Talk about peace and free speech! These American Arab, Iranian and Jewish stand-up comedians are very funny and very free. Here they share their ingenious universal humor on identity politics, Washington, sex, love and more on March 27th, in another edition of the Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief, the national comedy-satire show launched 10 years ago by the Levantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Featuring special guest Sunda Croonquist and with Sherwin Arae, Omar Elba, Sheno Khal, Maria Shehata and Melissa Shoshahi.
The Levantine Cultural Center has served the greater Los Angeles area for over 13 years by presenting arts and education programs on the Middle East and North Africa. Welcoming people of all nations and religions, the Center fosters friendship and open dialogue, fights ignorance and intolerance, and forges a stronger, more diverse American society through programs and services that that bridge political, cultural and religious divides. But don't be fooled: this comedy show is as funny as it gets.
For tickets and information, contact 323.413.2001 or go online, levantinecenter.org.
Electronic Intifada editor and author Nora Barrows-Friedman leads a public forum with special guest Ronnie Barkan, cofounder of Boycott From Within, on "U.S. Students and the Palestinian Solidarity Movement," with particular emphasis on Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) and attempts to stifle or silence Students for Justice in Palestine. This is an open forum, all are welcome.
According to Samantha Brotman writing in Mondoweiss, "Nora Barrows-Friedman's In Our Power: U.S. Students Organize for Justice in Palestine, published by Just World Books, is a timely and powerful read, detailing the scope and substance of the Palestine solidarity movement in the United States. Barrows-Friedman situates the movement across both time and space, providing historical and contemporary context to the individual activists whose voices make up the book's primary content. As a result, In Our Power is at once practical and inspiring for anyone involved in Palestine solidarity or interested in becoming involved."
Detractors of student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, chapters of which are now found at hundreds of college campuses across the U.S., suggest that SJP is "anti-Semitic" or that they "invite speakers linked with terrorist groups." These two contentions are demonstrably false and are in fact desperate attempts to stifle critical thinking and public debate about Israel and the Palestinians. See related Mondoweiss article.
Partake in an evening of organic Afro-Arab trance with Bedouin X—soulful music from North Africa, West Africa and Nubia underlying Bedouin poetry, driven by polyrhythms and hypnotic grooves. Led by Alfred Madain, Bedouin X features artists Clarissa Bitar on oud, Ava Nahas on percussion and Dave Markowitz on the saz. The repertoire was created to revive and bring to the fore socially and politically conscientious music that sprang up in the African parts of the Arab world. Other performers include David Martinelli on percussion and Mike Gadsby on bass. This highly danceable music is known to induce a state of trance.
Opening for Bedouin X is Mahadev, a world music ensemble that plays an exciting and eclectic blend of Indian, Gypsy, African, Middle Eastern and American music mixed with original compositions that bridge the gap between these worlds of music. With Dave Cipriani on Indian slide guitar & voice, Chris Payne on cajon & frame drum and Neelamjit Dhillon on saxophone & tabla. Listen here.
Two great bands for the price of one ($20 in advance; $25 at the door). Seating is limited, however, and advance reservations are strongly suggested: 323.413.2001.
The Inside/Outside Gallery in partnership is pleased to present "One," 25 new and recent works by independent artist Salma Arastu, in the spirit of poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī—paintings that reflect external beauty and an internal desire for peace. The exhibition opens February 27 and runs through March 28. A reception for the artist takes place Friday, Feb. 27, 6 to 10 pm. Gallery hours are 10 am-6 pm and by appointment. This exhibition is an initiative of Muslims for Progressive Values and is cosponsored by MPV.
"Have you ever heard the rippling sound of waters, humming winds and thundering clouds? Have you watched the hands of a tabla man and the moving feet of a Bharat Natyam dancer? Have you ever felt the urge of pure love, the satisfaction of sharing and giving? That same rhythm, rich classical music, selfless love or a moonlit night, I wish I could absorb and not miss a single detail then pour it all on my canvas." —Salma Arastu
This exhibit is entitled "One" in honor of Salma Arastu's mother, who inspired her deeply. ""My mother, a very spiritual person, believed in one God, who is the source of all life on this earth and beyond. Even though she was a practicing Hindu, she often said that we are the children of the same God and there is no difference between Hindus, Muslims, Christians or Jews. I am grateful to her for planting those thoughts in my young mind as today I am married to a Muslim and I have crossed the boundaries of religions."
Salma Arastu is San Francisco Bay Area painter, sculptor and poet who born in Rajasthan, India. She has been creating and exhibiting her paintings internationally since graduating with a Masters degree in Fine Arts from MS University, Baroda, India in 1975. Her work with continuous and lyrical line is influenced by her native culture and her residence after marriage in Iran and Kuwait before coming to the US in 1987.
Born into the Sindhi, Hindu tradition in her native India, she later embraced Islam through her marriage. At birth, Ms. Arastu was given the life-defining challenge of a left hand without fingers. Seeing the unity of an all-encompassing God, she was able to transcend the barriers often set-forth in the traditions of religion, culture and the cultural perceptions of handicap.
Calling for peace and free speech, American Arab/Muslim and Jewish comedians will share their Charlie Hebdo comedy in Hollywood on February 12, 2014 when they perform in a special edition of the <
Can street theatre and community murals make a difference? Is this what we mean by "cultural diplomacy"?
The Levantine Cultural Center presents Art and Activism in Bil'in: from Los Angeles to Palestine, an evening of public conversation, photography and art in the context of dialogue and conflict resolution. In October 2014, a team of Los Angeles based-artists formed part of a historic effort in the West Bank village of Bil'in, Palestine, when Imaginaction director Hector Aristizabal brought together an international group of artists and creative activists for an arts residency that engaged hundreds in Bil'in and neighboring villages. Working with local and regional Palestinian cultural leaders, the group engaged community in art and theater workshops that resulted in public performances, large scale puppets and murals painted in collective fashion along roads and buildings.
The group also joined their talents to support Bil'ins emblematic weekly demonstrations. Bil'in is the West Bank village featured in Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi's award-winning documentary, 5 Broken Cameras. For over a decade the non-violent protests have become a symbol for Palestinian cultural resistance to the barrier wall that snakes through Bil'in's ancestral olive groves appropriating lands and fortifying the Israeli settlement of Modi'in Illit. During their time in Bil'in. the group witnessed celebration and harvest as well as danger and violence as they worked with the persistent and heroic people of Bil'in.
$10 suggested contribution. Seating limited, reservations strongly advised: 323.413.2001. See below for participant bios.
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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.
Levantine Cultural Center presents for the first time in Los Angeles, Ramy Essam live in concert and a public conversation. Essam is the Egyptian revolutionary rocker whose song "Irhal" contributed to the uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power, and who is featured in Jehane Noujaim's acclaimed documentary, The Square. He's recognized as perhaps the single most important musical artist of the Arab Spring.
This month Essam will undertake his first North American tour, with stops in NYC, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Seattle and Vancouver. His show at the Levantine Center will mark a landmark appearance at the Levantine Center. "I have known of the work of the Levantine Center even from Egypt, and I can't imagine any other place to make my first West Coast concert than with them," Essam declared when the concert was confirmed. This will truly be a special event and Essam will perform not only his revolutionary hits, but also newly written and recorded material dealing with the student protests and ongoing harassment, jailings and worse of revolutionary activists, including many of his friends. He will also talk about his experiences the last three years and what he sees as the best path forward for Egypt in this difficult period. Listen/watch Ramy Essam on YouTube.