The enemy speaks

Simplicity rules:

A Somerville peace activist with a knack for political theater set up a display yesterday with a simple proposition: Let anyone who passed by pick up the phone and talk to Iranian citizens, giving regular citizens in both countries a chance to do what the activist said the country’s leaders have failed to do: talk to each other. (See;

Most people passing the Boston Common’s Park Street T stop shrugged at the display: a red telephone with a retro design, symbolic of the hotline established between the White House and the Kremlin during the Cold War. It sat on a small table with a white table cloth and a sign out front, which proclaimed “Direct Line to Iran.” An MIT student stood to its left, listened in on headphones and provided English-Farsi translation.

The activist, Nick Jehlen, had connected the display phone to a cellphone, which he used to dial the numbers of people in Iran he had met online. The idea was that random Bostonians could chat directly with Iranian citizens.

It would be helpful, to put it mildly, to avoid war with Iran (and latest reports suggest that the UN will shortly issue a statement that will not make the chicken-hawks happy.)

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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