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Code Pink Hearts Iran’s Mullahs

They schmoozed in Tehran as the regime was executing its enemies.

by
Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi and Elio Bonazzi

Bio

December 23, 2008 - 12:00 am
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Citizen diplomacy is an extension of the concept of “citizen arrest,” and it was the intention of the two radical, rich women to attempt to take American foreign policy into their own hands and to force the Obama administration to solve the standoff between the U.S. and Iran through dialogue and comprehension, without any precondition or any pretense of understanding.

Benjamin and Evans wrote daily accounts of their trip to Tehran on their blog — and wasted not a word on poor Fatemeh or on the tragedy of women’s rights in Iran under the mullahs and their Sharia laws. Benjamin and Evans portray a rosy and unrealistic situation, where Iranians of all social classes and political persuasions welcome them enthusiastically, share their anti-war sentiments, and desire for peaceful and loving relations with the U.S. and all nations. Medea Benjamin, who lived for seven years in Cuba calling the Castro dictatorship “a paradise on earth,” notices that in Tehran “public transportation is priced right — 20 cents for the subway and 2 cents for the bus.” She fails to mention that the Iranian currency sustained 700 percent devaluation since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and that inflation is at 23% according to governmental statistics and significantly higher than that according to World Bank estimates. Income per capita in Iran is $300 per year, a pittance when compared to other oil-rich nations in the Persian Gulf, like Kuwait ($26,000), United Arab Emirates ($25,000), or Saudi Arabia ($12,400).

Recently, an Iranian parliamentarian blurted out that almost 50% of Iran, the fourth most oil-rich country in the world, is living on or under $1 a day. This means there are some who are not able to satisfy their basic needs for food, clothing, and housing, let alone transportation, even if the public transportation ticket does “only” cost 20 cents of a toman, the Iranian currency.

Benjamin and Evans, Code Pink women, have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political campaigns, including to those of Democrats Obama, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, and Republican-cum-truther Ron Paul. They can afford to travel to Tehran, stay in one of the best hotels, and cozy up to the same regime that put Fatemeh and so many other women and children to death. Jodie Evans candidly admits on her daily blog report that she and Benjamin had introductions to people they cannot meet because it would upset the government, the same government which gave the consent to visit Iran. She is so eager to please her hosts that she thinks she will be able to keep her scarf on much more than the last trip, as, she admits, “we are all on our best behavior.”

It is revolting to even consider the self-aggrandizement of these women in contrast to the self-stifling required of Iranian women today. Benjamin and Evans should have stayed in Iran, where they might learn something about freedom.

Obama’s position is not an enviable one when it comes to having to deal with the Code Pink pest; in accepting these frivolous women’s bundles of campaign contributions and by offering to hold direct and unconditional dialogue with the mullahs, he has put himself in the position of having to deliver. If he goes along with Code Pink’s demand he stands the chance of alienating Europeans who have finally begun to see the mullahs for who they really are and, at least verbally, are taking them to task as well as resisting the call for dialogue without precondition. On the other hand, if he does not dance to the tune played by these women at best he will have to face their never-ending rounds of embarrassing public rampages that have become a Code Pink signature, and at worst come to terms with the fact that they will most likely sabotage any fundraising efforts Mr. Obama would make in the foreseeable future.

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Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, a native of Iran, is an activist and writer. Elio Bonazzi is an Italian-born political scientist. Husband and wife, they are based in New York.
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