LET US MOURN THE DEATH OF A MAGNIFICENT MAN
A Personal Account
Who? On April 29, 2022, Nader Talebzadeh Ordoubadi died. He was 68 years old. Born appropriately enough in Tehran on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1953, he went on to seek closer collaboration between Muslim Iran and Christians and Jews. Gifted with a wonderful mind and extraordinary analytical skills, Nader also displayed uncommon organizational abilities. He established and ran the New Horizon Conferences (NHC). To those he invited Americans, Europeans, and Arabs, some being journalists, some politicians, some activists, some thinkers, and, to the 6th Conference, May 2018, several former U.S. government officials., including those from the State and Defense Departments as well as a one-time CIA officer.
How? Nader succumbed to heart failure. To me, this was incomprehensible. He had a heart as big as he was, a mountain of a man. Nader Talebzadeh’s love for all was demonstrated countless times during our far too few meetings and text exchanges. He interviewed me on camera in Iran and graciously invited me to speak to his audience on his television show Amr (Time in Farsi). During the NHC that I attended four years ago, he worked hard to ensure that every viewpoint was freely allowed to be made, and that no unwarranted criticism was permitted. Nader embraced all people, whatever their ideas, whatever their religion. According to a PressTV statement by Paul Larudee, Nader, in his hospital bed after a January heart attack, offered his condolences to him on the death of Paul’s son.
Some Details. Nader was the ideal intermediary between the United States and Iran. He spoke in flawless, accent-free idiomatic American English. He picked this up while studying in the United States, at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, at American University in Washington, D.C., and at Columbia University in New York City. Because of this, and because of his remarkable talents mentioned above, Iranian politician Mahmoud Ahmadinejad selected Nader as an advisor should Ahmadinejad be successful in the last election campaign there.
But Nader was more than a well-connected, brilliant man. He did extraordinary things in greatly differing fields. He had founded a newspaper, The Tehran Times, he produced and directed films, both documentary and otherwise. Perhaps his greatest venture was his series Messiah, a view of Jesus Christ from a Muslim viewpoint. (Christ is revered in Islam as a great prophet who will return during the Last Days. I have seen clips of this production and was greatly impressed.)
America’s Shame. Shortly after the 6th NHC, Sigal Pearl Mandelker then Undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence sanctioned him, his loving wife Zeina Mehanna, the NHC itself, and most of its staff for, inter alia, “anti-Semitism”. When I was there, I sat next to an Arab journalist, a Semite, and heard a Rabbi from New York City, Dovid Weiss, another Semite, speak passionately about Occupied Palestine. [Mandelker oversaw, inter alia, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). OFAC places sanctions on organizations and individuals. FinCEN has access to the U.S. National Security Agency’s Signals Intelligence Network (i.e., they read other peoples’ mail, be it email, faxes, telephone calls, or use of communications apps such as Signal or Telegram)]. Although confirmed by the American Senate on June 21, 2017, Mandelker was born and raised in Israel.
Nevertheless, Nader Talebzadeh went on to produce other conferences, including one in Beirut, Lebanon. Regrettably, this could not include any American citizens because they would be subject to huge fines and possible prison terms. This violated their rights to freedom of speech and travel. It also deprived the Conference of a flow of new or different ideas.
Conclusion. Over the years, Zeina and Nader occasionally wrote me, saying they considered me a member of their family. To which I replied I felt the same. Just a few days before his untimely death, Nader sent me a voice message saying he hoped we could meet at his house in Tehran soon.
Before his death, fervent prayers went out from me and many others to Almighty Allah, asking Him to use His infinite wisdom and mercy to restore Nader to health, to do His work and not permit Satan to interfere with it.
Alas, on April 29, Zeina texted me that Nader had gone to his Creator.
In Islam, it is usual to say, upon someone’s passing, From Allah we come, to Allah we shall return. Well, to me, those words are so inadequate in expressing what Nader Talebzadeh Ordoubadi meant to me, to all who knew him, and to U.S.-Iranian relations.