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Jewish Journal

Looking Back and Looking Forward

by Sam Yebri

July 20, 2009 | 2:59 am

by Michael Yadegaran

The events of the past month should be a source of great pride for all Iranian Jews.  Following the elections of June 12th, we have witnessed pro-reform protests the likes of which we have not seen since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.  The popular uprising follows a heavily scrutinized election that most Western countries believe was illegitimate.  What began as anger over the Islamic Republic’s failure to declare Mir-Hossein Mousavi the victor quickly turned into protests in favor of overthrowing the Islamic Republic and its clerical hierarchy.

Multiple elements of this uprising distinguish it from any previous student demonstration or popular uprising since the Islamic Revolution.  Protesters were stunned by the death of “Neda,” a peaceful Iranian female activist who was brutally gunned down by Iran’s ruthless Basij secret police.  Neda’s death serves as a symbolic rallying cry on two fronts: she was both a woman and part of Iran’s large population of pro-reform youth.  Besides Neda, we see countless protesters willing to give their lives for a free Iran.  The majority of protesters are in their twenties, and have had enough of the oppressive policies of the Islamic dictatorship that has controlled their entire lives.

For any staunch supporter of Israel, Iran is the single greatest threat to Israel’s existence in recent history.  One month ago I returned from a mission to Israel with 22 young Iranian Jewish leaders from 30 Years After.  In our meetings with high-ranking Israeli officials such as MK and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Former Mossad Director Efraim Halevy, and MK Yoel Hasson, we witnessed a deep concern of a nuclear Iran. 

When protests broke out after the June 12th elections, I felt a need to show my solidarity with the Iranian protestors.  I looked for a pro-active way to support the uprising, and found myself marching in front of the Federal Building in Los Angeles multiple times over the past month.  However, rallies only go so far.  It is time for our policymakers to meaningfully challenge a regime that supports terrorism, brutally oppresses peaceful protesters, and advocates genocide.  The global community has given the Iranian uprising a resounding vote of confidence; it is time for our leaders to do the same.

One important tangible step that our local leaders can take in isolating the regime is by economic divestment.  To disincentivize corporations from doing business with Iran, it is vital that we demand divestment of our tax dollars from corporations that continue to inject capital into Iran’s economy.  Such isolation will not only paralyze the Iranian economy, but it will also prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining the technology it uses to crush and censor dissent. 

This Tuesday, July 21st, the Los Angeles Country Board of Supervisors will consider a resolution proposed by Michael Antonovich and Zev Yaroslavsky encouraging the County Pension Board to divest from companies doing business in Iran’s energy sector.  Divestment from the LA County Pension Fund - one of the largest public Pension Funds in the Country - will send a powerful message to Iran and to all companies that do business with the rogue regime.  30 Years After encourages its members to join in the audience to show support for this significant initiative and demand that Los Angeles not invest our tax dollars in supporting the Iranian government. 

The hearing will take place on Tuesday, July 21st at 9:30 am, Board Hearing Room 381B, Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple Street, Los Angeles 90012.

In addition, in 2008, the German corporation Siemens sold technology to Iran that the Islamic Regime used to intercept and catalog e-mails, telephone calls and Internet data. This technology was utilized in the brutal crackdown on post-election demonstrations.  On July 23rd, the Los Angeles MTA Board will vote on whether to open the bidding to Siemens on a $300 million contract to make rail cars for the Los Angeles subway.  Please contact each of the MTA Board members below and demand that our tax dollars not support corporations that are directly facilitating censorship and oppression in Iran:

o Ara Najarian
Chair
Mayor, City of Glendale
500 N. Central Ave., #940
Glendale CA 91203
ajn51esq@yahoo.com

o Don Knabe
First Vice Chair
Los Angeles County Supervisor
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 974-4444
(213) 626-6941 fax
dsommers@lacbos.org

o Antonio R. Villaraigosa
Second Vice Chair, LACMTA
Mayor, City of Los Angeles
200 North Spring Street, Room 303
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 978-0600
(213) 978-0750 fax
mayor@lacity.org

o Michael D. Antonovich
Los Angeles County Supervisor
500 West Temple Street, Room 869
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 974-5555
(213) 974-1010 fax

o Diane DuBois
City Council Member, Lakewood
5050 Clark Avenue
Lakewood, CA 90712
Phone: 562-866-9771
Fax: 562-866-0505

o John Fasana
City Council Member, Duarte
1600 Huntington Drive
Duarte, CA 91010
Phone: 626-357-7931
FAX: 626-358-0018 CM
fasanaj@accessduarte.com

o José Huizar
City Council Member, Los Angeles
200 N. Spring Street, Room 465
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 473-7014
Fax: (213) 847-0680
Ana.Cubas@lacity.org

o Richard Katz
City of Los Angeles
Mayor Appointee

o Gloria Molina
Los Angeles County Supervisor
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 974-4111
Fax: (213) 613-1739
molina@bos.lacounty.gov

o Pam O’Connor
City Council Member, Santa Monica
1685 Main Street, Room 209
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310)458-8201
(310)458-1621 fax                    
pam.oconnor@smgov.net

o Mark Ridley-Thomas
Los Angeles County Supervisor
500 W. Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 974-2222
(213) 680-3283 fax
markridley-thomas@bos.lacounty.gov

o Rita Robinson
City of Los Angeles
Mayor Appointtee

o Zev Yaroslavsky
Los Angeles County Supervisor
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 974-3333
(213) 625-7360 fax
zev@bos.lacounty.gov

It is time to stand together against this regime; 30 years of oppression is enough.  As our brothers and sisters in Iran have been chanting—“Azadi! Azadi!” (Freedom! Freedom!)

—Michael Yadegaran is a History student at the University of California, San Diego and a member of the Board of Directors of 30 Years After. 

To learn more about Siemens’s ties to Iran and the upcoming MTA Board hearing, see: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/17/siemens-risks-losses-due-to-iran-ties/?feat=home_cube_position1 and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124562668777335653.html.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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30 YEARS AFTER is the nation’s leading Iranian-American Jewish civic action organization, based in Los Angeles with a chapter in New York. Founded in 2008 by a group of...

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