Iranian-Americans Hold Lively Event
in Support of Obama
View Event Photos on Facebook Photos by Amir Shahkarami and Sanam Salehian
Watch the Video Clips on YouTube Video by Arrash Jaffarzadeh and Savannah Silva
Sunday, September 16th, 2012, Sunnyvale, CA - About 270 people attended the public event that was organized by Bay Area Iranian-American Democrats, BAIAD, to raise awareness about the upcoming Presidential and Congressional elections. Many noteworthy guests and speakers attended.
Speaking about the differences between Democrats and Republicans, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren noted the appreciation for diversity in the Democratic Party. She also discussed some key policies, including Medicare, education, and her most passionate issue: Immigration. With respect to Medicare, she noted the dangerous policies proposed by Governor Romney, and contrasted them with the policies of the Obama administration. She reminded the audience of the importance in investing in our young people's education so that we can continue to compete in the global economy. And finally, she reminded the audience of the important contributions that immigrants make to the American Dream, and that we should constantly be standing up to those interested in stifling that dream for new entrants in this country. She also noted that Democrats in California have a chance to pick up some key seats in the House, highlighting Dr. Ami Bera and Jose Hernandez among other good Democratic candidates who could unseat Republican members of Congress this November. She called for the participation of the audience in assisting these candidates in their campaigns.
Speaking on behalf of BAIAD, Nima Rahimi, a current BAIAD officer and a law student at the University of California, Davis, announced upcoming volunteering activities organized by BAIAD, including making calls to Iranian-American voters in Virginia to encourage them to vote for President Obama. Virginia is one of the top 3 most important swing states in this year's Presidential Elections and it happens to have the 3rd largest population of Iranian-Americans (after California and New York). He passionately invited people to sign up for these volunteering activities, noting that without getting involved, the Iranian-American community will never have a voice in the American democracy.
Cyrus Habib, an Iranian-American who just won the Democratic Primary Election last month for a Washington State House of Representatives seat had traveled from Bellevue, WA to speak to this crowd. He gave a rousing speech, describing his battle with eye cancer -- which left him blind when he was only 8 -- and his motivation to enter into public service as an advocate. Mr. Habib recalled a story from his youth that pushed him to be an advocate: One day at school, he was stopped from using the monkey bars because of disability. His mother marched to the school with him the following day and advocated for him, and made sure that he had access to the playground, just like all the other students. This event, he recalled, made him realize that his community also needed an advocate, someone to ensure that they too had "access to the monkey bars." He called for more than involvement from the Iranian-American community, and went a step further, asking for commitment. He noted that a committed community would capture the ears of its representatives, and allow for true change. "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu," he quipped, earning a standing ovation. Additionally, Mr. Habib noted the importance of government in his life and gave concrete examples of government programs that have assisted him in dealing with his disability, making the point that the view that government can be a positive force in our lives highlights an important difference between Democrats and Republicans.
Jimmy Panetta, Deputy District Attorney of Monterey County and son of US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, gave the final keynote address. He highlighted the many accomplishments of the Obama administration, noting that the administration should be credited with saving the economy from a Depression. He mentioned that Barack Obama had the courage to support the bailout of the auto industry, and that his vision has kept that industry moving forward. Additionally, he noted the importance of the Obama administration's commitment to balancing the US budget, not only with cuts to spending programs, but also through asking millionaires to pay their fair share of taxes. This balanced approach, he said, is fair and it reduces the pressure on those who are the real engine of our economy, namely the middle class. Mr. Panetta also took up the difficult topic of relations between the United States and Iran. He acknowledged the fact that to date there has been no evidence found by the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA -- or any other credible source -- proving the existence of any nuclear weapons program in Iran. He also acknowledged Iran's right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, to have a peaceful nuclear energy program, prompting a passionate applause from the audience. He added, however, that the Iranian regime has shown a pattern of deception when it comes to its basic reporting obligations under NPT, and despite numerous UN resolutions, it continues its enrichment efforts, adding 100's of centrifuges. He pointed out the recent talks about the possibility for Israel to unilaterally attack Iran's nuclear facilities, noting that Governor Romney has not only endorsed Israel's right for such an attack, but he has even gone further saying that he will never agree for Iran to enrich uranium at any level, despite the fact that Iran has the right to peaceful enrichment under NPT. With respect to the possibility for military action by US against Iran, he pointed out that President Obama has not taken any options off the table. He emphasized, however, that "the last thing we need is another war in the Middle East" and that the only way to avoid such a war is diplomacy.
During the Q&A session near the end of the program, a question from the audience was posed to BAIAD about its position on the issue of potential war with Iran. BAIAD president, Mehrdad Moayedzadeh, reminded the audience that over 5 years ago this organization not only drafted a strong resolution opposing "unprovoked military action against Iran," but it also succeeded in getting that resolution passed by many Democratic organizations, including the California State Democratic Party. He encouraged the audience to read the full text of this resolution on the BAIAD website homepage.
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Views expressed by guest speakers do not necessarily express the views of BAIAD