We are raising funds for our project "Heroes of the Middle East & North Africa." This initiative proposes to create a large mural depicting cultural icons such as Rumi, Khalil Gibran, Fairuz, Naguib Mahfouz and other poets, writers, filmmakers, musicians and artists who are symbols of peace through the arts.
The "Heroes" mural is an educational experience and an anti-war statement that intends to humanize the Middle East and North Africa, following on the heels of the Arab Spring. The mural will be completed early in 2014 and will grace the wall of the Levantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
September 20, 2013|Alternet|Jordan Elgrably
Every now and then a little sunshine breaks through, and Palestinians enjoy the light. Thanks to occasional complex portrayals in film, television and documentary reporting, they become real people with a cause we can all relate to, seeking justice and freedom.
That was true of the Palestinian characters in Steven Spielberg's Munich (2005), who weren't cardboard villains, but human beings. It was even more apparent the same year in Hany Abu-Assad's Paradise Now, which was the first Palestinian film to land an Oscar nomination and win a Golden Globe. In Paradise Now, we empathized with West Bank youth and understood what could drive them to consider becoming human bombs. In 2009, Cherien Dabis brought the Palestinian struggle to America with her film Amreeka, about a single mother from Ramallah, who gets her teenage son out so he'll have a future.
Join us when we present our Middle East book booth and welcome authors Shohreh Aghdashloo, Hussein Banai, Kitty Pilgrim and others at the West Hollywood Book Fair, celebrating its 12th edition on Sunday, September 29th. We will also feature a MIddle East drum circle with frame drums, led by Rowan Storm, along with artist Adnan Hussein. This year's festival will feature literature, art, music, performance and community in an eclectic presentation. The program will welcome treasured Southern California literary luminary, T.C. Boyle, who will present his brand-new collected stories. The ever-entertaining Boyle is sure to be a Book Fair highlight. Many other terrific writers will perform and discuss new and recently published works, including Debbie Reynolds, William Friedkin, Lynda Obst, Victoria Chang, Aaron Hartzler, D.H. Pelligro, Veronica Reyes, and many more to be announced.
By Jordan Elgrably
It's time for a new vision of what it means to be Palestinian—one that celebrates the nation's creativity, imagination and resourcefulness.
In 2013, Palestinians in Gaza live under siege, with their airport destroyed, no access to international sea lanes, and land entrances controlled by Israel and Egypt. Palestinians in the West Bank hardly fare much better, as they must negotiate hundreds of checkpoints daily to get to work and school. West Bank water resources are controlled by the military government under whose occupation Palestinians live, and they pay double the cost for restricted quantities, to say nothing of the many Jewish settlement blocs interspersed throughout the West Bank provided with military protection, superior roads, and cheap access to water—facts on the ground that make peace improbable.
By Jordan Elgrably
Recently, I had the rare pleasure of experiencing Monajat—a concert by the American Iranian Jewish singer, composer and cultural anthropologist Galeet Dardashti. Monajat took place on the campus of UCLA, in the Fowler Museum's Lenoir Auditorium. It was an unexpected fusion of Persian classical singing, piyutim (Hebrew spiritual chanting in a poetic mode), Arab and Persian instrumentation, and jazz-like jamming. The concert was bathed in video projections (prepared by Dmitry Kmelnitsky and Lustre) behind the musicians and on two sides of the audience. The immersion in Iranian and Jewish culture—and Arab and American world music culture—was total.
Dr. Jack Shaheen has been shattering Arab stereotypes in American popular culture since 1975.
"When I watch a movie and the bad guy's not an Arab, I'm relieved," Dr. Jack Shaheen admitted to his audience at Los Angeles' Levantine Cultural Center during a talk in late December. He grinned, and the audience chuckled a bit, but sadly, his sentiment was sincere.
By Estee Chandler
When I sat down with The Gatekeepers director Dror Moreh, he seemed excited, perhaps even optimistic about the upcoming Academy Awards, however he is openly pessimistic about the future of Israel. There is no doubt that his fears for the future of his country are what led him to take on the project of getting the six living former heads of Shin Bet-Israel's domestic security service-to be interviewed for a documentary film.
By Nile El Wardani
Today marked the second anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution that continues to wage on with the same chants "Leave Leave"- this time directed against the new undemocratically elected President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Undemocratic, because the political system was rigged from the first round of elections, which was never reported by CNN.
CNN's coverage of Egypt has been and continues to be misleading, insufficient and biased. This does not allow the millions of CNN audiences worldwide to understand fully the true picture of what is going on in Egypt.
Remember the days when we used to actually write letters, and receive them in the mail? Didn't you appreciate the sensory pleasure of handling good old-fashioned paper with the smell of ink?
We are very pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of our new print newsletter—the Levantine Letter! It will bring you news, views and calendar listings for each quarter. We hope that you will as a member, or subscriber, enjoy receiving the Letter as much as most of us love getting letters in the mail.
By Omid Arabian
Awards season is upon us again, and two of the most lauded films of the year deal with American involvement in the Middle East. At the top of seemingly everyone's list is Zero Dark Thirty—an account of the CIA's hunt for Osama Bin Laden, as told by director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal (Oscar winners for 2009's The Hurt Locker). The film has dusted up a sandstorm of controversy, with various politicians outraged by its suggestion that torturing prisoners was instrumental in the eventual discovery and capture of Bin Laden. On the critical front, however, the film is being almost unanimously praised for (among other things) its unflinching, objective, bias-free approach to historical events. As if such a thing were possible.