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.
Since the civil war began in 2010, Syria has seen some of the worst fighting in its history.
Jason Hamacher, widely traveled in Syria and other regions of the Middle East, will talk about his experiences, play selections from his "Sacred Voices of Syria" series, and show photos f
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
The Syrian American Council and the Levantine Cultural Center with support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association present a special screening of Return to Homs, by director Talal Derki. Notes the New York Times of the film, ""Like its heroes, we are pulled into the conflict with frenzied immediacy as we experience one city, the dreaded rites of passage of two friends, and ultimately an entire nation torn apart by the fog of war." And The Hollywood Reporter comments: "Scenes in which the rebels run from house to house, firing on their opponents through holes knocked into the walls, tap veins of adrenalin which Hollywood blockbusters can only dream of finding. A sober, sobering bulletin of unambiguous intention and undeniable power." Following the screening a discussion will ensue among Syrian Americans and Syrian refugees.
Don't miss this special screening of Return to Homs, on Thursday, Oct. 23, 7:30 pm, brought to you thanks to support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (visit http://goldenglobes.org) and presented by the Syrian American Council, the largest Syrian-American community organization in the United States. The SAC serves to amplify the voice of the Syrian-American Community and is a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional, non-partisan organization that includes members from all segments of Syrian society, with over 22 chapters nationwide. It is an organization devoted to community organizing, awareness-raising, youth empowerment, media outreach, advocacy, and support for Syrians seeking to build a free and democratic Syria.
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.
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.