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.
This month Southern California saw the opening of an exhibition organized by the Arab American National Museum (AANM) in Dearborn. Patriots & Peacemakers: Arab Americans in Service to Our Country opened on the campus of University of California, Irvine on Jan. 5 and there was a special reception for the Orange County community on Jan.13, organized by the Southern California Friends of the AANM. Also on Jan. 13, Gregory Orfalea, author of The Arab Americans: A History, presented the workshop "A Hundred Years Angeleno." A native of Los Angeles of Syrian and Lebanese ancestry, Orfalea's most recent book is Angeleno Days: an Arab American Writer on Family, Place and Politics. Following Orfalea, JPL scientist and musician Sami Asmar, founder of Turath.org, presented a musical demonstration of Arab music with several musician friends.
My review of The General's Son, by Miko Peled, cannot be separated from what I've come to know about the author. After all, this book is about Peled's own life, and his journey to a new understanding of the conflict that has defined so many of our lives. It is a narrative of the author's transformation from an ardent Zionist, born into a revered military Israeli family, to a human rights activist and advocate of a single binational state.
I started watching "Homeland" because I was bored. All of my favorite shows were coming to a (season's) end, and I needed something new to watch. I'm drawn to smart scripted dramas, but I was immediately suspicious of the show when I learned that its creators (Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa) were also the ones behind "24," the Fox drama that somehow became the chief piece of evidence for the effectiveness of torture and was a favorite of Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. But I kept an open mind and was riveted by the first episode, which laid out the intriguing mystery: Is Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) the POW who's been turned against his country by al-Qaida and its leader, the nefarious Abu Nazir? Soon CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Clare Danes) is seen spying on Brody and family in scenes reminiscent of the Stasi's voyeurism in the Academy Award-winning film The Lives of Others.
The Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival (LAWTF) presents its star-studded Emerald Anniversary, "A Perfect 20!" marking 20 years producing close to 500 extraordinary multicultural and multi-disciplined solo performers from around the globe. The LAWTF presents performances March 21-24 at the Renberg Theatre located at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, 1125 McCadden Place, Hollywood, CA 90038. The gala on March 21 will be hosted by Danny Glover and Hattie Winston, and on March 22, 8 pm, Levantine member, actress Cynthia Sophiea, will perform her play Everyone Has Tears. Accompanied by Arabic music, an Arab American woman faces the challenges of being Lebanese and Palestinian in America. She gives voices to those rarely heard. Reservations, 818.760.0408. Visit the Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival web site at http://www.lawtf.com.