Tim Anderson: Talebzadeh Pioneer of New Possibilities in Emancipatory Internationalism
TEHRAN (FNA)- Tim Anderson, author and political commentator, says the late Iranian filmmaker, Nader Talebzadeh, paved the way for the thinkers from around the world to have humanist cross-cultural discussions.
Speaking in an interview with FNA, Professor Anderson said, “Nader had the initial talent of not only being a native speaker of both Farsi and English, but understanding the culture and idiosyncrasies of both Iranian and North American culture… He began to form links and bridges between intellectuals, to engage in important cross-cultural discussions about the world of propaganda, liberation struggles and hybrid warfare.”
Tim Anderson, PhD, is an Australian academic and activist. He was a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney and the author of several books on independent development and anti-imperialism.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: Nader Talebzadeh served as the chairman of the International New Horizon Conference. Do you believe this annual event was successful in shining light on the hegemonic policies and war crimes of the US and the Israeli regime?
A: The New Horizons Conference initiative was one part of Nader’s extraordinary media and cultural work. It was a natural extension of his film, television and internationalist activities. What irritated US imperialists most was that Nader was able to engage with a wide range of western dissidents including former US officials. They said as much in 2019 when imposing personal ‘sanctions’ (unilateral coercive measures) on him and his wife Zeinab, because they had “facilitated New Horizon Conferences”.
Washington’s expressed concern was that “conference organizers have facilitated contact between the IRGC-QF and US persons ... These anti-Western conferences propagate anti-Semitism [translation: anti-Israel] and conspiracy theories [translation: exposure of US plots in the region], including Holocaust denial [translation: undermining rationales for the colonization of Palestine].”
Even in a time of mass economic warfare, it is unusual for Washington’s criminals to target individuals for simply conference activities. I believe the Trump administration was particularly upset that Nader had succeeded in inviting so many former US officials and dissidents to one of his conferences in Iran. That also involved, he explained to me, assuring Iranian authorities that they deserved visas!
Q: He aimed to bridge between the non-Iranian and Iranian thinkers, so that each side can understand the other side. How do you view his internationalism?
A: Nader had the initial talent of not only being a native speaker of both Farsi and English, but understanding the culture and idiosyncrasies of both Iranian and North American culture. On top of that, with a broad internationalist perspective, he began to form links and bridges between intellectuals, to engage in important cross-cultural discussions about the world of propaganda, liberation struggles and hybrid warfare. He told me that his life had been changed by the Islamic revolution of 1979, like so many young Iranians of his generation. He re-thought everything and found new commitments, from that time onwards.
He found a niche for himself back at home, having returned from his youth and education in North America, engaging in a virtual cultural renaissance which surrounded the War of Holy Defense (1980-88). Eventually Nader would gain support to develop his television discussions, with Iranian and international guests. I had the privilege of couple of interview-discussions with him, after the publication of my books The Dirty War on Syria (2016) and Axis of Resistance (2019). His style of interview-discussion, it seemed to me, drew on both Iranian and western methods. In recent times he had attracted a very large audience, and that was of great concern to the enemy.
Q: Talebzadeh was a media personality, who never did any terrorist acts. Why was he, his wife and some of his colleagues sanctioned by the US?
A: It is a measure of Nader’s influence that he was targeted for personal economic attack by the US Treasury. The pretext for this was the fact that his television work had IRGC backing, at a time when the Trump regime pretended to declare entire Iranian national institutions as ‘terrorist’. Nader and Zeinab had personal property stolen by Washington. Nader’s voice and his network were seen as exceptional threats.
It is well known that the entire imperial coalition, waging multiple wars in the West Asia, felt particularly threatened by the IRGC’s Quds Force and its legendary commander Haj Qassem Soleimani. How many European champions of ‘human rights’ raised their voices when Trump carried out his cowardly murder of Soleimani, Muhandis and their comrades?
So they used IRGC links as a pretext to include Nader as a target of their economic warfare and then, of course, the US social media (especially Facebook and Instagram) used that as another reason to ‘cancel’ his voice. In this respect he joined millions of others, people who were blocked and banned for even mentioning resistance figures. I was banned permanently from Facebook for references to the “dangerous individuals” Soleimani and Muhandis – more dangerous after they had been murdered, apparently.
Well, this is the new world in which we live. We certainly need new tools to work towards ‘new horizons’. I will remember Nader as a brilliant pioneer of new possibilities in emancipatory internationalism and humanist cross-cultural discussion. RIP dear brother.