As the Supreme Leader in Iran Ayatollah Khamenei smiled down on thousands of Iranians chanting, agreeing with their threats of “Death to America,” American President Barrack Obama sent a video to the people and leadership of Iran reciting Persian poetry and extending his best wishes for a happy Nowruz holiday.

Nowruz marks the beginning of spring on the vernal equinox and is the Persian new year. Seizing on the occasion, the president said he wanted to address the Iranian people and their leadership directly.

“As you and your families gather around the Nowruz table, this holiday is a chance to give gratitude for your blessings and reflect on our hopes for the year ahead,” he said adding, “Michelle marked the holiday in the White House last week.” The video ran 4:21 and had a translation written in Arabic script running along the bottom of the screen.

While it is not the first time the president has sent Nowruz greetings to Iran, this latest springtime video comes as the United States and the four other permanent nation members of the United Nation’s Security Council – China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom, plus Germany, are engaged in delicate negotiations with Iran to limited its nuclear power development.

The chant, “Death to America,” became commonplace during the 1979 Iranian Revolution when 52 American diplomats were held hostage for 444 days. It is not unusual to hear it after Friday prayers and at political rallies, but it is perhaps a sign of the openly hostile attitude the leadership has toward the U.S. that the Ayatollah Khamenei expressed agreement with the chanting thousands saying, "Of course, yes Death to America."

But Iran’s open hostility has not been limited to the chant. In February, its navy blew up a full-sized model of the U.S. aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz in the Persian Gulf. Recently, the Supreme Leader’s representative promised, “We shall not rest until we raise the flag of Islam over the White House.”

President Obama, seemingly oblivious to these expressions of extreme animosity to America, responded by quoting the Persian poet, Hafiz in his video:

“It is early spring. Try to be joyful in your heart. For many a flower will bloom while you will be in clay.”

The president said, “Now it is up to all of us, Iranians and Americans, to seize the possibilities that can bloom in this new season, going on to note that a nuclear arms deal would “provide greater opportunities for the Iranian people like more trade and ties with the world, foreign investments, jobs, cultural and student exchange.”

He stated that this would return Iran to “its rightful place in the community of nations” citing its “excellence in literature, the arts, science and technology.”

Apparently the president remains convinced that the people of Iran who support a government that ranks 109th out of 152 countries on the UN’s gender inequality index, where homosexuality is a capital offense, and adultery is punished by death with flogging prior to stoning want to “regain” their place in the civilized world of literature and arts. Nor does there seem to be anything in the sentiment expressed in “Death to America” to suggest that the people have the slightest interest in engaging in cultural exchange.


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