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!
In conjunction with the new exhibition War and People: Art, Exile and the Middle East, four Southern California-based poets read from two recent collections of poetry, Dear Darwish and With Our Eyes Wide Open, that explore the effects of war and exile on people in South Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.
With Our Eyes Wide Open: Poems of the New American Century, focuses on the impact of recent wars on populations around the world specially the U.S. wars in Southeast Asia (Vietnam etc.), Central America, and the Middle East. This international anthology of poetry explores the impact of the United States in wars as well as upon the "nobodies"-outcasts, immigrants, the working class: "They [the poets]...represent an emerging poetic consciousness which is helping todefine and shape the imagination and language of the 21st Century." Using a call-and-response pattern, the poems look at the impact of the United States' wars in Korea, Vietnam, Central American, and Iraq on lives. Vietnamese-American poet Teresa Mei Chuc, and Julia Stein read from their own poems. Dima Hilal, a Lebanese American will read her work. We will also read some of the Middle Eastern poets in the anthology from Turkey, Oman, Egyptian-American, Morocco, Iraq, and Chechnya.
Read reviews of With Eyes Wide Open here and in Counterpunch here.
Levantine Cultural Center presents for the first time in Los Angeles, Ramy Essam live in concert and a public conversation. Essam is the Egyptian revolutionary rocker whose song "Irhal" contributed to the uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power, and who is featured in Jehane Noujaim's acclaimed documentary, The Square. He's recognized as perhaps the single most important musical artist of the Arab Spring.
This month Essam will undertake his first North American tour, with stops in NYC, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Seattle and Vancouver. His show at the Levantine Center will mark a landmark appearance at the Levantine Center. "I have known of the work of the Levantine Center even from Egypt, and I can't imagine any other place to make my first West Coast concert than with them," Essam declared when the concert was confirmed. This will truly be a special event and Essam will perform not only his revolutionary hits, but also newly written and recorded material dealing with the student protests and ongoing harassment, jailings and worse of revolutionary activists, including many of his friends. He will also talk about his experiences the last three years and what he sees as the best path forward for Egypt in this difficult period. Listen/watch Ramy Essam on YouTube.
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).
SNACK & BEVERAGE MENU: Moroccan bastilla (homemade pies), cheese fatayer, spinach fatayer and sandwiches, everything served with a little side of salad. Soft drinks and hot maté tea!
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, 1961 Irvine Blvd, Tustin, CA 92780. Buy tickets for Oct. 26 show here.
What do we understand about contemporary Egypt now after several years have passed since the Tahrir Square Revolution of 2011? With the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the election of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi, his ouster and the subsequent takeover of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and the imposition of General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as Egypt's new president, the landscape continues to rumble beneath Egyptian feet.
Egyptian-born French American novelist Juliana Maio has written a novel, City of the Sun, that connects many of the roots of today's turmoil to World War II, with the Axis-Allied struggle for control of the Suez Canal, and the early history of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Drawing from her Egyptian-Jewish heritage and personal experience as a refugee and immigrant, Maio's City of the Sun delivers a powerful story with a host of intriguing characters, from spies to scientists within Cairo's Jewish community. The novel follows Mickey Connolly, an American journalist who is in Cairo to report on the war in North Africa in 1941. Mixing true historical events with a fictional story of love and espionage, Maio creates a poignant tale, while painting an accurate portrait of a pivotal moment in history.
Ms. Maio will present her novel at the Levantine Cultural Center in conversation with Egyptian-born political science professor Nubar Hovsepian, on Thursday, Oct. 2, 7 pm. All welcome for what is sure to be a scintillating conversation linking Egypt's past and its relationships with the United States, Israel and the Palestinians with today's current events. Visit Juliana Maio's web site. Cover $10 or $15 with signed copy of the book. Café open for dinner as of 6 pm.
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.
In this series, Mohamed Khedr marries impressionism techniques with his expressionist interpretations to capture emotion, sound, and scents in a way that other artists have rarely attempted. When you look at the paintings, you don't just see a magnificent use of color and talent, you are also transported into the scene where you can feel the wind, hear the commotion, smell the environment.