March 29, 2015
The Honorable Thomas Cotton
B-33 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-0405
Dear Senator Cotton:
I am writing you in regard to your open letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian Supreme Leader, concerning nuclear talks. Copies of my letter will be sent to the other 46 senators who signed your letter.
First of all, I cannot think of any other instance in the history of the United States in which a junior senator drafted a letter to another country’s leader and 46 other senators signed it. Even though I disagree with the content of your letter, I noticed that you quoted from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he said, “No deal is better than a bad deal.” Perhaps that remark was something that helped you garner support.
Allow me to introduce myself to you, as well as to all the other senators who signed your letter.
My name is Jalil Mortazavi, and I am Iranian-American, now an American citizen. I live in Brookline, Massachusetts. I am the author of the book From Iran to America: Changes, Choices, and Challenges. I have enclosed a copy of my book for you.
Here is a bit about my background. — I came to America in 1976 for eye treatments. Although they were not successful, my subsequent life most certainly has been. That is largely because a very kind American family took me in to live with them when I was still a teenager. I had run out of money; I didn’t have any place to go and could not speak a word of English. Mr. and Mrs. Fritz, a Christian couple, were college professors who had three small children. They provided me with free room and board, plus plenty of affection. In return, I babysat for their children two days a week. They never asked me about my religion or my political persuasion, but we went to church every Sunday, where I improved my understanding of the English language. The Fritzes also sent me to a rehabilitation school in order to learn independent living. After that, they helped me through college. Today I live with my wife and five-year-old daughter in Massachusetts, and my daughter goes to the same school that the Fritzes’ children attended.
When I saw in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that many of your constituents from your home town in northwestern Arkansas disagreed with your letter, and that they were from your own party that made me feel better. It also bolstered my decision to write to you today.
Some of the people who helped you with your campaign also helped persuade President George W. Bush to attack Iraq based on false premises. I don’t have to tell you how that turned out. Now they are trying to advise you the same way about Iran. However, the vast majority of the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, not from Iraq, and four others were from Kuwait. None of them had anything to do with Iran. In fact, after the tragedy of 9/11, the Iranian people were the only ones in the region who were on the streets at a candlelight vigil, showing their support for the American people. By contrast, the people of some of the Arab countries who were U.S. allies were celebrating the terrorist attacks in New York. Even today, ISIS and their terrorist killers are deriving their ideology from Saudi Arabia’s religious leaders.
According to Gallup polls, almost 80 percent of those countries in the region that happen to be U.S. allies are against Americans. According to these same Gallup polls, 75 percent of Iranians support U.S./Iranian relations. You can ask some of the Americans who have visited Iran recently, and I have met many. I don’t know any American who has visited Iran, as a journalist, businessman, or tourist, who doesn’t rave about Iranian hospitality, the safety of Americans during their stays in Iran, and the genuine friendships with American people.
Now, Senator, as a smart man and a graduate of Harvard University, you tell me. Is this a country we should attack?
Finally, I’d like to tell you that I have visited Iran several times in the past 10 years. The popular opinions of Iranians are as follows: They love to dine with, play with, live with, and do business with Americans. They will negotiate with Americans and will sacrifice for peace. But they will never surrender to anyone.
I hope these heartfelt remarks will help you to understand the Iranian people better. I would be more than happy to come and testify about Iran in the Senate or in any other forum, as you see fit. I am sure that both Iranians and Americans can come up with a good solution in order to reestablish relations with one another. Common interests, common goals, and common sense demand it.
Host of www.usirantv.com
Editor of www.usiranaffairs.com
Author of the book From Iran to America: Changes, Choices, and Challenges (C 2013)