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.
Author most recently of Wrapped in the Flag of Israel, Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture, Smadar Lavie is Scholar in Residence, Beatrice Bain Research Group, University of California, Berkeley and at the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century, University College Cork (Ireland). Professor Lavie will give a rare talk in Los Angeles on Israelis, Palestinians, and the Arab Jewish divide, on Thursday, Nov. 6, 7 pm.
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.
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.
Friends of the Levantine Cultural Center present a rare evening with celebrated author and blogger Juan Cole (The New Arabs; Engaging the Muslim World), introduced by historian Mark LeVine (Why They Don't Hate Us; One Land, Two States). A delicious sit-down dinner and dessert will be followed by conversation with Professors Cole and LeVine on "the New Arabs," the thesis of Cole's latest book, in relation to the Israel/Palestine question, and the future of the Middle East/North Africa, notably the debate about the supposed demise of Arab civilization, debated recently by Hisham Melham in Politico and Juan Cole with respect to the rise of the Islamic State.
The conversation, followed by a public dialogue engaging the audience, will conclude with a concert of Arab/Egyptian music performed live on kanun by Jim Grippo and on 'oud by Ziyad Marcus. Dinner tickets are $75 per person Patron of the Arts ($40 is tax-deductible) benefitting the new Levantine Cultural Center. Seating is limited to just 40 persons, so advance reservations are strongly advised. Seats are not guaranteed without RSVPs. Call 323.413.2001 or reserve here online.
The Levantine Cultural Center is pleased to present live in concert Omar Faruk Tekbilek & Friends. Omar Faruk Tekbilek is a Turkish virtuoso in the Sufi tradition, musician and composer of many albums, performing on ney, baglama, zurna, percussion and vocals. He will give two concerts only, in Los Angeles and Orange County, on Saturday/Sunday, Oct. 25/26, featuring the talented Hamid Saeidi on santour, the eclectic Chris Wabich on drums and percussion, and the versatile Daniel Mandelman on keyboards. The concert benefits the Levantine Cultural Center, a nonprofit organization opening a new multidiscplinary space to explore the cultures of the Middle East/North Africa in 2015. Watch/listen!
Seating for the Los Angeles concert is limited, we advise reserving your seats early to guarantee attendance: 323.413.2001. $30 general admission, $25 members, students, seniors (if purchased by Oct. 15 only).
For those closer to Orange County, the concert will take place in a more intimate, 80-seat venue, so reservations are strongly advised: Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 7pm, Hoson House, 961 Irvine Blvd, Tustin, CA 92780. Buy tickets for Oct. 26 show here.
"Mars at Sunrise is a thoughtful and inventive look at a seemingly endless war." —Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times
New Voices in Middle Eastern Cinema presents writer-director Jessica Habie's Mars At Sunrise (2013, 75 ms) is the story of a war waged on imagination. A painter's resistance, courage and spirit can never be imprisoned in this highly stylized story of the conflict of two frustrated artists on either side of Israel's militarized borders. Inspired by the creative journey of renowned Palestinian artist in exile Hani Zurob and on true stories and testimonies from the region, we witness expression, confinement, torture, jealousy, courage and freedom as both artists from each culture strive to paint a picture of life surrounded by conflict.
Mars at Sunrise stars Ali Suliman as Khaled, Golden Globe Winner for Best Foreign Film 2005, Paradise Now; Guy El Hanan as Eyal, an Israeli radio personality and an accomplished playwright; and Haale Gafori as Azzadeh, a singer based in Brooklyn and author of the film's original poetry. The soundtrack features six languages (English, Hebrew, Russian, Yiddish, Farsi and Arabic) and was produced by Tamir Muskat of the Balkan Beat Box, and featuring original music by Itamar Ziegler and Mohsen Subhi.
Jessica Habie will participate in a conversation immediately following the screening. This program sponsored in part by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (goldenglobes.org).
$10 general admission/$7 members and students. RSVPS strongly advised as seating is limited: 323.413.2001.
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.
Josh Ruebner, author of the recent Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace (Verso), will discuss how the United States supports Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people, why this policy must change, and how people can organize nonviolent campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to take action. Read a review.
Josh Ruebner is the advocacy director of a national peace organization and former Middle East analyst for the Congressional Research Service. His book Shattered Hopes is written in a clear and accessible style and offers an informed history of the Obama administration's policies while mapping out a true path forward for the United States to help achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. This talk cosponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace-LA.
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.
On Saturday, December 13th, 2014, the Levantine Cultural Center will hold its year-end comedy benefit show with the New Sultans of Satire at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, in Long Beach. With a special tribute to Robin Williams, this evening brings together the top young Middle Eastern comedians at work together, including Aron Kader (Comedy Central's "Axis of Evil"), Tehran, Sammy Obeid, Marie-Thérèse Abou-Daoud, Sherwin Arae and Melissa Shoshahi. The Levantine Cultural will donate a portion of the proceeds to Kinder USA (Kids in Need of Development, Education, and Relief) to help deserving children in Gaza with medical needs following the summer war. The Levantine Cultural Center works to bridge political and religious divides that may exist between Americans and the Middle East/North Africa, by presenting arts and education programs in the spirit of exploration, discovery and unity.
Proceeds 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.