Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Confiscation and Auction of Iranian Historical Artifacts

In 2006, I wrote that the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute was being sued to turn over ancient Iranian artifacts so that they could be auctioned and the proceeds used to compensate victims of bombings in Israel(!).

It seems that this looting of Iranian artifacts is one step closer to realization, so please take a moment to write a letter to President Obama and the Department of Justice asking them to intervene. You don't have to sign the cheesy (and in some places, rather problematic) letter that NIAC has written up; I wrote up my own letter and used their form to send it. It is quite convenient and NIAC should be commended for taking up the effort, even if the actual letter they wrote leaves much to be desired.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


1. "Note to mainstream media: Iran cannot construct nuclear bombs with uranium enriched only to less than 4%." With Bibi Nethanyahu and his frothing-at-the-mouth allies, get ready for an overdose of anti-Iran propaganda!

2. “The Quran is perfect just the way it is, that’s why it is only written in Islamic.” Hey, anybody know where I can learn to speak Islamic? Does Rossetta Stone have their Islamic language series out yet?

3.The New Year is coming, and for all of you in the DC area, there are some great free events to celebrate.

Letter to Harper's

Does anyone read blogs anymore? Not too many even bother to write them either. The hay days of blogging seem to have come and gone, I'm not sure whether to mourn or celebrate.

Since the anti-blog bug seems to have bit me as well, I will just limit to sharing with you a brief letter I wrote to Harper's Magazine about the Index in their March 2009 issue. After reading my letter and checking out the offending piece, if you agree with me that what they did was weird, sneaky, devious, and/or hateful, you can send them a polite note at letters@harpers.org.

Here is what I wrote:

"Dear Harper's-

Our household subscribes to your magazine, and we particularly look forward to reading the Harper's Index in each issue.

However, reading the Index as part of my bedtime ritual tonight, I was so aggravated that I had to get out of bed and write you this short note. Regarding Palestine and Israel, you included three figures. First, you put the estimated total in pounds of explosives Israel dropped on Gaza during the first week of the recent invasion (40,000) as well as the estimated total (also 40,000) that Palestinians fired into Israel over the course of the year. While one figure notes the amount dropped in a week versus what happened over an entire year, the fact that the figures are the same suggests some kind of equivalence of powers. But never mind that, what is even more troubling is that while you take care to note the number of Israelis who have been killed by Hamas rocket fire since 2001 (28), there is no mention of Palestinian casualties as a result of the bombs Israel has dropped on Gaza. As you may well know, the casualties on the first night of the recent Israeli assault on Gaza surpassed 28. If you care to count, and apparently you don't, there are credible estimates--by international, Palestinian, and yes, Israeli organizations--that can provide you with those figures.

Implying an equivalence in fire power between Israel and Palestine is a familiar trick, but choosing to acknowledge the victims of only one side is a whole other kind of low. I hope that at some point in the future, you will find Palestinian lives worthy enough to be included as a line in your index."