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A salute to the Iranian people and Persepolis book review

June 29, 2009

There was a revolution in Iran in 1979 but did the people get what they wanted? It’s said that the revolution against the Shah was against the monarchy, and for communism. This never happened, and it is believed that this was due to interference from the West. Islamic Rule was established. Now there is upheaval again, with the people taking to the streets, demanding that the election be annulled. They are not protesting against Islamic rule, but the election which they say is a sham. That the current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got barely 12% of the vote, not 65% as he claims. That the real winner is Mir Hossein Mousavi. Ofcourse there are those who believe that it is not just the stage managed election that the people are upset about but also Islamic Rule, and they want a President who can usher in reforms. That is probably what the Iranian government fears too. So while many in the middle east look on at the events in Iran with envy and admiration, the regime is taking no chances.

In this context it is worth reading Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis. It gives one an insight into life in Iran. It is autobiographical and she tells her story through cartoons she has drawn herself. The sketches are simple and so is the language. There is humour, drama, emotion, feminism, and the history of a people and a nation, all in one. Right at the start of the book,  we have the 10 year old Marjane upset that she has to wear a headscarf even at that tender age, and that she cannot go to a co-educational school anymore as all co-ed education is banned. But just because Iranian women were forced to wear the scarf, it did not mean that they became submissive doormats. They never were and never will be. Early on the revolution both men and women demonstrated:

Just as they are doing now, in 2009. “Iranian women have been on the front lines of anti-government protests challenging the official results of the June 12 election…The face of a woman has become the symbol of the opposition.” That of Neda Soltan. People are going to ensure that she did not die for nothing.

One sentence early on in Satrapi’s novel has stayed in my mind.
It does seem as if the population is together in the 2009 protests as well. Now that it is too dangerous to protest on the streets they are protesting by crying out Allahu akbar!” (God is great!) after 10 p.m. at night. No one can deny them this freedom.

My heart goes out to the brave Iranian people and I support them in their quest to be heard. I have signed a petition online as a gesture of support. Of all the middle eastern countries I feel closest to Iran, because we have a long history with Iran. Not just the history, it’s also the people…in western India most of us have Parsi friends. Parsees are originally from Iran. After most of the population of Persia was converted to Islam, Zoroastrianism was shunted out, but some of the followers of this religion took shelter in western India (636 CE) and till today Parsis practice their religion freely in this country. There are a lot of Iranis who have settled in India too, particularly in western India. I knew many when I was a student and there were also a lot of Iranian restaurants, but these restaurants are dying out now.

Coming back to the turmoil in Iran today, Marjane Satrapi has spoken out against this election and so have other Iranian artists. This is what Award-winning Iranian film-maker Bahman Ghobadi has said in Paris:

music and sex are banned, going to bars is banned, women are not allowed to sing…I don’t think there is a single other country in the world where young people are so depressed, so pessimistic, where there are so many suicides…But the positive thing is that now people are no longer afraid, they dare go out.

As Marjane Satrapi explains, the state may ban a lot of things but the people always did what they wanted, in private.

They had their mixed parties, and they had their alcohol, even if it meant that there was a danger of being arrested if there was a raid. It was like that then, and so it must be now. I think Iran is different from other middle eastern countries. This is just the view of an outsider but here is an article which says:

IF you ever visited Iran with the assumption that it was after all another Muslim nation where all one could expect to see was Mullahs exhorting the faithful to prayers and women clad in burqahs waiting at home for their husbands to return, you would be well advised to prepare for a surprise….They (women) are there in offices, in the markets, driving cars, in the class rooms and the canteens, indeed everywhere, alone or in groups, with men or without them. Once in a while young couples can be seen walking the streets holding hands. Women and men were in the stadium too cheering the Iranian soccer players, and when Iran won the first match on way to the World Cup, young women spectators threw off their scarves in a momentary gesture of celebration, and a touch of defiance.

Marjane said one of the reasons she wrote this book was because she wanted to tell the world that the Iranians are not fundamentalists and fanatics and terrorists. They are just like any other people in the world, and it is only a few extremists who are attempting to taint their name. To say the book is stunning is perhaps an understatement. All I can say is that if you haven’t read it you have missed something profound.

I will leave you with a funny cartoon from the book:

(All cartoons have been taken from the book Persepolis)

Related Reading: More posts about Books.

123 Comments leave one →
  1. ruSh.Me permalink
    June 29, 2009 4:01 pm

    Oh! I saw the movie, at PIFF last year!!! Not only it gave an amazing preview of Iranian Society but the little details like wearing makeup, liberation when moved outside of the country… It was just heartfelt!! 😀

    The Black Burka, which Mr. Sarkozy is so adamant to abolish, is no way an hindrance here; In fact, gives a very rustic and original feel to the entire frame and aesthetics…

    Haven’t manage to read the book yet, though!! 😦, And I would love to see the movie! 🙂 – Nita

  2. ruSh.Me permalink
    June 29, 2009 4:07 pm

    Oh! a little deviation: Have you heard of Blank Noise and the STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO UNAPOLOGETIC WALKING!!!

    And running! 🙂 – Nita

  3. June 29, 2009 4:19 pm

    Interesting read!
    However, we cannot be sure of ground realities in Iran sitting here. Is the situation really that bad? Lets not just rely on biased networks like CNN or BBC to shape our viewpoint.

    Vipul, that’s true one cannot know the situation on the ground. But its not just CNN and BBC because these two channels are banned there. We are getting news from the people directly. – Nita

    • June 29, 2009 10:53 pm

      I was talking about CNN nd BBC w.r.t. to Indians as most of us r getting the news about Iran through these two sources as Indian Media is giving no importance to the developmnts there.
      However, as u say we r getting news from people directly. Who r these ppl? Most probably bloggers and facebook generation of Iran like us? How cum they r able 2 pass this info? Most probably because govt. has given thm the freedom.
      I am no fan of Ahmadinejad. Howevr i blive most of this unrest trigered by a minority urban population of Tehran is being supported covertly by the west. Mousavi and others r taking the benefit of the situation to get to the power.
      Its true if he succeeds, he might open up the society a bit giving more freedom to youngsters.
      However, he is not supported by the majority of the population.
      Again I am saying this based on different sources and accounts from both sides.
      But I am not in the middle of this mayhem. So can just comment without authentication.

      • June 29, 2009 11:23 pm

        That’s true Vipul. One cannot be sure of the exact situation.

  4. June 29, 2009 5:03 pm

    yes i saw a documentry on History channel that showed that soem of the young people also have secret hideouts where they practice rock music as that is banned.. now these new artists are gaining popularity in the west..

    it is very sad that they are living in such an environment. every human deserves freedom to do whatever they want.. legally that is.. but then again what is legal…?

    so can say that it must be morally right.

    oorja, sad isn’t it that people live without freedom. And we complain in India! At times I thank the diversity and size of our country. No dicatator will ever be able to take over. Why, even the British failed to take over the whole country! No one, absolutely no one enslave India! – Nita

  5. vasudev permalink
    June 29, 2009 5:23 pm

    punishment for adultery in iran is death. the moral police arrest such. again, homo-sexualism is punishable by death. how can a people live with such extreme penalties?

    there are some more very good books written by iranian ladies. the picture is very grim. it is a male dominated world out there.

    but i do have a few iranian pen-pals (e-pals) and some of them are ladies. they are allowed to do professional degrees and have swank offices with personal internet connections etc…now that…is also an extremity!

    vasudev, Iran is a land of contradictions. As one commentator mentioned, the Persian culture is progressive but their govt. is not. Lets hope the two meet and find common ground. – Nita

    • ruSh.Me permalink
      June 30, 2009 2:41 pm

      Speaking of contradictions; with the current political mayhem in Iran dominating headlines and twitter, the documentary “Be Like Others” (debuting 6/24 on HBO2) takes a fascinating and intimate look at a different— if less-discussed — topic: Iranian transsexuals living under strict Islamic rule.

      Considering homosexuality in Iran is punishable by death, it might come as a surprise to learn that sex-change operations are legal. The loophole is simple: Nothing is written in the Koran specifically condemning transsexuals from embracing their true gender. Iranian director Tanaz Eshaghian follows a group of young men as they prepare for their transformation.

      I missed the movie, but read that the painstakingly detailed and poignant film is unblinking in its portrayal of the prejudices (and confusion) among families and friends, and shows how far people will go for a chance to embrace their true nature. Keeping spoilers apart, when one post-op transsexual actually suggests things would be different if she lived in Afghanistan, we know not all endings are necessarily happy ones…

      That’s interesting Actually I believe that religion doesn’t forbid most of the things that they say religion forbids. Sadly, it’s man who decides what God forbids. – Nita

      • Vinod permalink
        June 30, 2009 3:38 pm

        rushMe, you will be surprised at the very liberal views that both orthodox sunni and shiite scholars in the past have taken of hijras. They even allowed them to marry. The Islamic ethos is abound with the stories of pious hijras.
        Hijras – some of them are homosexual men, some are transsexuals and some are inter-sexuals.

  6. June 29, 2009 5:31 pm

    Persepolis is already on my to-read list, thanks for the nice review!

    Iran has taken the Twitter world by storm. It was a great place to share latest news, pictures, and videos. Heartbreaking.

    I live in a residential area in Pune where there are a lot of Iranians. A few steps away is an Iranian children’s school. The recent events had an impact on the atmosphere here too. Posters of Mousavi have been put up. I wish all the Iranians the best to get their freedom and rights…

    Mahendra, yes I heard that a lot of news was being circulated by Twitter. Overall Twitter is becoming the best news source for direct news from people. – Nita

  7. wishtobeanon permalink
    June 29, 2009 6:09 pm

    Hi Nita, good post, and I actually got a link to an Iranian blog from your website. After that, I have been following news about Iran with the same interest as I do for India. I am fascinated by that country and it’s people – I hope they get their freedom to live like they want to.

    wishtobeanon, I remember that Iranian blog, which I later removed from my blogroll as it had become very impersonal. I need to check it out again. – Nita

  8. Vinod permalink
    June 29, 2009 7:43 pm


    Without detracting from the overall message of Persepolis, I find it hard to believe that a 10 year old would find it seriously objectionable to move from a co-ed school to a girls-only school.

    I wonder why the author chose the title as Persepolis – the monuments from the ancient pre-Islamic civilization in Iran that spread throughout the entire middle east and almost touched the Indian subcontinent. Darius was quite a pluralist emperor who, to a large extent, did not try to conquer others but rather tried to simply make them protectorates and project himself as someone who gave them all their validity and legitimacy – megalomaniacal like all other emperors but managing to remain somewhat pluralist in texture.
    I also wonder whether all the sensational news in the media represents any part of rural Iran.

    Vinod, People in coed schools do not see others as anything but friends. Romance is not in their minds. I was in a coed school until the age of 11, and I had friends who were boys and girls and it broke my heart to be parted from them. The mistake that parents make is to assume that girls and boys look at each other sexually. Sex is not everything, and certainly should not be between two human beings. Marjane was parted from her dear friends, not romantic partners! – Nita

    • Vinod permalink
      June 30, 2009 7:20 am

      Exactly, Nita. Her objection was at the change of schools. She would have objected even if she had moved from one co-ed school to another co-ed school. My point is that at that age she wasn’t objecting to the change in policy per se. She was too young to appreciate the gravity of all that.

      Vinod, I am trying to understand your logic but simply can’t! 🙂 Why should she move from one coed to another coed? She suffered as a result of the change in the policy and therefore she hated that policy. Why kids, even grownups react to policies which affect them personally. Thats all there is to it. – Nita

    • Vinod permalink
      June 30, 2009 3:20 pm

      Actually I too am struggling to articulate it. And on second thoughts, it’s not worth it. 🙂

    • Vinod permalink
      June 30, 2009 5:56 pm

      Let me try this again, Nita. Although she hated the policy as as a 10 year old, her reasons for hating it at that age are very different and even way off the mark from the real harm that such a policy causes than the reasons that she as an adult may hate it for today. The real harm of the policy is far more grave than the rather mundane consequence that she had to face from it. It misses the mark on indicting the policy.

      Vinod, this is getting to be quite funny! 🙂 This dislike of hers for the coed was a perspective of a ten year old child so obviously her reasons are different!! I am not saying that her reasons are the same today! This book is her journey from childhood to adulthood. It is her autobiography, a personal story, with her reasons for reacting in certain ways. If it was a non fictional book your argument is valid. – Nita

  9. June 29, 2009 8:18 pm

    One of the best characters in Persepolis was Marjane’s grandma who kept her grand-daughter’s moral compass fine-tuned and never failed to correct her.

    Amit, yeah, that grandma was her beacon! – Nita

  10. June 29, 2009 8:21 pm

    Vinod, here is a video from rural Iran,
    It tells us a lot.

    I think this issue requires a more nuanced analysis and needs to be seen in the context of the political economy of industrializing nations. More than anything, it is a telling example of what restrictions on the free flow of information can do to a society.

    Lets take India, for example, there are three essential units in modern India, large, industrialized cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi which are increasingly connected to the globalized world through technology and diaspora. Rapidly growing mid-sized cities/towns like Meerut, Nashik and Coimbatore that are experiencing fast growth but are connected more to the large cities through television than to the world through the internet. And then of course, you have the deprived villages where the majority lives and where, large scale social changes are taking place which are driving India’s politics.

    I cant imagine Iran being much different, the only difference is that information is not allowed to flow freely. There is no doubt in my mind that Ahmedinajad enjoys great support in rural/semi-urban Iran just like Mayawati does in rural UP. There can also be little doubt that both the urbanites of Iran and North India despise such leaders (for right and wrong reasons).

    The crucial difference is that urbanites in North India mostly know and accept that Mayawati is supported by Dalits and that they have a right to do so. I dont think the same can be said about the urbanites in Tehran.

    Note that I am not denying the repressive nature of the regime in Iran, merely pointing out that such a repressive regime will inevitably lead to dangerous and unnecessary (i.e. avoidable) tensions in society.

    Sorry about the long comment.

    Vikram, I am not sure that the rural people in Iran support Ahmedinajad. As you know everyone cannot stand for election. All candidates are Islamic candidates, chosen and approved by the Islamic republic. No women are allowed to stand and also no candidates except strongly Islamic ones. There isn’t much difference between any of them! In fact Mausavi, the one who the people are supporting was the PM during the first part of the Islamic revolution, when many innocent people were tortured and killed. He does not represent freedom as such. He is just another candidate, that’s all. Therefore it is not possible to compare with India at all. I don’t see any reason why the rural people would not vote for Mausavi. However, as you said, we don’t know. – Nita

    • July 2, 2009 8:30 pm

      Good post Nita and very good analysis Vikram I agree. Why Mousavi is not popular in rural Iran? Is he just another candidate? Some reports suggest he represents Rafsanjani a powerful leader of the business class and a known rival of Khameni The rural masses might have been apprehensive abt their policies I an not sure all these reports are true or not but it is always better not to blindly believe everything the Western media projects

  11. Vinod permalink
    June 29, 2009 9:00 pm

    There is no doubt in my mind that Ahmedinajad enjoys great support in rural/semi-urban Iran just like Mayawati does in rural UP.

    That was the subtext in my mind when I asked that question.

    • June 29, 2009 10:44 pm

      Vinod, this is what the EPW had to say,

      Click to access 13626.pdf

      I have to say one more thing. I strongly dislike the kinds of adjectives being used here, describing the Iranians as progressive and freedom-loving etc etc. Not that Iranians (or for that matter anybody else) dont have those qualities, but I find this to be a very west-centric point of view and condescending on the other repressed people of the world.

      Vikram, I don’t think its condescending to other people because all people have certain characteristics, and others may have what Iranians don’t. Americans may have something Indians don’t and Indians might have something Americans don’t. Ofcourse this is far too much generalizing but well I am talking in a very very broad sense. There is no point getting a complex because we percieve another people to be a certain way, our thing should be to take the good points from another culture and make it our own. For example not all nations are hardworking and well, they can emulate and admire this quality from another people. I for one admire revolutionaries a great deal, be they be from any nation. Tienanmen square students for example. – Nita

    • Vinod permalink
      June 30, 2009 5:48 pm

      Vikram, thanks for the video link and the article. I’ve gone through them and learnt something. Thanks again.

  12. Dev permalink
    June 29, 2009 9:52 pm

    Nita, that was a very nice post. India and Iran share a very long history, dating back to vedic times. Iranians have always been very progressive people; the old Persian civilization was very rich in culture and philosophy. Islam came much later in Persia & integrated with old Persian moral & ethical values.
    What’s happening in Iran nowadays is unfortunate, though many Iranians living outside Iran have made sure this time that world is properly informed what’s going on there. Let’s hope that something positive comes out of this.

    Dev, I too hope so! I wish all repressed regimes all over the world take a cue from what is happening in Iran. – Nita

  13. June 29, 2009 10:14 pm

    One thing which I always wonder – if one person has a certain feeling towards a group , then why does the whole world grow fond of it ?

    They follow the herd. – Nita

  14. June 30, 2009 1:15 am

    Do watch the movie! You will really like it.

  15. June 30, 2009 1:52 am

    I followed the latest events mainly through the blog of Andrew Sullivan. Also one of the “reporters” of the US comedy show called “The Daily Show” (surely you must have heard about it?), went to Iran a couple of weeks ago and spent a week or so. It was as expected hilarious but more importantly informative and eye opening to people in the US as most people here including the “supposedly well-informed main stream media” have a generally warped and a simplistic image of Iran.


    Arun, I guess unless one actually travels a country it is very difficult to understand it. – Nita

    • Vinod permalink
      June 30, 2009 7:25 am

      There is a good argument I’ve heard that posits that Iranians are a split from the same Indo-Aryan race that came to India. It predicates on a comparison of the pantheon of gods of the pre-islamic Iranians and the vedic ones. The gods of the Iranians were the Ashuras of the Indians and the gods of the Indians were the demons of the Iranians. Sounds like a tribe that split in conflict.

      • vasudev permalink
        June 30, 2009 1:22 pm

        vinod…gods of indians were the demons of the iranians???
        please explain with reference…

      • Vinod permalink
        June 30, 2009 3:30 pm

        Vasudev, this is a highly debatable topic. Here is something for starters, which actually slants against what I said.

  16. June 30, 2009 9:34 am

    Phew… an awesome post, sure will check out the book as well as the movie 🙂

    Thanks. 🙂 And I need to see the movie! – Nita

  17. June 30, 2009 6:35 pm

    against the Shah was against the monarchy, and for communism.

    When Communism ruined USSR and failed China(as China was forced to acquire trends of economic capitalism and is now more capitalistic than India) how can one say that communist Iran would have been even a pint better than the current Iran?
    Seriously, How better is communist N. Korea than the current Iran?

    Monarchy is wrong, as it provides the monopoly of Monarch, Communism/socialism/mixed economy is wrong because it provides Monopoly of government.
    Even America is not much better than Iran.
    Since last two elections, even Americans are crying against foul elections/forgery and all.
    Monopoly of government in any form is wrong and should be opposed, be it US governmental system or Indian governmental system or Iranian or North Korean or Chinese, or Australian or British or whatever nations governmental system, only that government can be appreciated which follows the simple rule of Individual liberty, but that is not possible without denouncing monopoly of government on law and security sector, monopoly of government on printing currency, and government’s compulsory taxation and subsidies.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 30, 2009 8:37 pm

      What is the role of the government, if any?

      • Naveen permalink
        July 1, 2009 8:48 am

        Good to see a anarcho-primitivist comment make a ‘philosophical anarchist’ finally realize the role of government.

  18. July 1, 2009 12:54 am

    Nita, I have some Iranian friends here in Rome and they keep telling me what I know from history books: Iranian people, as it is well known, are not Arabs, they are Indo-Europeans who were highly civilised long before Islam arrived (1000 years?).

    This is not the case for most Arabs, who attained a complex civilisation *together with* Islam.

    Which cannot be without consequences. It could be the reason why Iranian middle and upper classes are against backward Islam (but there is also a moderate, advanced and tolerant Islam.) The irony of all this is that Iran has been at the centre of the Islamic revolution. This helped them to escape western rule, in any case.

    By the way, I met some Parsi in Mumbay, many years ago. Is Tata Chief Executive of Parsi origin?

    • Naveen permalink
      July 1, 2009 8:30 am

      “not Arabs, they are Indo-Europeans who were highly civilised long before Islam arrived.”
      “It could be the reason why Iranian middle and upper classes are against backward Islam”

      Well, Ayatollah Khomeini had stronger Indian roots. His grand father was from Lucknow, India. He named his son -Seyed Moustafa Hindi(Khomeini’s father). ‘Hindi’ -his love for India.

    • Vinod permalink
      July 1, 2009 10:53 am

      Iranian people, as it is well known, are not Arabs, they are Indo-Europeans who were highly civilised long before Islam arrived

      I recommend the standup comedy show on youtube titled ‘Axis of Evil’. It’s done by three of them. One of them does a good impression of persians and Arabs. Tis a good laugh.

    • July 1, 2009 1:48 pm


      What I wanted to say is that, as Nita emphasized, the Iranian people are not fanatic about Islam,their more ancient civilization being probably a factor. They are more detached from religion, no matter what people think.

      These Iranian friends keep telling me that Islam is partly felt as imposed to them, they feel it is not totally embedded in their heritage, and that people in their private life – it has been said in books (I didn’t read Persepolis) and newspapers – live a free life with no obsession for religion. The poor seems mainly for Ahmadinejad, middle and upper classess are for Mousavi.

      To me it is interesting how you Indian people feel the closeness of Persia all along your history.

      • July 1, 2009 1:56 pm

        Support for Ahmadinejad or Mousavi has been much better analysed in other comments. From what we know here the support for Ahmadinejad by the rural and especially poor urban people (let us not forget that the majority of Iranian population is urban and that Tehran only has a population of 7,873,000 people) has been heavily manipulated.

    • July 1, 2009 7:30 pm

      Man of Roma, thats an interesting point you brought out about the urban rural population. I found out from this site that Iran has 34 percent of the population under the age of 14 and 61 percent between 15 and 64 years. And 60 percent of Iranians are urban dwellers. I guess it is mostly those below 50 and also those in urban areas who are spearheading the demand for a fresh election. I agree with you about Iranians. They come from a different stock and they are certainly not Arabs. And yes the Tata chief is a Parsi but he is not related to the founder of the Tata company Jamshedji Tata who is also a Parsi. In fact Parsis have done very well in India.

      • Naveen permalink
        July 1, 2009 11:00 pm

        Nita, Ratan Tata is the great grandson of Jamshetji Tata. No?

        Sorry, yes you are right! That is a mistake when I said he isn’t related. More on him here. Man of Roma, if you are reading this, then please note the correction. – Nita

        • July 2, 2009 9:05 am

          Naveen, I have been thinking about this because I remember seeing an interview of Ratan Tata in which he himself said he is not related by blood to the Tatas so I looked up the family tree. Sir Ratan Tata, the son of Jamshedji Tata adopted a son called Naval Tata. And this Ratan Tata of today is the son of Naval Tata.

          • July 10, 2009 4:13 pm

            No problem Nita. This Ratan Tata, the chairman of the Tata Group, looks like an ancient hero. Impressive face. When Fiat, the Italian car maker, had problems, he provided a helping hand and made deals with the Italian company. I think many Italians will remember it.

            I know exactly what you mean! He does look like an ancient Roman doesn’t he!! What with his ruggedly handsome features. Nita

  19. July 1, 2009 12:37 pm

    Hey, thank you for the recommendation. I am going to find this book and read it! 🙂

  20. July 1, 2009 2:09 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this review. I’m a Parsi and have always wanted to go to Iran to visit the Persian empire’s ruins. I too held the popular view of Iran being a strict Islamic nation.
    You have inspired me to visit Iran someday and I have already booked my copy of Persepolis! 🙂

    • July 1, 2009 7:32 pm

      Hullo Urvashi and welcome to my blog. I too have a desire to visit Iran one day and more so because of my interest in Persian empire about which one hears good and bad things.

  21. July 1, 2009 4:08 pm

    I’m not that clued on to what is happeing in Iran…but I want to know if this is really the picture or is it again the hyped up picture being presented by the media. I am not talking about the state of women there or the conditions people live in but the extent to which it is being presented.

    For bettre udnerstanding, would like to read the book you have talked about here.

    • July 1, 2009 7:34 pm

      Priya, they have shown the actual visuals of what is happening in Iran, until the government banned all press. I believe the situation in Iran is in fact much worse than we realise.

  22. July 1, 2009 11:27 pm

    Good to see a anarcho-primitivist comment make a ‘philosophical anarchist’ finally realize the role of government.

    Just to correct your wrong-
    That wasn’t a comment from some anarcho-primitivist, it was from an anarcho=capitalist, an objectivist and Individualist.

    About role of government, you can assign any role to government, the thing is, the only way government has to perform its role is through compulsions, violence, robbery, and force, government can never be voluntary and hence can never moral.

    As for example, it was Democratic government which killed Socrates, so was the Democracy which elected Hitler and gave power to him to showcase the true colors of government.
    It was democracy which elected Indira Gandhi to create mass murders of sikhs, and it was government and political propagandist which caused the issue of Babri Bawdi and masjid. It was government which colored Nandigram and Singur with red wine(or was it blood?).

    • Vinod permalink
      July 2, 2009 8:10 am

      government can never be voluntary and hence can never moral.

      How then can the varying conflicting interests of the society be balanced when they come together? Aren’t there any systemic checks that can be placed on a government to keep it within moral limits?

    • rags permalink
      July 3, 2009 3:30 pm

      I wonder if objectivists ever leave their dream world. The end point of their thought process is total chaos and confusion.

  23. July 2, 2009 5:53 pm

    Thanx for the review. Me still haven’t read this book, need to read it soon :).
    Indeed situation in Iran even leaves me thinking…

  24. July 4, 2009 7:03 am

    The end point of their thought process is total chaos and confusion.

    That is your weakness if you are in confusion.

  25. July 4, 2009 7:11 am

    How then can the varying conflicting interests of the society be balanced when they come together? Aren’t there any systemic checks that can be placed on a government to keep it within moral limits?
    That is what for libertarian principles of non-aggression comes into picture.
    Why cannot you try to exemplify any sort of conflicting situation (and I do mean of any kind) and then check how libertarian principles provide the solution.
    Anyways, this is not the plane/place for doing that, you can surely use my website to discuss/argue/object against any point of Objectivism/Libertarianism/Anarchocapitalism.
    You are most invited, here Neeta will be frenzied if I started opening up the sparkles.

    @ Rags,
    You can also try all your sources to prove that Freedom leads to chaos (as you have mentioned). (i.e you’r also invited, to refute objectivism/libertarianism/anarcho-capitalism for any possible objection you can put forth.
    I will show you that its not chaos but Reason which is the motivator and achievement of Objectivism a.k.a self governance, which is your birth right.

  26. vasudev permalink
    July 4, 2009 11:27 am

    vinod/rags/gargi…converted to simple layman’s language, what would all that amount to? in a single line or a single paragraph?

    • Vinod permalink
      July 4, 2009 5:42 pm

      Vasudev, wish I could help. But I know too little about the form of libertarianism that Gargi espouses. My introduction to it has been very recent. I don’t know enough about it to even state it as it is, leave alone simplify it in one sentence.

      I think Naveen or rags may know better.

      • vasudev permalink
        July 4, 2009 7:44 pm

        thanks vinod.

        yes. actually it was naveen’s latin that started the greek.

        let’s look forward to gargi/rags/naveen.

        simply put, i could not make head or tail of their exchanges…

        • Naveen permalink
          July 5, 2009 11:20 pm


          Liberty and all the ‘isms’ that surround it might sound it is about economics but it is not. It is all about basic human nature (or psychology) that in turn has a far greater impact. Sigmund Frued believed that human beings by nature are ‘bad’ and emphasized the need to ‘reform’ them to make them good citizens. Political pundits hijacked this concept emphasizing the need for a stronger gov’t(just as they did with Darwin’s theory). Propaganda machines in democracies took a stronger role, as did stringent laws in non-democracies to ‘normalize’ people. Liberatarians(like Chomsky) strongly believe that human beings are ‘good’ by nature and believed that power centers like governments are bad. They looked for a smaller government(and a less meddling one). Anarchists are an extreme wing of liberatarians, who want no government at all. Anarcho-capitalists are more extreme that they do not want power centers like government but want big corporations(like living with a tiger in a circus ring without the ringmaster). Thats the reason why I dont see a difference between Anarcho-Capitalists and going primitive (either with gold currency or barter system). Anarachism is not a step forward but a leap backwards. Sensible people believe that there is always a middle ground and that any kind of extreme is infact ‘bad’ (‘devastating’ especially in economics). I would suggest you to read Nita’s another article before you form your opinion. Hope this gives you an idea.

          • Vinod permalink
            July 6, 2009 7:06 am

            Naveen, in your comment

            Good to see a anarcho-primitivist comment make a philosophical anarchist finally realize the role of govt

            Who is the anarcho primitivist and who is the philosophical anarchist? I tried going over the possibilities of me being either and tried matching my thinking with the wiki definitions of these terms, and I couldn’t make a match. I thought I should just ask you.

            • rags permalink
              July 6, 2009 9:15 am

              @ vinod:
              I’m not too sure but I think you are the philosophical anarchist 🙂 Maybe Naveen can correct me.

            • Naveen permalink
              July 6, 2009 9:41 am

              Philosophical Anarchists are strongly opposed to Nationalism, believe that Nations/States are ‘man-made concepts that work today’ and are ‘open-minded’ for a tomorrow’s world without them. 😉 The other reason I poke you is simply my curiosity about your strong affinity for everything thats on the other side of the fence.

              • Vinod permalink
                July 6, 2009 10:18 am

                Am guilty as charged 🙂

              • Vinod permalink
                July 6, 2009 10:20 am

                Naveen, thanks for taking the time to summarize. Atleast I have a starting point now in recognizing my own tendencies.

                • July 6, 2009 10:35 am

                  Vinod, I too have noticed that you like to take the “other” side. 🙂 But you do so politely and with reasoned and objective arguments so you are one of my favourite commentators.

          • rags permalink
            July 6, 2009 9:07 am

            ” Sigmund Frued believed that human beings by nature are ‘bad’ and emphasized the need to ‘reform’ them to make them good citizens.”

            Um, a slight digression, but isn’t this too simplisitic? Freud might have put forward a lot of controversial theories but I’m sure he didn’t use value loaded term for human beings like good or bad. Maybe implusive, aggressive and destructive but certainly not in a moralistic way. I don’t think he was into preaching what was right and wrong.
            Correct me if I’m wrong.

            • Naveen permalink
              July 6, 2009 10:12 am

              Yes, simplistic in an attempt to summarize. I guess ‘the desire to kill’, ‘the insatiable craving for sexual gratification’ and ‘violent aggression towards authoritative figures and towards sexual competitors’ could be summarized as ‘Bad’. In fact, BF Skinner was the guy who tried to ‘reform’ people.

              • rags permalink
                July 6, 2009 11:10 am

                @ Naveen:
                Skinner the behaviourist/operant conditioning theorist? Or maybe this is a different Skinner….

          • vasudev permalink
            July 6, 2009 11:27 am

            thanks naveen for taking your time out to explain in details. not that i understood but i am sure many others did understand. regards.

  27. July 5, 2009 6:56 pm

    I don’t know what is the real situation in Iran, but I certainly don’t want the western biased media to tell about that. Some times I feel that the United States might want to install a puppet regime there. Of course, this doesn’t have any relation to the current happenings, but I am saying this from the past actions of the western media and leaders.

    Destination Infinity

    DI, true, if one goes by the past one cannot have much faith in what the west does. But as you said, we should try and look at it independently of the history. – Nita

  28. raghav permalink
    July 6, 2009 8:10 pm

    Hi Nita,

    Very interesting article. Apart from Iran, I think Lebanon is also a different country of the Middle-East. This idea i got after having met Lebanese ppl esp. women as they mingle so freely as compared to other Middle-Eastern women or even Indian women.

    Anyways, the efforts of the Iranian ppl are extremely courageous n have the potential to change their country forever.

    raghav, I too think that the Iranian people are very courageous and it is heartening to note that even the clergy is now standing up the present dictatorship. That is the latest news. And today I saw on tv that there are protests in parts of China, the first such since Tienanmen! – Nita

  29. Vinod permalink
    July 7, 2009 8:41 pm

    I’m pleased to notice that Indians do recognize Iran as Persians and not Arabs. This is contrastable to Israelis who do not refer to Palestinians as Palestinians, but as Arabs. Still not seeing the contrast? Well..they do that because calling them Palestinians means automatically undercutting their sole claim to Israel, but to share with ‘those who are native to Palestine’. They even go to the extent of referring to Iranians (everybody knows Irans opposition to Israel) as ‘Arabs’. When it is pointed out to them that they are persians, they are like ‘whatever’.

    • Vinod permalink
      July 7, 2009 8:51 pm

      My source: An Israeli Jew – Jeff Halper’s talk in Australian Broadcasting Corporation titled “Countdown to the Apartheid in Israel”

    • Naveen permalink
      July 7, 2009 9:51 pm


      Just to give you an other prespective.

    • Vinod permalink
      July 8, 2009 7:27 am

      Thanks Naveen. I’m aware of that sentiment among Israelis. Jeff actually speaks of that paranoia build up by the Israeli govt and the kind of ethos it creates among the Israelis. Paranoia is a great tool to control citizens today (remember WMD?). What is said after reducing all palestinians to Arabs is “We want peace, but the Arabs don’t. They only want to throw us into the sea. Peace is not possible with Arabs”. Palestinians, even after all the ethnic cleansing that has happened there, form more than half of the population of West Bank. It is the only region where the minority rules over the majority and claims God given rights over the land.

      • Naveen permalink
        July 8, 2009 10:55 am

        What about the propaganda like ‘Holocaust-denial’, ‘the protocols about the elders of zion’, ‘jews are europeans’ and ‘jewish control of US’? I wish you know how deep hatred for Jews runs. Israel is simply a reason. A man walks to me in New York introduces himself and asks my name. He probably hears my name as Naveed, starts talking about killing them. When I asked Whom?- he gives a puzzled look, asks my religion and walks away. And you think it is all paranoia.

        Israel may not be right but what I don’t agree is that there is one victim and one offender. As for Palestine, it has two faces -one that is shown out and the other run by Hamas -throwing bombs from civilian homes.

        • vasudev permalink
          July 8, 2009 11:41 am

          I suggest ‘Eagle in the sky’ by Wilbur Smith. Although fiction, it portrays what happens inside an israeli and inside israel. how the terrorism paralyses and destroys their lives and hopes.

        • Vinod permalink
          July 8, 2009 11:44 am

          That is what Israel does best – portraying itself as the victim while demolishing the lives of palestianians and ethnically cleansing the region to be the ‘land of the pure’.

          • vasudev permalink
            July 8, 2009 11:56 am


            Wilbur Smith isn’t an Israeli. He is a South African and his books usually revolve round the topics of Elephant /Lion hunting and African safaris. This was an uncharacterisitc book of his but well written.

        • Vinod permalink
          July 8, 2009 11:56 am

          And when it comes to understanding this issue, I humbly suggest that one looks to hard facts rather than poetry and fiction.

          • vasudev permalink
            July 8, 2009 11:59 am

            vinod…can’t help but state openly that you are strongly pro-muslims and anti-anyone else. Is the ‘vinod’ hiding someone else?

            vasudev, you have got personal here but Vinod as already seen the comment and doesn’t seem to mind it. And it’s worth thinking about his answer. – Nita

            • vasudev permalink
              July 8, 2009 2:46 pm


              forget vinod’s comment/opinion/ reaction. i put my cards openly and he played it cool.

              with me you can always state your mind and opinion upfront 9no need to refer to other’s views) and i shall respect it always.!

          • Vinod permalink
            July 8, 2009 12:26 pm

            Vasudev, go slow, my friend. Try not reading my “positions” but weigh the arguments I present and form your opinion about the issue. You are well capable of doing that. We all have our biases. I’m sure I have mine. And I am open to listening from you.

            • vasudev permalink
              July 8, 2009 2:42 pm

              thanks vinod, for being as candid as i am. i like open people. and i like all kinds of the open ones, except the snobs.

      • Vinod permalink
        July 8, 2009 11:42 am

        Holocaust denial is part of the verbal pissing-off competition that goes on in the middle east. I admit that there is a lot of hate against jews among muslims. But how far back does this go? Did you know that the jews were more than happy to live in muslim spain and were more than happy to leave Christian Spain after the inquisition by Isabelle and take refuge in muslim turkey? They did so for centuries. History shows that Jews have been hated and humiliated more by Christians than by muslims and have often been protected by muslims. It is unfortunate that they have such a short memory. The current hate among muslims towards jews is not historical and is tied to the israeli-palestine conflict. Do you know the history of the region? Israel was carved out by the British with complete disregard to the overwhelming number of native palestinians who lived there. Haven’t you now enquired how Israel came about to be?

        Israel may not be right but what I don’t agree is that there is one victim and one ,

        True. But given the balance of military power no prizes for guessing who is at the receiving end. Do you know the statistics for the number of Israelis and palestinians who have died so far and the demographic class of these deaths? I suggest you take a look.

        Zionism is not entirely a conspiracy theory either. Even Jewish Israelis recognize it. There is a reason why more than half of those in the age group 18-30 no longer vote in Israeli elections.

        • Naveen permalink
          July 8, 2009 3:57 pm

          “Holocaust denial is part of the verbal pissing-off competition that goes on in the middle east. ”

          Interesting that you see Holocaust denial as a pissing-off competition and ‘calling Palestinians as Arabs’, a cut-throat strategy by Zionists. Don’t you think its time to shed off some of that ‘bias’ to really see the facts on both ends?

          “I admit ………………..came about to be? ”

          Yes, Jews were persecuted by Christians as well. But historical perspective has the least significance in such disputes because scenarios change drastically, as you go farther into history. And the issue becomes what is the reference point in the timeline and why?

          “True. But ……………………………. a look. ”

          I did take a look. I got two kinds of metrics. One that has the number of casualities on each side with age groups. The other that said the number of Israeli counter attacks for Hamas pre-emption. If anything, I think the second set of metrics is more valid. I also know, who respects the call for a mutual cease-fire and who doesn’t(most of the times). To me, the Jewish numbers (although less) are human beings too, just like Palestinians. And I don’t think people should die in higher numbers to give us a side to choose.

          “Zionism is …………….. in Israeli elections.”

          There was one Pakistani friend of mine, who insisted that Hindus drink cow urine. I couldn’t convince him that it is not true; He wanted to show some newspaper articles and websites. Well, how can you help someone if they are hell-bent on believing trash. I shrug it off. I’ll do the same thing with your zionist-conspiracy theories.

          This is another prespective that I’d like to take a look at -not a poem nor a novel -not even an intellectual’s opinion-its a person’s life. There are two parts to it. Watch both of them. 🙂

        • Vinod permalink
          July 8, 2009 7:31 pm

          Firstly, I presented an Israeli jew’s view about Israel. You are bringing in a Lebanese Christian to talk about muslims. Also, note that Israeli jew themselves accept that the Zionist movement exists and has a huge influence on Israeli politics. There are Israeli jews who have come together to fight against Zionism. Zionism is not a muslim construct. And for the record, I’m no fan of conspiracy theories either. It’s not “my” Zionist theory. Pls read it for what it is. I’m not peddling the muslim version of it.

          Secondly, I would never take my history lessons from the likes of Brigitte Gabriel. Here’s a more objective link about the Lebanese Civil War. Pls read it and compare with the slant of Brigitte and you can guess why she is a hot favourite speaker among Christian evangelicals in US.

          Thirdly, unless you can explain how the Holocoust denial is anything more than an attempt at pissing off Israel and its supporters, I don’t know what else to make of it. I’m open to your view on this. Pls enlighten me.

          Yes, Jews were persecuted by Christians as well. But historical perspective has the least significance in such disputes because scenarios change drastically, as you go farther into history. And the issue becomes what is the reference point in the timeline and why?

          The point I was trying to make was that the hate of the jews today by the muslims is linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And yes, it works the other way too. The Israeli hate of the Arabs is again linked to this conflict. The real issue, whose answer is to be found in history, is how the conflict came about; not who is more evil than the other or who is more inclined to violence than the other.

          Lastly, I can only urge you once again to watch those videos I have referenced. I’m also sure you are aware that Israel has repeatedly been criticized for its human rights violations in the UN although all the resolutions were blocked by the veto of Israel’s diehard supporter- the US. Does that mean anything to you?

          • Naveen permalink
            July 9, 2009 6:48 am

            Colloquially, Zionism could mean different things to different people. It might mean the creation of Israel, occupying Palestine or the conquer of the world by Jews. In the link you gave, I found number of other versions of Zionism. Anyway, I think you should read the Hamas Charter too and compare it to Zionism. Why don’t we have Arab muslims talk on behalf of Israel like Israeli Jews do? – Well, because they’d be killed if they do it. Heard of Salah Choudhury in Bangladesh?- he’s waiting for his death sentence.

            Secondly, why is one victim ineligible to tell you the truth about Palestine, while the other is? What if she is a Lebanese-christian? Let it be her side of the story, but why should it be ignored and called a slant? And why should her suffering not be a part of the region’s history? What does it change if she is a sought-out speaker by Christian evangelicals in US?

            Thirdly, Holocoust-denial is a propoganda tool to tweak history. Many slanders that I mentioned before were blantantly used by Hitler to persecute Jews. History is repeating itself. For example, calling Jews as Europeans basically means denying Israel in the middle east. I believe you sure know this strategy.

            Genealogically, both Arabs and Jews belong to the ancient semitic tribes of the Middle East. There is, as you so well know, Arabs belong to the land. There is, as you are desperate to ignore, Jews too belong to the land.

            Thanks for the Video. I did watch it. It is very hard for me to support an organization drowned so deep in hatred. Blow up self and innocent others for martyrdom? Not my type. Another thing -your ideology stems from the notion that a stronger party does not have the right to defend itself. I don’t believe in that.

            As for United Nations, it is unfortunate that the organization never got a chance to protect any country from Guerilla attacks. Did UN ever criticize Pakistan for the influx of radical Mujahideens into India? Finally, I’d like to repeat what I said – “Israel may not be right but what I don’t agree is that there is one victim and one offender”.

          • Vinod permalink
            July 9, 2009 10:01 am

            Secondly, why is one victim ineligible to tell you the truth about Palestine, while the other is?

            Because she is talking about the Lebanese “civil war”. 2 things differentiate it from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -‘Lebanese’ and ‘civil war’. A civil war is between armed civilians. And civil wars are always that ugly and barbaric as she describes. She only described what the Palestianians did to the Christians because that is what she saw. If you read the wiki link on the Lebanese civil war, you will see that Christian groups have also committed atrocities on the Palestinians. Was it any less ghastly? We will have to hear from a Palestianian on that. It is called a ‘civil war’ by all historians for a reason. She presents only one side of it. What she also does not say is that identities of the various groups in the civil war were not only drawn along the muslim-christian lines. She is over-simplifying it to show exclusively the palestinians in a bad light. And is there any substantial link between the Lebanese civil war and the Israeli Palestinian conflict? Both have different origins, isn’t it? What is the point of a demonizing anecdote of palestianians in a lebanese civil war when talking about the Israeli Palestinian conflict? Note that in the Israeli palestianian conflict you have govt sponsored troops on one side armed to the teeth and with bomb-dropping war planes and civilians who are no where near that in weaponry on the other, many even using stones. Have you seen the video – ‘Palestine is still the issue’? It tells you how the Israeli govt builds those settlements. See the impact of those settlement building on palestinian life. If that isn’t ethnic-racism, then I don’t know what is.

            Thirdly, Holocoust-denial is a propoganda tool to tweak history

            I see no automatic link between the Holocaust and the Israeli state. There is no reason why Israelis automatically deserve a state in a land where they have been historically treated well because they suffered elsewhere, especially if it involves displacing the majority already on that land. If at all a nation was to be given to them as recompense for the Holocaust, it has to be carved out of Germany!! Why should the Palestinians pay the price for the Holocaust? Be that as it may, what does the Holocaust denial have to do with the Palestinians? Wasn’t that denial from Iran and that too by Ahmedinejad, whose rhetorical skills are, to say the least, not particularly convincing? Is that the position of the Iranians as a people, given the voice of the people we got to hear in the recent elections? Is that the position of the Arabs? I don’t know why you are now bringing in Ahmedinejad when talking about Palestinians, as if his conduct somehow reflects on the Palestinians

            It is very hard for me to support an organization drowned so deep in hatred

            You need not support it. But with a better idea of what it does, you now know that there is more to it than the mere suicide bombings. It is providing the only form of governance and humanitarian infrastructure in the region. And you also see that suicide bombings is a tactical means to its goals and that Hamas’ objectives are tied to the Palestinian nation – very unlike Al-Qaeda, which has global plans. You can atleast reject the black and white painting of it. You must learn to distinguish between what Reza Aslan aptly calls the ‘Islamists’ like Hamas (who have specific national objectives) and the ‘Jihadists’ like Al-Qaeda. Despite my criticism of Israel, I am willing to see that the majority of Israelis are actually being manipulated by the govt by scare tactics. I am well aware that the Israeli army is the one with the maximum number of conscientious objectors in the world. There are movements within Israel that object to the treatment of the Palestinians. I do not (as MJ says) black and white the Israelis. I recognize the diversity of opinion among them. I recognize the humanitarian Israelis from the fundamentalist Israelis in the settlements. Have you heard about the Hassidic jews in UK? Have you seen them take protests against the zionist agenda of the Israeli state?

            “Israel may not be right but what I don’t agree is that there is one victim and one offender”

            Regardless of whose fault is behind the conflict, what you can do is sympathise with those who are being reduced to living like refugees in concentration camps. Surely you can see that one side’s suffering is at an order of magnitude in difference than the other. There is one side that doesn’t have the basic facilities of schools, house and hospitals (because they are demolished by the other) and where living conditions are deplorable and where the people’s dignity is constantly taken away by the treatment of gun weilding Israeli youth of the settlements and the military. Even if you don’t want to fault any one side for the cause of the conflict you will have to fault the Israeli side for its treatment of the Palestinians. Granting you that Hamas and Zionism are equally hate filled, you still haven’t got to the question of how is it that that a minority jewish population were able to carve out a nation for themselves out of a land occupied by a majority Palestianian population? And this majority was by no means a slim majority.

            About the UN resolutions, the internal politics of it in the Israeli-palestinian matter is completely different from the others. It’s failings in one front do not discombobulate what is seen in this matter. These resolutions condemning Israel were unanimous, even by the Security Council, except for the US. That should make you think. It was not an ambivalent result.

            • July 9, 2009 11:08 am

              Very good Vinod .I cannot agree with you more. Creation of Israel by Colonial powers was a big historical wrong. Can a Nation founded on such Wrong survive? But no one can wish away its existence now even though many of the free thinking Jews are escaping to US and Australia . As the stature of USA as World’s super cop diminishes it will be more and more difficult for Israel.

              • vasudev permalink
                July 9, 2009 11:45 am

                But tell me one fundamental thing you guys:

                wasn’t palestine (or whatever it was called those early days) usurped from the jews by the arabs and occupied?

                so what’s wrong with the jews claiming a portion of it back for themselves?

                • July 9, 2009 5:08 pm

                  Vasudev, If some one claim rights to your family property where for several generations your family is living saying that 2000 years ago his ancestors were living there what will you do?

                  • vasudev permalink
                    July 9, 2009 8:58 pm

                    charakan…please remember that all the jews did not flee palestine. they stayed on at galilee all throughout. although the arabs were the latest to be there, palestine was under different people at different times, including the romans.

                    now to answer your question: that’s why i always keep one bedroom locked while renting out my three bedroom flat.

                    • July 10, 2009 5:25 pm

                      ha ha ha. Good Vasudev, So you are expecting someone to come. The problem Palestinians faced was too many ppl came claiming ancestral rights and that too they wanted control of the whole house.

              • Vinod permalink
                July 9, 2009 1:15 pm

                Vasudev, for a very simple idea of what happened – see this


                • vasudev permalink
                  July 9, 2009 1:54 pm

                  But then Vinod…it proves my point that the undivided palestine traditionally belonged to the jews…

                • Vinod permalink
                  July 9, 2009 2:28 pm

                  Vasudev, first things first – you do know that the Bible does not count as a source of history (when its own historical credibility is at stake), right?

                  Secondly – here’s what happened in layman’s terms – united palestine with a majority arab population was under ottomon rule. The Ottomon empire was defeated in the First World War. The mandate of Greater Palestine fell into the hands of the British, who under the sway of the British Zionist movement happily proceeded to divy up Palestine to meet the demands of the Zionist jews. In all this, the only regard to the Arab voice was a phrase in the British mandate that said …without prejudice to the interests of the non-jewish population Do take a close look at Ben Gurion’s sentiment regarding Palestine’s partition – he viewed the partition as nothing more than a temporary solution. According to him, the entire land of palestine should go to the jews.
                  Trust that clarifies.

                  • vasudev permalink
                    July 9, 2009 3:02 pm

                    vinod…just one doubt…do you think canaan is a real place or an imaginary place?

                  • Vinod permalink
                    July 9, 2009 3:17 pm

                    Vasudev, I don’t play fishing games.

                    • vasudev permalink
                      July 9, 2009 4:28 pm

                      I couldn’t follow the drift regarding fishing.

                      Nevertheless, I feel you must review the history of jews right from the days of their land of canaan, to the arab invasion and exodus of jews… and life under various rulers including the christian persecution of the jews before you reach the ottoman or the british rules.

                      if you follow that it would become clear to you the ancestrol property rights the jews have on undivided palestine. sorry about it but that is a fact which at least I cannot overlook.

                      maybe i am wrong in my understanding and therefore i would appreciate if you could opine.

                    • Vinod permalink
                      July 9, 2009 6:07 pm

                      Vasudev, this link should give a clear idea of who exactly the land “belongs” to, if we go by the ancestral logic –


                • Vinod permalink
                  July 9, 2009 2:40 pm

                  Vasudev, found something that will precisely answer the questions you have –


                  • vasudev permalink
                    July 9, 2009 9:27 pm


                    from your link, the following extract:

                    [The Jewish kingdoms were only one of many periods in ancient Palestine

                    “The extended kingdoms of David and Solomon, on which the Zionists base their territorial demands, endured for only about 73 years…Then it fell apart…[Even] if we allow independence to the entire life of the ancient Jewish kingdoms, from David’s conquest of Canaan in 1000 B.C. to the wiping out of Judah in 586 B.C., we arrive at [only] a 414 year Jewish rule.” ]

                    now please note: the article says the jews ruled early caanan from 1000BC to 586BC. and canaan later got the name of palestine from the romans. so the jews were there the first.

                    please also note that the arabs were only the latest to invade palestine, even though they were the longest to occupy palestine.

                  • Vinod permalink
                    July 10, 2009 12:17 pm

                    Vasudev, here is something that gives you the complexity in the ownership-by-ancestry argument


                    Remember that Jews are a religious group. There are ethnic diversities within them. Do all the jews then have the same ancestry to the Biblical land (if there be such a thing)? If we take a step further back, shouldn’t the land go to the people whom the jews under David conquered? Why stop with the jews?

                    Vasudev, I’m very sceptical of this ancestry argument. It has a stink to it that I’m not able to place my finger on. Following it, do the Malays now have automatic claim over Singapore? Do the eastern Russians have a claim over North America (the ancestors of the native Americans came from east Russia through the Barring Straits)? You get the drift.

                    • vasudev permalink
                      July 10, 2009 1:21 pm

                      vinod…thanks for the link. i never knew that the canaanite concept was also under review internationally leading to a research on establishing ancestory.

                      first of all we seem to have a difference of basic background here.

                      1) i come from the location that jews are the original descendants of the caananite tribes (as all those who settled in canaan).

                      2) christianity was not in existence when judaism was concieved (the dates are in bc)

                      3) islam came into being much later…

                      vinod…while you left your home for singapore and then on every leave down to india i am sure you might have touched the feet of your parents? i do…that is ancestory. it has a relevance.

                      now imagine you have blood brothers who converted to christianity and islam. even though they do not then qualify to be within your religious group do your parents deny them property rights? no! again, that is ancestory! what has been passed down from generations in a family belong to the subsequent generations of the same family irrespective of their religious preferences.

                      from the wikipedia link you posted it becomes apparent that many of the jews might have converted to christianity and also to islam while living on the same land.

                      now, about jewish ethnicity…i think jews of different parts of the world are descendants of those who ran away under siege…(am not sure if there were later conversions into judaism from christianity/islam or hinduism)

                      IMHO the land should equally belong to all those who were there originally and their descendants irrespective of jew/christian/muslim.

                      now coming to invasions (usurping other man’s possessions)…today mine, tomorrow yours…

                      history has it that what has been invaded has been released by the noble hearted. alexander did it. ashoka did it. even the british have done it.

                      coming to the british…if we go by the theory you propose the land of palestine should then belong to the britishers as the very last masters of palestine. or…the britishers should have the mandate to decide who should own what as per the ratio they have drawn out (we know there are instances).

                      (sudden work pressure obliges me to discontinue reply at this instant…catch-up with you later)

                    • Vinod permalink
                      July 10, 2009 2:58 pm

                      Vasaudev, about jewishness, this should help –


                      See how that adds a whole wrinkle to that ancestry argument?

                      And here’s another (a Christian source that I am impressed with for its meticulous fact-based arguments) about how much is known of whether the jews who occupied Palestine were from Canaan


                    • Vinod permalink
                      July 10, 2009 3:01 pm

                      if we go by the theory you propose

                      Vasudev, did I propose a theory? 🙂

                      My approach is fair and simple. If you are forming a nation, form it based on democratic principles. Let there be a representation of everyone present there regardless of their history.

                  • Vinod permalink
                    July 10, 2009 3:36 pm

                    Here’s why I think the ancestry argument, relative to sovereignty over land, should be approached carefully –

                    Early Man started emigrating out of Africa to the other continents. It is a matter of chance that a particular community were the first to settle on a piece of land.

                    They settle there and develop their culture which is significantly influenced by the geological and geographic characteristics of the land. In this manner,
                    the land is connected to the identity of the people. Let us call it land LA and the people PA. Very soon, communities settled in the neighbouring areas (LB,
                    PB), in search for more resources conquer (or migrate into) LA, PA. If LA, PA now leave and go to LC, over time and generations they become PC culturally (to be precise, they influence the original PC and are influenced by it to form a syncretic and new PC). If I take an African American and put him in Africa today, he will probably run looking for a white man!! He is culturally similar to a white man than an African. Similarly, a Singaporean Indian will find India and
                    its people very difficult to live in. He or she is more at home in India. Simultaneously, PB/LB now become PA/LA over time and generations (to be precise they influence are are influenced by the original PA/LA to form a syncretic PA/LA)

                    Now, the only reason why jews, atleast a majority of them, crave for their ancestral land, is because of the Biblical significance of it (the exception to
                    this are the jews who have been in that region over the centuries). In this they are strongly supported by the evangelical Christians, who are also the
                    largest donors for the cause of Israel. Even if a jew does not want to live in the “holy land”, it would not be surprising to find him canvassing for it.

                    This clashes with the general human experience of identity derived from the land. Even if it is granted that the Arabs were later occupants of the land in palestine, their relationship to the land is as much real and deep, as it is to the jews. They’ve been there for centuries now and generations of them have passed. All these generations have had a very real connection with the land which is now part of their idenity.

                    If the soveriegnty through ancestry argument is taken to its logical extreme, it means people different from the original inhabitants of a land who migrate to that land can never derive their identity from that land. They can never become ‘one with the land’ regardless of how much time passes. This does not accord with human experience of identity.

                    I don’t know what conclusions to make. But if the welfare of a people who are to be grouped into a nation is to be given importance and those people are derive their identity from that land, then it is important that the nation formed is headed by a representative government so that no particular group is marginalized.

                • Vinod permalink
                  July 9, 2009 2:44 pm

                  Don’t miss this too –


                  • vasudev permalink
                    July 9, 2009 4:31 pm

                    unfortunately i am not able to open this in office since it has been blocked. will have a look at it later tonite.

        • Vinod permalink
          July 8, 2009 9:07 pm

          On the history point, remember that I brought it up because you were referring to the “depth of the hatred” of the muslims against the jews. And the historical perspective sheds light on that.

      • Vinod permalink
        July 8, 2009 11:51 am

        Naveen, about a more accurate picture of Hamas, I recommend this video –

        And about the Palestine issue, I recommend the video (either on youtube or google video) titled – ‘Palestine is still the issue’.

  30. July 8, 2009 5:44 pm

    I fully agree with Vinod here. Palestinian issue is primarily not an issue of religion. It is an issue of Occupation of Palestine territory by a vastly military-wise superior Israeli settlers. Palestinian resistance movement was one of the most secular political movement in middle- east. Years of deliberate and systematic undermining of Fatah by not adhering to most of the signed agreements by Israel with the support of USA resulted in the rise in popularity of Islamist Hamas

    • vasudev permalink
      July 8, 2009 11:14 pm

      what about entebbe?

      • July 8, 2009 11:38 pm

        what you mean vasudev? Are you asking whether I support killing of innocents as a part of freedom movement? The answer is no.

  31. Naveen permalink
    July 10, 2009 5:40 am

    Your insensitivity to the pain of non-palestine people in the region is legion and despicable. I have reasons for using the word -‘despicable’.

    Your stereotypic slander against Jews and now against Lebanese Christians but letting Hamas and PLO scott-free WITHOUT any responsibility what-so-ever for the in-human slayings in the region is despicable. Why do you do that? -Because they do not fall into your ‘bias’ group and that is what is despicable. I suppose you saw
    the entire video where she describes you how amunition is thrown into Israel from every border including Lebanon. You don’t want to believe her because that is not an Israeli problem but what? -‘a Lebanese’ and a ‘civil war’? And what else? She is not a muslim and not a Palestine. You need a substantial link between the two disputes inspite of the fact that evidence is right in your face- the naked truth of PLO and Hamas. You want to debate history and origins but not the pain of human beings on the ‘other’ side because you do not want to hear absolutely anything that will put
    ‘palestinians in bad light’. To support your argument, you use adjective stuffings comparing the ‘aggressor’ Israel and ‘victim’ Palestine, but fail to even consider that there are considerable
    Jewish deaths in the conflict(which are obviously not suicides). And the Jews that died in the conflict are just numbers for you but Palestinians are the only humans suffering in the region. Why are you so resistant to see the suffering of the ‘other’side? -Because that will force you agree that Hamas is a terrorist organization bent on killing civilians. It is a very old trick in the book
    -giving human face to a militant organization- to get support and funding. Heard of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its humanitarian efforts? Or have you heard recently about the amunition collected by the ‘humanitarian group’ in Bangladesh that was meant to reach India? You want to throw at me selective Wikipedia links and Youtube videos
    but want to go blinded to the tons of links and videos that just shows how cruel Hamas is. And you call it a humanitarian organization -I don’t have words. If Hamas was really that nice, why
    do so many leaders in the middle-east want to get Hamas out of the palestinian picture. Hamas is a monstrous organization that is desperately trying to kill Hosni Mubarak and other leaders, who made peace with Israel.

    When Idi Amin gave 2-week notice to Indians to leave Uganda, Where do you think they might have gone if India had said that Ugandan-Indians are not Indians and what if Britan was not so
    generous? It is really a shame that Indian government was indeed not warm to take them back. Today when the Global Indian has a new
    status in the world, Indian govt is giving them PIO cards -People of Indian origin, a special non-visa status for generations of Indians. Isn’t it really a shame? Now your denial of Jews from their
    ancestral land and putting them in a carved-out land with the perpetrators that committed the worst crimes in history of mankind is not just callous but inhuman. This is exactly what
    Holocaust-denial is strategized to do. And look at you- you want to use UN where it suits you but don’t want where it doesn’t suit you. You bring up Israel’s credibility even though you know for sure that Israel is a recognized country by the UN. I know that Hamas is not Al-Qaeda. You may want to make Hamas a sacred institution by distinguising them. But it is not just true- you know it well- but won’t agree. If anything, Hamas could be compared to Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the huge list of Mujahideen organizations. Israelis are
    manipulated by scare tactics? Probably Yes. And you forgot to add the other thing to it -Palestinian children are being brought up to become Martyrs. This is what is the problem- you are ready to see only one side of the picture but are completely blinded to the other. As you said it, many jewish people are opposed to any Zionist agenda. First, Jews need to be freed from the 100 or so stray mortars that fall on their heads every month by Hamas. And as for peace, there is hope only when Palestine(especially Hamas) recognizes the fact that Jews belong there. That is in itself -the main and huge step towards peace. Any idea against that is what is racism also. Why did Ahmedinejad come into this discussion? Put him back where he belongs. I am not ready to deviate from the core discussion, even if that’s your intent.

    Yes, I sympathize with the affected on both sides. And what I don’t agree is your intent to measure pain and wander your arguments proving something different- without giving thought to what is it that’s causing pain. My idea of who is the greater evil is not who gives the stronger punch, but who starts it all -again and again and
    in whose interest is it to keep the pot boiling. And now, if you want to go back into history and be stuck there, Sure. Start doing it by reading ‘UN resolutions’that mandated Jewish and Arab states. Palestinians everywhere in the world are very successful but why are Palestinians living in such deplorable conditions in their homeland? What is happening to the humanitarian aid and money sent by Palestinians abroad and the Arab nations, that goes into Palestine? Ask not me -but PLO and Hamas. Ask PLO how Yasser Arafat got to live
    in luxury when most Palestinians are living so poor lives. Ask Hamas, where is the money infact going that is sent for humanitarian causes.

    United Nations is an organization of countries- in which Israel is one. UN has a greater reason to critique and chide Israel for its aggression and not Hamas. I keep saying this to you “Israel may not
    be right but what I don’t agree is that there is one victim and one offender”.

  32. Vinod permalink
    July 10, 2009 8:12 am

    Naveen, I thought I’ll respond point by point. But I think it’s become too emotional for the discussion to continue for anyone’s benefit. I’ll make my exit here. Hope to continue to learn from you.


  33. vasudev permalink
    July 10, 2009 10:27 pm


    an apt quote from harry truman:

    “No two historians ever agree on what happened, and the damn thing is they both think they’re telling the truth.”

    therefore i will make my exit here with a final few words:

    history be damned
    ancestory be damned
    but it not wise to squeeze gelatin too much

    • Naveen permalink
      July 12, 2009 9:53 pm

      I suppose this link was to educate me. I think what Jeff Halper is doing is incredibly great as a human being. The entire world, not just that region, should be thankful for him. Thank you for sending this.

      I am sure you know religious sermons from Pakistan to Africa to South-East Asia to the middle east, that teach why a jew should be killed in the womb. I think tons of people (like Salah Chowdhary), who resist that kind of religious propoganda and stand upfront in their human values should also be considered for Noble prize and should be given the same media coverage.

      Let me give you a more balanced outlook here, maniacal Hindu organizations in India that cite ‘historical reasons’ to alienate muslims calling them ‘outsiders’ should be severely punished also. What do you think? 😉

  34. Vinod permalink
    July 13, 2009 7:23 am

    Naveen, the primary purpose was not to educate you. You are pretty well informed yourself and a reflective person. The reason I put it there was because I had mentioned it in the comments and had not taken the time to link to it. It was for completeness.

    I am sure you know religious sermons from Pakistan to Africa to South-East Asia to the middle east, that teach why a jew should be killed in the womb. I think tons of people (like Salah Chowdhary), who resist that kind of religious propoganda and stand upfront in their human values should also be considered for Noble prize and should be given the same media coverage.

    I cannot agree with you more. 🙂

    Let me give you a more balanced outlook here, maniacal Hindu organizations in India that cite ‘historical reasons’ to alienate muslims calling them ‘outsiders’ should be severely punished also. What do you think?

    You already know me too well. I feel exposed 🙂

  35. July 14, 2009 10:41 am

    This is a beautiful post. I have been back to blogs after a long while, this post has made my time worth it. Persepolis is nice movie, I have watched bits and parts on youtube some time back. It was delightful.

    “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi is a another book about Iranian women discussing literature in secret, their aspirations and their pain brought out by stifling laws.

  36. July 27, 2009 2:55 am

    Both parts 1 and 2 of Persepolis the graphic novel are a delight to read. The movie, for a change, does justice to the novel. I got to learn so much about Iran’s history, thanks to Marjani’s novel.

  37. July 31, 2012 2:37 am

    how does this story answer this EQ?
    what constitues a violoation of human rights? what responsibilties do we have, if any, to intervene when human rights are being violated?

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