I came to America as a refugee. You took me just as I am

I arrived in the United States as a refugee in May 1985. I was 19. I came with only a backpack and little English. Making matters worse, I had come of age during the Iranian revolution of 1979 and its aftermath; in school, we had chanted “Death to America” every morning before the start of […]

Commentary: Why the U.S. should support Iran protesters

In recent weeks, Iran has again been in the throes of an uprising. Signs of the regime change America had long hoped to see are on the horizon. In the unlikeliest cities — once the strongholds of the conservatives — Iranians have taken to the streets, demanding, not just reform, but a referendum. A nationwide referendum […]

The Iran-Saudi Arabia Rivalry Has a Silver Lining

The Iran-Saudi Arabia Rivalry Has a Silver Lining.” The escalating rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia has alarmed foreign policy experts who believe that it could further destabilize the region. But feminists have reason to rejoice. In the competition between the two regimes to earn the mantle of the more moderate Islamic alternative, women have […]

Lady Liberty’s dimming light

If a debate, and the sentiments it subsequently evokes, can ever undo a nation’s character, the debate over “the wall,” the banning of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations and the refusal to take in refugees, is doing so to the United States. In recent weeks, the U.S., the promised land for the persecuted everywhere, has […]

America is a home for the world’s most talented. A travel ban risks losing them

Of all the interventions the United States has attempted in the last decade to contain Iran, one of the most successful is perhaps the least known of them all.It came in 2012, when Barack Obama’s state department began easing restrictions on student visas for Iranians. By 2015, half of all visas issued to citizens of […]

Women are right to boycott Iran’s chess tournament

Not since 1979, when leading American feminist Kate Millett joined thousands of women in protest of Iran’s revolutionary officials’ plan to reinstitute mandatory veiling, have Iranian women had a global advocate. That changed this September, when Georgian-American chess champion Nazi Paikidze announced she would not don the hijab to attend the 2017 World Chess Tournament […]

Commentary: An Iranian refugee on becoming American – legally, then in spirit

It’s lucky that my mother and I were admitted as refugees to America before the topic of immigration became so contentious. If the current laws were to change to add skills or financial requirements, we could have never gotten in. Hell, I myself, a bitter teenager then, thought us perfectly useless and was stunned that […]

Iran’s short-lived nukes celebration

When my jubilant relatives in Tehran told me of street celebrations over the nuclear deal, I was reminded of the Yiddish folktale about the wretched farmer who sought his rabbi’s wisdom in solving the problem of his overcrowded home. To better get along with six children and two sets of grandparents in the cramped quarters, […]

How Iran Kept Its Jews

“How Iran Kept Its Jews.” It was with a murder that the most critical moment in the modern history of Iranian Jewry took shape. And in what followed, Tehran’s policy toward the local Jewish community, still precariously in effect, came into being. The day was May 9, 1979, nearly three months after the victory of […]

Rooting for the Women Fighting ISIS in Syria

“Never again,” the world vowed in the middle of the last century. But here we are—again. Our ‘never’ is proving heartbreakingly finite. In between our last vow and today, there was Bosnia, Rwanda, South Sudan, and others. But the plight of the Kurds, manifested in the struggle against ISIS over the Syrian city of Kobani, is different. […]