In an interview published last Monday, US Congressman Henry A. Waxman (D-CA30), whose district boasts a very large number of Iranian Americans, stated that he’s getting “mixed messages” from our community on how to deal with the Iran situation, but recent polling has shown that on the whole there is very minimal support for military action in the Iranian American community.

It is important for our community to recognize the power it does have in changing and influencing the opinions of their members of Congress. This interview is just the latest clear example that they are listening to us and making judgements, in part, based on our opinions.

Rep. Waxman stressed that it is important to ‘pursue direct discussions,’ but he noted that it would be ‘wishful thinking’ to expect positive results. The threat of war, the Representative stated, must never be taken off the table, because it is ‘something you want on their minds’. He stated that ‘the next administration would need the full range of talks, sanctions, coalitions with the other countries, and the threat of war to resist Iran’s nuclear ambitions.’

The Congressman has endorsed presumptive Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Barack Obama and has said a future Democratic administration might try to re-open the 2003 ‘Grand Bargain’ proposal from Iran that the United States flatly rejected. When asked why American politicians rejected the offer, Rep. Waxman only stated Democrats would re-visit the proposal, having seen it as a ‘missed opportunity’.

In the interview he was also directly asked about his Iranian American constituency.

IPS: What is the message that you’re getting from the Iranian-American community in your constituency?

HW: I get very mixed messages from my constituents became some say don’t even talk to these guys, we don’t want to work out anything with them — we want a regime change. And then more often than that, I get ‘don’t go to war, don’t use military against Iran, that would be the worst thing to do’. [On the other hand], my Jewish constituents do not like the fact that he [Obama] wants to talk [to Iran].

It is refreshing to see a representative who recognizes the complexity of our community (his constituents) and has taken note of where the majority opinion is.  What is important to recognize is that he is listening and he is and can be influenced by what his constituents tell him.  Although Rep. Waxman’s constituency includes some of the more ‘hawkish’ Iranian Americans, most still prefer a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff.

In January, UC Berkeley professor Dr. Dariush Zahedi published ‘Political Attitudes and Patterns of Political Participation of Iranian Americans in California’, a scientific poll, which showed that there is minimal support for military action on Iran, and 66% of Iranian Americans favor diplomacy. One can conclude that the views of Iranian Americans across the country is even more anti-war because California’s Iranian American population is seen as relatively more hawkish than the community as a whole.

Indeed, at a NIAC fundraiser in Los Angeles in early March, many Iranian Americans – including a handful from Rep. Waxman’s district – stressed the need for talks between the US and Iran.

With respect to all Americans, a recent Gallup poll shows that 59% of Americans support the US President meeting with the President of Iran, and 67% of Americans support the US engaging with its enemies. This clearly demonstrates the American people’s support of solving the Iranian nuclear puzzle diplomatically rather than militarily.

It is crucial that the silent majority drown out the vocal minority. Iranian Americans must take action and engage in order to make their voices heard. Apathy is not an option. We all live now in a place where we CAN speak out on issues that affect and concern us, and we should not take that for granted. Citizens can easily call or email their representative’s offices to make their views known. Organizations like NIAC are here to serve their communities by expressing these views to members of Congress and their staff.


California’s 30th District includes Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Westlake Village, Westwood, Bel-Air, Pacific Palisades, Topanga, Malibu, and Woodland Hills.

Posted By Darioush Azizi

    2 Responses to “For all the cynics, contacting your representative WORKS!”

  1. Babak Talebi says:

    You make a solid point on this Arsalan – and this is not the first time we have heard this… Rep. Honda made a similar point at our HR conference… where he explicitly said that his opinion on US-Iran relations and diplomacy changed as a direct result of hearing from his constituents in northern California.

    Cynicism is self-defeating.

  2. anonymouse says:

    why is this a bi-partisan legislation? what happened to dialogue with Iran that the Democratic nominee is campaigning for? Have Democrats lost their minds?

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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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