By Jordan Elgrably
Following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the end of the Second World War, the map of the Middle East and North Africa has been rewritten by colonialism, war and internecine conflict.
Whether the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the 1980-1988 war between Iraq and Iran, the first and second Gulf War in Iraq, the invasions of Afghanistan, or the Lebanese Civil War, millions of people have been displaced. Millions more have seen their lives changed forever with the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria that began in 2010.
In the 21st century, it is easy for us to forget that World War I was said to be "the war to end all wars." Here I am, writing on the 100th anniversary of that brutal conflagration that killed over 15 million combatants and civilians in Europe.
The Levantine Cultural Center presents its flagship comedy show, the Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief, to celebrate peace and benefit a new cultural arts center for the Middle East/North Africa, opening in 2015. Come enjoy this long-running and inspired comedy show for a healthy dose of satire and universal humor, laugh about life and the Middle East with one of L.A's hottest comedy troupes. Hosted by the outrageous Tehran (Iran/U.S.) and headlined by Palestinian American Aron Kader (Comedy Central's Axis of Evil), this show features six of the funniest young comedians on the circuit today. With Sammy Obeid, Marie-Thérèse Abou-Daoud, Melissa Shoshahi and Sherwin Arae.
Find out why the Sultans of Satire are a riot, relieve stress, celebrate peace with fans of the Levantine Cultural Center, presenting arts and education programs on the Middle East and North Africa across Southern California since 2001. Your ticket purchases and program ad support will help re-establish the Levantine Cultural Center in a new facility opening Summer 2015. Read our Capital Campaign plan here. Download the gift form here and become a Founder of the new Center.
For tickets to the 12/13/14 comedy show, go here. More info.
[img_assist|nid=19120|title=12/13 comedy gala supports a culture of peace|desc=|link=url|url=Support a culture of peace, not the war industry. Help us keep the flame alive!
Directed by Laila Marrakchi (Morocco 2013, 100 minutes) with a powerhouse Arab cast that includes Hiam Abbass, Lubna Azabal, Nadine Labaki and Marjana Alaoui, ROCK THE CASBAH is a family drama set one summer in Tangiers. A family comes together for three days, following the death of the family patriarch. Swapping their swimsuits for djellabias, emotions run particularly high, when the youngest daughter Sofia, arrives from New York. Sofia, an actress in the United States, has settled into a new life, away from her family. As the order once maintained by the deceased father breaks down and unravels, the women of the family are forced to face certain harsh truths. Buy tickets.
Founded in 1996, the Arab Film Festival is the largest independent annual showcase of Arab films and filmmakers in the country. The festival has an international standing and is considered one of the most important Arab film festivals outside the Arab world. It strives to present the best contemporary films that provide insight into the beauty, complexity and diversity of the Arab world alongside realistic perspectives on Arab people, culture, art, history and politics.
Rock the Casbah is copresented by the Women's Film Institute and the Levantine Cultural Center.
We are especially pleased to present our November 2014 line-up to you. As you know, we founded the Levantine Cultural Center during the summer of 2001, dedicating ourselves to a cultural and community center that champions a greater understanding of the Middle East and North Africa, from Afghanistan/Pakistan in the east to Morocco in the west. We are also dedicated to exploring our communities in diaspora. To rsvp for any of these programs, simply email email@example.com, or call 323.413.2001.
The Inside/Outside Gallery is pleased to present the first American solo show for Egyptian master painter Mohamed Khedr, featuring 40 works on canvas and paper, Oct 4-Oct.26, 2014, with an extended closing reception on Sunday, Nov. 16, 5-7 pm, at 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035.
Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10 am-6 pm, and Sat/Sun by appointment only, 310.657.5511. The work is also on view evenings during scheduled events, on Nov. 5 and 6.
Nov. 5: On the Side of the Road a new documentary presented by director Lia Tarachansky that examines the 1948 Nakba-the expulsion of Palestinians from the emerging state of Israel-from the perspective of Israelis.
Nov. 6: Gaza and the Arab Jewish Divide, a talk by anthropologist-author and Professor Smadar Lavie, author of Wrapped In the Flag of Israel, who finds that there is a direct correlation between social protest movements in Israel, Ashkenazi-Mizrahi relations, and attacks on Gaza.
Nov. 7-9: The Arab Film Festival presents multiple features and documentaries at the Harmony Gold, with support from the Levantine Cultural Center.
Nov. 10: Sacred Spaces in Syria: Stories, Music and Discussion. Presented by Jason Hamacher, widely traveled in Syria and other regions of the Middle East, who discusses his experiences. Hamacher will play selections from his "Sacred Voices of Syria" series, and show photos from a forthcoming book. He is an internationally recognized musician, photographer, writer and public speaker (NPR, Aljazeera, Smithsonian).
Nov. 15: Muslims Who Combat Fundamentalism Around the World, a talk by the Algerian American professor at Stanford, Karima Bennoune, author of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here. (An afternoon salon in a private home in Orange County, by reservation only.)
Nov. 21, War and People: Art, Exile and the Middle East, a new exhibition,focuses on contemporary art and artifacts gathered from artists, war refugees and their children. The exhibit focuses on the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Israel-Palestine Wars of 1948 and 1967, the Lebanon Civil War (1975-1990), and the Syrian War (2011-2014), and also includes two performance lectures. Artists include Melissa Chimera, Dorit Cypis, John Halaka, Kinda Hibrawi, Khalid Hussein and Kaveh Keshmiri.
Nov. 25: Ramy Essam Live in Los Angeles, concert & public conversation with the Egyptian revolutionary rocker whose song "Erhal" help drive Hosni Mubarak from power, and who is featured in Jehane Noujaim's acclaimed documentary, The Square.
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.
Nathan Deuel is the author of Friday Was the Bomb, Five Years in the Middle East—a memoir about an American family that struggles to find stability in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey amidst political upheaval and personal dilemmas. Deuel will present Friday Was the Bomb at the Levantine Cultural Center on Thursday, Oct. 9, 7 pm. Listen to an NPR interview with Nathan Deuel.
In 2008, Deuel, a former editor at Rolling Stone and The Village Voice, and his wife, a National Public Radio foreign correspondent, moved to the deeply Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to see for themselves what was happening in the Middle East. There they had a daughter, and later, while his wife filed reports from Baghdad and Syria, car bombs erupted and one night a firefight raged outside the family's apartment in Beirut. Their marriage strained, and they struggled with the decision to stay or go home.
At once a meditation on fatherhood, an unusual memoir of a war correspondent's spouse, and a first-hand account from the front lines of the most historic events of recent days—the Arab Spring, the end of the Iraq war, and the unrest in Syria—Friday Was The Bomb is a searing collection of timely and absorbing essays.
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.
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.
With Nahla Kayali, Anthony Saidy, Nagwa Ibrahim, Cheryl Faris and Bassam Marjya, moderator Don Bustany. A panel on refugees, exiles and immigrants from the Arab world discusses integration and assimilation.
This two-part program features a discussion with an early generation of Arab Americans, Anthony Saidy and Cheryl Faris, talking about their parents and grandparents arrival in the United States, and the history of social and cultural contributions that Arab Americans have made, particularly in California (Cousins Club, ADC, KPFK, etc). The second half of the discussion will be with a newer generation of Arab immigrants to California. Nahla Kayali, Nagwa Ibrahim and others will talk about how they reinvented their lives in Southern California. This exploration of history, culture and identity intends to demystify Arab and Arab American society, defuse Islamophobia, and build new bridges among all our communities. The event is free and open to the public. Donations are welcome. Refreshments will be served.
RSVPs welcome, 323.413.2001. "The New Americans: Arabs in California," Levantine Cultural Center, 5998 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90035.