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I just visited Iran. Here’s what I heard about the U.S.

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Iran is a dangerous place these days, at least in a car. Traffic in the cities here moves like Tetris, with drivers pushing their cars into any open space that will fit. Trips begin in chaos and play out in confusion. How it ends is always up to God’s will, everyone says.

I went to Iran this month to attend a conference on the Palestinians, Jerusalem, and the greater Middle East sponsored by an Iran-based nongovernment organization. On the sidelines of the meeting, I met with students at Mashhad University, Ferdowsi University, and at a woman’s educational institute, as well as with visiting scholars from Tehran.

Just before my trip the United States withdrew from the nuclear accord, and while I was in the northeastern city of Mashhad, officially moved the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. These events were tracked in Iran as closely as World Cup scores, though absent celebration.

It was not hard to learn students’ opinions. “What does America want from us? To force us to negotiate? We did, we agreed, already, in 2015,” said one student in a reference to the year to nuclear agreement was signed. “Regime change – do Americans even know we vote for our government here?” said another. In answer to my query about Iranians having indeed overthrown one government 40 years ago, a grad student responded, “The Shah we overthrew, yes, but he was not selected by the Iranians, you installed him. Trump and Bolton [the names of the president and his national security adviser are almost always mentioned in one slur of mispronunciation] want us to change our government? And why do they think we will, because you make it harder for us to purchase Western goods?”

Two American Studies students likely headed to government jobs collectively........

© Japan Today