On Saturday, December 6th, 2014, the Levantine Cultural Center will hold its East-West Awards Gala, once again at the Beverly Hill's Women's Club. The East-West Awards recognize the sustained efforts of outstanding individuals working in the United States to bridge political and religious divides that may exist between Americans and the Middle East/North Africa, whether through media, peace activism or interfaith unity.
The full program includes a red-carpet reception and silent auction, live music, comedy, dinner and the awards ceremony. Distinguished honorees will be honored for significant contributions in cultural diplomacy, relationship-building, interfaith alliances, and peace activism. Previous honorees include Ms. Zainab Al-Suweij, Dr. Reza Aslan, Rabbi Leonard Beerman, Ms. Bana Hilal, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Ms. Jodie Evans and Ms. Roxana Saberi.
All proceeds will benefit the Levantine Cultural Center, a 501(c)3 founded 13 years ago as a grassroots nonprofit organization that champions a greater understanding of the Middle East/North Africa and our communities in diaspora.
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.
Every year, right before the Memorial Day weekend, I find myself in a quandary: Am I supposed to remember only the American fallen—the soldiers and officers killed in battle around the world? What of the millions of foreign civilians and soldiers our bombs and other munitions have killed since 1945? My thinking here begins with 1945 because that was the year that saw the end of World War II, the deadliest war in history, and the year that the United Nations was founded to secure world peace, yet 1945 proved to be the dawn of the American empire.
Is it right, on Memorial Day, to remember only our own?
Let's go back to the 1950-1953 war between South and North Korea. That was a conflict that cost the lives of over a million Koreans, with the U.S. sustaining 33,686 battle deaths.
In our war with Vietnam, 1955-1975, the Vietnamese government has estimated that some three million civilians and soldiers died. We dropped almost 8 million tons of munitions across Vietnam and neighboring Laos and Cambodia—more bombs than we dropped on Germany and Japan in WW II combined.
According to an article published last year in The World Post, "an estimated 800,000 tons failed to detonate, contaminating around 20 percent of [Vietnam's] land. More than 100,000 people have been killed or injured since 1975, the government says."
What shaped the C.I.A., and how does the agency play a role in our foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa? On Thursday, March 6, the Levantine Cultural Center presents a public forum and book signing with intelligence historian Hugh Wilford and former C.I.A. case officer Robert Baer, in conversation about the history of the agency's Arabists and the direction of U.S. Middle East foreign policy, particularly with respect to Israel, Iran and Syria. The discussion will be moderated by journalist and political commentator Robert Scheer. The program is made possible in part by Truthdig and LA Jews for Peace. KPFK 90.7 FM Pacifica Radio is a media sponsor.
What shaped the C.I.A., and how does the agency play a role in our foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa? The Levantine Cultural Center presents a public forum and book signing with intelligence historian Hugh Wilford and former C.I.A. case officer Robert Baer, in conversation about the history of the agency's Arabists and the direction of U.S. Middle East foreign policy, particularly with respect to Israel, Iran and Syria. The discussion will be moderated by journalist and political commentator Robert Scheer. The program is made possible in part by Truthdig and LA Jews for Peace. KPFK Pacifica Radio 90.7 FM is a media sponsor.
Hugh Wilford's new book is America's Great Game, The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East. Robert Baer is a former CIA case officer who served everywhere from Iraq to the former Soviet Union. (The 2005 film Syriana, starring George Clooney, was an adaptation of several of his books about the intelligence world.) Baer is the author of See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism; Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude; and The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower. Robert Scheer is the editor-in-chief of the online news magazine Truthdig and a regular commentator on KCRW's Left, Right and Center.
Limited seating for this long-running and inspired comedy show-come enjoy a healthy dose of comic relief, laugh about life and the Middle East with one of L.A's hottest comedy troupes, the Sultans
a mural project including life-size portraits of all the greats
The Levantine Cultural Center has unveiled The HEROES OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA mural initiative, which proposes to create a large mural depicting cultural icons such as Rumi, Khalil Gibran, Fairuz, Naguib Mahfouz and other poets, writers, filmmakers, musicians and artists who are symbols of peace through the arts.
"A truly incredible story," says Ira Glass of This American Life. Kirk Johnson is the author of To Be a Friend Is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind, a moving, hard-hitting book about the plight of Iraqis who worked—often as interpreters—with the US Army and its affiliates. A memoir and a call to action, the book details his work in Iraq and his struggle to rescue the Iraqis who risked their lives to help rebuild the country, only to be branded collaborators and marked for assassination after being abandoned by the US.
Writing in the Boston Globe, Rayyan Al-Shawaf notes, "Part memoir, part impassioned plea, Johnson's book traces his experiences in Iraq, his personal breakdown, and his struggle to rescue the legions of young, idealistic Iraqis left behind by US administrations plagued by post-9/11 paranoia and gridlock. Because militants continue to kill such people despite the US withdrawal, it is difficult to imagine a book more urgent than this."
Johnson will discuss his book and his organization, The List Project to resettle Iraqi allies. This event is a benefit for the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Levantine Cultural Center, two nonprofits that champion literacy. More.
Limited seating for this long-running and inspired comedy show—come enjoy a healthy dose of comic relief, laugh about life and the Middle East with one of L.A's hottest comedy troupes, the Sultans of Satire, in a special performance featuring headliner Tehran SoParvaz. Hosted by Sheno Khal, this show features Paul Elia, Nasry Malak, Zara Mizrahi and Eman Morgan.
The Levantine Cultural Center presents WE ARE IRAQIS, a literary and music tribute for Iraqis and their friends devoted to the beauty of Iraq's culture, in memory of Sufi music maestro Saadoun Al-Bayati, who left earth on July 25, 2013. Authors/editors/contributors of three new or recent books will perform readings. Deborah Al-Najjar and a designated actor (TBA) will introduce us to the anthology We Are Iraqis, while poets Dima Hilal and Sholeh Wolpé will read from the anthology Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here; and novelist Leslie Cockburn will present her exciting new novel, Baghdad Solitaire. Refreshments will be provided and a live musical tribute to Saadoun Al-Bayati will follow the readings. All welcome, but space limited and reservations are strongly suggested, 323.413.2001. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
The Levantine Cultural Center would like to thank and acknowledge the support of Dr. Yasin Al-Khalesi, Barbara Al-Bayati, and Poets & Writers, without whom WE ARE IRAQIS would not be possible.