I attended my first event on behalf of NIAC the other day. It was set-up by the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran (CNAPI) and the Enough Fear Campaign and was entitled “Time to Talk to Iran.” By setting up a line of attention-grabbing red 1960’s style “hotline” telephones the organizers were able to attract people to speak directly to Iranians. Apart from being fun and fresh, this initiative had a serious message behind it: America should use diplomacy rather than go to war with Iran.

I thought it was fascinating to get an insight into how NGOs attempt to influence policy, policy makers and public opinion. I hope CNAPI will triumph and they come closer to doing so with the support of members of Congress. Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, Barbara Lee, Ron Paul and former Congressman Bob Barr all attended the event and I was impressed by how passionately the speakers urged for negotiations with Iran.

As for the telephone campaign, I thought this form of “people to people” diplomacy was successful in communicating CNAPI’s message since it rammed home the point that Iranians are not so different from Westerners. Moreover, it showed that if we can talk to people in Iran then the American government can talk to the government in Iran. I spoke with a 25-year-old student named Haddi who is studying IT in Tehran. Our conversation lasted about 15 minutes and we discussed (with the help of a translator) everyday subjects such as what we enjoyed doing in our free time, how college is going, and places we would like to travel. I realized that we are pretty similar; he could easily have been someone with whom I go to school. We also talked about the relationship between the United States and Iran. He told me that he would like to visit here and see friendly relations develop between the two countries one. He also said that he wants peace and democracy and told me that other Iranians do too.

This drove home the point to me that it is people like Haddi who are going to be affected by any military action. His life will be disrupted and turned upside down. Force cannot leave civilians untouched and this strengthens my belief that negotiations are the best way forward. A military strike will only cause resentment from Iranians who value peace and democracy as much as we do and currently regard America in a positive light. Therefore the US should recognize this and look to peaceful means in order to influence Iran; that means diplomacy.

I hope that more events like this will be held and that they will garner increased press and public attention. By becoming involved in such initiatives we – the ordinary people – can make a difference and make our voices heard. If we shout loud enough we can make the government take notice and listen. As Congresswoman Lee proclaimed, “IT IS TIME TO TALK TO IRAN.”

Posted By Julia Murray

    One Response to ““Time to Talk to Iran” event and press conference – 06/10”

  1. Julia Murray says:

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this event – Were you able to attend it? Did you call your members of Congress up? Have you been to any similar events and were they successful in raising awareness?

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Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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