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2022-May-10  09:01

Kevin Barrett: US Sanctions on Talebzadeh Against Own Constitution

TEHRAN (FNA)- Kevin Barrett, author, activist and journalist, says the Treasury Department’s designation of the New Horizon and late Iranian filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh contradicts the International Laws, and even the US own Constitution.

Speaking in an interview with FNA, Professor Barrett said, “Sigal Mandelker, an Israeli loyalist in charge of the US Treasury Department’s sanctions program, took the radical step of deeming Nader and New Horizon the equivalent of terrorists. By sanctioning New Horizon and sending the FBI to warn American participants that any further participation in the conferences would get them arrested, Mandelker and her fellow neocons violated international human rights law guaranteeing freedom of association, and made a mockery of the US Constitution’s protection of freedom of speech.”

“By building bridges between intellectuals from many different countries and cultures in general, and between Iranians and Americans in particular, New Horizon posed a threat to the Zionist-imperialist powers… They would not have taken such an extreme, illegal, and unconstitutional step if they were not terrified by the ramifications of the New Horizon conferences”, he added.

Kevin Barrett, Ph.D., is an Arabist-Islamologist scholar and one of America's best-known critics of the War on Terror. From 1991 through 2006 Dr. Barrett taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris and Wisconsin. In Summer 2006 Dr. Barrett was attacked by a group of US politicians who called for him to be fired from his job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As the result, Dr. Barrett has been informally blacklisted from teaching in American universities. Dr. Barrett currently works as a nonprofit organizer, public speaker, author and talk radio host.

Below is the full text of the interview:

Q: Nader Talebzadeh served as the chairman of the International New Horizon Conference, which facilitated international scholars and thinkers' exchange of thoughts and ideas. You attended this conference several times. How did you find this annual event?

A: We know the New Horizon conferences were making a huge impact because the neoconservative-Zionist axis in Washington felt the need to stop Americans from participating in them. Sigal Mandelker, an Israeli loyalist in charge of the US Treasury Department’s sanctions program, took the radical step of deeming Nader and New Horizon the equivalent of terrorists. By sanctioning New Horizon and sending the FBI to warn American participants that any further participation in the conferences would get them arrested, Mandelker and her fellow neocons violated international human rights law guaranteeing freedom of association, and made a mockery of the US Constitution’s protection of freedom of speech. They would not have taken such an extreme, illegal, and unconstitutional step if they were not terrified by the ramifications of the New Horizon conferences, which were introducing American intellectuals to new schools of thought and changing their perceptions of world events in general and Iran in particular. All of the many Americans I have known who participated in New Horizon conferences returned to the US with extremely positive views of Iran. They all tell versions of the same story: Before visiting Iran they had been bombarded by US media depictions of Iran as a poor, backward, oppressive theological dictatorship. So when they arrived in Tehran and discovered a vibrant, rapidly developing modern nation in which intellectuals (including religious scholars) are free to consider a much wider spectrum of ideas than what is available in the US mainstream, they experienced shock and cognitive dissonance, and then returned to the US to tell everyone they know how great Iran is, and how the US mainstream media is lying outrageously about Iran and many other things. By building bridges between intellectuals from many different countries and cultures in general, and between Iranians and Americans in particular, New Horizon posed a threat to the Zionist-imperialist powers that be, which is why New Horizon and Nader were sanctioned—an honor, and a tribute to their effectiveness.

Q: Along with his works at Cinema and holding conferences, he ran weekly TV programs including “Asr” and “Raaz” (the Secret). How successful was he in countering this US-waged media war?

A: I understand that Nader was the most-watched public affairs talk show host in Iran. His experience in America and fluency in English gave him an ability to understand not only the enemy, but also potential American friends. He had a relatively nuanced view of the US and the complexities of its politics and media. And he understood that Zionists have bought up most of the Western mainstream media and intimidated the rest. His solid understanding of the US and the West, the psychology of American Jews and Christians who support Zionism, and the reasons dissident American thinkers have been building an alternative media, allowed him to build platforms that pushed back against the hegemonic voices of Zionism and imperialism.

Additionally, Nader was a genuinely warm, kind, generous, and unusually courageous human being. Everyone who met him developed a strong liking for him. I looked forward to my annual visits to New Horizon conferences in part due to the friendship I developed with him. Nader was a genuinely good person who always tried to do the right thing even if it exposed him to hardship or danger. His personal qualities were part of what made him so successful in building dialogues, whether at conferences or on his talk show.dt8

Q: What is the legacy of Talebzadeh?

A: Many young Iranians learned from Nader’s work. I met some of these young people at the New Horizon conferences I attended every year from 2013 to 2019. Some of them were journalists. Others were university students. They got a chance to meet and learn from some of the world’s most important thinkers—people like Alexander Dugin and Sheikh Imran Hosein—through Nader’s conferences. Their contact with a wide range of anti-imperialist global perspectives through the conferences, and through Nader’s shows, will help equip them to navigate the changing geopolitical and ideological landscape as the world shifts into a multipolar orientation. Additionally, Nader’s filmmaking, notably his Messiah, should inspire the future leaders of Iran to work to bring Muslims and Christians together both in worship of God and in the struggle for truth and justice.