• 26 July 2012
  • Posted By Lily Samimi
  • 1 Comments
  • Iranian American activism, Israel, Let's Talk Iran, Uncategorized

Lessons from the Jewish-American Community

The AIPAC membership is only a fraction the size of the membership for the other top two lobbying organizations in the U.S., those being the AARP and NRA. How has AIPAC has been able to reach such a level of influence? How do Jewish-American organizations interact and balance cooperation and competition? How does the community handle internal disputes? Find out the answers to these questions and more from former executive director of American Israeli Public Affairs Commitee (AIPAC), Tom Dine.  Currently, Tom serves as the Senior Policy Advisor for the Israel Policy Forum and will be participating as a panelist in NIAC’s 2012 Leadership Conference this fall.

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Posted By Lily Samimi

    One Response to “Lessons from the Jewish-American Community”

  1. Fiorangela says:

    Mr. Dine said, and the moderator concurred, that “Jews and Iranians are brainy people; they deal in ideas . . .”

    If NIAC is scouting AIPAC with a view to imitating their ‘best practices,’ please take this critique to heart:

    We unhyphenated Americans resent having our noses rubbed in “Jewish intelligence” and “Jews as idea people.”

    For one thing, the concept betrays a racist perspective on the part of its proponents. Such statements rest on the warrant that Jews — and Iranians — are somehow inherently more intellectually endowed than the rest of us above- average-Lake-Woebegoners.

    The reality is far different, far more information-rich therefore useful; and not that hard to unearth: both Jews and Iranians are diaspora communities in the United States. Jews migrated to the United States in waves — the Seventh Day Adventist website has tracked those waves. The largest waves of Jews were voluntary migrations from culturally advanced societies where Jews took advantage of the indigenous educational opportunities. Common sense dictates that the proportion of wealthy and educated Jews who migrated to US was far greater than those Jews who were poorly educated and impoverished — the former group had access to wherewithal and connections that made migration possible and successful; the latter did not. Moreover, statistics reveal that relatively few of more highly educated German Jews died in Europe’s wars; the vast majority of Jewish deaths were from Jewish peasant populations.

    My understanding is that most Iranian Americans came to the US after the 1979 revolution. Again, it is common sense to recognize that the proportion of college-educated and financially secure Iranians who fled to, or were trapped in, or decided to migrate to the US far outweighs the number of rural shepherds from Keng or Qashqai tribesmen or Bakhtiari nomads who migrated to Los Angeles.

    Both groups, Jewish-Americans and Iranian-Americans, would do well to express a little humility, and a little — make that a LOT — of gratitude to the countries they left behind that provided them with an education and enabled to succeed in the USA, and a bit of humility and gratitude to the American people for their efforts at building the infrastructure, institutions, and attitudes that supported immigrants as they climbed the ladder to their “superior” “brainy” achievements.

    We unbrainy Americans are not that dumb that we haven’t noticed that we’ve never gotten a thank you note but only a “gimme more” from Israel. If NIAC thinks that imitating Israel’s advocates in that regard is going to win them friends, they should think again. Join the rest of us in the pool at Lake Woebegone.

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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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