In some ways it can be said that there are two Middle Easts—the first geographic, political and the subject of international attention; and the second, far less apparent is the Middle East in diaspora—Arab/Middle Eastern populations living around the world, often with refugee status. Recent conflicts including the Gulf War, the second Gulf War, the Syrian civil war and now the Islamic State have destabilized the region and created millions of refugees.
In Iraq and the Middle East Diaspora, Professor Ella Habiba Shohat, author Deborah Al-Najjar and special guests will converse on the disintegration of Iraq and Syria, as well as the politics of identity, culture and diaspora. Shohat is co-editor most recently of Between the Middle East and the Americas, The Cultural Politics of Diaspora (with Evelyn Alsultany). Deborah Al-Najjar is co-editor of We Are Iraqis, Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War (in which Shohat is interviewed about "Arab Jews, Diaspora and Multicultural Feminism").
Read an interview with Shohat and Alsultany in Jadaliyya.
On the Side of the Road is an Israeli documentary film written and directed by Lia Tarachansky that focuses on Israeli collective denial of the events of 1948 that led to the country's independence and the Palestinian refugee problem. It follows war veterans Tikva Honig-Parnass and Amnon Noiman as they tackle their denial of their actions in the war. The film also tells the story of the director, an Israeli who grew up in the Ariel settlement in the West Bank, but as an adult began to realize the problems of the Israeli Occupation for the Palestinians. The film was shot over the course of five years and premiered at the First International Independent Film Festival in Tel Aviv.
Lia Tarachansky follows the transformation of Israeli veterans trying to uncover their denial of the war that changed the region forever. She then turns the camera on herself and travels back to her settlement where that historical erasure gave birth to a new generation, blind and isolated from its surroundings. Attempting to shed a light on the country's biggest taboo, she is met with outrage and violence.
The filmmaker will introduce the film amd do a Q & A after the screening. This special director's screening with Tarachansky presented by LA Jews for Peace and the Levantine Cultural Center, with support from JVP-LA. New Voices in Middle Eastern Cinema with support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
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.
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