(Persia Digest) - An American peace activist believes that if the American people had a better understanding of the realities of Iran, they would support normal trade and diplomatic relations with Iran.

Medea Benjamin is the founder and director of the anti-war organization CODEPINK. She has been promoting social justice for over forty years. The American daily Newsday describes her as follows: “Benjamin is one of the most committed, influential human rights campaigners in the United States.” The Los Angeles Times also writes “Benjamin is one of the most senior leaders of the American Peace Movement.” She has been active with her team members at anti-Iran rallies by US officials and criticized the policies of the Trump administration on Iran. She recently went to speeches given by Bolton and Brian Hook and asked for peace with Iran while criticizing America’s warmongering policies towards this country.

Persia Digest has conducted a short interview with Medea Benjamin and asked her about her activities and goals. What follows is the text of this interview.

As a pacifist, and political and social activist, how much do you think Americans are familiar with Iran and its society? How much does this correspond with the realities of Iran?

Most Americans have little understanding of Iran and its society. Many Americans are unaware of the 2500-year history of Iran and how Iranian civilization has contributed so much to the global community in everything from art, literature, poetry, and architecture to different forms of democratic government.

Few Americans are also aware of the US overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mosaddegh in 1953, a coup that led to the present Islamic Republic. There is a direct line between US military intervention in 1953, the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, and the present government, which should make it clear to Americans how strongly US interference in the history of Iran has shaped the present animosity between our two nations.

If the American people had a better understanding of the realities of Iran, they would support normal trade and diplomatic relations with Iran.

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In US opinion polls, such as Gallup and Pew, Americans express a negative view of Iran. What do you think is the reason for this? Can these polls be trusted? Is the lack of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries causing this misunderstanding?

The reason there is a negative view of Iran among many Americans is because of US policy and the propaganda that goes along with this policy, propaganda meant to demonize Iran and its people. The lack of formal diplomatic relations is one of the problems. This, along with the sanctions and the Muslim ban, make it harder and harder for Americans to have positive interactions with Iranians.

CODEPINK is an NGO supporting peace in Iran. To what extent can the activities of these organizations influence the policies of the US administration?

It is hard for us to influence the administration, but we can influence Congress. We need to organize together with many other organizations to support bills that would stop the president from using military force in Iran.

Read more:

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Reactions to Trump’s threats against Iran

Have you ever traveled to Iran? How do you know Iran? What are your reasons for supporting it? Are you solely a peace activist or are you confident that US policies towards Iran are wrong?

Yes, I have traveled to Iran three times. I do not support governments, I support people, and I hate to see how the sanctions are hurting ordinary people. I also was involved in trying to stop other US military interventions, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen. I’ve seen how those interventions have only brought more death and destruction, which makes me more committed to stop a new war with Iran.

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