Join a coalition of concerned Americans on the Middle East when Ziad Abu-Rish presents a talk on revolution in Egypt and Syria in the series "Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and US Foreign Policy in the Middle East," Thursday, Sept. 19, 7 - 9 pm at the Levantine Cultural Center.
Abu-Rish's presentation will explore the different trajectories of the "uprising" in two countries, Egypt and Syria. How was it that Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 18 days of largely non-violent protests, while Bashar al-Asad continues to hold on to power despite over two years of protests turned armed insurgency? How do we make sense of the recent popularly-backed toppling of Egypt's first democratically elected president, and the confrontations that have ensured since? Is "international intervention" a solution to the dire crisis in Syria? These are some of the questions that will be explored in the hopes of better understanding the nature of authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Syria, the bottom-up movements that sought to dislodge them, and the complexities and transformations these movements have since encountered.
The Levantine Cultural Center supports the "Walk-Ins Welcome" documentary from young director Faisal Attrache, and we invite you to join us in supporting the project with your tax-deductible contributions and word-of-mouth assistance. Over the course of the last two years, the crisis in Syria has killed over 100,000 people. More than two million people have fled their native land and seek refuge in neighboring countries. As these figures continue to multiply daily, we lose sight of individual suffering, instead absorbed by the sheer, and increasingly abstract, multitude of the crisis.
"Walk-Ins Welcome" is a new documentary project from Faisal Attrache that aims to personalize the struggles of these refugees through a narrative focused on the barbers of the Zaatari camp—the second largest refugee camp in the world, in northern Jordan. Shadowing them throughout their day, Attrache will create portraits not just of nameless refugees, but of individuals. A barber serves customers from all walks of life each day and has his pulse on the community. No matter how difficult the situation gets, a person will always be in need of a haircut. When his customers come for a shave or a haircut, they are engaging in an act of maintaining normality, when life is anything but normal. Visit the web site.
By Dick Platkin
The other night I happened to catch a screening of the documentary The Suffering Grasses at the Levantine Cultural Center. The 1-hr film directed by Iara Lee (Cultures of Resistance) primarily reveals the Syrian civil war from the viewpoint of non-government forces, including the Free Syrian Army. A major point of the documentary is that Syrian civilians, particularly children and women, have suffered the most during this armed conflict, largely at the hands of the Assad regime.
A year and a half on, with more than 30,000 dead and counting, the ongoing conflict in Syria has become a microcosm for the complicated politics of the region. Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, this film by Iara Lee (Cultures of Resistance) explores the Syrian civil war through the humanity of the civilians who have been killed, abused, and displaced to the squalor of refugee camps. In all such conflicts, large and small, it is civilians—women and children, families and whole communities—who suffer at the leisure of those in power. Read an op-ed on Syria by Iara Lee. This screening event is cosponsored in part by CODE PINK Women for Peace and repeats on Thurs., Dec. 6 at 7:30 pm. Syrian exiles, actor Jihad Abdo and artist Fadia Afashe will join us to speak about the film and realities on the ground. Read a new view of The Suffering Grasses.
The Inside/Outside Gallery presents a new one-woman show by Syrian artist Fadia Afashe. At a time when thousands of lives have been lost in the struggle for Syria's future, Afashe's paintings express the desire for peace and hope.
By Eve Chayes Lyman
Was that the heart of Syria that came beating into a small hushed room in West LA's Levantine Center on July 15? I felt it throbbing inside of me, ushered in by the ringing words of Dr. Mohja Kahf, a Syrian American poetess from Arkansas, who read her work in a benefit performance as part of an initiative to raise funds for a brave new project, Syrian Freedom Waves, a radio station that will broadcast from a ship in International Waters off the shores of Syria, attempt to penetrate the media censorship and counteract the propaganda and lies churned out by the Syrian State media.
Directors Julia Meltzer & Laura Nix will present the L.A. premiere of their film (58 minutes, 2012) The Light in Her Eyes, on Thurs., June 14, 7:30 pm (7 pm doors) at the Levantine Cultural Center. The screening includes a panel with Meltzer, Nix Maria Khani and Jennie Pasquarella (ACLU). The film was completed just prior to the beginning of the Syrian uprising after the filmmakers spent time in Damascus. This special screening will benefit MATAR*, a Syrian women's group. Seating limited, RSVP to 323.413.2001.
Samir Twair, Syrian activist, journalist and correspondent for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, spoke at the Levantine Center on Sunday, November 6, 2011, about the history of and current situation in Syria.
The talk was one in the series "Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East," sponsored jointly by the Levantine Center, LA Jews for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Friends of Sabeel Los Angeles and Orange County.
Omar Souleyman is one of Syria's most popular street singers. The timing couldn't be better for this rare US tour. His latest album "Jazeera" is getting attention even as protesters are changing Syria's image abroad. The Arabic word "jazeera" means "island" or "peninsula" in English, but it seems unlikely that the people at Souleyman's label, Sublime Frequencies, were going for something as Malibu breezy as "Island Nights" for the title of this compilation.
Even though many Americans and Europeans are aware of the distortions and exaggerations some Western media outlets have made about Arabic news network Al Jazeera, the bugaboo surrounding the word feels as if it will limit this album's audience. That's unfortunate, because Jazeera Nights: Folk and Pop Sounds of Syria is probably the most dynamic collection of Omar Souleyman's work that Sublime Frequencies has yet released.