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Iran vs. US: Our bond is greater than our enmity

By: Fariba Amini, Washington, DC

We must be the change we wish to see in the world- Gandhi

We Iranians are a proud bunch and a very stubborn one for that matter. I guess it is part of our culture and upbringing. So how would a country with people who have so much pride tolerate a strike or invasion or similar action by the major superpower? Well, it seems and from all accounts, many Iranians inside Iran who are frustrated and feel helpless are all for it. However, we know that any kind of military strike or attack will have destructive results for everyone involved.

Whether the US administration has been using sheer rhetoric to pressure the Islamic Republic or it really means business, there is one thing is that is obvious: After the invasion of Iraq, Iran Will not be an easy target nor will things be handed over on a sliver platter. No matter what though, whether the US really attacks Iran, whether the Islamic regimes falls, or none occurs at the moment, one thing is crystal clear: the Iranian- American community here in the US is a strong force which is now a real part of the US life and economy and a major effective force in this country. They also share many common grounds with their fellow Americans.

We have shown our resolve in many instances and while witnessing the many petitions going around, it would be very difficult for the administration to convince Iranian- Americans that in fact a strike on their motherland is a good idea. Moreover, with Iran being in the news almost daily and since the 'axis of evil' speech, Americans have become increasingly interested in and aware of Iran -be it its culture, politics, cinema, and poetry or its human rights abuses. Here in the DC area, there are so many weekly cultural and political events on Iran that one could never find the time to attend them all. The Sackler museum/freer Gallery has its yearly show of Iranian films which is not only seen by many Iranians but amazingly, many Americans come to enjoy the films. Reading Jallaledin's Rumi's poetry in the bookstores is a common thing. The other day, I was at Barnes and Noble and an American Lady was anxiously asking the bookstore personnel for a copy of "Reading Lolita in Tehran." The flow of publications of books on Iran either by American authors or their Iranian counterparts is phenomenal. You finish one and a few days later, more books are on bookstands. Not a single day goes by where there is not an editorial or an article on Iran in the NY Times or the Washington Post. Lectures on issues pertaining to Iranian politics are now a common occurrence either at the Press Club, at the different institutes or the universities all over this city. With the approaching of the Persian New Year in less than two weeks, many celebrations are taking place, most already sold out. On March 25th, The Four seasons will host a $350.00-$1000 a plate fundraising event by the Iranian American Technology Council (IATC) for the University of Maryland's newly opened Persian Department and awards will be given to Americans and Iranians-writers, CEO's and alike for their contribution in understanding Iran as well as their continuous effort in their service to the US economy.

Last evening, I attended the first Kennedy Center performance of Persian Music by the Great Masters of Persian music- Shajarian-father and son, Kalhor and Alizadeh. The who's who of Washington -Iranians with different background were there by the thousands and so were hundreds of Americans who love and appreciate Persian art and culture. The group received standing ovation for their heartwarming performance. In the line, Iranians and Americans were standing together, enthusiastically to purchase their CD's. People had a smile on their face when emerging out of the impressive hall of the Kennedy Center.

Americans and Iranians share a common ground; they like to see Iran and America become friends once again. They like to see American people travel to Iran without restrictions and Iranians not be fingerprinted while entering the US. We share a love for one another's culture which is beyond the rhetoric of both governments. And because of this bond, which has become stronger and is growing everyday, the only way is dialogue between the real and common people on both sides. Governments attempt to act on behalf of people but when people take control and become their own spokesmen, then, and almost certainly the governments will have failed to keep the artificial distance which only creates frictions and divisions. We as Iranians and Americans and alike must tell our respective governments- whether elected or not that we aim to take control; invasion, attack, or boiling rhetoric from either side should give away to a real dialogue between those of us who want a genuine and decisive change. An authentic discourse unlike the "dialogue of civilizations" with a fake smile must take place sooner than later.

About the author:
Fariba Amini has been active on Human Rights issues and was co-founder of the Alliance for Defense of Human Rights in Iran. she is the President of Foundation for Educational Progress, a non-profit organization which collects and sends edu cational materials to Afghanistan and other Farsi speaking countries. She holds a history degree from the Sorbonne and a certificate in Bunsiness adminsitratio n from Georgetown University. She lives in the suburb of Washington, DC.

... Payvand News - 3/11/05 ... --

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