The Levantine Cultural Center (LCC) showcases a new exhibition, War and People: Art, Exile and the Middle East, focused 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 a spoken word evening, "Poets on War and People" on Dec. 4, 2014. More here. Artists include Melissa Chimera, Fadia Afashe, John Halaka, Kinda Hibrawi, Khalid Hussein and Kaveh Keshmiri.
Featuring a mix of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish artists and contributors, the exhibition and its related events present an intriguing dialogue between art, artists and their audiences, providing a forum for contrasting perspectives, such as how Iraqi and Iranian artists remember the 1980-1988 war.
Originally scheduled to open November 1, 2014, the exhibition opens with a reception for the artists on November 21, and runs through December 31, 2014. War and People is a featured exhibition in the LA Islam Arts Initiative.
A related program, "Poets on War and People" takes place Dec. 4, 2014. More info here.
Curator Jordan Elgrably is a writer/editor and producer, who has presented dozens of art exhibitions, concerts, literary programs, and theatre, film, and public conversations on the cultures of the Middle East and North Africa.
Critics of Islam ask why Muslims themselves don't speak out often enough against extremism. The Levantine Cultural Center and Bana Hilal invite you to a salon, "When People of Muslim Heritage Challenge Fundamentalism," the subject of law professor Karima Bennoune's prize-winning book, and her Ted talk (March 2014). Of course, many Muslims like the young Malala Yousafzai and countless others around the world oppose Islamic fundamentalism, but they rarely make the news. Karima Bennoune, a native of Algeria, is a human rights lawyer and UC Davis law professor. Her book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism, just won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for 2014. It was named one of the top ten books of the year on religion and spirituality by Booklist, the magazine of the American Library Association. Read an excerpt on how Muslim artists battle fundamentalism.
Watch Karima Bennoune's Ted talk.
"Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here should be required reading, not only for those of us who are professionally involved with Muslim-majority societies, but also for anyone who mistakenly believes that Muslims are doing nothing to end fundamentalist violence." —Rachel Newcomb, The Washington Post
On the Side of the Road is an Israeli documentary film written and directed by Lia Tarachansky that focuses on Israeli collective denial of the events of 1948 that led to the country's independence and the Palestinian refugee problem. It follows war veterans Tikva Honig-Parnass and Amnon Noiman as they tackle their denial of their actions in the war. The film also tells the story of the director, an Israeli who grew up in the Ariel settlement in the West Bank, but as an adult began to realize the problems of the Israeli Occupation for the Palestinians. The film was shot over the course of five years and premiered at the First International Independent Film Festival in Tel Aviv.
Lia Tarachansky follows the transformation of Israeli veterans trying to uncover their denial of the war that changed the region forever. She then turns the camera on herself and travels back to her settlement where that historical erasure gave birth to a new generation, blind and isolated from its surroundings. Attempting to shed a light on the country's biggest taboo, she is met with outrage and violence.
The filmmaker will introduce the film amd do a Q & A after the screening. This special director's screening with Tarachansky presented by LA Jews for Peace and the Levantine Cultural Center, with support from JVP-LA. New Voices in Middle Eastern Cinema with support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
One of the biggest uncovered stories in the Middle East is the chasm between Israel's Euro-American Jewish population (Ashkenazim), and the Jews from the Arab/Muslim world, the Mizrahim. Deep-rooted racism continues to play a role in Israeli society between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim (sometimes called Sephardic Jews). Indeed, often there is a direct relationship between how Israel treats the Palestinians and the way Israeli society stratifies its own Jewish population, with Ashkenazim occupying more seats in the Knesset and more overall government control now than at any time since 1977, according to anthropologist and Professor Smadar Lavie.
Smadar Lavie suggests that there is a direct correlation between social protest movements in Israel, Ashkenazi-Mizrahi relations, and attacks on Gaza. Her talk will address Gaza 2014 and the Mizrahi predicament, right-wing politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Author most recently of Wrapped in the Flag of Israel, Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture, Smadar Lavie is a Scholar in Residence at the Beatrice Bain Research Center, UC Berkeley's feminists of color think tank, and at the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century, University College Cork (Ireland). Her book looks at the role of gender in the Mizrahi-Ashkenazi divide with particular emphasis on how Mizrahi women (whose roots are in Arab countries, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East) navigate right-wing politics in Israel, noting that many Mizrahim vote for right-wing parties.
Professor Lavie will give a rare talk in Los Angeles on the relationship between the Mizrahi-Ashkenazi divide and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, on Thursday, Nov. 6, 7 pm. Book signing and reception to follow.
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.
Many times we have heard the question, "Where are the peaceful Palestinian protesters, who advocate for their cause non-violently?" Infrequently profiled in the mainstream media, such Palestinian activists are legion. Like Bi'lin peacemaker Emad Burnat—who made the fabled doc 5 Broken Cameras—Bassem al-Tamimi (Arabic: باسم التميمي, born c. 1967) is one such Palestinian activist. He is an organizer of protests against Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. He was convicted by an Israeli military court in 2011 for "sending people to throw stones, and holding a march without a permit." Tamimi's lawyers denied those charges saying, "He believes in passive resistance and says he never asked anyone to throw stones."
Jewish Voice for Peace-Los Angeles and the Levantine Cultural Center present this program in an on-going series of talks that examine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Past speakers include Leila El-Haddad, Eran Efrati, Sami Shalom Chetrit, Ghada Karmi, Laila Al-Marayati, Miko Peled, Basem Ra'ad, David Sheen and many more.
The class is designed to familiarize children ages 2-5 with the Persian language and culture through music and play. Each ninety minute class will be conducted completely in Farsi, and will include: (1) a Persian story time; (2) a craft inspired by Persian folklore or culture; (3) music and song; and (4) free play. Children will also be provided with a Persian snack in all classes.
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.
Join the Levantine Cultural Center for a West Coast production of Dear Armen, an audience-interactive theatre experience inspired by the life of Armen Ohanian, an enigmatic Armenian performe