A week in Iran

On the set of Hamghesse with Roohulla Rezvi
On the set of Hamghesse with Roohulla Rezvi
hanging with the studio audience after the show
hanging with the studio audience after the show
on Farda News with Sheikh Mohebbi
Half way up Mount Kolakchai with the lads
At the top of Mount Kolakchai!
with Sheikh Mansour at the top of Tehran Tower
catching up with an old friend - Sheikh Mohamad Reza Zaeri
lunching with the lads

Hi Fighter,

At time of writing, I’m on a plane home after a week in Tehran. With the miracle of in-flight Internet, I thought I’d share something of the experience with you while I can, as I fear I’ll be overwhelmed with work once I hit the ground!

I was flown to Iran primarily to appear in a TV show called ‘Hamghesse’ (which just means ‘stories‘). It’s a one-hour show, so I got to share quite a few stories, and most of the rest of my time was filled with interviews with different Iranian print and radio media.

I also got to catch up with some old friends – most importantly with my dear brother, Sheikh Mansour Leghaei! It was great to see him though, in truth, we didn’t end up having as much time together as we’d hoped. I seemed to have endless interviews and he struggled to free himself from the phone! Even so, it was good for my soul to see him

One question I was asked time and time again in the media interviews was ‘What’s it like for an Australian visiting Iran?’ The question reflected the fact that Iran doesn’t get many Aussie tourists, and I think the Iranians genuinely don’t understand why.

I had to say that for the average Australian, Iran is very confronting. Most people from our culture find the enforced dress-code, where women must wear a scarf to cover their heads whenever in public, very off-putting. The no-alcohol rule likewise seems unreasonable to a lot of us. Indeed, I suspect that for most of us, Iran is not one of countries we’d most like to visit, so let me offer you a few reasons why you should go:

  • Iranians are amongst the most gracious and gentle people I’ve met
  • The hospitality shown to foreigners is extraordinary
  • Taking a drive in a taxi in Tehran is an experience everybody should have at least once in their lives (and probably best only once)
  • You get a lot of bang for your buck!

With regards to this last point, I spent most of my week with zero Iranian money in my pocket (as my hosts insisted on paying for everything). Even so, I managed to get my hands on the equivalent of $5 USD at one point and with it I bought:

  1. A bowl of blackberries!
  2. A ticket across town on the subway
  3. Two pairs of socks (from the subway sock-salesman)
  4. An ice-cream and a drink for my friend Ali, on arrival at our destination!

And the word on the street in Tehran is that compulsory veiling may soon be a thing of the past. Indeed, There’s a #MeninHijab social media campaign going on at the moment where Iranian men are putting on hijabs in support of their female partners, protesting the compulsory veiling laws! (see some great #MeninHijab images here).

Peace in Palmyra – Virtual Tour!


You will remember (I hope) the ‘Peace in Palmyra’ exhibition that we held in our church’s Community Centre a little over a month ago, celebrating the Boxers for Peace visit to Syria a month earlier, and our time in liberated Palmyra more specifically.

The exhibition was a great success, with hundreds of visitors enjoying Tom Toby’s amazing images of life and hope in Syria. The only problem was that most of our supporters couldn’t make it to Dulwich Hill, so I put together a virtual tour of the exhibition before I took everything down. Enjoy! 🙂


I still have about half of these wonderful pictures stored in my dining room at the moment and I’m keen to sell them to anyone who is interested, both to cover the cost of the exhibition and to help fund our further work. If you’d like to have one of these amazing artworks hanging in your living-room, the costs are as follows:

  • 12 by 8 inch (30 cm x 20 cm) $150 AUD
  • 30 by 20 inch (76 cm x 51 cm) $400 AUD

Call me or email me if you’re interested and we can work out how to get the artworks to you. All my contact details are here.

IMG_3102_small

I’ll close with this image of myself and Sheikh Mansour at the base of the Tehran Tower, and with a piece of trivia about the Tehran subway system that I bet you didn’t know!

The first two and last two carriages on every train are designated ‘women only’. Even so, the carriages in between are NOT men-only. In other words, women can choose to travel with the men if they wish but they also have the option of girls-only carriages (and it seemed that most choose to take that option)!

I’ll be in contact again soon. Pray for me, that I don’t get too overwhelmed as I get back into the thick of things this week. As I mentioned last time, we do need more help here, and if you’re feeling called to join the team, I’m keen to hear from you!

May the Lord bless you and strengthen you for the work for which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Boxers for Peace head back to Syria


photos by John Clutterbuck

Hi Fighter,

Yes, we’re heading back to Syria, and we’ve got a kick-butt crew, ready to touch gloves with the Syrian Olympic boxing team.

More important than any competition though, we are ready to bring some joy to Syrian kids, and hopefully leave them with some extra cash and sports equipment.

The exact goal of this trip, like all Boxers for Peace missions, is three-fold:

  1. To bring joy to Syrian children
  2. To build friendships between Syrian and Australian people at a grass-roots level.
  3. To give the folks back home a glimpse of the real Syria.

To accomplish this last goal, we are taking a media team with us who will hopefully broadcast our activities across TV and newspapers.  If all else fails, you’ll see my daily updates on Facebook and Twitter, and less regular updates on my blog.

As ever, the exact details of our departure date and itinerary can’t be made clear until we are underway. At this point I’ll say only that within the next few weeks I hope to send you images of us teaching boxing to kids in shelters outside Yarmouk and perhaps even in front of the Great Colonnade in Palmyra!

Once again we are going to need your help to get there. It’s going to cost around $1,500 AUD to get each player to Syria. Some of the team can pay their own way. Others (including me) can’t afford to do so. So I’m aiming to raise between $5,000 and $10,000 AUD within the next two weeks, and whatever we have left-over once we’ve covered our basic costs will be distribute to needy families and organisations where we visit (and these are not difficult to find).

I’ve come up with multiple different ways for you to show your support:

  1. Come along to our Fundraiser Dinner next Saturday ($25)
  2. Buy a $10 AUD postcard (A6 size)
  3. Buy a $20 AUD postcard (A5 size)
  4. Buy a $100 AUD poster (A2 size)
  5. Buy a $200 AUD poster (A1 size)
  6. Buy a $25 USD T-shirt
  7. Decide on your own donation

Details of the fundraiser dinner are on its Facebook Event Page or you can download the poster here. You can pay for a ticket and/or postcards and pictures here:

STOP PRESS

I have had to remove the Paypal payment button from here as Paypal has put my account on review and donations are not getting through!

Apparently the very mention of the world ‘Syria’ generates a shut-down response from Paypal, and despite a series of phone calls and letters over the last two weeks, they have thus far refused to discuss the issue with me.

Hopefully this matter can be resoled. In the meantime, if you’d like to support the cause, you can always make a deposit into the Fighting Fathers Ministries bank account:

Bank account name: Fighting Fathers Ministries

BSB 032-067

A/C 226190

The small postcard uses the group photo that appears at the top (slide no.1). The larger postcard uses the image below. Posters come in both designs, so tell me which you’d prefer. Also tell me if you want me or others to sign the poster and I’ll do my best.

postcard-A5-web

T-Shirts are designed and manufactured by T-Spring (click here). The T-shirt promotion only lasts till Thursday, May 5th, and will not be repeated so please grab your T-shirt ASAP if you’d like one.

T-shirt

click for full-size image

Decide on your own donation via our Buy me a drink page (though note that all donations here are in US dollars).

Sermon Time … (not this time!)

Rather than pound the pulpit this time, I thought I’d share some pounding of a different sort. This is the video of my last fight – now finally available. Enjoy! 🙂

Before closing today, I need to announce the winner of the Father Dave Selfie competition.

IMG_2166

It was a last-minute entry, but the image of Nader (Lionheart) Hamdan putting me in a headlock and punching me in the face seemed to capture everybody’s imagination. With 3 Twitter likes, 89 Facebook likes, and two shares, Nader is a clear winner. Runners up were Fighting Father Tim, Jeannie Kim and Joe Barnes (in that order).

We’re now going to have to work out the prizes, of which there are four:

  1. A year’s training at Father Dave’s Old School Boxing Academy
  2. A weekend or mid-week stay at Binacrombi
  3. Lunch on a Sunday arvo
  4. A front-row pew at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill for life

I’ll be interested to see who takes up option 4.! 🙂

OK Fighter! I probably won’t be posting again until after I’ve reached Syria. Please keep our team in your prayers and please pray for the success of this mission. God knows that the good people of Syria have suffered enough. I pray that we’ll be privileged to contribute something tangible in the work of peace.

May the Lord bless you and strengthen you for the work for which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – September 24th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, back with you again. I’ve finished my Monday run, grabbed something to eat, and I’m keen to touch base with you before I call it a night.

I hope you’ve had a good week. It’s been a big one for me, with three of my four girls returning from their overseas adventures, and we’ve had both Ange’s birthday and our wedding anniversary since they returned!

It’s also been a big week for human-rights activism in this part of the world, as we reach the conclusion of a week-long tour of this country by Israeli historian and activist, Professor Ilan Pappe.

Professor Pappe is one of those extraordinary characters whose convictions have led him to go against the grain of his own community. He is a Jewish man and was lecturing at an Israeli university, but his research into the history of the modern state of Israel led him to question the publicly accepted narrative – that his homeland had been a ‘land without a people’ when the state was formed in 1948. He subsequently went on to uncover and publish truths about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that politicians had tried to keep from the rest of the world (including the Israeli public).

I am embarrassed to admit now that I didn’t make any significant effort to attend Pappe’s lecture at Sydney University, even though it is within walking distance of where we live. It was at an inconvenient time and I figured that I knew all he was going to say and that I didn’t need further motivation to support the cause of Palestinian human rights. I thought that it would be nice to actually shake his hand and have a picture taken with him, but I didn’t think that was really an adequate reason to upset my schedule. Now I wish I had the photo to show off to you as I’ve become a genuine Pappe fan!

I saw his performance on ‘Q&A‘, and it really affected me!

For those who don’t know Australia’s Q&A it is a live TV panel discussion, featuring five panelists and an adjudicator. I don’t know whether the professor knew that two of the other panelists who were on that night were specifically there to take him down, but I suppose he’s used to that sort of set up by now.

Pappe was articulate, passionate and direct! It was not an easy discussion, but he pulled no punches! It really brought home to me how difficult it can be for a Jewish man to speak out against the state of Israel.

It’s a unique situation. If I speak out against the Australian government, I’m not branded as a ‘self-hating Australian’, but Pappe is constantly branded as a self-hating Jew because of his opposition to Israeli government policy. He shrugs off this accusation when challenged with it, and responds humorously by saying that his wife thinks he has the opposite problem – ie. that he thinks too much of himself!

Anyway, I’ve added a 3-minute segment from the Q&A episode right below, and if you see nothing else of Pappe’s do watch this.

[imaioVideo v=1]

If you’d like to see more, I’ve created a compendium of recordings of Pappe’s TV and radio appearances in Australia on www.israelandpalestine.org, including a link to the complete version of the Q&A episode from which the above segment was taken.

My friend Terry (who I know is reading this missive) particularly recommends Pappe’s address to the National Press Club in Canberra. We were having lunch together on Friday and Terry was telling me how he was transfixed listening to Pappe.

Terry is a beautiful man but not someone who was especially familiar with the situation in Israel/Palestine. Pappe’s address to the National Press Club affected him deeply, as indeed I think this speaking tour has touched the lives of a great many people.

Let us pray that Pappe’s untiring work will indeed lead to great strides forward being made in the pursuit of justice and peace in the Middle East and across the globe.

Join the Discussion!

Will you do me a favour please? After you’ve taken a look at what Pappe has to say will you get on the forum and join the discussion?

I am deeply grateful to my brother Cibby for courageously making a post last week that challenged me on the issue of how we should respond to our Muslim sisters and brothers who have been involved in the recent protests and violence. I’m only sorry that we couldn’t get more people involved in that discussion!

I appreciate of course that there are at least two barriers to having more people publishing their thoughts:

The first is that you need to be a financial member of www.fighing-fathers.com in order to post to the forum. As I have said though, if you can’t afford the $10/month fee, I will organise a temporary membership for you that will cost you nothing (though of course if you can afford the $10/month I will be deeply grateful, as this is what keeps us going).

The second barrier is that many people are afraid to speak out on this subject, and I think this is the far greater problem!

I have had a number of good people say that they are not ready to have their name publicly associated with controversial political issues. In the case of one person, she believed that her job might be put at risk should she be seen as being sympathetic to Palestinians!

In response, I can only repeat the well-known quote: “The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing”

The quote is often attributed to John F. Kennedy but most likely goes back to Irish political philosopher Edmund Bourke in the 18th Century. Either way, history itself proclaims this! Evil can only triumph so long as we keep our mouths shut!

So don’t keep your mouth shut! Speak out! Blog about your convictions! Share your insights with the world! And if you don’t feel ready to post to the Fighting Fathers Forum, then leave a comment at the end of this post (which requires no membership of anything) or leave a comment on www.israelandpalestine.org.

Join us on Sunday

I believe that this week coming we are finally, finally, finally going to video-cast our Sunday morning church service!

  • Fighting Father Jim has procured all the necessary equipment
  • Tests are being done to check that everything is operational
  • Our Parish Council has given consent for it to go ahead
  • Church.TV has provided us with our own channel!

I know I’ve been promising this for ages, and every time it looks like it’s going to happen something comes up to delay us, but this time …

Be warned though: I think this Sunday I’ll be preaching on my LEAST favourite book in the entire Bible – the Book of Esther!

Anyway … I’ll confirm by email later in the week if we’re going ahead and I’ll give you all the details then. Join my mailing list at www.fatherdave.org if you’re not on it already.

I think all you need to join in the broadcast is a free membership at church.tv. You can then have me preaching at you live in your living-room this Sunday!

Until then, may the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave

dave@fatherdave.org
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. If you’re interested in pursuing further the question we were looking at last week as to why so many Muslim people around the world seem to be angry as hell right now with the United States and her allies, I recommend an excellent article that was published only a few days ago by former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern.

The article, entitled, Why the Mideast Exploded, Really, looks at the current explanations being given for Muslim anger and takes us back to George W. Bush’s infamous “Why do they hate us?” speech given after 9/11. It is detailed and comprehensive, and well worth the time you’ll take to read it.

P.P.S. And I’d love it if you could leave some comments about the article there too.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four