A while ago, over a decade ago, I wrote on these pages about my Iranian friend Houshang Memarzedeh.
Block, Walter E. 2007. “My Iranian Friend Houshang Memarzedeh.” February 6.
Please read that first, before perusing what appears below.
Some things hardly ever change. Previously I was doing my little bit to avert a war between the US and Iran, and, I now take to these pages again with the same purpose. My contribution: to show the human side of Iranians. It is easier to nuke faceless demonic non-people, than real, living, flesh and blood human beings who are very, very nice. (Again, please read my previous op ed on this matter).
At that time, I had lost contact with Houshang. He went back to Iran from Canada, where we then overlapped, and I was struggling to make contact with him, there. Subsequently, he and his family moved back to Vancouver, British Columbia, where I spend my summers, and we renewed our friendship.
Some things have changed, some things, not at all. Plus, I’m now having some difficulties with Houshang, about which see below. First, the alterations. Houshang is now completely bald; he didn’t have a full head of hair then, but, now, it is all gone. He still practices karate, but now runs a restaurant, in Deep Cove, one of the more beautiful spots in all of Canada (previously, he drove a taxi-cab).
His three sons, Omed, Aptin and Arash are now all grown up, but still as sweet as they were when they were young kids, no change there. Omed works in theater, Aptin sells cars and Arash helps out in the restaurant as does Houshang’s wife, Frida.
About five years ago, we had a wonderful gathering of both families and Matthew, with his wife Andrea and twin babies Bobby and Ricky, along with me and my wife, were able to get together, after hours, for a magnificent dinner at his restaurant with Houshang and his entire family.
What is the big “problem” I am now having with Houshang? Since the renewal of our friendship, every once in a while my wife Marybeth and I go to his restaurant for a delicious meal. He refuses to allow us to pay! (This must be due to some Mid-Eastern habit of hyper hospitality). I beg him, I plead with him to allow us to pay. He is adamant that we do not. I threaten him. I tell him that I have a brown belt in karate (which he knows all about, since I got it under his mentorship), and I’m gonna kick his butt if he insists on giving us free meals all the time (he has a third degree black belt). He fake cowers from me, but still will not allow payment. On a more serious note, I tell him it is uncomfortable for us to come there, continually for free. To no avail. My wife and I also engage in subterfuge: leaving money under our plate. That worked once, but not again. Sometimes I can successfully browbeat Arash, on the ground that I’m older than him, and he must respect me. We’ve invited the Memarzedehs to our home to reciprocate, but that is difficult to arrange, since his restaurant is open not quite 24-7, but nearly so.
What am I trying to say here? I am trying to put a human face on an Iranian family. I am attempting to publicize the fact that for the U.S. to engage in a war with Iran, let alone to do to them what that government did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would be a terrible tragedy.
Mr. Trump, as one of the originators of Libertarians for Trump in 2015 (4000 signatures) and Scholars for Trump (150 signatures), I plead with you. Iran is full of people just like the Memarzedehs; just like your own family and mine. Do not do this. Please.