Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Thanks for voting, Iran
Me at Jamshidieh Park
My Iranian Facebook friends have all turned green. I don’t know if they are recycling or conserving energy, what I do know is that they have put a green overlay on their profile images in response to Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s green campaign for president of Iran.
Do you think we should vote? An old friend texted me this morning.
Are you kidding me? I texted back. In the election four years ago, this same old friend tried to encourage friends, family, and strangers to vote for the Reformist candidate Moein despite calls for a boycott. “Do you think America or some other superpower is going to save us? No. We have to vote. It’s the only thing we can do.” In the end, he influenced a couple of people, but could not even get his own family to the polls.
Today he is on his way to Azadi Square to participate in a human chain of Mousavi supporters that will stretch to Sadaghieh about 1.5 kilometers away.
People may wonder why, an American Jew, am so passionate about Iranian elections. It isn’t just that my beloved husband is Iranian and that I lived there for four years and that I speak Persian. It is that for two years I lived under the current president Ahmadinejad’s rule. I was in Tehran when he organized a conference for holocaust deniers. I was there for the cartoon show about the Holocaust that was filled with anti-Semitic stereotypes. I was there when Iranian television rebroadcast the Egyptian serial Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And, believe it or not, I started to wonder if all of the Iranians who had been so friendly and warm and open to me, were not, actually, at heart disgusted with me. I started to wonder if Ahmadinejad did not, indeed, represent the true nature of the culture better than all of the wonderful people I had met.
This election is so important to me because I see an Iran that wants to engage with the world in a peaceful manner. I see an Iran that reflects the best of what I experienced while there: an open, warm-hearted society filled with people that would rather share tea and kebab with you than confront you. I see people who do not hate me either for being American or for being Jewish. I see people who would shake my hand and hug me and dance with me. I see, again, the culture and the people that made me feel so welcome.
Thank you Iranians. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reaffirming what I learned in Iran: that you are a peaceful and open people and that you know very well how to have fun.