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 biographer Kai Bird and former C.I.A. case officer and author Robert Baer. 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 (Stella! Mother of Modern Acting, with a foreword by Mark Ruffalo), will moderate a discussion about the changing craft of acting. The panel features two contemporary young actors of Middle Eastern heritage, influenced by Stella Adler's teachings, Mojean Aria and Thom Bishops; an acting coach who studied extensively with Stella, Marjorie Ballentine; 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 $28 with a copy of the hardback biography, Stella! Mother Modern Acting (no one turned away for lack of funds). The café is open as of 6 pm serving delicious authentic Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine.
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
Medea Benjamin, activist, author and cofounder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace will be introduced by Jodie Evans who will moderate a public conversation on the use of drones by federal and local governments. The LAPD is debating the drone issue, join Medea Benjamin and local community leaders to stop drones in LA.
Did you know that a drone can be as small as a bumble bee, that local law enforcement offices are eager to be the first to have their own fleet of drones here in the US and that Obama has granted the CIA the authority to kill people in Pakistan and Yemen using drone "signature strikes" based solely on suspicious behavior?
Medea Benjamin's new book Drone Warfare, Killing by Remote Control is a well-researched investigation of these deadly weapons and how we can build a movement to stop them. Come hear Medea speak. Read a review.
Presentation of 2014 Peace Prize, US Peace Memorial Foundation, by Michael D. Knox, Chair.
On display an award winning art piece inspired by CODEPINK's work to end Drone attacks in Pakistan.
Enjoy music by composer/performer Vivek Maddala.
Come participate in a dynamic Middle East rhythm and drum circle, facilitated by percussion expert Rowan Storm, Saturday from 1:30 -3:30 pm, June 14, 2014. Beginners welcome. For all ages. Family friendly. Various hand drums and percussion provided, or bring your own. Info/reservations 323.413.2001 or just show up. Grab a drum or bring your own and join the fun! Visit carpetconcert.com or rowanstorm.com.
Suggested contribution for two hours is $20.
You are invited on Wednesday, June 11, 7:30-9:00 pm to participate in a public conversation on the revolution in Tunisia and its aftermath, with visiting Fulbright scholar Oussama Laifi and Loyola
Sohail Daulatzai, in a forum moderated by Asli U. Bâli, will discuss how the fears around "extremism" have impacted diverse Muslim communities (Black, Asian, Arab, etc.), and how this fear has reinvigorated the deeper criminalization of non-Muslim Black and Latino communities in the United States. He will explore the legacy of Malcolm X—the history of blackness and Islam together, the fear of what Malcolm X ushered in, and the politics he tried to put forward. He will ask what role Muslims should/could play in American politics, and the role does race plays in understanding government surveillance.
This public forum on Islamophobia examines widespread racism and American policing and government spying. Racial and religious profiling remains a key concern in the Arab/Muslim community, while "stop and frisk" policing around the country still primary persecutes Black and Latino communities. Recent revelations of the massive surveillance apparatus of the NSA and other branches of the U.S. government have raised tremendous debate and concern around privacy and security, reinvigorating long-standing liberal notions about violations to civil liberties.
While mainstream America is concerned at the extent of government surveillance, there is very little alarm and in fact a great deal of public support for the continued surveillance of Muslim communities as a potential fifth column of "radicalization" and subversion in a post-9/11 climate. This forum is organized by LA Jews for Peace, hosted by the Levantine Cultural Center, and cosponsored by the United Methodist Holy Land Task Force and Council on American Islamic Relations-LA. Read a column by Sohail Daulatzai in The Nation.