• 3 June 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • 1 Comments
  • Israel

Quick, create a diversion!

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has finally pulled the red card, in the middle of international criticism following an attack on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza on Monday, which resulted in the death of at least nine people and the wounding of an additional thirty. After claiming that it was Israel’s right to attack the flotilla out of self-defense and that the flotilla “was a boat of hatred,” he deflects. And what better way to distract people’s attention than by bringing up Iran?

In a move that has become a usual recurrence, Netanyahu pointed his fingers straight at Iran, saying that if Israel had not attacked the flotilla, an Iranian regime would be established in Gaza.

“The rockets and missiles that Iran has smuggled into Gaza are now likely to hit areas surrounding Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and some of those are already in Gaza. Therefore, it is our duty and our responsibility according to the international law and according to the logic, common sense, to prevent by air, sea and land smuggling of weapons into Gaza… This is a destructive scenario, and this a very immediate threat to Israel. I’m telling you and I’m telling my friends in the countries that criticize us that an Iranian port in the Mediterranean” will be a threat.

Netanyahu forgets that the attacked flotilla was not carrying rockets or missiles, however, but humanitarian aid.  While I see the common sense in preventing smuggling of weapons, I do not see the common sense in killing in order to prevent the smuggling of school supplies. And despite Netanyahu’s claims, this flotilla was completely unrelated to Iran. It was carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza with goods such as school supplies, building materials, and electricity generators. (This is because despite Israel’s claims of already providing Gaza with its humanitarian needs, according to the UN, Gaza receives only about one quarter of the supplies it used to receive before the increased blockade in 2007.)

But the sad truth remains that it is always convenient to bring up Iran, the demonized, to detract attention from inconvenient problems.

Also, it works.

Rather than condemning the attack, the US has carefully  avoided treading too heavily in response to this incident. A 19-year old American was shot by Israeli soldiers, and still, all US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about the attack was “I think the situation from our perspective is very difficult and requires careful, thoughtful responses from all concerned.”

Now, I am no apologist for the regime, but when it comes to US policy towards Iran and Israel, the great double standard gets me every time. As Kouroush Ziabari said, what if Iran had carried out the Gaza carnage?

Simply replace the two names and then read the news as reported by CNN: “The Free Gaza Movement, one of the organizers of the aid, said that Iranian commandos dropped from a helicopter onto the deck of one of the ships early Monday and immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians.”

Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie

    One Response to “Quick, create a diversion!”

  1. Q says:

    Or, alternately, what if Iran itself fired a few thousand rockets at Israel — instead of just paying for them? Would there be Israeli commandos in Tehran, or just no Tehran?

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 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.

Sincerely,

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