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Netanyahu’s Kool-Aid: Part 2

Cathy Stripe LesterTake heart, Americans. It may be easier to keep Iran from having nuclear weapons than the Israelis are letting on. We’ve heard that Iran is an existential danger so many times we don’t stop to question it, but there’s a fair possibility Iran doesn’t want a bomb that badly.

First of all, as I pointed out before, they know that using a bomb would be suicidal. Ahmadinejad even admitted, “What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb?”

Then they’ve been saying since the 1980s they want peaceful nuclear energy. Why, with all that oil? Well, thanks to all those sanctions, oil is their only way to get money. They don’t want to burn it, they want to sell it. This may sound counter-intuitive, but if we allowed freer trade with them, they might not be so desperate to get nuclear energy. And before you fall down screaming, just let me say that no one’s talked about this. Shouldn’t we explore the idea?

Can we believe anything they say? They’ve signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty we asked them to (which Israel has not). The IAEA is still doing inspections, about twice a month, and they say Iran doesn’t have a weaponization program (which involves a lot more than just having the enriched uranium).

The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, has even issued a fatwa against the production or use of atomic weapons, saying it was a sin in Islam because they kill indiscriminately, including women and children.

About this point, if I’m talking to someone they get a canny look on their face. “Ah,” they say smugly, “You haven’t heard of Taqiyya.” Ah, but I have heard of Taqiyya. It was a rather obscure doctrine which said that if a Muslim was in imminent danger of his life, like if he was surrounded by a mob with knives and clubs, he was allowed to lie about his belief to save his life. Taqiyya has a ton of restrictions. It only applies to immediate danger. An Ayatollah cannot use it to go back on a fatwa, it just doesn’t work that way.

If Americans understood more about Muslims’ core beliefs we would realize a fatwa is solemn, it’s sacred, and it’s binding. Sadly though, our media makes money out of promoting lies and hatred. The most lies are probably told about taqiyya by media maggots.

If the head of any Christian Church said that using nuclear weapons was a sin, we’d at least believe he meant it. However, because the Ayatollah Khamenei is a Muslim, Americans don’t want to believe him because – basically – a lot of us don’t respect Muslims.

Is that good for our souls? Is it even good for our security?

Well, aside from being a failure in empathy which diminishes our capacity as humans, it isn’t accurate. If we’re faced with something this important, we need to know how to evaluate what people say, even people we don’t like. Sun Tzu, in “The Art of War,” famously told us to, “Know your enemy.” He didn’t say, “Swallow lies.”

Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney both say Iran is the USA’s greatest threat to our national security, which is way wide of the mark. Lots of outside analysts have pointed out that as  security threats go, Iran is a minnow in a field of sharks.

So where’s all the hot air about Iran being an existential danger coming from?

Think power plays. Israel has a history of identifying a country that might rival them in the region, and then provoking them into some minor attack so that Israel can have an excuse to land on them like a ton of bricks. In the process Israel hits the other nation’s military, but they also target manufacturing and infrastructure, so they can cripple the country for a long time. (Think Lebanon. Think Gaza.)

Israel is the one that would like to wipe Iran off the map, not because of any actual threat, but because Iran has been growing in influence and “soft power.”

But the USA has an agenda of its own. Petro-dollars. Right now oil everywhere in the world is traded in US dollars. Iran is the leader in a restless movement to create an international “petro-currency” index in which countries could bypass the US dollar to buy oil. Several other nations who are hungry for more oil, such as India and China, are keen on the idea. Needless to say, Wall Street is about as enthusiastic as a cat in a bathtub.

It’s difficult to look underneath our reasons for believing something, but it might help to know that in the case of Iran, the loudest voices are in the hawks’ nest: AIPAC and MEK (Mujaheddin e-Khalk).

AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) exists to get American politicians to support Israel. They have lots of money and lots of clout. Cross AIPAC and a politician gets labeled “anti-Semitic.”

MEK’s agenda is to get the USA to overthrow Iran’s government and install the MEK. The MEK is a violent, secretive cult which the USA listed as a terrorist group until this year, when a lot of money and lobbying got them off the list, though there’s not much evidence they’ve actually changed. They were allied with Saddam, and have been implicated in numerous terror attacks and assassinations inside Iran. They’re definitely not the ones to deliver democratic elections. Or freedom for women. Or any of the freedoms Americans think Iranians need. Iranians loathe them. Right now ordinary Iranians are favorable to America, but don’t expect that to last if we put in MEK as a puppet government.

As I said in my previous blog, the Pentagon doesn’t want Israel to strike Iran because their analysis is that the USA would get drawn into a regional war which everyone agrees would be “disastrous.”

So why keep beating the war drum? A common lie in Washington is that, “We’ve tried everything and nothing has worked.” Pardon me, but if we put half as much energy into diplomacy as we’ve put into demonizing Iran, we might get someplace.

We say we’ve tried everything, but that’s another whopper. We insist that Iran has to agree to our demands before they start the talks. I’m sorry, but that’s nothing but sham diplomacy – designed to fail, so we can whine, “It didn’t work!”

I know it’s hard to question general opinions. Like I say, all the propaganda says Iran has every reason to want a bomb. But ask yourself: if – IF – they don’t, what DO they want?

We know from their media they’d like a little respect. How about security? Prosperity and stability, normal nation things? Ever since 1979, we’ve bad-mouthed them, slapped them with sanctions, armed Saddam Hussein to go to war with them and currently support terrorist groups inside Iran. (Yeah, us – state sponsors of terrorism. Sad but true.)

Iran never had any bargaining chips, but now they have the nuclear program. The Iranian leadership has offered to cap the enrichment at 20% if the Western world supplies them with nuclear fuel for their reactors. Is it too much to hope that some genius will think of taking them up on their offer? (And don’t presume they’d just swindle us. We have ways of checking.)

Abe Lincoln said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” If we come off the Kool-Aid and examine why we’re being fed all this propaganda, and whether we should swallow it, we might be able to bury the hatchet with Iran, eventually. It would help to bury our preconceptions first.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Cathy…Negotiating with Iran is like negotiating with Yassar Arafat. He could have had a Palestinian state so many times, even after Israel’s PM Ehud Barak, at President Clinton’s urging in 2000 at Camp David, offered Arafat a Palestinian state in 73% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian percentage of sovereignty would extend to 90% over a ten to twenty-five year period. Also included in the offer was the return of a small number of refugees and compensation for those not allowed to return. Palestinians would also have “custodianship” over the Temple Mount, sovereignty on all Islamic and Christian holy sites, and 3/4 of Jerusalem’s Old Quarters. Arafat rejected Barak’s offer and refused to make an immediate counter-offer. I know Arafat’s body is being examined for plutonium poisoning by Israel, and there was no love lost between Israel and Arafat when they isolated him. Israel is not blameless.

    However, for you to say that “Israel has a history of identifying a country that might rival them in the region, and then provoking them into some minor attack so that Israel can have an excuse to land on them like a ton of bricks…and that Israel is the one that would like to wipe Iran off the map” is not borne out by any historical facts.

    Case in point: The 1967 “Six-Day War.” The Six-Day War involved three distinct battlefronts, tied together by a shared desire on the part of the surrounding Arab states to eliminate Israel and erase the shame of their defeat 19 years earlier when they failed to destroy the young Jewish state.

    Egypt, the largest Arab state with a population of 31 million, massed troops on its border with Israel and imposed a naval blockade of Israel’s southern port, an act of war. Confronted with these aggressive moves, and the Arab leaders’ promises to destroy the Jewish state, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against the Egyptian army and airforce. Egypt’s air force was quickly crippled, and a well-executed Israeli ground offensive routed the Egyptian forces in Gaza and the Sinai peninsula in four days.

    Buoyed by false reports of Egyptian success, Jordan initiated offensive actions against Israel from the eastern portion of Jerusalem and from lands it occupied west of the Jordan river (the West Bank). Israeli forces responded by attacking Jordanian military positions. After a three days of fierce fighting, especially in and around Jerusalem, Israeli forces defeated the Jordanians and gained control of all of Jerusalem as well as the West Bank, the historical heartland of the Jewish people known to Israelis as Judea and Samaria.

    Following an air attack by the Syrians on the first day of the war, Israel dealt a shattering blow to the Syrian air force. Hostilities continued in the days that followed, and on fifth day of the war, the Israelis mustered enough forces to remove the Syrian threat from the Golan Heights. This difficult operation was completed the following day, bringing the active phase of the war to a close.

    I don’t think any Arab ever forgave Israel for this humiliation and Iran has capitalized on this. Obama’s suggestion that Israel give up all remaining lands they captured in that war was crazy. Israel gave back the Sinai and Gaza. With the Arab winter upon us, we have yet to see how Iran will try to influence the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere to defeat Israel and bring about a Muslim middle east. So much for Egypt’s Sadat and the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian treaty, for which he was assassinated. Israel is now the target of annihilation. War is coming.

    • Cathy Stripe Lester

      Hi Ed,

      Iran is not Palestine, and the Ayatollahs are not Yasser Arafat. Unless you too subscribe to the notion that “They’re Muslim, so we can’t deal with them”? I had thought better of you.

      A bit mischievous to link Israeli provocation, which is definitely borne out by historical facts, with the next paragraph about Israel “would like to wipe Iran off the map,” which is my own off-the-cuff crack!

      Lebanon: After the Israel-Lebanon war of 1982, there was a military no-go border zone established between Israel and Lebanon. However, Israeli troops often ingressed into the area with impunity, as well as sending in mortar rounds. In 2006, a mortar round killed a Lebanese shepherd. In retaliation, Hizbollah forces sent a few rockets at Israeli troops, killing three. Hizbollah also kidnapped two Israeli soldiers who they claimed were in the Lebanese side of the border.

      So far we have: the Israeli provocation, and Hizbollah’s response. Dead: 1 Lebanese shepherd, three IDF soldiers. Missing: two IDF soldiers.

      Israeli response: Massive attacks, bombing of villages, bombing of Beirut and other cities, huge destruction of Lebanese infrastructure and commerce, and Israeli use of cluster bombs, depleted uranium and white phosphorus , which Israel admitted they used against the civilian population. Both depleted uranium and white phosphor, by the way, have been linked to increased rates of cancer and birth defects. Over a million Lebanese refugees and thousands of Lebanese casualties, including over a thousand children. Israeli casualties: 121 IDF soldiers, 43 civilians. I think a response this much out of proportion qualifies for my “ton of bricks” simile.

      The “Cast Lead” Gaza conflict follows a very similar pattern. And according to Miko Peled, son of Israeli General Matti Peled, the Israelis weren’t actually worried about Egypt in 1967. The transcripts of meetings show they launched the attack, which you admit was preemptive, because they saw it as an opportunity to cripple Egypt and grab a whole lot more land such as the West Bank and the Golan Heights from Jordan and Syria.

      It isn’t the humiliation of the Six-Day war that Arabs find it hard to forgive, it’s the founding of Israel on Arab land in the first place, along with the continuing degradation and humiliation of the Palestinians.

      Yes, war may be coming; the Israelis are certainly planning on it. I just wonder if inviting more disasters for the USA is a good price to pay for Israeli aggression?

      • Ed Hahnenberg

        Cathy…Your assumption that I subscribe to the notion that because they’re Muslim we can’t deal with them is an implication I consider an off-the-cuff crack. For the sake of civility, I’ll just dismiss it. May I point out that I said Israel has not been blameless. May I also point out that as of October 2012, over 800 rockets had been launched at Israel from Gaza since January 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Palestinian_rocket_attacks_on_Israel,_2012. Gaza was given to the Palestinians to avoid these senseless acts of aggression by Hamas. Hamas has been designated a terrorist group by the United States and European Union and seeks the destruction of Israel.

        To the north, in Lebanon, Israel faces the increasingly militant Hezbollah, funded by both Syria and Iran. Hezbollah leaders have also made numerous statements calling for the destruction of the state of Israel. You don’t think Khomeini is not cheering these guys on?

        As to your contention that Israel took over the Arab Palestine, I hope you don’t go down the path of WH reporter Helen Thomas in saying that Jews should go back to Germany, Poland and America. Never mind the Holocaust, Thomas stated that the millions of German, Polish, American and Russian Jews who have come to Israel in recent years should have stayed where they were.

        I wrote a blog over three years ago http://blogs.record-eagle.com/?p=1773#more-1773, wherein I explained that both children of Abraham…Ishmael first, then Isaac…were given the Promised Land. Obviously, from the Bible and the Koran, Jews and Arabs, in their scripture and mindset, both have claims to this land. A two-state solution is the only viable one, but not one suggested by Hamas and Obama. Certainly the obliteration of Israel as a nation, supported by both Hezbollah and Hamas, and orchestrated by Iran would be Holocaust #2…Armageddon.

        • Henry

          Two points: From what part of left field do you come up with poor senile Helen Thomas’ comment about sending Jews back where they came from? Where does this post imply anthing remotely like that? Talk about straw men!
          Second, If you recognize a two-state solution is required what specifically do you suggest…and why not the one suggested by Obama. Can you be specific?

          • Ed Hahnenberg

            Henry…That’s right field I think. Cathy’s post implies that Israel is the bad actor and that Iran, somehow, is just a peace-loving nuclear-weapon-hating country. The further implication is that Israel should not have become a nation in the first place.

            My two-nation plan:

            1) Israel should continue its wall around the West Bank temporarily to avoid further violence. Israelis must stop building there, and the growing Jewish population has to find housing elsewhere in Israel.

            2) Israel should continue to blockade Gaza from the sea and at Egypt’s borders, while allowing humanitarian goods in until Iran and Hamas stop infiltrating weapons.

            3) I would continue to reject most of Obama’s plan which embraced the Palestinian view that the state they seek in the West Bank and Gaza should be drawn along the lines that existed before the 1967 war in which Israel captured these territories and Jerusalem.

            4) One part of Obama’s plan should be explored: Obama has suggested that “mutually agreed land swaps” could see these borders drawn up with Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people.

            5) Hamas in Gaza does not listen to Abbas in the West Bank. Any two state solution must involve an agreement on who’s in charge of the Palestinians.

            6) East Jerusalem must be governed by a coalition authority comprised of Arabs and Jews.

            7) All bombing of Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah (both supplied by Iran) must cease.

          • Henry

            You are inferring something not implied in that comment! By no stretch does Cathy imply that Israel should not have become a nation. For some reason you seem addicted to the hyperbolic comment!
            Regarding your two-nation plan: ” …the growing jewish population must find housing elsewhwere in Israel…” Does that mean vacating the housing recently occupied on the WB? Your plan seems to leave the Palestinians open to whatever punitive meadusres the Israelis care to inflict…and thats not hyperbole!

          • Ed Hahnenberg

            Henry…I never said Cathy would deny Israel’s right to exist. My “further implication” comment does not refer to Cathy’s posts. No, the intention of that comment was that those who buy into the concept that Israel is the bad actor and that Iran is the peace-lover are those who take the Palestinians’ side, whether they be here or Arabs abroad. That is the premise upon which Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran operate from…Israel should never have become a nation in the first place.

            As to the growing population of Israeli’s in the WB…No new settlements means Israeli families who want to move into the WB would not be allowed. Three years ago Netanyahu and his Cabinet approved the cessation of new settlements for ten months except in East Jerusalem. Abbas demanded a total halt to settlement construction before peace talks would resume.

            Off the topic a bit…but remember when Israel left Gaza in 2005? Sharon’s government forced Israelis living on seaside coast to abandon their homes. Those Israeli citizens who refused to accept government compensation packages and voluntarily vacate their homes prior to the August 15, 2005 deadline, were evicted by Israeli security forces over a period of several days.

            It takes two parties to make peace. I’ve offered a two-nation peace plan to you, and like those who are in the Palestinians’ corner, you forecast punitive measures from Israel. Your response is typical of those who refuse to come to the center.

          • Bob

            Hear hear, Spot on Ed.

  • Bob

    CSL, your contention as I understand it is. If we would just give Iran nuclear power reactors and some respect they would become our friends and would cease all efforts to develop nuclear weapons capability. I don’t find it credible.

    As to becoming friends:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-marks-anniversary-of-us-embassy-attack-commander-offers-gold-conditions-for-better-ties/2012/11/02/034381cc-24ef-11e2-92f8-7f9c4daf276a_story.html
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/04/AR2009060402305.html

    As to their obtaining nuclear power the Russians have given it.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushehr_Nuclear_Power_Plant
    http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=289838
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IR-40

    It appears to me that they have chosen to obtain the Bomb and that for the most part the Iranian people support it. Perhaps the sanctions can be tightened to the point they change their mind, but I think not.

    Seyed Khamenei aspires to Caliph and a renewed Caliphate. Perhaps that new Caliphate can be deterred as was the Soviet Empire. If so, we will need to earn their respect and that will not be done by polite words alone. We will need strength as that is what they respect. My preferred policy is to develop energy resources here. It is time to end the path of Incompetent Empire and restore the Republic. That is the path of strength.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caliphate

    • Cathy Stripe Lester

      Bob, you make it sound as if I think it would be easy. No, there would be a long-drawn-out period of negotiations. Iranians would expect that; it’s the way they do things anyway. But the process itself would earn us some god will, and eventually we might, if we’re good enough horse-traders, get what we want.

      I didn’t find anything new in those articles. In fact, I don’t think they’re even making the case you think they are. For one thing, the Russians are involved with the Bushehr plant, which was the first one in Iran. There are more of them now.

      My whole article is trying to point out that EXCEPT FOR THE WORD OF THE ISRAELIS AND THE MEK, which our US politicians parrot, there’s no actual proof at this time that they have chosen to obtain a bomb. And a fair chance that they don’t want one badly enough to risk getting attacked for it. As for the Iranian people, I’ve talked to quite a few, and they support nuclear energy, but they don’t support having a bomb.

      I couldn’t find anyplace in the Wikipedia article that says the Ayatollah Khamenei wants to be a Caliph. The Caliphate is more a Sunni idea. Al-Qaeda is big on it, but Al-Qaeda and the Ayatollahs are NOT friends and don’t have the same goals..

      I agree that respect will not be obtained by polite words alone. However, threats and bluster don’t generate it either. And like I say, we haven’t tried much in the way of polite words yet. If we really want to have “all the options on the table” why don’t we want the option of diplomacy?

  • Henry

    If dirty bombs had any utility aside from their terror potential they would already have been thrown at Israel. Decontamination is easily done and aside from the explosion itself the result is not particularly lethal. I expect the negative propaganda and the huge incentive for massive retaliation has kept anyone from using these.

    • Cathy Stripe Lester

      Thanks, Henry, I didn’t actually know about that.

    • Bob

      Henry,
      As a military weapon of course you are correct (easy being a relative term). To discount the fear and economic chaos one would cause is just silly (“aside from their terror potential”). Crashing planes into buildings is also not an effective weapon from a military standpoint, but no one doubts that such can change the world. The damage comes not just from the weapon but from what we will do to ourselves in response to the fear (TSA, Iraq II, nation building in Afghanistan).

      • Henry

        And where precisely did I discount the “fear and economic chaos one would cause?” I said specifically, “…aside from their terror potential.” Doesn’t terror include fear and echonomic chaos? But then you couldn’t claim that discounting that (which I didn’t) was silly. I’m amazed that you admit that as a militaary weapon I’m correct. Your attack mode often seems a tad irrational.

  • ClayHauser

    The concern over Iran’s nuclear program comes from the IAEA, the U.N., and the European Union. We have offered them huge bribes and incentives to satisfy the international community that they not attempting to build weapons. They have resisted these at every opportunity.
    They have made a joke out of the U.N., and the non-proliferation treaty. They’ve ignored every agreement they have ever made with other nations. They have stated on several occasions that they want to see Israel wiped off the map, and that the United States is a satanic power.
    They recently attempted to bomb a restaurant here in Washington, D.C., in order to murder the Saudi Ambassador, they have been caught in Buenos Aires, having blown up a Jewish retirement home. They have supplied weapons to Al-Qaeda in both Iraq and Afghanistan, just to name a few instances not to mention the violations of American diplomatic immunity, and subsequent hostage taking involved.
    So…Who is looking for a war?
    We have a situation where a radical, nuclear armed theocracy wishes to become a regional power in an area that contains over a third of the worlds oil supply. Do you think that’s a good idea?
    I’m not sure why you say that the IAEA does routine inspections and says they have no weapons program. Just yesterday they released a report and I quote “Iran is actively working on developing a nuclear weapons”. And then to further attempt to create some moral equivalence between Iranian fascism and the United States is quite frankly rather disgusting.
    I’m sorry to say but you are very sadly misinformed.

    • CathyStripeLester

      ClayHuaser, I have the feeling you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid too. Why is America so frightened of such a small country? Our media can hardly say the word “Iran” without adding something awful. Or exaggerated. Or just plain false.
      .
      Just what “huge bribes and incentives” have we offered Iran? Since the Revolution we’ve slapped sanctions on them, denied trade with them, an demonized them. Does that sound like a “bribe”? If someone tried to “bribe” me like that I’d laugh in their face.
      What report did the IAEA release “Yesterday”? The last report was inAugust. Today I saw an article describing how the media misinterpreted the IAEA report to make it sound more threatening than it actually was. It’s a bit technical but you could be reassured if you want to read it:
      http://www.globalresearch.ca/iaea-data-on-sensitive-iranian-stockpile-mislead-news-media/5312588
      Iran did NOT help Al-Qaeda. This is something Americans can’t seem to get their heads around. Iran: Muslim Al–Qaeda: Muslim. We hate both of them. So they’ve got to be the same, right? Or in league with each other, right? WRONG. Iran and al-Qaeda hate each other. There is no way either one would trust the other or help them. In fact, when the USA invaded Afghanistan, Iran helped us. America. The USA. How many Americans remember THAT?
      As I’ve explained on numerous occasions, Ahmadinejad never sais he wanted to wipe Israel off the map. That was a deliberate twisted mis-translation, done by a translation agency with ties to Mossad.
      Who’s looking for a war? Israel is. And they want the USA to come in on it. Some friends. That’s why I say, don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Friends like that we can do without.

      • ClayHauser

        Oh wow. The incentives that have been offed to Iran, have included but not limited to, actually helping them build their reactors as long as they can prove that their program is not aimed at the acquisition of thermal nuclear weaponry.
        The Report I am referring to was released On Nov 17th of 2012. I confirms the dangers of their program. In the simplest terms, the kind of heavy water programs that they have been running are used for building weapons. Secondly Ill reiterate that that this is NOT a conclusion reached only by American intelligence.
        Your attempt to belittle my points with snarky comments only betrays your lack of understanding on this issue. How dare you suggest that my criticism of Iran is somehow a racially or Islamaphobic remark. Thats a cheap way of attempting to shut down an argument and you know it.
        Iran has been supporting al-qaeda around the Middle East through arms deals and financial support, all while harboring several top operatives. They have supported the Talban as well, as evidenced in the 9/11 commission report. That is hardly a display of aggression between the two.
        Ahmadinejad has repeatedly talked about the destruction of Israel. Find someone who speaks Farsi and watch his speeches, if you are so convinced of a grand conspiracy from Mossad. Do some work for yourself.
        You can link to the Global Research center to your heart’s content, but considering the history of that crowd of skewing facts to support the left wing, one might think to question their ability to provide any rational information. Thats why next to no one In Washington takes them seriously.
        Now instead of refuting anything that I said, you fell back on cheap non-sense such as accusing me of being unable to distinguish one Muslim group from another. I think its a bit sad that you are using your time to try and convince others that this is all some wild conspiracy hatched by the U.S and Israel.
        that having been said, if you want to continue to make excuses for Fascistic theocrats in the middle east then that is certainly your right to do so.
        For the record as well, I can handle a bit of technical writing, I do it every day for my living. Its breathtaking to take that attitude when you can’t even bring yourself to google an IAEA report. Good night.

  • ClayHauser

    Civil discourse? Hardly.

  • CathyStripeLester

    I went to Iran in order to teach English at the University of Isfahan, and I stayed in Iran for six and a half years. Of course I speak Farsi. Farsi is actually quite a beautiful language, and an easier one than Arabic, though they both use the Arabic alphabet. And yes, I learned the Arabic alphabet. I can read Farsi a little, though I admit I’m not as fluent as Prof. Juan Cole (U. of Michigan). You can check him out if you don’t want to believe me.

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