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Posts Tagged ‘ NIAC student visas ’

  • 11 June 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 3 Comments
  • Iranian Youth

Michael Rubin Wants to Let Iran Decide US Immigration Policy

Michael Rubin, writing at the Corner this week, took half a second to criticize NIAC’s work on expanding opportunities for Iranian students who want to come study in the US.  I say half a second because Rubin doesn’t seem to have actually read the article we wrote, having missed the point of it entirely.

According to Rubin, the US should not expand the number or types of visas offered to Iranian students without demanding parity from Iran. “It would be more productive if the White House, Senate, and State Department” would make US visa policy for Iran mirror Iran’s visa policy for Americans, he says.

I, for one, was surprised Michael Rubin — one of the most vehemently anti-Iran people in all of Washington — would actually suggest that American visa policy should be dictated by Ahmadinejad and Khamenei.

Working at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, Rubin shouldn’t take lightly the idea of handing over American immigration policy to Iran.

I don’t think he’s going to win many friends that way — at least not outside of Ahmadinejad’s inner-circle.

What’s more, Rubin clearly doesn’t understand what NIAC and thousands of other Iranian-Americans have called for. Providing multi-entry visas does not affect the control of the visa interviews, as Rubin suggested (although it was a nice touch when he implied that Iranians coming to the US might be terrorists).  Really, he’s just opposed to the US doing anything that he views as a concession to Iran or its people.

But that’s precisely the problem: in Rubin’s view, helping the Iranian people is the same as helping the Iranian government. Forget that millions of Iranians stood up to protest against the government last year — Rubin simply can’t distinguish the Iranian people from the regime he so despises.

Sure, he shed some crocodile tears during the post-election crackdown last year, but now that protesters aren’t being killed in the streets he’s fallen back into his old habits again.  And one of those habits is opposing any measure that could help ease the life of ordinary Iranians.

The fact is, Rubin’s criticism of our student visas policy doesn’t have anything to do with the substance of our plan.  That’s obvious because there’s no “there” there.

Iranian students who want to come to the US have to come to grips with the reality that, once they arrive here, they can’t leave until graduation. The single-entry policy for Iranians means they have no choice but to miss out on academic conferences or other opportunities abroad; it means they’ll be unable to visit their homes for two, four, six years or more; and it means that they will be unable to return home in the event of some tragic family emergency.  We at NIAC have spoken directly with a student in Virginia who couldn’t attend his father’s funeral because he couldn’t obtain a return visa.

These are good kids we’re talking about here — many are destined for successful careers as engineers, doctors, or lawyers — and many of them are more than willing to jump through as many hoops and security checks as it takes just to be able to have the option of going home once or twice during their six-year PhD programs.  So, despite what Mr. Rubin says, no one is talking about undercutting control mechanisms in our immigration process.

What we’re talking about is making a small but significant overture to the youth of Iran — the future of Iran — to give them an opportunity to live and study here in the United States without forcing them to choose between an education and their family.   We’re talking about distinguishing between Iranians and the Iranian government.  We’re talking about doing something decent for the Iranian people.

In fact, President Obama called for more Iranian students to come to the US just a few months ago. The multi-entry visa will help make the President’s promise a reality.

No wonder Michael Rubin didn’t get it.

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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