Sunday, May 11, 2008
Before I begin I wanted to tell the Harvard students in the audience that my father was a Harvard Alumni, class of 1936, Lowell House.
I am a columnist for CASMII, (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran) and a free lance journalist for:”The Iranian Times, The Persian Heritage Magazine, The Persian Mirror, Payvand News, Irandokht Magazine, UK Guardian, Al Jazeera English and others.
I lived in Iran for 5 years in the ‘70’s and was taken hostage during the revolution. That did not change my love for Iranians and their culture and this is not the Stockholm Effect.
You may recall after 9/11 that the families of the victims made it very clear they did not want a war of retaliation in response to 9/11 but unfortunately they were not in charge. Violence is not the only available response to violence.
Jahangir is a self taught film maker who cares very deeply not only for Iran but for all humanity and for peace…so deeply in fact that he has burrowed a ¼ million dollars against his house, spent all his savings and given four years of his life to bring this film to you as an olive branch. What are you willing to do for peace?
4 weeks ago, his film took 3 awards at the L.A. Noor Film Festival for Best Picture, Best Story and Best Director. He has screened this film at UCLA, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, the National Cathedral, The World Affairs Council of San Francisco and the UN Film Festival. In the summer it will be shown at the Dubai Film Festival.
Jahangir has made avoiding politics a religion, which is not a bad choice in a world where we worship false Gods like wealth, fashion, virtual reality, gourmet food and high altitude bombing.
Everything is worshipped except our common humanity these days and this film is out to rectify that situation. I am here with Jahangir because I share his mission of keeping a human face on Iran. I am here on a mission to make love not war…and why would I not
try to save a country I love and a people I love, who showed me only kindness…IRAN…from bombardment, by supporting this film designed to win over American hearts. The main hero of this film is an American by the name of Tobb Del’Oro, who was a non governmental, self appointed goodwill ambassador to Iran. The film is a tribute to his leadership and provides his death with new meaning. It is also a tribute to Farzaneh, the incredibly loyal tour guide and to all the Iranian people.
Mr. Bush has alluded to Iran as part of the “Triple Axis of Evil” and to starting World War III over Iran, Mrs. Clinton has used the words “obliterate Iran.” To my knowledge, Iran has not bombed any other country or started any wars for the past 100 years, it defended itself in an 8 year “silent war” in which a million young Iranians died fighting Iraq armed by the US government. Iran has no proven nuclear weapons program, is a member of the NPT and has cooperated voluntarily with UN inspectors and yet we see the president and all three presidential candidates saber rattling because Iran might be thinking about it…while her neighbors who are not members of the NPT are full of nuclear weapons.
The town of Boston is where the spirit of 1776 started, it is where the Boston Tea Party took place, it is where we threw off the yoke of tyranny and our Republic was born. Surely we must be able to relate to a people who want a choice other than a monarch or a mullah. Columbia University ridiculed Mr. Ahmadinejad. Perhaps he is not as polished or as sophisticated as we would like. Perhaps he does not want to be a US puppet. That shouldn’t be a crime.
I believe that we the people of both America and Iran do not want a war and we deserve better leadership.
The Iranian people are a very kind and generous people especially towards foreign visitors…they always extend a helping hand…even in times of natural catastrophe it is not “every man for himself.” This film tells the story of their character.
I give you Jahangir and his film Bam 6.6, which is not only a tribute to Iran but to all of our common humanity for celebrating what is the very best in us. Thank you Jahangir for your leadership and for showing us what HOPE and COURAGE look like.
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