Critics of Islam ask why Muslims themselves don't speak out often enough against extremism. The Levantine Cultural Center and Bana Hilal invite you to a salon, "When People of Muslim Heritage Challenge Fundamentalism," the subject of law professor Karima Bennoune's prize-winning book, and her Ted talk (March 2014). Of course, many Muslims like the young Malala Yousafzai and countless others around the world oppose Islamic fundamentalism, but they rarely make the news. Karima Bennoune, a native of Algeria, is a human rights lawyer and UC Davis law professor. Her book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism, just won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for 2014. It was named one of the top ten books of the year on religion and spirituality by Booklist, the magazine of the American Library Association. Read an excerpt on how Muslim artists battle fundamentalism.
Watch Karima Bennoune's Ted talk.
"Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here should be required reading, not only for those of us who are professionally involved with Muslim-majority societies, but also for anyone who mistakenly believes that Muslims are doing nothing to end fundamentalist violence." —Rachel Newcomb, The Washington Post
One of the biggest uncovered stories in the Middle East is the chasm between Israel's Euro-American Jewish population (Ashkenazim), and the Jews from the Arab/Muslim world, the Mizrahim. Deep-rooted racism continues to play a role in Israeli society between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim (sometimes called Sephardic Jews). Indeed, often there is a direct relationship between how Israel treats the Palestinians and the way Israeli society stratifies its own Jewish population, with Ashkenazim occupying more seats in the Knesset and more overall government control now than at any time since 1977, according to anthropologist and Professor Smadar Lavie.
Smadar Lavie suggests that there is a direct correlation between social protest movements in Israel, Ashkenazi-Mizrahi relations, and attacks on Gaza. Her talk will address Gaza 2014 and the Mizrahi predicament, right-wing politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Author most recently of Wrapped in the Flag of Israel, Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture, Smadar Lavie is a Scholar in Residence at the Beatrice Bain Research Center, UC Berkeley's feminists of color think tank, and at the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century, University College Cork (Ireland). Her book looks at the role of gender in the Mizrahi-Ashkenazi divide with particular emphasis on how Mizrahi women (whose roots are in Arab countries, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East) navigate right-wing politics in Israel, noting that many Mizrahim vote for right-wing parties.
Professor Lavie will give a rare talk in Los Angeles on the relationship between the Mizrahi-Ashkenazi divide and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, on Thursday, Nov. 6, 7 pm. Book signing and reception to follow.
Many times we have heard the question, "Where are the peaceful Palestinian protesters, who advocate for their cause non-violently?" Infrequently profiled in the mainstream media, such Palestinian activists are legion. Like Bi'lin peacemaker Emad Burnat—who made the fabled doc 5 Broken Cameras—Bassem al-Tamimi (Arabic: باسم التميمي, born c. 1967) is one such Palestinian activist. He is an organizer of protests against Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. He was convicted by an Israeli military court in 2011 for "sending people to throw stones, and holding a march without a permit." Tamimi's lawyers denied those charges saying, "He believes in passive resistance and says he never asked anyone to throw stones."
Jewish Voice for Peace-Los Angeles and the Levantine Cultural Center present this program in an on-going series of talks that examine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Past speakers include Leila El-Haddad, Eran Efrati, Sami Shalom Chetrit, Ghada Karmi, Laila Al-Marayati, Miko Peled, Basem Ra'ad, David Sheen and many more.
The class is designed to familiarize children ages 2-5 with the Persian language and culture through music and play. Each ninety minute class will be conducted completely in Farsi, and will include: (1) a Persian story time; (2) a craft inspired by Persian folklore or culture; (3) music and song; and (4) free play. Children will also be provided with a Persian snack in all classes.
Chapman University, Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dept. of Political Science, History and Peace Studies and the Levantine Cultural Center present present a rare evening with celebrated author and blogger Juan Cole (The New Arabs; Engaging the Muslim World), introduced by political science associate professor Nubar Hovsepian. The talk is on "How the Arab Millennial Generation is changing the Middle East." There will be Q & A and a book signing, along with a light reception. All welcome, free to the public. Copies of Juan Cole's books will be available for purchase and signing.
In line with the Levantine Cultural Center's exploration of American foreign policy, this forum asks, How does the C.I.A. play a role in the Middle East and North Africa? Was Robert Ames, the subject of Kai Bird's bestselling biography, The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames, actually an ambassador for peace, particularly with respect to the Israelis and Palestinians? The book offers a "compelling portrait of the remarkable life and death of one of the most important operatives in CIA history— a man who, had he lived, might have helped heal the rift between Arabs and the West." The forum includes a book signing with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Kai Bird and public Q & A. This forum picks up where our previous forum in March 2014, America's Great Game: The C.I.A. and U.S. Middle East Foreign Policy, left off.
Read a Washington Post review of The Good Spy.
In this first installment in a regular workshop series (each self-contained), the Levantine Cultural Center presents Palestine 101, an audiovisual experience that surveys anti-colonial resistance and explores the history, culture and politics of Palestine, from the early 20th century forward. We will delve deeper beyond Hamas and the PLO as we explore how Palestinians have resisted both colonization and the erasure of their history and culture, including a look at poetry, hip hop and peaceful protest.
The workshop will include mention of bicultural coexistence organizations that envision a positive future for Israelis and Palestinians together, such as the village Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam (and its School for Peace), the Parents Circle Family Forum, Combatants for Peace, Just Vision and others.
The workshop is open to anyone who would like a more in-depth survey of 20th century history of the Holy Land, up to the present day, with a sympathetic take on the region's pre-1948 inhabitants. A suggested donation of $10 or $5 students/seniors is welcome. RSVPs strongly advised as seating is limited.
Sheana Ochoa, author of the first biography of theatre and acting legend Stella Adler entitled STELLA! Mother of Modern Acting, with a foreword by Mark Ruffalo, will moderate a discussion about the changing craft of acting. Stella Adler taught Brando, DeNiro, Ruffalo, Benicio Del Toro and many others. This panel features two contemporary young actors of Middle Eastern heritage, influenced by Stella Adler's teachings, Mojean Aria and Thom Bishops; an acting coach and casting director who studied extensively with Stella, Deborah Aquila; and a casting director formed by the New York theatre world, April Webster. The program will be a dialogue among the panelists about the evolution of acting from the early 20th century until today, and a look at how actors of Middle Eastern heritage are fitting in, despite potential barriers in the business.
Tickets are $15, or $25 includes a signed copy of the new hardback biography, STELLA! Mother Modern Acting. The café is open as of 6:30 pm serving delicious authentic Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine. Reservations are strongly suggested as space is limited: call 323.413.2001.
The Crisis This Time: Conversations on Israel/Palestine:If you can't attend tonight's event, please join us on our Livestream! Log in as a guest and share your thoughts with our online community!
Speakers in the second workshop are Palestinian American activist, engineer and businessman Nasim Khoury; Israeli American UCLA professor Gil Hochberg, and Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels. The moderator is Jordan Elgrably, the Arab Jewish director of the Levantine Cultural Center.
Americans are watching in dismay as Gaza comes under the bombs for the third time in the last few years and Israel as a nation finds itself in crisis, under attack by Hamas. Over 1,500 Palestinians and Israelis have been killed. Many thousands have been injured. The Levantine Cultural Center and community partners present The Crisis This Time: Conversations on Israel/Palestine, a weekly workshop and study group that meets each Wednesday evening in August (6, 13, 20, 27), 7-9 pm at the Levantine Cultural Center to examine the news out of Israel/Palestine, discuss the war, and explore solutions—how can we, as concerned Americans, contribute to peace and justice in the region, while holding our own government accountable to the highest standards of human rights?
Speakers in the first workshop were Palestinian American physician Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, cofounder of the children's relief agency Kinder USA, and Israeli American peace activist Miko Peled, author of The General Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. Peled has just returned from six weeks in Israel and the West Bank and will report back his findings. The moderator for this evening is Robin D.G. Kelley, the Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor of U.S. History at UCLA.
Fast Forward, Arabic & Iranian Typography: A New Visual Vocabulary in the Making