by Imam Khomeini to support the Palestinian cause is now an international campaign marked by worldwide rallies. In many international fora, I have said that the unresolved issue of Palestine, the historical facts and the conditions of Palestinian people today all point to the inability or the unwillingness of the international community, the Security Council and its apparatus to resolve the matter. Quds is a standing symbol of global mismanagement, a reminiscence of the double standards that govern today's world, a sign of continuing injustices that plague humanity . The plight of millions of displaced people , who are now living for more than 2 generations in refugee status in camps with very dire conditions is now easily dismissed in negotiations, the plight of millions living in siege in Gaza or the inhuman conditions of Apartheid in the West Bank are overlooked and forgotten.
I do not agree with the denial of the Holocaust, it occurred and it was a tragedy for humanity which will always be condemned . I do however agree with the question that why should the Muslim Palestinians who resided in Palestine for generations, why should they suffer for the crimes committed by the Germans in Europe?
The expansionist and racist stipulates of the Elders of Zion and the outrageous crimes committed in the name and by Zionist regimes are well known to the international community. More important today is the influence and dominion that Zionism has in American political and economic apparatus. I have spoken with many Americans who are now very fearful of the pivotal role that the Zionist lobby plays in American politics and the dreadful role that they play in manipulating American foreign and national security polity to serve the interests of the State of Israel first and above all. The American public have not realized that the prosperity and good life that they enjoy , is in part due to the sufferings that their government has inflicted upon nations in the world . They need to understand that if they believe in the democratic nature of their political system then they are accomplices in the actions of their politicians and will be held accountable for the policies of their government .
The understanding has grown, after 9-11, but more after the 33 day war in Southern Lebanon and the human tragedy Israel created by attacking civilian areas and targeting freedom fighters. The Palestinians have resisted occupation, terror and war for several decades now, their cause is a symbol of injustice and oppression in the world. For this reason it becomes a duty for every liberal, freedom seeking and enlightened fellow human being to stand up to this entity and to voice their protest and objection and to uphold the truth for the sake of their own dignity and future .
The Palestinians have the right to a State and the right to decide for their future. The question is where do we stand on this matter?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Living Nights

If sleep could be likened to a temporary death, when one feels nothing, sees and hears none and makes contact with another realm, the subconscious or the inner self, however you like to call it, then staying awake at night could be likened to another life. Night becomes an opportunity to live in another dimension, a revival . That is probably the concept behind the "Living Nights" that we have in Ramazan. The idea is to stay awake on certain nights which are known to be nights of Ghadr or Measure. It is like the opportunity to measure yourself realistically and to find out how much you meet the standards or how much you have fallen off course. There are certain equations in Ramazan , which could be rooted in the fasting and serious restraint from wrong doings , that make that inner self more accessible. In those nights, flight and access to the realm of the spirit, that which we have so wrongly forgotten , for the sake of a dazzling and charming yet deteriorating and entropic world, becomes possible. It is as if the heavens are closer or those who have fasted have become lighter.

Then if a soul is revived, it would be possible to revive a society. If a leader revives his soul, then he would not rule on the basis of selfish, arrogance and vengeance. His leadership would stem from love, passion and altruism.

It is a common spiritual experience, for followers of divine religions and the believers. In Tehran, I met Archbishop Capucci, a Palestinian clergyman who had fought against Israeli occupation and aggression. He told us how he was treated in Israeli prisons , how he was given dog food and how they spat in the food to humiliate the Palestinians. That was in 1979 way before the Intifada, but the Islamic Revolution had given their cause a new life and spirit. " I lost a lot of weight " he said " but that made me lighter , and my spirit could fly easier and higher..."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Heated Debates on Presidential Elections

Debates for the upcoming Presidential elections have now been underway for some time. The tenth Presidential elections in Iran will be held in June 2009. Different political tendencies are now engaged in internal debates on how to proceed for the sensitive election campaign and who to consider as the most appropriate candidate. The Principalists now have serious doubts about supporting Mr. Ahmadinejad for the second round. Many feel that he has not been able to deliver considering the promises and commitments he made during the election campaign. Inflation, soaring commodity prices, rising unemployment and general discontent have lowered the popularity of the current President. This has has been a reason for concern among Principalists who cannot reach consensus on their next candidate. In addition, more moderate among them and those who consider themselves as Principalist Reformists, are highly critical of government policies. The current Mayor of Tehran is among those criticizing the economic and political decisions taken by the administration.

On the other hand the Reformists are in difficult circumstances. They cannot remain indifferent to the future of the Islamic Revolution and the devious version of thought and practice being made in the name of the Religion. They believe that reform is the only alternative. Mehdi Karroubi has been nominated by his party , however those in the reformist camp believe that he will not be able to compete with the rival candidates. Taking all calculations into consideration ,Seyed Mohammad Khatami is the ideal candidate; he still wields vast popularity , particularly among the young and educated Iranians. In comparison with what they see today, the era of Khatami was an era of sustained growth, hope and prosperity. The problem is that Khatami has serious reservations and has not yet announced his nomination. His reservations are not personal, he has doubts on other matters.
While national elections are engaged with heated debates, we convened local elections on Friday for the Friends of the Council in Tehran . In 370 districts of Tehran elections were held among local candidates for local 7-person councils who will serve as advisers to the City Council. The turnout was higher than expected and we had to print more ballots to keep up with the demands . The elections were held peacefully while more than 500, 000 inhabitants of Tehran took part. I visited ten polling stations in different regions of the city and the general atmosphere was positive.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lessons for Sarah Palin

John McCain made a surprise pick, stepping on Obama's Convention bounce, when he appointed Sarah Palin as Vice President. This decision seems to be made on the basis of the large voter turnout that Hillary Clinton, as an influential woman politician had produced during her campaign . Sarah Palin was to compensate, as an alternative competitor, for some of the apathy that had piled up against the aged and aggressive image of McCain who had developed many clashes with the media.

Even here it is the feminine archetype or the anima that comes to the rescue of the very rigid and masculine impression that Republicans carry today. Their campaign advisers have planned for immediate results but whether that would resolve the long term impressions or not remains to be seen.
Sarah Palin who clearly suffers from a lack of foregn affairs experience and insight made some brief references to international issues in her Convention speech. On the need to drill for new energy resources she said " .. to confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world energy supplies.." While she is correct on the 1/5 ratio ,Mrs. Palin needs to understand that Iran is a peace loving nation that has never taken any aggressive action against any nation for the past 700 years which is 3.5 fold the history that America holds. In addition, Iran has strived to improve its relations with the world and was particularly focused on this policy during President Khatami . Therefore, Iran may only do so in direct response to any threat to her national security.

She also made a reference to Obama's position on meeting with the Iranian President without any preconditions , and by referring to Iran as a terrorist State, she tries to make a point. Palin is however, ignorant of the fact that Iran has been a victim of terrorism and has cooperated with her government in confronting terrorist activites. She has missed the point that Iran leads the region with one of the highest rates of scientific articles published in ISI Journals or that Iran has one of the largest blogger societies in the developing world.

Sarah Palin ,you have a long way to learn , that whether you like it or not, relative to its neighbours Iran has one of the most secure cities in the region and that it is a major player in global equations. You also need to learn Mrs Palin, that as an opponent of the current government I understand the weaknesses and shortcomings of our government and I find enough room to voice those concerns and criticisms without the need for any foreign intervention.

Once you learn those lessons , if your party wins the elections , you might be able to change the current arrogant tone of your government and deal with Iran on equal terms , to improve relationships for the benefit of both nations and for the benefit of peace and security in the region and in the world.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Guests of Ramazan

Muslims are guests of God's feast during this month. Fasting is a change of habits, a change of attitudes and behaviours. Its not only to refrain from eating and drinking but more important is to refrain from lies and deception. Ramazan is about forgetting yourself and remembering the pains and sufferings of your brothers and sisters. It is an opportunity for flight from the material nets of the world to the realm of the spirit. In today's world where the restless mind and wandering spirit rob us from our inner peace , we need to search for that peace within our inner selves and Ramazan is a unique opportunity .