After recently reading Jack Neworth’s Laughing Matters column (“Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” April 10), as someone who was born and raised in Iran, I thought I would write expressing my perspective. Firstly, Iran is also known as Persia, to which we proudly refer. It’s a constant reminder of our once great civilization being at the cradle of many modern human values.
Secondly, Iran’s current rulers are in no way going to have this battle in the region lost. Neither will they cooperate with either the West or the East, at least not without a fight. Culturally, Persians seem to have the last say in everything. But, it seems to me, and many experts in the region, that the Ayatollahs are only buying time.
Deal or no deal, lifting (parts of) the sanctions will only be good for the ruling elite who control Iran’s economy. It will likely not benefit the average poor soul in his/her daily struggle to make ends meet or grasp for a bit of liberty.
Iran has been standing tall and strong for over three decades, enduring the chaos, drama and sufferings of a bloody revolution, war and economic sanctions. It has done so because of its immense natural wealth and diverse geography. Its people, united in one language, one culture, find ways to curb the difficulties of life and stay ahead of each curve.
They’re proud of an ancient heritage that includes all religious and ethnic minorities. The majority has no problem with Judaism or with Israel as a neighbor. In fact, pre-1979 Islamic revolution, the country had strong ties with Israel. Iran recognized Israel as a free democracy with a right to exist. Iranians know the sad fate of many European Jews during the Second World War and deeply sympathize with them.
But Iranians today are constantly monitored and live in fear of prosecution. However, deep down and inside their safe homes, you may be surprised to learn what they really think. They agree that the only true democracy in the entire region is Israel. Will they go there? Yes, but if they could, they’d rather go to the U.S.
Many Iranians have family, friends or other relatives living in America, where in their eyes life is much better than anywhere else. New York City and Los Angeles still do hold their immense magic and glamour status for the average Iranian, along with Paris and London, Rome or Madrid. They love anything made in the West.
Pet Shop Boys’ pop song “Go West” was a popular hit among Iranian youth during the ’90s, while Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” is today. They so long for one thing: freedom!
Today’s Iran is tired of continuous sanctions, oppression and all such by the minority elite in power. They have become numb.
To most Iranians, living in the “West” has become a synonym for a safe and free refuge regardless of how harsh it in reality could be. In Iran they must cope with unemployment, low income or none at all. But most Iranians have accepted their sad fate and try to simply live by any way possible.
No wonder many took last week’s positive outcome as a sign of a little hope for change and welcomed it in a way only Persians can express. They flocked onto the streets, honking, dancing and crying out with joy. Although, deep down, they know too well this too likely will not change much.
Lastly, the only alternative they think could brighten their future is for the Western powers to embrace them and bring down the walls. Social media, along with new ideas, already have had an impact on the young generations. And keep in mind that Iran is among the youngest countries in the world. Thus, starting with the younger generations and allowing them to slowly and steadily move forward would seem the best possible alternative.
They may have lost the battle to do it on their own, but they have not lost the hope for a day to arrive when they once again can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of planet Earth and be regarded as the people of the world, united in all colors, races and religions.
Sanctions have not helped, but neither will bombing. But who knows, a 21st century-style capitalism a la Lady Gaga may. Odd as it may sound to Americans, Gaga and many of her colleagues symbolize Iran’s youth longing for freedom.
Persians withstood Moguls atrocities. So there is hope that one day they will overcome their current oppression and will become the proud, free and civilized nation they have always been. But to me, one thing is quite clear: Foreign intervention and war are not the solutions.
For more info, please watch VOX’s “What I learned befriending Iranians” video on YouTube.
Sharonazh Vandenberg can be reached at email@example.com.