The Right Of Return is the core of the Palestinian cause. It positions the Nakba and the suffering of refugees as the primary issue, places Gaza into historical context and highlights the gross injustices perpetuated and sustained by Israeli politics since 1948. It clearly illuminates the racist nature of the Jewish state and its immigration laws. The Right Of Return offers a clear course of action that unites Palestinians in the region and the Diaspora but it evokes fear amongst Israelis, Zionists and Jewish anti-Zionists.
Since the early 2000s there has been a surge in Jewish support for Palestine and the Palestinian people. This support has been welcome but it came with a price; the call for the Right Of Return has been gradually diluted by alternative terminology designed to appeal to the Jewish progressive crowd.
In this talk, I will elaborate on the terminological shift that left the Palestinian people and their cause behind. I will suggest that each of the terms introduced into the discourse in the last two decades functioned primarily to legitimize Israel and appeal to the Jewish Left crowd. The reality is grim; instead of solidarity with the victims, the movement has morphed into an attempt to appease the oppressor. This unfortunate shift may explain why the solidarity movement has achieved so little for the Palestinians. It is possible that it wasn't supposed to achieve much in the first place.
An academic and innovator, UCLA comp lit prof Gil Hochberg has written a terrific new book, according to Ella Shohat, Ted Swedenberg and others.
On the 67th anniversary of May 15, 1948, the date Palestinians commemorate as Nabka Day, we present five poets for Palestine, with special guest of honor, poet and translator Fady Joudah, joined by
Diana Darke presents her new book My House in Damascus, An Inside View of the Syrian Revolution, introduced by Syrian American journalist Samir Twair.
Expect a rich and evocative evening of poetry and music from two Lebanese American artists at the top of their form, when poet/performance artist/playwright Elmaz Abinader makes her debut at the Levantine Center. She will be joined by returning musician-vocalist Tony Khalife and master percussionist Alex Spurkel. Elmaz Abinader's new collection of poetry, This House, My Bones, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. "Elmaz Abinader is a poet fiercely committed to the world's beauty, to history, to lost voices and the people she loves." —David Mura
Says Patricia Smith (winner of the 2013 Lenore Marshal Poetry Prize) "This House, My Bones is a gorgeously scripted chronicle that probes the collective heart and the countries we inhabit when we dare to speak out loud. There's an insistent rhythm in these stanzas, a lyricism of light and lineage stamped with the undeniable signature of a poet at the height of her craft. Savor these poems, and be lifted by their music." More about This House, My Bones. Listen to the poet. Listen to the music. More tunes.
Tickets $18 general, $15 members, $12 students. Seating limited, RSVPs strongly advised, call 323.413.2001.
By Dick Platkin and Jeff Warner *
Friends of Middle Eastern and North African cultures, we are grateful for your support. As we come to the end of another year we wish you very Happy Holidays and a brighter, more peaceful 2015. Thank you for your friendship, encouragement and participation, and your interest in making the Levantine Cultural Center the premiere forum in presenting a vast repertoire of exciting performances, interesting exhibitions, and relevant and timely lectures.
Below you'll find a breakdown of the more than 69 public programs we presented in 2014.
Since 2001, the Levantine Cultural Center has earned its reputation as a welcoming haven where thousands of people-whether they come through our doors, or watch our events online-have the opportunity to become acquainted with some the world's most engaging words, images and music, as well as to engage with the plethora of complex issues facing the region...and thus the world.
By presenting artists and musicians, authors and poets, thinkers and philosophers, the Levantine Cultural Center strives to demystify the rich and rewarding cultures of the Middle East and North Africa, and to introduce them to the American mainstream. Our goal is as it ever was: to showcase the region's arts and cultures, and to abrade the corrosive effects of cultural and political misunderstanding and mistrust through the beauty and power of arts and letters.
Our vision is to extend our impact by connecting even more people, and to help realize that dream, we are thrilled to advise you of our plan, for what many would consider a rebirth, for a newer and larger home, one that is more conducive to fulfilling our mission. Many of you know that the Levantine Cultural Center outgrew its current space a long time ago. To continue our meaningful work with more programs for a growing community, we must expand both our facility and our staff.
Therefore, with excited determination, we are embarking on a capital campaign to facilitate, concretely, our ability to serve with distinction one of the largest Middle Eastern diaspora communities in the world. To continue as the only truly progressive and inclusive center for Middle Eastern and North African cultures, we seek to raise $1 million to ensure that as individuals who care about peace and progress, we will have a center—a markaz—that empowers both Middle Easterners and non-Middle Easterners to connect, to unite and to inform greater Los Angeles of the marvels and humanities of the region.
We welcome your continued support.
2014: Our Year in Review
Art (6 exhibitions)
War and People: Art, Exile and the Middle East
a new group exhibit explores the affects of war and exile in diaspora
Out of Egypt: Master Painted Mohamed Khedr exhibition
Fast Forward: A Talk on Arab and Iranian Typography, with Maece Seirafi and Pouya Jahanshahi
Dorood: New Art From Iran exhibition
Ramsey Chahine: the Poison is the Cure exhibition
By Jordan Elgrably
Following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the end of the Second World War, the map of the Middle East and North Africa has been rewritten by colonialism, war and internecine conflict.
Whether the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the 1980-1988 war between Iraq and Iran, the first and second Gulf War in Iraq, the invasions of Afghanistan, or the Lebanese Civil War, millions of people have been displaced. Millions more have seen their lives changed forever with the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria that began in 2010.
In the 21st century, it is easy for us to forget that World War I was said to be "the war to end all wars." Here I am, writing on the 100th anniversary of that brutal conflagration that killed over 15 million combatants and civilians in Europe.
Since the civil war began in 2010, Syria has seen some of the worst fighting in its history.
In conjunction with the new exhibition War and People: Art, Exile and the Middle East, four Southern California-based poets read from two recent collections of poetry, Dear Darwish and With Our Eyes Wide Open, that explore the effects of war and exile on people in South Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.
With Our Eyes Wide Open: Poems of the New American Century, focuses on the impact of recent wars on populations around the world specially the U.S. wars in Southeast Asia (Vietnam etc.), Central America, and the Middle East. This international anthology of poetry explores the impact of the United States in wars as well as upon the "nobodies"-outcasts, immigrants, the working class: "They [the poets]...represent an emerging poetic consciousness which is helping todefine and shape the imagination and language of the 21st Century." Using a call-and-response pattern, the poems look at the impact of the United States' wars in Korea, Vietnam, Central American, and Iraq on lives. Vietnamese-American poet Teresa Mei Chuc, and Julia Stein read from their own poems. Dima Hilal, a Lebanese American will read her work. We will also read some of the Middle Eastern poets in the anthology from Turkey, Oman, Egyptian-American, Morocco, Iraq, and Chechnya.
Read reviews of With Eyes Wide Open here and in Counterpunch here.