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An Iranian blogs Israel
January 31, 2006 12:56 AM   Subscribe

Hussein Derakhshan [English site] is one of the leading voices of the Persian blogosphere. His blog [Persian site] manages to reach a wide audience in Iran despite being officially censored. Currently, he is fulfilling his dream of visiting Israel [Flickr pics] and breaking barriers in Israeli-Iranian relations. Lisa Goldman, his host in Israel writes about his visit in her blog, too. He is interviewed by the Israeli press in this Haaretz article. He has written "Democracy's Double Standard", an NYT op-ed piece, [bugmenot]. from Tel Aviv, and delivered a lecture on "Reform, Youth and Technology" at the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University. Oh yeah, he's also a MeFite.
posted by ori (19 comments total)

 
It's worth mentioning that Hoder is not just one of the "leading voices" of Persian blogging; he's the guy who wrote the script that got Persian blogging off the ground in the first place. An amazing guy. This German interview he did in December is another good place to start.
posted by mediareport at 1:36 AM on January 31, 2006


I think it's important to realize that there are a hell of a lot of young people like this in Iran. And really, only a small percentage are bloggers - their means of communicating their ideas is irrelevant, given their numbers. It's a country waiting for change, but it will be (or should be, cross fingers) a case of DIY democracy. Iran is, within the region, a smart, technologically advanced country. People seeking to compare it with Iraq, and wishing it the same fate, are hopeless cases.

I remember the Ecological Society of America conference I attended last year in Montreal - I attended a session where an Israeli ecologist presented a paper, followed by an Iranian ecologist. At the end of the session, the Iranian ecologist went up to the Israeli, shook hands and introduced himself, and they went off together for coffee. The interactions of ordinary people should always be separated from the interactions of governments. Great set of links, ori, and mediareport.
posted by Jimbob at 2:46 AM on January 31, 2006


The interactions of ordinary people should always be separated from the interactions of governments.

Ideally, the interactions of ordinary people would drive the interactions of governments. I can dream, I suppose.
posted by jalexei at 6:33 AM on January 31, 2006


I think it's important to realize that there are a hell of a lot of young people like this in Iran.

Well, there are a lot of people under 30 in Iran. The population pyramid in Iran shows that the largest percentage of the population today is between 20-25 - a legacy of the Iran-Iraq war that killed off the previous generation.

Too bad the Israelis and Americans are planning on how to kill off this generation too.
posted by three blind mice at 6:36 AM on January 31, 2006


the largest percentage of the population today is between 20-25 - a legacy of the Iran-Iraq war that killed off the previous generation. - three blind mice

Or drove them out of the country of their birth.
posted by raedyn at 6:52 AM on January 31, 2006


Login-free version of the NYT op-ed (from Saturday's MetaTalk thread).
posted by hangashore at 6:54 AM on January 31, 2006


It seems like a good thing that he's going to Israel, I wish more people did (and/or could) see the situation in "enemy" countries for themselves.

But does anyone else think the guy who's talking about Dimona in one of the comments has a point? Honestly, it seems a bit hypocritical to slam Iran for their nuclear program, which might or might not be for weapons purposes, right before visiting Israel, a country whose nuclear weapons program has been an open secret for at least a decade or two?

Although I guess he might just not dare to criticize Israel publically before trying to enter. As an Israeli in one of the comments tries to apologize for, Israeli immigration officers can be pretty bad, and generally deny people entry for all sorts of idiotic reasons, including having made public statements critical of Israel.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:13 AM on January 31, 2006


I think it's important to realize that there are a hell of a lot of young people like this in Iran.

But he's not in Iran. He's in Israel right now and then he'll go back to Canada, where he lives.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:00 AM on January 31, 2006


But he's not in Iran.

Still, there are a hell of a lot of young people like him in Iran. Most Americans really don't realize just how pro-U.S. many young Iranians were, at least before the Iraq invasion.

Btw, I still love one of the first site's I ever found at hoder's blog: the Tehran billboards site.
posted by mediareport at 8:27 AM on January 31, 2006


Pollomacho sort of has a point. But As Mediareport states, I think there are lots of kids just like him in Iran.

That said, it is foolish to think of Iranians under the age of 30 as a homogeneous group. If you read Hoder's blog you will see that the people that comment usually strongly disagree with what he has to say. The Iranian diaspora in LA for example supported a boycott of the past election (for the most part), while Hoder did not, and during this past election there are several threads with both sides argue their respective points.

Also, Hoder seems to be North-Tehran-centric in his coverage of Iran, and his views on the country as a whole. He was pretty off-base in his coverage of the last Iranian election. (Though to be fair, I think that Ahmadinejad's win was a surprise for everyone.) After the election, he said: So here it was. The robots of the supreme leader came in from behind and when nobody was expecting it, voted for Ahmadinejad, a populist conservative with a socialist economy. If you read these old posts, I get the sense he couldn't imagine that the poor of Iran would vote for a socialist candidate. I read Hoder's site occasionally now, as I am not sure his site provides the best view of what is going on in the country.

That said, he is undoubtly responsible for blogging in Iran, and I think is still a very important part of that community. I think he does a lot of good.
posted by chunking express at 8:35 AM on January 31, 2006


To Tehran and Back. (wmv, sounds, parti!)

Wait? Hodor is singlehandedly responsible for blogging in Iran? So none of the hundreds of thousands of computer science students (among others) from Iran over the past four decades or so would have shown any interest in the internets had it not been for this one pioneering young man?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:45 AM on January 31, 2006


I'm sure someone would have stepped up to the plate and done something similar, but in this case it was Hoder. So I am not sure what your point is. If he isn't the start of it all, than who would you say was?
posted by chunking express at 8:51 AM on January 31, 2006


Well, according to the oldest post in the current incarnation of Hoder's own blog, the entry from April 11, 2000, there were:

some seventy thousands weblogs in Persian
posted by Pollomacho at 9:02 AM on January 31, 2006


I just want to clarify something here. Hoder's may be a well written and insightful blog. He may have a large following both in the West and Iran. I don't want to sound like I'm taking away any of his credit for that.

Matt has created quite a blog out of MeFi too, however neither Matt nor Hoder were the first in their genre, regardless of the quality level of what they have wrought.

Who was the first? I don't know, but I would guess it was some Iranian student in the 80's, or whenever it was the first American student blogs were going up.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:11 AM on January 31, 2006


Who was the start of it all though? This whole movement? Was it some CS student from the 80s, or was it this fellow who explained how anyone could set up a persian blog, and who worked to foster a community amongst all these disparate persian bloggers. I think that Hoder is given an important place in the history of Iranian weblogs with good reason.
posted by chunking express at 9:29 AM on January 31, 2006


he's also a MeFite.

Yeah, but a 15ker. Pff.
posted by delmoi at 9:47 AM on January 31, 2006



Well, there are a lot of people under 30 in Iran. The population pyramid in Iran shows that the largest percentage of the population today is between 20-25 - a legacy of the Iran-Iraq war that killed off the previous generation.


Looks like they'll be pretty fucked come 2050, with all those geezers.
posted by delmoi at 9:48 AM on January 31, 2006


And he. fights. CRIME!

Seriously though, cool.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:05 AM on January 31, 2006


Also, Hoder seems to be North-Tehran-centric in his coverage of Iran, and his views on the country as a whole.

This is a problem with almost all coverage of Iran. Reporters tend to feel most comfortable interviewing people they can understand, people with comparable values and education, and so Western reporters gravitate to the rich, Westernized elite in North Tehran without (I suspect) even realizing they're turning a blind eye to the vast majority of Iranians. In particular, the bazaaris of South Tehran (the former downtown) have always been a major motor of political change, but they're clannish and isolated and reporters are probably told it's dangerous to go down there and how do you know how to evaluate what they're telling you, etc. ... it's easier and safer to talk for the zillionth time to those hip people who know all the latest Western pop hits and have the latest fashions. "Leila Alirezai looks like any other chador-clad woman hurrying down the streets of Tehran, but once she throws it off in the privacy of her home she's wearing a stunning outfit from [blah blah blah]..." Meanwhile, the poor and traditional are getting more and more fed up with the corruption of the power structure, but who listens to them? Except at election time, that is. I was a lot less surprised by the election of Ahmadinejad than most, because I've made a conscious effort to constantly discount for the bias of Iran coverage, but it's not easy figuring out what's going on. (Obligatory reference to 1936 Literary Digest poll that had Landon winning by a landslide.)
posted by languagehat at 11:11 AM on January 31, 2006


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