Past Events

Click here to view upcoming events.


  • egypt and liberalism

    • Monday, October 16, 2017 at 12:15 PM
    • UCLA School of Law, Westwood Village, Rm 1447

    Free book talk with authors Dalia Fahmy and Daanish Faruqi and joined by discussant Khaled Abou El Fadl.

    UCLA School of Law
    Location: 1447
    RSVPs here

    In their latest book, Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism, Dalia F. Fahmy and Daanish Faruqi investigate the putative about-face of a critical mass of prominent Egyptian liberal activists and intelligentsia, who despite spending full careers pursuing progressive reform under Mubarak ultimately remained silent in the face of, or outright lent support to, the counterrevolutionary forces that culminated in the military coup of July 2013. Using an interdisciplinary approach, engaging contributors from a wide array of perspectives and orientations, the editors ultimately argue that the latest failures of Egyptian liberals in the context of 2013 are indicative of a broader set of contradictions inherent in the liberal project in Egypt, from its institutional dimensions and frameworks -- from Egyptian party politics, to the judiciary, to civil society organizations—to its ideological and philosophical foundations. In their talk, Fahmy and Faruqi will elaborate on these institutional and philosophical contradictions endemic to Egyptian liberalism, and offer potential correctives for rethinking liberalism in a manner that does sufficient justice to Egyptian social and cultural identity, and that overcomes its elitist and authoritarian proclivities. In so doing, they offer a corrective that goes beyond the confines of Egypt, in addressing the putative limitations of liberal political philosophy more broadly. Their presentation will be of wide interest for those in Law, Islamic Studies, Middle East Studies, Political Science, History, and students of liberal political thought alike.

    ABOUT THE AUTHORS

    Dr. Dalia Fahmy is Associate Professor of Political Science at Long Island University where she teaches courses on US foreign Policy, World Politics, International Relations, Causes of War, and Politics of the Middle East. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Policy in Washington DC. Fahmy’s three books: “The Rise and Fall of The Muslim Brotherhood and the Future of Political Islam” (forthcoming), “Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy” with Daanish Faruqi and “International Relations in a Changing World” with Rhodes and DiCicco cover her research areas. Dr. Fahmy has published several articles in academic journals focusing on democratization and most recently on the affects of Islamophobia on US foreign policy. She has been interviewed by and written editorials in various media outlets including ABC, Al Jazeera, CBC, CNBC, MSNBC, the Huffington Post, the Immanent Frame, and the Washington Post.

    Daanish Faruqi is a doctoral candidate in History at Duke University, and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights (CGHR) at Rutgers University. His work deals with Islamic political thought, and currently focuses on the nexus between Sufi mysticism and political activism. In addition to his work on Egypt, he has research expertises in North Africa (Morocco and Algeria specifically), Israel/Palestine, Syria, and South Asia (Pakistan in particular). Additionally, he has worked extensively on modern Arab political philosophy and intellectual history, and on reformist Islamic thought through the prism of objectives-based legal theory (maqasid al-shari‘ah). A former Fulbright scholar, he has spent several years in the Arab Middle East as a researcher and journalist. In addition to his scholarly work, he regularly writes for the global press, having published in Al Jazeera, Common Dreams, and USC-Annenberg/Religion Dispatches, among other media outlets.
     
  • The Revolution of Art: Kal Naga

    • Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 07:00 PM
    • Occidental College, 1600 Campus Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90041
    • $5.00 USD

    the arts revolution 

    Twitter : @kalnaga 

    The Markaz and Occidental College invite you to a new TEDx-style talk by Kal Naga aka Khaled Abol Naga, on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 7 pm at Occidental College's Choi Auditorium. Seating is limited and we encourage you to RSVP early, below.

    Egypt was at the center of the Arab revolutions in 2010-2011, but many of the artists who became spokespersons for the uprising (or "thawra") can no longer safely work in Egypt, among them Kal Naga. This celebrated actor, producer and director from Egypt, whom we saw in the show TYRANT and who has appeared in many Arab movies, argues that "honest arts" can and should change the world—that the language of cinema, theatre, literature, poetry, painting, graffitti and music can revolutionize the self and our collective cultures.

    Naga held UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador post for Egypt 2007-2015. He's used his credibility and fame as a movie star in the Middle East to advocate for social justice, child rights and freedom of speech. Giving a plethora of TV talk show interviews, Naga has also produced material for social networks that promotes socio-political change. He appeared in Jehane Noujaim’s award-winning documentary about Egypt’s uprising, The Square. He has been actively engaged as an artist for most of his professional life, and during this exclusive Los Angeles presentation, will give Americans insight into Egypt’s thawra (Revolution) and how honest art can galvanize the people while revolutionizing the self. 

    Naga will be introduced by UC Irvine's Omaima El Gammal.

    This program takes place at Occidental College1600 Campus Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90041, in the Choi Auditorium. Parking is free. There is a requested donation of $10/$5 students (Oxy students free).

    Kal NagaMore about Kal Naga

    A multi-award winning actor and feature-film producer, Naga has has collected numerous Best Actor awards from Egypt and other regional and international film festivals since 2001. He’s starred in feature films in Egypt and the Middle East since his first lead role in A Citizen, A Detective & A Thief (2001) by acclaimed director Daoud Abdel Sayed. He is often referred to as The Egyptian Brad Pitt or the new Omar Sharif to the US audience. Kal Naga also appeared in season 3 of US FX TV show TYRANT as a series regular in 2016, will appear as a guest star in The VIKINGS new season 5, in November 2017, and as a recurring role in BBC TV mini series THE LAST POST in 2018.

    Passionate about his country and his people, Naga says Egyptians are very proud of their African roots and adds that there are many lessons that we can learn from the Egypt revolution. He told CNN’s Nima Elbagir: “The power of the people is always stronger than the people in power...It’s time that the people now are realizing that all those dictatorships, all these iron-fist governments, are not helping anybody, not Egypt, not the west.” 

    Naga has carved out a distinctive acting career, and co-produced and starred in the critically-acclaimed Microphone, a movie exploring Egypt's underground art and music scenes. He has a history of spotlighting issues affecting Egyptian youth, championing such causes as HIV awareness, female genital mutilation and the treatment of street children. As he told CNN, "My interest was always to stand by the youth, youth empowerment…It’s an untapped treasure, the youth of Africa, not only the Arab world, because there is a lot of young people there. We need to empower them, protect them, educate them, so that we really have the real development going on.”

    It’s clear that Kal Naga wants to make a difference. He posts his opinions on his blog where he comments regularly on social issues affecting the Arab world. "If I’m honest enough and expressing my opinions about things socially, politically, I feel better about myself and I feel that I can actually be a better artist,” said Naga.

    omaima-sepia-150.jpgOmaima El Gammal

    Omaima El Gammal is an Egyptian American faculty member in Humanities at UC Irvine. Fluent in Arabic, her education, research and pedagogical training in both Comparative Literature and Foreign Language acquisition belie her commitment to interdisciplinary work. After receiving a dual undergraduate degree in French and Comparative Literature from UC Irvine, Omaima completed a M.A. in Comp Lit at Case Western and returned to UCI to complete another M.A. in French as a step toward the Ph.D in French Language and Literature.

    In her doctoral dissertation, Myths / Countermyths: Representations of Colonial Algeria, she analyzes the different ways Algeria and Algerian identity are imagined and reinvented in the work of four Algerian writers: Louis Bertrand, Albert Camus, Kateb Yacine and Assïa Djebar. She argues that although the struggle for Algeria was fought on multiple terrains—militarily, politically, culturally and artistically—from the late nineteenth century until independence Algerian literature became the privileged site for the ongoing negotiation of cultural politics and the staging of the problematics of origins and nationalism.

    Most recently, Omaima presented a paper on Memory, Trauma and Violence in Modern Arabic Literature titled “Dismembering and Remembering: Rewriting the Female Body in the Works of Assïa Djebar.” She is a member of the MLA, NeMLA, AFT, as well as The Egyptian American Organization (Orange County Chapter). 

     
  • Fall Intermediate Coloquial Arabic Class

    • Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM
    • The Markaz, 432 South Main St. Loft No 5, Los Angeles, CA 90013
    • $300.00 USD
    • 2 people are going

    intermediate coloquial Arabic class - The Markaz 

    Arabic professor Alfred Madain, a native of Amman, Jordan, will be teaching a Intermediate Arabic class for The Markaz, starting on Saturday, Sept. 16th and every Saturday thereafter for 10 weeks, from 10 am-1 pm. 

    The cost of the course is $300 when you pre-register by Sept. 15th (our same low tuition rate for the past five years). Students have been especially satisfied with our Arabic classes taught by native speakers.

    The focus is Shami dialect, spoken in Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, using Modern Standard Arabic, as its grammatical basis.

    The address for Markaz classes is in downtown Los Angeles, at 432 South Main St. Loft No 5, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Email alfred@themarkaz.org to register now.

    The address for Markaz classes is in downtown Los Angeles, at 432 South Main St. Loft No 5, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Click below to pre-register now! Fall 2017 Registration Form.

    More

    Alfred Madain has a unique approach to teaching this diverse language: his focus is on the Shami or Levantine dialect, while lessons are infused with Modern Standard Arabic and vocabulary common throughout most dialects.

    Classes are three hours, once a week for ten weeks (a total of 30 hours of class time). Cost is $300 when you pre-register (25% off the standard $400 tuition for day-of registrants). Early registration is now open. To register or for more information, contact The Markaz, 310.657.5511.

    Why learn Arabic with The Markaz?

    The Markaz (formerly the Levantine Cultural Center) is an Arab/Middle Eastern cultural center where you always mix with native Arab speakers at our public programs. And Arabic is one of the world's major languages, spoken in a broad belt extending from the Arabian Peninsula north to the Fertile Crescent and then west to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the official language of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania, making it the mother tongue of about 230 million people. In 1974 Arabic was made the sixth official language of the United Nations.

    Whether you are interested in the Middle East for professional purposes or you are looking to discover a whole new world displayed by a rich and different language, our conversational Arabic classes are the answer to your quest.  

    Feedback from our students

    "I really enjoyed my time and can happily recommend Markaz classes to anyone. The enthusiasm of all the staff and the teacher are not only a fabulous background for the learning experience but really made this place feel like home! Thanks for everything!" —Sarah

    "During my time at the center, I made enormous progress in my writing and speaking in Arabic. The programs were flexible and adapted to my needs. My teacher was wonderful and helped me to understand the cultural aspects of his home country of Syria!" —Travis.

    "The thing I am most pleased by is the quality of the teaching and instruction. The teacher is excellent and motivated. I also enjoyed my tutoring sessions. I liked the fact that the teacher encouraged the use of Arabic outside of the classrooms." —Eric.

    "Overall, I was very impressed with The Markaz and would recommend it to friends, students, or university programs." —Jon M.C.

    "I had a great time, received excellent teaching, and learned a lot. It is a friendly place and one I would highly recommend." —Suleiman 

    Fees and Registration

    The Markaz's everyday Arabic program runs for 10 weeks 3 hours a week. Students are expected to pay the full tuition at the beginning of the program. No cancellations or refunds after the first week of classes. A 25% discount is offered on all Arabic classes when you register early (anytime before the first day of class), saving $100 right up front!

    Fall 2017 Registration Form

     
  • Can Barriers to Peace in Israel-Palestine Be Surmounted?

    • Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 07:00 PM
    • Culver-Palms United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall. 4464 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230
    • 3 people are going

    can barrier to israel-palestine peace be surmounted? 

    The question now is whether the two-state solution has become moot, and if so, how will the combined populations of Jews and Arab Palestinians in "greater Israel" accommodate themselves to the de facto one-state solution that looms? The Markaz, LA Jews for Peace and the United Methodists’ Holy Land Task Force present "Can Barriers to be in Israel-Palestine Be Surmounted" with Uri Talil and Monir Deeb, moderated by Reverend Sandy Olewine.

    The discussion takes place at the Culver-Palms United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall, 4464 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230 (5 blocks south of Culver Blvd.). Parking in large lot behind church.

    There is a requested donation of $10/$5 students (no one turned away). Soft drinks will be served. 

    This program is one in the long-running series Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and US Middle East Foreign Policy, a joint project of The Markaz and LA Jews for Peace, with diverse cosponsors including Friends of Sabeel and other groups.

    About the Debaters

    Uri Talil and Monir Deeb were born and raised on either side of the Green Line — one as a Jewish Israel and the other as a Muslim Palestinian. They have been working together for peace in their homelands for the 25-plus years they have been in America. They agree on basic principles, although each has a unique viewpoint forged by his life experience.

    Come join us for a conversation among these peace workers.  Examine points of agreement and disagreement in their attempt to understand the barriers to peace and how they might be surmounted.

    There will be two focuses of the discussion. One will be the Taba Summit, a remarkable eight days of direct talks in January 2001 between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government.  The Taba Summit took place in the shadow of the failed June 2000 Camp David talks, and were conditioned by the Parameters for Peace that President Clinton presented at five-days of preliminary talks in December 2000.

    It is widely acknowledged that Israelis and Palestinians came closer to a real agreement at Taba than before or after.  Most important, the parties reached an understanding of a path to resolve the refugee issue.

    The other focus will be the role of United States government policy.  Does the U.S. erect or remove barriers to peace? For example, what is the effect of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner telling Mahmoud Abbas that the US can't support a settlement ban because it would bring down Netanyahu, or that the State Department would not express support for the two-state solution because of concerns about “bias[ing] one side over another.”

     
  • Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief

    • Saturday, August 26, 2017 at 10:00 PM
    • Open Space Café Theatre, 457 N. Fairfax Ave., LA 90036
    • $20.00 USD

     sultans-851-banner.jpg


    This Saturday, our comedians perform original material and remember comedy greats Dick Gregory and Jerry Lewis! Join us for the 10 pm late show featuring a raft of highly talented comedians and show your solidarity with The Markaz and the Arab/Middle Eastern and Muslim communities. 

    The Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief is all about hilarious fun and political/religious humor. Hosted by Mona Shaikh, with Feraz Ozel, Paul Elie and Sherwin Arae, this show features special guest headliner Tehran.

    Tehran is the extremely funny and astute stand-up comedian, TV talk show host, actor and writer, who has been a celebrated comic at the world famous Laugh Factory.

    These days life in Trumpland demands frequent comedy outlets. Come out and spend time with the Sultans of Satire (the original Middle Eastern comedy show launched in 2005), and support The Markaz's new season of programming.

    Recommended minimum age 18+. This comedy benefit for The Markaz takes place at the centrally-located Open Space Café Theatre, 457 N. Fairfax Ave., LA 90036. General admission tickets $20, $25 at the door.

    Reserve your seats below!

     
  • Remembering Dr. Jack Shaheen

    • Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at 06:30 PM
    • Islamic Center of Southern California, 434 S. Vermont Ave., LA 90005
    • 3 people are going

    dr. jack shaheen

    The Markaz joins MPAC's Hollywood Bureau and other community organizations on August 23 in honoring the groundbreaking work and lifelong commitment of Dr. Jack Shaheen, an academic and media critic who deconstructed simplistic stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims in film, TV and news media. Shaheen died July 10th at age 81, and had been an advisor and lecturer to the Los Angeles community as well as an advisor of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn. He last spoke at The Markaz in 2012 (pictured below with his daughter Michèle Tasoff, a television producer).

    jack shaheen and daughter Michèle TasoffGuest speakers at the memorial include MPAC's Salam Al-Marayati, actors Haaz Sleiman and Maz Jobrani, and The Markaz's new acting director, Alfred Madain.

    Celebrating the Life of Dr. Jack Shaheen takes place on Wed., Aug. 23, 6:30 pm at the Islamic Center of Southern California, 434 S. Vermont Ave. LA 90005 (just north of Wilshire Blvd.). Street and some free lot parking is available. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly advised. RSVP below or to hollywood@mpac.org.

    Shaheen was the author of Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, one of the first scholarly works to document American media's negative portrayal of Arabs/Muslims over several decades. A documentary by the same name was produced in 2006.

    He was also the author of The TV Arab; Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture, and Guilty: Hollywood's Verdict on Arabs After 9/11.

    The son of immigrants from Lebanon, Shaheen grew up in Pennsylvania. He won a Fulbright and taught at the American University of Beirut in 1975. Over time, studying the U.S. media vilification of people from the Middle East, he became a noted expert on anti-Arab and Muslim bias.

    Other community organizations cosponsoring this program include the Network of Arab-American Professionals, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the American Film & Media Institute.

     

     
  • The Israel Anti-Boycott Legislation and the Threat to Free Speech

    • Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at 07:00 PM
    • Workmen's Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., LA 90035
    • $10.00 USD
    • 1 person is going
    the israel anti-boycott act threatens free speech

    Be prepared for a vigorous Q & A when the Markaz and LA Jews for Peace present constitutional lawyer Stephen Rohde on Tuesday, August 15, 7-9 pm. As a legal scholar Rohde will dissect the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S-720 & HR-1697) now moving through Congress, with support from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The discussion takes place at the Workmen's Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., LA 90035 (street and on-site parking available).
    There is a requested donation of $10 (no one turned away). Soft drinks will be served.

    This program is one in the long-running series Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and US Middle East Foreign Policy, a joint project of The Markaz and LA Jews for Peace.

    In a defensive, some would say pre-emptive move, AIPAC and other Israel backers are calling for the censorship of those who would support the peaceful Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement critical of Israel's 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories. These bills, if enacted, would be a clear violation of the First Amendment because they criminalize political speech.  The ACLU is leading the fight against these bills, and Stephen Rohde, our speaker, is past chair of the ACLU Foundation with especial expertise in Constitutional issues.

    These bills are AIPAC’s latest attempt to censor criticism of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip and other Israeli government policies.

    S-720 and HR-1697 are aimed at attacking boycotts, a key element of BDS, because they are said to threaten Israel.  But the major factor harming Israel’s reputation is its 50-year occupation that expropriates Palestinian land and deprives 4.5 million Palestinians of humanity, dignity, and political and economic rights.  Indeed, the occupation is the specific target of most church boycotts. The presenters content that such bills are not an effective way to fight BDS, because they do not distinguish Israel proper from the illegal settlements.

    Stephen Rohde is a constitutional lawyer, lecturer, writer and political activist.  He is immediate past Chair of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Chair of Death Penalty Focus, a founder and Chair of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, and Chair Emeritus of Bend the Arc: a Jewish Partnership for Justice.  Mr. Rohde is the author of the books American Words of Freedom and Freedom of Assembly and co-author of Foundations of Freedom published by the Constitutional Rights Foundation.  He has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Daily Journaland the Los Angeles Review of Books.  For over 45 years, he practiced law first in New York and then in Los Angeles, specializing in communications and intellectual property law, civil and appellate litigation and constitutional and civil rights law.  He has been recognized and honored for his work by the American Bar Association, the ACLU, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, and Bend the Arc. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and Columbia Law School.

    Related reading:

    Debunking the 2 claims: anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and BDS unfairly singles out Israel

    Should AIPAC Register as a Foreign Agent under FARA?

    Israel anti-boycott bill does not violate free speech

    This piece of pro-Israel legislation is a serious threat to free speech

    LA Jews for Peace on the Anti-Boycott Measures

    LA Jews for Peace statement in opposition to the proposed Israel Anti-Boycott Acts is published on the LA Jews for Peace website at: http://lajewsforpeace.org/Essays/2017-OpposeAntiBoycottAct.pdf  

     
  • The Persian Connection

    • Saturday, July 15, 2017 at 07:20 PM
    • Laemmle Aryha Fine Arts Theatre, 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills 90211
    • 1 person is going

    persian-connection 

    Markaz members are invited this weekend to check out The Persian Connection, an Iranian-American gangster noir film, and write your review for us—let us know if you agree it's in the spirit of David Lynch, and how you feel it reflects the Iranian community of Los Angeles (email your commentary to editor@themarkaz.org for publication consideration). 

    The Markaz is also offering a special ticket give-away. To enter the random drawing for 2 pairs of tickets to attend the Saturday night, July 15th, 7:20 pm screening, email your first/last name and phone number to info@themarkaz.org with "Persian Connection" in the subject line.

    persian-connection-trailer.jpg

    The theatrical release of The Persian Connection begins in L.A. on Fri., July 14th, and includes cast/crew screenings after both Friday and Saturday 7:20 pm shows, at Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts Theater, 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills 90211. The film co-stars Helena Mattsson (Surrogates, Ironman 2) and Reza Sixo Safai (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Circumstance), along with Parviz Sayyad (Homeland, Shah Bob), David Diaan (Mossadegh, Baba Jun), Julian Sands (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Leaving Las Vegas) and Laura Harring (Mulholland Drive, The Punisher). The film is directed by Daniel Y-Li Grove with a story by Reza Sixo Safai, and also features Iranian actors Dominic Rains (Burn Country, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) and Nikohl Boosheri (Seeds of Yesterday, Circumstance).

    Synopsis

    As a child soldier, Behrouz (Reza Sixo Safai) miraculously survived the Iran-Iraq War to be squirreled away to the streets of Los Angeles. After two decades under the ruthless Iranian mobster Cirrus Golshiri (Parviz Sayyad), Behrouz leaves the underworld to follow his American dream of becoming a real estate agent. But after a chance encounter involving a high-stakes poker game, he is brought back into the life he left behind and accused of stealing from his former boss. Behrouz and his Russian girlfriend Oksana (Helena Mattsson), must hunt down missing drugs as events from his past and present clash spiraling out of control. The Persian Connection is an electric neon-noir fever dream set in the Persian opium underworld of Los Angeles.

    Buy tickets now.

     
  • Summer Arabic Classes

    • Saturday, July 01, 2017 at 10:00 AM
    • The Markaz, 432 South Main St. Loft No 5, Los Angeles, CA 90013
    • $300.00 USD
    • 10 people are going

    arabic classes summer 2017

    Arabic professor Al-Fareed, aka Alfred Madain, a native of Amman, Jordan, will be teaching a Beginning-Intermediate Arabic class for The Markaz, starting on Saturday, July 1st and every Saturday thereafter for 10 weeks, from 10 am-1 pm.

    The cost of the course is $300 (our same low tuition rate for the past five years). Students have been especially satisfied with our Arabic classes taught by native speakers.
    The focus is Shami dialect, spoken in Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, using Modern Standard Arabic, as its grammatical basis.
    The address for Markaz classes is in downtown Los Angeles, at 432 South Main St. Loft No 5, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Click below to pre-register now! Summer 2017 Registration Form.

    More

    Al-Fareed has a unique approach to teaching this diverse language: his focus is on the Shami or Levantine dialect, while lessons are infused with Modern Standard Arabic and vocabulary common throughout most dialects.

    Classes are three hours, once a week for ten weeks (a total of 30 hours of class time). Cost is $300 when you pre-register (25% off the standard $400 tuition for day-of registrants). Early registration is now open. To register or for more information, contact The Markaz, 310.657.5511.

    Why learn Arabic with The Markaz?

    The Markaz (formerly the Levantine Cultural Center) is an Arab/Middle Eastern cultural center where you always mix with native Arab speakers at our public programs. And Arabic is one of the world's major languages, spoken in a broad belt extending from the Arabian Peninsula north to the Fertile Crescent and then west to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the official language of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania, making it the mother tongue of about 230 million people. In 1974 Arabic was made the sixth official language of the United Nations.

    Whether you are interested in the Middle East for professional purposes or you are looking to discover a whole new world displayed by a rich and different language, our conversational Arabic classes are the answer to your quest.  

    Feedback from our students

    "I really enjoyed my time and can happily recommend Levantine classes to anyone. The enthusiasm of all the staff and the teacher are not only a fabulous background for the learning experience but really made this place feel like home! Thanks for everything!" —Sarah

    "During my time at the Levantine Cultural Center, I made enormous progress in my writing and speaking in Arabic. The programs were flexible and adapted to my needs. My teacher was wonderful and helped me to understand the cultural aspects of his home country of Syria!" —Travis.

    "The thing I am most pleased by is the quality of the teaching and instruction. The teacher is excellent and motivated. I also enjoyed my tutoring sessions. I liked the fact that the teacher encouraged the use of Arabic outside of the classrooms." —Eric.

    "Overall, I was very impressed with The Markaz and would recommend it to friends, students, or university programs." —Jon M.C.

    "I had a great time, received excellent teaching, and learned a lot. It is a friendly place and one I would highly recommend." —Suleiman 

    Fees and Registration

    The Markaz's everyday Arabic program runs for 10 weeks 3 hours a week. Students are expected to pay the full tuition at the beginning of the program. No cancellations or refunds after the first week of classes. A 25% discount is offered on all Arabic classes when you register early (anytime before the first day of class), saving $100 right up front!

    Summer 2017 Registration Form

     
  • Israel/Palestine in the Post-Colonial Age: Jeff Halper

    • Sunday, June 04, 2017 at 04:00 PM
    • Workman's Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., LA 90035
    • 19 people are going

    jeff halper israel and palestine in the post-colonial age

    International experts, human rights workers and millions around the world argue that a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, now nearly 70 years old, is essential to establish peace in the region. Yet Israel has only strengthened its hold over the territories it captured in 1967, and is becoming more entrenched in its own exceptionalism with each passing year. Jeff Halper, an Israeli-American anthropologist, is the author of An Israeli in Palestine and War Against the People: Israel, The Palestinians, and Global Pacification. On Sunday, June 4, 4 pm, he will address Israel/Palestine in the Post-Colonial Age with a view to answering the question "How Does Israel Get Away With It?" which was the framework for War Against the People. He will also explain his assertion that "Israel has gone way beyond Apartheid."

    The program takes place at the Workmen's Circle/Arbeiter Ring, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles 90035 (street parking, check neighborhood signs) and is one in the series Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and U.S. Middle East Foreign Policy, organized by LA Jews for Peace and The Markaz, with support from Friends of Sabeel. Requested donation $10/$5 students. 

    RSVP below.

    Eyal Weizman, author of Hollow Land, called War Against the People, "A brilliant book by one of the world's most inspiring political activists." 

    As noted by the Electronic Intifada, "Jeff Halper spent nearly 20 years as head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). His previous book, An Israeli in Palestine, opens with the destruction of his friend Salim Shawamreh’s home in Anata, a village near Jerusalem. This event forced Halper, who had been a committed Zionist, to confront what was really happening in the West Bank and Gaza." (Tom Sperlinger)

    Jeff Halper is an American-born anthropologist, author, lecturer, and political activist who has lived in Israel since 1973. He is a co-founder of The People Yes! Network and co-founder and former Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

     

     
  • "Obliterated Families" Screening & Panel with Ala Qandil & Michal Grosz

    • Thursday, May 04, 2017 at 07:00 PM
    • Workman's Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., LA 90035
    • 25 people are going

    obliterated-header-851.jpg

    Reporter Ala Qandil and filmmaker MichałGrosz tell the stories of ten Palestinian families whose lives were shattered in the 2014 Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

    The last war on Gaza continues to concern world citizens, resulting in new books and documentaries studying what happened there in 2014. On Thursday, May 4th, 7:00 pm, The Markaz co-presents a documentary screening and discussion with Ala Qandil and Michal Grosz in the series Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and US Middle East Foreign Policy, cosponsored by LA Jews for Peace. Suggested donation $10, $5 students. This program takes place at the Workmen's Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., LA 90035. Street parking (watch neighborhood signs). The "Obliterated Families" tour is organized by the American Friends Service Committee (afsc.org). This program is cosponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace-LA.

    Numbers have often been used to describe the Israeli offensive on Gaza: 51 (days), 2,200 (dead Palestinians including 551 children), 11,000 (injured), 100,000 (homeless), and a half-million (displaced).  But the statistics do not reflect the loss of a loved one, the bombing of a home, or the fear or the trauma that comes after a ceasefire. We focused on 142 – the number of families who lost three or more members, and turned it into an intimate tale of sudden loss, pain, and life in the aftermath. 

    Ala Qandil and Anne Paq reported from the Gaza Strip during the 2014 Israeli bombardment and for the two following years to document the struggles of life.  The documentary they created focuses on the stories of ten families, although the two reporters met and documented the fate of more than fifty families.  They created a multimedia website integrating texts, photos, and videos, that was published in July 2016, on the second anniversary of the Israeli offensive.

    Qandil and Paq were joined by researcher and filmmaker Michał Grosz in producing the website and other materials. The project outgrew the virtual space and now includes a book and a photo exhibition – the photo exhibition will be displayed, and the book will be sold at the May 4 event at the Workmen’s Circle.

    Ilan Pappé commented about “Obliterated Families”:

    “Quite often our ability to grasp the enormity of a human tragedy gets lost in numbers. When victims appear only as numbers, it dehumanizes them and their suffering will linger on with us for too long. This moving project does not allow such a dehumanization and neglect. The loss of houses as a centre of life shattered Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip in this century. Targeted by the lethal force of the Israeli army, their ongoing suffering is documented here in a way that would compel any decent person not to remain indifferent in the face of this travesty. This is in short a timely, moving and urgent project of humanization and solidarity.” 

     
  • The Rendezvous

    • Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 07:00 PM
    • Laemmle's Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd, LA 90025
    • 6 people are going

    rendezvous-header-851.jpg 

    The Markaz is pleased to cosponsor this special preview screening of filmmaker Amin Matalqa's new feature, The Rendezvous, a romantic adventure filmed in Jordan involving a Jewish-American doctor and a Muslim-American U.S. State Department agent who come together in a perilous quest to solve the mysterious death of Rachel’s biblical archeologist brother. The incongruous pair stumbles onto a conspiracy that could plunge the world into a real Armageddon. The film stars Stana Katic (CastleAbsentia) and Raza Jaffrey (HomelandCode Black). Inspired by Sarah Isaias's eponymous novel, director Amin Matalqua creates an intriguing blend of both modern and classic touches, resulting in a film experience that's as unique as it is entertaining.

    Shot on location in Jordan, where the breathtaking vistas of Petra and the natural wonders of Wadi Rum figure prominently into the storyline, The Rendezvous is a thrilling ride in the grand tradition of classic Hollywood thrillers. Make room, Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood, because here come Yakub al-Shadi and Rachel Rozman, MD!

    Following the screening is an interfaith panel exploring the film's issues and themes, including extremism, prejudice, and inclusive narrative perspectives. Sue Obeidi, Director of the Hollywood Bureau of The Muslim Public Affairs Council, will introduce the panel, which will include director Amin Matalqa; Aziza Hassan, Director of New Ground: Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change; and Sarah Isaias, author and producer of The Rendezvous. The panel will be moderated by Shepha Schneirsohn Vainstein, President of reGeneration.

    Proceeds from this screening go to support reGeneration's ongoing work to promote quality early childhood education in crisis zones and disadvantaged communities around the world.

    Doors open at 7pm. Film begins at 7:20pm. Tickets are just $10 and may be purchased online here.

     
  • Bahiyyih Nakhjavani's "Us & Them" : A Novel of Immigration

    • Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 07:00 PM
    • Pacific Arts Center, 10469 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90025
    • 32 people are going

    Bahiyyih-Nakhjavani-banner-red-851.jpg 

    The Markaz and the Pacific Arts Center co-present an exclusive occasion to meet acclaimed international author Bahiyyih Nakhjavani on the occasion of her new novel Us & Them out from Stanford University Press, following her 2015 success, The Woman Who Read Too Much. This reading and author signing event is free to the public and takes place at the Pacific Arts Center, 10469 Santa Monica Blvd in Westwood (a few blocks east of Westwood Blvd and just west of Beverly Glen), 7 pm, doors open 6:30 pm, Saturday, April 22. Street parking. Copies of Us & Them will be available to have signed.

    Seating is limited, please RSVP online below.

    us-and-them-cover-200.jpgA story mirrored in fragmented lives, Us & Them explores the ludicrous and the tragic, the venal and the generous-hearted aspects of Iranian life away from home. It is a story both familial and familiar in its generational tensions and misunderstandings, its push and pull of obligations and expectations. It also highlights how "we" can become "them" at any moment, for our true exile is alienation from others. Acclaimed author Bahiyyih Nakhjavani offers a poignant satire about migration, one of the vital issues of our times.

    bahiyyih_nakhjavani__ulg_tilt_houet-200.jpgIn Us & Them, Lili and Goli have argued endlessly about where their mother, Bibijan, should live since the Iranian Revolution. They disagree about her finances too, which remain blocked as long as she insists on waiting for her son—still missing but not presumed dead yet—to return from the Iran–Iraq war. But once they begin to "share" the old woman, sending her back and forth between Paris and Los Angeles, they start asking themselves where the money might be coming from. Only their Persian half-sister in Iran and the Westernized granddaughter of the family have the courage to face up to the answers, and only when Bibijan finally relinquishes the past can she remember the truth.

    Bahiyyih Nakhjavani grew up in Uganda, was educated in the United Kingdom and the United States, and now lives in France. She is the author of The Woman Who Read Too Much (2015), The Saddlebag (2001), and Paper (2005), as well as non-fiction works about fundamentalism and education. Her novels have been published in French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Greek, Turkish, Hebrew, Russian, and Korean.

     
  • Eman El Husseini & Jess Salomon Stand-Up Comedy, March 26, 7 pm!

    • Sunday, March 26, 2017 at 07:00 PM
    • Pico Union Project, 1153 Valencia St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
    • $15.00 USD
    • 16 people are going

    Eman El Husseini & Jess Solomon stand-up comedy

    In this harsh political climate we need comic relief! The Markaz is pleased to present a very special comedy show starring Eman El Husseini & Jess Salomon from New York City, hosted & introduced by Sultans of Satire and New York Arab American Comedy Festival regular, Noël Elgrably. Don't miss this very funny, one-night-only show!

    TICKETS ARE JUST $15 AND CAN BE PURCHASED ONLINE BELOW, or at the door (cash only) the night of the show. This comedy special takes place at the Pico Union Project, 1153 Valencia St, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Free parking, general seating, first-come, first-served.

    SPECIAL COMEDY NIGHT HOMEMADE MENU Delicious reasonable Moroccan-influenced cuisine catered by Bouchra Azizy including Bastila • Chicken Tagine • Hummus  • Falafel sandwich • Cheese Fatayer • Spinach-feta cheese Fateyer + Salad + drinks/wine, beer, water and soft drinks.

    eman el husseiniComedian Eman El Husseini is the bomb—and that's not just because she's Palestinian, Muslim and queer. 

    She and her wife, Jewish comedian Jess Salomon, are based in New York City. Eman is also an astute social observer, read her stuff here!

    jess-solomon.jpgJess Salomon describes herself as a "comedian, writer and family disappointment." 

    She is a former UN war crimes lawyer turned stand up comic. The Montreal Metro has called her comedy “charming and intelligent.”

    When she’s not writing and performing Jess likes to check in with her old colleagues in The Hague. She enjoys hearing how sad the war criminals are without her observational wit and storytelling to keep them going. She believes they are jealous of her comedy audience and regret what they have done.

    noel-250x250.jpgAbout the Host

    He describes himself variously as an Arab Jew, a Sephardi and "a cultural train wreck." Noël Elgrably can be seen performing regularly at Los Angeles area comedy clubs such as The World Famous Comedy Store, The Laugh Factory, The Improv, and The Icehouse. He is an alumni of the New York City Arab-American Comedy Festival, the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, is a regular cast member of The Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief Show, and has appeared on Showtime and Fox TV. He has trained as a dramatic actor and was featured in the indie feature films “Bad Space," "Body High" and "Clean" and the comedy short films "Please God Someone Normal" and "Gone Too Far."

     
  • Al-haq Legal Workers Report on Palestine

    • Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 07:00 PM
    • The Workmen's Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., LA 90035
    • 3 people are going

    mar-14-banner-3-851.jpg 

    Two legal workers from the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq will discuss human rights and the organization's legal work in Israel/Palestine. This free forum is a joint Markaz-LA Jews for Peace presentation within the Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and US Middle East Foreign Policy series, and is cosponsored by The Workmen's Circle.

    This forum takes place on Tues., March 14, 7 pm at the Workmen's Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., LA 90035 (south of Pico, north of Airdrome. Free street parking; the event is open to the public, with donations welcome at the door. RSVP below.

    Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organization based in Ramallah, West Bank. Established in 1979 to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the organisation has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. You are invited to come and learn about Al-Haq's work and legal research and to ask questions, regardless of how you view the conflict.

    Al-Haq reports that, "Israel uses a variety of methods to exert control over Palestinian land and people, including collective punishment measures which target an already vulnerable population in East Jerusalem, and the exploitation of natural resources which obstructs the Palestinian economy and imposes daily hardships on the protected Palestinian population." Marya Farah and Aseil Abu-Baker will present their research on these issues in light of Israel's duties as Occupying Power under international law and discuss how such methods and other Israeli policies and practices serve to create a coercive environment that may ultimately lead to the transfer of the Palestinian population. They will also discuss business obligations and how Israeli water tech companies attempt to profit from the California drought.

    More About Al-Haq

    Over thirty years’ experience of defending human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has provided Al-Haq with an outstanding range of expertise in the practical application of international law. In July 2009, this rich history inspired the organization to establish the Al-Haq Center for Applied International Law, with the aim transferring its accumulated experiences to new and existing human rights defenders.

    The Center, which is based in Ramallah-Palestine, is the first Palestinian civil society body to specialize in the practical application of International Law. The Center aims to combine theory and practice to enhance the capabilities of human rights defenders by providing them with the essential applied knowledge for defending human rights issues at the national, regional and international levels.

     
  • confessions of an arab woman

    • Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 02:00 PM
    • Dorie Theatre-The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., LA 90038
    • 6 people are going
    confessions of an Arab woman

    The Markaz is pleased to co-present the new play from Nagham Wehbe, Confessions of an Arab Woman which is based on the writings of Lebanese author and activist Joumana Haddad, who will participate with playwright Wehbe and the cast of the play in the talkback following their March 11 matinee (2 pm) performance at the Dorie Theatre-The Complex. ALL SHOWS MARCH 9-11 ARE SOLD OUT.  New show dates just added are Fri., March 17 and Sat., March 18 at 8 pm, and Sun., March 19 at 2 pm and 6 pm. Reserve tickets. More info here.


    Joumana Haddad is the author of numerous books including the memoir I Killed Scheherazade, on which the play "Confessions" is based. She says, "Women's rights are a human rights issue and cannot be perceived as a luxury; they are a necessity in any political system that claims to be a democracy." Read a profile of Haddad here.


    About the play:
    "Confessions of an Arab Woman," adapted from Joumana Haddad's memoir I Killed Scheherazade opens in Hollywood on March 9, 2017, with three 8 pm performances on March 9, 10 and 11, and a matinee performance on March 11 at 2 pm. 
     
    Joumana Haddad's books have been translated into multiple languages and the author has been selected as one of the 100 most powerful Arab women for three years in a row. Recently, she has been selected as one of the top 100 influential Lebanese figures around the globe.
     
    The play is about her life story. It explores her upbringing in Lebanon and all the factors that made her who she is today. It counters stereotypes about Arab and Middle eastern women by showcasing an authentic story of a powerful woman. At the same time, it is an invitation to women everywhere to own their power.
     
    It is a one act which is about an hour followed by discussion with cast and author, who is coming all the way from Lebanon. It is more of an experience or event than just a play. 
     
    Here is a video about the play:
     
  • From LA to Baghdad

    • Sunday, March 05, 2017 at 04:00 PM
    • Chevalier's Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., LA 90004
    • 75 people are going
    american artists remember al-mutanabbi street

    On the 10th anniversary of the bombing of Baghdad's venerated literary-café district, Al-Mutanabbi Street, The Markaz & the Los Angeles Review of Books co-present From L.A. to Baghdad, American Artists Remember Al-Mutanabbi Street when American poets and writers from around the world gather at Chevalier's Books in Larchmont to remember the terrible destruction that took place on March 5, 2007. This LA event will be one of more than two dozen similar programs happening in cities around the U.S. and internationally, coordinated by the editors of the anthology Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here which is also a dedicated festival. 
     
    From L.A. to Baghdad, American Artists Remember Al-Mutanabbi Street includes literary readings by poets & writers including Sholeh Wolpé, India Radfar, Dima Hilal and Mark LeVine, and art by Iraqi American artist Paul Batou. This event is free to the public (donations graciously accepted). Takes place Sunday, March 5, 4 pm at Chevalier's Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., LA 90004. RSVP online below.
    About the Poets & Writers

    dimahilalBorn in Beirut, Lebanon, Dima Hilal is an Arab American poet whose work has appeared widely in a number of anthologies and reviews, among them The Poetry of Arab Women, a Contemporary Anthology (editor, Nathalie Handal) and Scheherazade’s Legacy: Arab and Arab American Women on Writing, (editor, Susan Muaddi Darraj), and the San Francisco Chronicle, Orion literary journal, and Aramco. A wistful elegance characterizes many of Dima Hilal's poems, which reflect variously on the humanitarian crises of Lebanon, Iraq, Syria et al and concern themselves with the experience of refugees and immigrants. She is a resident of Southern California where she lives with her husband and two children.
     
    mark-levine-266.jpgMark LeVine is an American professor of history at the University of California, Irvine who also teaches at Lund University in Sweden. An author as well as a musician, LeVine spent time in Baghdad exploring the Al-Mutanabbi Street district. He received his B.A. in comparative religion and biblical studies from Hunter College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University's Department of Middle Eastern Studies. He speaks ArabicHebrewTurkish, and Persian, as well as ItalianFrench and German. He has traveled and lived widely in the Middle East (Morocco, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Turkey etc) and his books include Why They Don't Hate Us, Lifting the Veil on the Axis of EvilHeavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of IslamAn Impossible Peace: Oslo and the Burdens of History; and Overthrowing Geography; and One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States.

    india-radfar-266.jpgIndia Radfar
     lives in Los Angeles and has four published books of poetry, most recently Position & Relation, Station Hill/ Barrytown Books. Her father, Lex Hixon, also known as Shaykh Nur al-Jerrahi, was a religious scholar and author trained in five religious traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  As a child, Radfar found poetry.  Now, as a Certified Applied Poetry Facilitator with the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy, she works with young children, imprisoned youth, pregnant and parenting teens, the homeless and the neurologically diverse. She has edited three collections from her work as a facilitator.  Radfar was the recipient of an Artist-in-Residence Grant from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs in 2015-2016, which she used to write a modern fairytale with a group of veterans transitioning out of homelessness at PATH West Los Angeles.

    sholeh-wolpe-266.jpgSholeh Wolpé was born in Iran and has lived in Trinidad, U.K. and the United StatesAbout her poems, The Poetry Foundation writes, “Wolpé’s concise, unflinching, and often wry free verse explores violence, culture, and gender.” A recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award, 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, among others, her publications include four collections of poetry, a play, three books of translations, and three anthologies. Wolpé ’s modern translation of The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton) by the 12th century Iranian mystic poet, Attar, has been hailed by Reza Aslan as “timeless as the masterpiece itself.” Wolpé’s writings have been translated into eleven languages. She is based in Los Angeles. Learn more at www.sholehwolpe.com.

    diana-arterian.jpgDiana Arterian is the author of the chapbooks With Lightness & Darkness and Other Brief Pieces (Essay Press), Death Centos (Ugly Duckling Presse), and co-editor of Among Margins: Critical & Lyrical Writing on Aesthetics (Ricochet). She is also a Poetry Editor at Noemi Press and a Managing Editor at Ricochet. Born and raised in Arizona, she currently resides in Los Angeles where she is a Doctoral Candidate in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. She holds an MFA in poetry from CalArts, where she was a Beutner Fellow.
    Zinzi_Clemmons.jpgNovelist Zinzi Clemmons was raised in Philadelphia by a South African mother and an American father. A graduate of Brown and Columbia, her writing has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, The Paris Review Daily, Transition, and elsewhere. She is a cofounder and former publisher of Apogee Journal and a contributing editor to Literary Hub. She has been in residence at the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and Dar al-Ma'mon in Marrakech, Morocco. Clemmons lives in Los Angeles with her husband, where she teaches at The Colburn Conservatory and Occidental College. She is the author of the novel What We Lose.
     
    jennifer-croft.jpgJennifer Croft whose novel is Homesick, is the recipient of Fulbright, PEN, and National Endowment for the Arts grants, as well as the Michael Henry Heim Prize, and her translations from Polish, Spanish, and Ukrainian have appeared in The New York Times, n+1, Electric Literature, BOMB, Guernica, The New Republic and elsewhere. She holds a PhD from Northwestern University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She is a Founding Editor of The Buenos Aires Review.
     
    Andre-Naffis-Sahely.jpgAndré Naffis-Sahely is a poet, critic and translator. He was born in Venice to Italian and Iranian parents, and grew up in Abu Dhabi. He has a BA in History and Politics and an M.Litt in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews. He is the author of The Promised Land.

    David-Shook.jpgDavid Shook is a poet and publisher who writes poems that explore the vibrancy of the city and its inhabitants. His collection Our Obsidian Tongues was longlisted for the 2013 International Dylan Thomas Prize, and poems from that book have been translated into French, Isthmus Zapotec, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, Swedish, and Uyghur, as well as being adapted into a short film in Rwanda. Shook founded Los Angeles-based nonprofit publishing house Phoneme Media, the first publisher to win consecutive Best Translated Book Awards for Poetry, and has himself translated books from Spanish and Isthmus Zapotec, including work by Mario Bellatin, Tedi López Mills, and Víctor Terán.

    About Artist Paul Batou

    Paul Batou, a native Iraqi artist, received a degree in pharmacy in 1982 from the University of Baghdad. While in school, Batou worked and was inspired by many teachers and artists studying at the University. In 1980, he had his first art show in Baghdad. During his years spent in Baghdad, Batou placed his art in several galleries, learned to play the guitar, and was forced into service for the Iraq-Iran war as a medic. In 1989, he left Iraq with his family and moved to Los Angeles. In the United States, Batou has participated in several group shows and presented solo exhibits.

    white-shadow1 and moment-1
    Ishtar-love--white-shadow-2.jpg
    summer--40x40-Acrylic-on-canvas-850-inanna.jpg
    ishtar-lovers-12x48.jpg
    mesopotamia-2-12x48.jpg
    mesopotamia-4-12x48.jpg
    summeria-12x48.jpg 
    sold out
     
  • spirit of gnawas

    • Saturday, February 04, 2017 at 08:00 PM – February 05, 2017
    • Wanderlust Hollywood, 1357 N. Highland Ave, LA 90028

    spirit of the gnawas 

    The Markaz and Create Xplore Media invite you to share in a special evening of ecstatic Moroccan music and dance with Master Hassan Ben Jaafer & Innov Gnawa in "Spirit of Gnawas" on Sat., Feb. 4, doors 8:00 pm, experience the music and dance 8:30-12:30 pm. 

    Marking an impressive debut in the robust musical history of Los Angeles, Create Xplore Media presents an authentic North African gnawa ritual/performance. The one night Spirit of Gnawas will be a colorful ceremony and immersive musical experience, traditionally known as the “Lila.” Although performed in an unusual context outside of the ancient cities of Morocco, the Lila has much meaning for Moroccan expats and fans of ancient spiritual music worldwide.

    spirit of gnawasThis rich ceremony of song, music, color and dance incorporates audience participation and it will take place over the course of an entire night. The rituals will be led by Master Hassan Ben Jaafer and his band, Innov Gnawa, a New York based musical collective dedicated to exploring Morocco’s venerable gnawa music traditions. American actor, Robert Wisdom will also host the ceremony with Moroccan-American actor, Fehd Benchemsi.

    8:30 -12:30 pm, doors open at 8:00 for open seating.

    Tickets available online here.

    $70 / $80 at the door. Use code MARKAZ10 for a $10 discount at checkout.

    For group rates contact info@spiritofgnawas.com.

    About Master Hassan, Ben Jaafer and Innov Gnawa

    Formed in the summer of 2014 by Moroccan expat Samir LanGus, Innov Gnawa draws on the considerable talents and expertise of Hassan Ben Jaafer, a Maâlem, or master gnawa musician, originally from Fes, Morocco. Under the guidance of Ben Jaafer, Innov has delved deep into the roots and rituals of gnawa music, and has played at the Lincoln Center, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bowl and the storied backroom of Brooklyn’s Barbès. Visit http://www.innovgnawa.com/ for more info.

    About CreateXplore Media

    Spirit of Gnawas is produced by Create Xplore Media, a Los Angeles based company focusing on creative service productions in Morocco and the United States.

    Stay connected with us @spiritofgnawas on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and visit spiritofgnawas.com.

     
  • wanted

    Without wanting to sound alarmist, these times remind us of the days immediately following 9/11—only worse. (Background: We were founded during the summer of 2001 as the Levantine Cultural Center. We changed our name to The Markaz in July, 2015.)

    Evidence of racism and Islamophobia is undeniable and growing by the day, against several American and immigrant communities. It may be of some relief that The Markaz has for years been a place where we are enlightened by independent voices and intelligent, meaningful programs.

    The Markaz will continue to be a center for all Angelenos and all Americans. 

    Many friendships have come about through The Markaz over the last 15 years, when folks attended one of the hundreds of programs—film, music, art, poetry, theatre, comedy, dialogue, lectures, conferences, Arabic & Persian classes and more—that have welcomed thousands of people in the greater Los Angeles area.

    "Now more than ever it is important for the Markaz to exist, resist, and flourish. Thank you for everything you do!" —Crystal Keshawarz

    We know you're out there! Join us as we work to rally everyone together and show that we stand for something: Arabs, Iranians, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Americans for peace, friends of the Middle East and North Africa, across all ethnicities, nationalities and faith traditions. 

    writers wantedNeed we say it? This is the time when we need you to take an active role: 

    There's a word common in shami or Palestinian Arabic for what we call the loquat—askadinya which, literally translated, means "the best of all worlds.”

    We seek the best of all worlds, and that is why The Markaz ("the center" in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish and Urdu) is a center for all who want to better the world, who care about the Middle East and North Africa, and who are friends of the arts as well as advocates for peace and justice.

    We are looking for the following:

    Bloggers/writers/editors/social media people to write, edit and/or comment on articles pertaining to the many issues, histories, identities of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). You may be asked to review a book, movie, concert or other public performance or event and will receive free tickets.

    Query with "QUERY" in the subject line of your email if you have an idea or send your blog post, article, story, poem or opinion to the editor here: editor@themarkaz.org (completed work should be 300-1,000 words). 

    We're also interested in videos and podcasts.

    local-not-local.jpgARTISTS wanted—musicians, poets, authors, painters, graphic artists, photographers, dancers et al—to potentially share your work with Markazis, that is, people from all walks of life who attend Markaz programs, take our classes or workshops, or who otherwise profess an interest in the MENA. Artist opportunities include some remuneration: info@themarkaz.org

    action.jpgACTIVISTS/PRODUCERS wanted—to roll up your sleeves and work with us to organize/produce new concerts, conferences, talks, exhibits and more. Approved Markaz producing partners will receive compensation based on experience. Write us with "ACTIVIST" in the subject line of your email: info@themarkaz.org

    INTERNS & VOLUNTEERS wanted—email us for a description of available positions! Subject line: Intern/Volunteer to info@themarkaz.org

    philanthropy-icon.jpgPHILANTHROPISTS always needed to support The Markaz. Your support is absolutely central to making this possible. You do not have to be wealthy to make a donation to The Markaz. Every donation counts. 

    Kindly send your tax-deductible contribution to The Markaz/MPV, 1626 N. Wilcox Ave., Suite 702, Los Angeles CA 90028-6206.

    We are a progressive arts organization and believe in the power of the arts to change hearts and minds. 

    Thank you!

    p.s. With the president-elect threatening to shake down Muslims wanting to enter this country through "extreme vetting," fanning the flames of division using racist and xenophobic language against refugees, Mexicans and African Americans; and with anti-Arab/Muslim hate crimes at an all time high, this is not the time for us to sit on our hands. 

    We should be asking ourselves, what are we doing to give Americans truly multifaceted representations of the greater Middle East? 

    This is our time to write, to speak out, organize, and present our work. Check out our proposal to open a new 10,000sf center:

    click here: The New Markaz 

    The new Markaz calls for $2.5 million to thoroughly revamp and relaunch The Markaz Arts Center for the Middle East in such a way that we'll have a full professional staff and adequate facility for the first time

    Get in touch: info@themarkaz.org.

     
  • L.A. for Standing Rock!

    • Saturday, December 17, 2016 at 06:00 PM
    • Pico-Union Project, 1153 Valencia Street, Los Angeles CA 90015
    • 4 people are going

    los angeles for standing rock

    On Saturday, Dec. 17, from 6 to 11 pm, The Markaz presents a big benefit concert for the water protectors at Standing Rock! All proceeds go to the protestors hunkering down for a harsh North Dakota winter! Please help, attend, bring friends!

    L.A. artists Sariyah Idan and John Villalobos join the Arohi Ensemble, Bedouin-X, Keyanna Celina, Good Peoplez, Aubre Hill, Mahadev and Son Cubano at the Pico-Union Project, 1153 Valencia St, LA 90015 (just west of downtown and just north of the Pico-Union intersection).

    Purchase your tickets from Brown Paper Tickets.

    Update 12/15/16

    Despite being denied permission to continue building the Dakota Access Pipeline upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, Energy Transfers and their financial backers are going ahead with their plans. The water protectors choosing to stay at Ocetic Sakowin Camp are withstanding sub zero degree temperatures and the risk of hypothermia. Backing down is not an option because it isn't just the fight in North Dakota, Standing Rock is now a movement fueling an intolerance to corporate greed that endangers our lands and our human and civil rights. People from all over continue to make the trek to Standing Rock despite the harsh conditions including over 2,000 veterans, and they need support through donations, gifts, and prayer.

    Join the peaceful efforts at our benefit concert for Standing Rock, #NoNDPL presented by The Markaz in partnership with the Pico Union Project and produced by Alfred Madain and Paul Livingstone. All seating is pay-what-you-can, ranging $20-$50.

    Update 12/12/16 

    New message from Standing Rock:

    Winter is now here and people are not leaving until Victory is reached.
    The Army Corps of Engineers recently denied the easement but
    the oil company has decided to keep drilling.
    The Youth Tribal Council has decided to start a new fire, set up a new camp, and brave through the winter time. Take action with us to protect our people, protect our water,
    and take a stand for the future of humanity.


    While the US Army Corps issued a statement on Dec. 4 leading folks to believe the Standing Rock battle has been won, the water protectors and their countless supporters are still in the fight. According to one observer on the ground writing on Dec. 5, "Energy Transfer Partners has already filed a petition to overturn the denial of easement orders. It's a chess game and the camp is going nowhere. We cannot sit back. We had a big win yesterday, but if we don't back it up, the drill platform is still in place, along with many more pipelines, mines and desecrated sacred sites around the country."

    This benefit concert for Standing Rock, #NoNDPL, asserts that Los Angeles stands with the water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota. Presented by The Markaz in partnership with the Pico Union Project and produced by Alfred Madain and Paul Livingstone. All seating is pay-what-you-can, ranging $20-$50, with $30 being the most popular contribution.

    Purchase your tickets from Brown Paper Tickets.

    Can't attend but want to support? Go here.

    This will be a powerful night of exceptional performances, benefitting Standing Rock protesters.

    6-11 pm, Saturday, December 17th
    at the Pico Union Project
    1153 Valencia St, Los Angeles, California 90015

    An auction with art and food by Gypsy Eats is available for purchase.

     
  • true islam

    • Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 05:30 PM
    • Founders Metropolitan Community Church, 4607 Prospect Ave, Los Angeles CA 90027
    • 9 people are going

    what is true islam? 

    Ask A Muslim, the monthly series organized by The Markaz and Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), presents an opportunity for an honest discussion about Islam on Sun., Nov. 13 at 5:30 pm.

    Hate crimes against Muslims in Los Angeles have escalated in recent months, with the LA Times reporting that such incidents have increased by 122% in 2015 alone. With the toxic media and political narrative of Muslims feeding into this vitriolic atmosphere, it is time we come together for an open and honest discussion about Islam.

    What is true Islam? Who practices true Islam? Where do the extremists find the basis for their beliefs, and how have groups like ISIS perverted a long and steady religious tradition? And finally, how do we combat the atmosphere of violence and hate that has befallen our Muslim compatriots? Join us as we discuss these questions and more in our next Ask A Muslim panel discussion at the Founders Metropolitan Community Church, 4607 Prospect Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

    Moderated by MPV’s Director of Communications, Crystal Keshawarz, we welcome Arabic scholar, PBS writer/producer and author David Stansfield, to discuss the research in his book, Islam vs. ISIS: Why the True Islam is the Exact Opposite of ISIS. Professor Kenyatta Bakeer-Allgood, a scholarly pillar of the Los Angeles Muslim community, will join us to discuss solutions to ending the toxic narrative of Islam as well as her perspectives on what constitutes “true Islam.”

    This panel is free and open to the public. Sun., Nov. 13th, 5:30 pm, at the Founders Metropolitan Community Church. Free street and nearby paid lot parking. RSVP below. 


    Ask A Muslim is a monthly series launched in 2016 that is free and open to the public. Ask A Muslim addresses some of the most pressing questions surrounding Islam today. In a time when Islam is the subject of much discussion and controversy in the media, Ask A Muslim hopes to foster an ongoing open dialogue, in a safe space for debate, and promote a more informed understanding of Arab/Muslim cultures. 

    Presented by the The Markaz and Muslims for Progressive Values. Sponsored in part by the A & A Fund and Bana & Nabil Hilal. 

    The Markaz is L.A.’s Arts Center for the Greater Middle East, where arts and peace give voice to our dreams for peace. 

    MPV’s mission is to embody and be an effective voice of the traditional Qur’anic ideals of human dignity, egalitarianism, compassion and social justice.


    BIOS

    David Stansfield—Born in England, David has spent most of his career as an educator and educational television writer-producer in Canada and the United States. He has written and produced some four hundred television scripts for TV Ontario in Canada, PBS, the Discovery Channel, NHK, Encyclopedia Britannica, and Time-Life. His TV productions have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have won over fifty international film and television awards, including the nomination of “The Middle East” series for the Best Educational Documentary category of the 1987 Academy Awards. He has also served as Media Delegate to the Gulf States in the Middle East for the Ontario Government. His book, Islam vs. ISIS, was endorsed by Khizr Khan, who said,  “This is an exceptionally well presented, timely, and much needed work. As I read it I gain light and grace from it. Thank you, David. You inspire me, you are our hero. May your pen have more power and you have peace, health, and success.”

    Kenyatta Baker-Allgood—Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kenyatta hails from a family that has been instrumental in building the foundation of Islam in Los Angeles. Her parents were both educators who helped start and taught in Mohammad Schools and Sister Clara Muhammad Schools. Kenyatta holds a BA in Child Development and an MA in Early Childhood Education. She is in the initial stages of beginning her PhD in interreligious studies at Bayan Claremont Institute. Kenyatta currently serves as a Child Development Professor for the Los Angeles Community College District and National University as well as a consultant for child care centers and programs. She and her husband Marcus are members of LA Voice, an interfaith organization that has over 55 congregations that have been instrumental in changing Los Angeles for the better. They were successful in passing Proposition 47, which reduces 6 low level felonies to misdemeanors and gives people resources to help them in their overall life. Kenyatta is a Khateebah for The Women’s Mosque of America, and she serves as a member of the SoCal Muslim/Jewish Forum.

    Crystal Keshawarz (Moderator)—Crystal is MPV’s Director of Communications, and combatting Islamophobia through peacemaking has been a key motivation in her work with the organization. She recently collaborated with Local Progress to present a referendum to end Islamophobia to West Hollywood’s City Council, which passed with a unanimous vote. Her work to bring MPV and its community partners together for a solidarity march and peace rally in Los Angeles was featured in Upworthy, and this December she will host the first international conference of Afghan Women in the Diaspora in London. She attended Arizona State University where she studied Political Science and International Studies. 

    founders-metro-comm-church.jpg 

     
  • Mira Awad Live with Bedouin X at the Pico Union Project

    • Saturday, November 05, 2016 at 08:00 PM
    • Pico-Union Project, 1153 Valencia Street, Los Angeles CA 90015
    • 3 people are going

    Mira Awad with Bedouin X at the Pico Union Project 

    Mira Awad is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and an internationally renowned vocalist who finds herself caught in the middle “of a very complicated situation.” As an Arab woman she’s a minority within the Jewish state, but Awad hopes that her next appearance in Los Angeles will put politics aside in favor of the music when she performs at the Pico Union Project, with a show opened by local favorite Bedouin X, cosponsored by The Markaz. Listen to Mira Awad's music.

    "Each side wants me to align myself with them," she told the Guardian newspaper. "Israelis would like me to show alliance with the Israeli state, to prove my loyalty. On the other side, I have to prove my loyalty to the Palestinians who ask if I have forgotten my father was kicked out of his village in 1948…I'm tired of being cornered all the time, of having to explain myself. Most of the time I'm making both sides unhappy because I don't do what they want. But I don't live in a black-and-white world. This place is very complicated."  

    Live at the Pico Union Project, Sat., Nov. 5, 8 pm, 1153 Valencia Street, Los Angeles CA 90015 (just west of downtown L.A. and just north of Pico Blvd near Union). Lot parking and street parking. Tickets $18 general admission/$12 students. Purchase online here.

    Watch Mira Awad's TedX talk.

     

    More About Mira Awad

    [excerpted from her web site] Mira Awad is a singer/songwriter and actress. Born to a Palestinian father-Anwar, and Bulgarian mother-Snejanka, in Rameh, a Palestinian village in the Galilee, in the north of Israel, she started singing from an early age. (Her mother swears she was singing before she could talk.) Mira’s first stage performance was at the age of 9, on June 1st 1984, International Child's Day, and she sang a song about peace called “Give us a chance.” At the age of 13 she started writing her own songs, then at 17 she sang with the rock band “Samana.” While performing with the band, in her compositions, Mira dealt with the issues of women's rights and personal freedom.

    At 18, Mira moved to Haifa to attend Haifa university, where she studied Fine Arts and English Literature, but after just two years she decided to quit and move to Tel-Aviv in order to study music at the Rimon School for Jazz and Contemporary Music (1996-2000). Throughout her career, Mira developed a unique fusion of sounds, combining the East with the West, weaving the Arabic language and it's oriental ornaments with Western harmonies, thus creating world music that combines many styles and sounds.

    She has collaborated with a wide range of world-famous musicians: Noa (Achinoam Nini), Idan Raichel, David Broza, Joca Perpignan, George Dalaras, La oreja de Van Gogh, Andrea Bocelli, Tim Ries, (sax player for the Rolling Stones), Orphaned Land and Bobby McFerrin. Mira competed in the 2009 Eurovision song contest alongside Noa (Achinoam Nini) with the song “There must be another way” from their duet album of the same title, released by Universal Music. Later Mira and Noa won the New Israel Fund’s Human Rights for Arts and Culture Award. Her albums include “Bahlawan-Acrobat” (2009), “All My Faces” (2011).

    In December 2012 she left Sony and established LabelFree, an indie world music label and production company through which she released “Write Down” (2014), a soundtrack she composed for the documentary about the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Mira teaches stage performance for singers and for public talkers, she also gives inspiring talks about her complex identity. Mira believes in anti-violence activity to build bridges towards resolutions. She supports various humanitarian and social projects and is an outspoken advocate for peace and solidarity.

    Bedouin X 

    Bedouin X at The MarkazBedouin X is the result of Alfred Madain's many years of musicianship and study of Arab and Islamic music throughout the greater Middle East and Africa. A Jordanian-born Angeleno, Madain is an ethnomusicologist and musician who is credited with co-creating The Los Angeles Near East Arabic Classical Music Ensemble which became Kan Zaman, The Upper Egyptian music and dance ensemble and Radio-Al-Fareed. Along with David Markowitz, former director of the Aman Dance Co. and musician extraordinaire, he came to create Bedouin X, an original group that brings a form of music to North America that had never been heard before on the continent. Bedouin X is a concept group created to revive and bring the socially and politically conscientious music that sprang out in the African parts of the Arab World and present the music along with original work to western audiences. It features Madain on vocals and percussion and Markowitz on saz and guitars, joined by Egyptian-American percussionist extraordinaire Ava Nahas on world percussion, Italian-Japanese percussionist David Martinelli from the UCLA school of ethnomusicology on Moroccan percussion, reggae, jazz and electronica bassist Mike Gadsby on fretless bass. and Egyptian-American singer Nehal Shahin on backup vocals. The group is also joined on occasion by Lebanese violinist Timothy Malouf, Sengalese kora player Amadou Fall, Palestinian oud player Clarissa Bitar, Karl Forander on Indian tablas, David Cipriani on Indian slide guitar and electric guitars, Ziyad Marcus on oud, Moroccan accordion player and composer Simo Chilal, and Syrian hip hop artist Omar Offendum. The Bedouin X repertoire draws from Afro-Arab trance, inducing and spiritual music of North Africa and that spans from Morocco and Senegal to Nubia and Ethiopia to create highly danceable music that is known to induce a state of trance and is oriented for performance in clubs, concert venues and festivals. During the last three and a half years the group has gathered quite a following of local music lovers and has performed at Occidental college, Levantine Center/The Markaz, The Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Primavera Festival and regularly at the Pico Union Project and the Del-Monte Speakeasy. 

     
  • ask a muslim rad

    • Thursday, August 04, 2016 at 06:00 PM

    Radical Progressive Islam 

    NOTA BENE: This event has been postponed due to the speaker's schedule and will be rescheduled at a later date. We repeat, there will be no forum on August 10th. We regret any inconvenience.


     

    The Markaz and Muslims for Progressive Values present “Ask A Muslim,” the free monthly series continuing on August 10, 2016 with a discussion entitled Rational Progressive Islam: Beyond the false dichotomy of ‘Radical’ and ‘Moderate’.

    This talk takes place in the Feldman Horn Mercaz, Temple Beth Hillel, 12326 Riverside Drive, Valley Village CA 91607. Free parking. RSVP below.

    The rise of ISIS and the failure of “moderate” Muslim clerics to present Muslims with a serious challenge to extremism can only be countered by a rational progressive Islam. The discussion will be moderated by Ani Zonneveld with special guest speaker, Professor Ahmed Alwishah, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pitzer College. Professor Alwishah will show that such an approach can be generated and developed from within the early Islamic tradition that predominated in the 9th and 10th centuries, and from the subsequent schools of thought that placed human reason as the only arbitrator in determining Islamic theology. The talk will propose three steps in implementing the rational progressive approach and fighting extremism in the Islamic world.

    About Ahmed Alwishah

    Dr. Ahmed AlwishahA native of Iraq, Dr. Ahmed Alwishah’s research focuses on Islamic Philosophy, especially Avicenna, Post-Avicennian philosophers, and Philosophy of Language in Islamic tradition. He is the co-editor of Ibn Kammūna Refinement and Commentary of Suhrawardī’s Intimations(Mazda, 2002) and Aristotle and Arabic Tradition (2015 Cambridge Press). He translated the Arabic testimonia of Thales jointly with Richard Mckirahan in Thales (De Gruyter, 2014). He also published “The Early Arabic Liar: The Liar Paradox in the Islamic World from the Mid- Ninth to the Mid Thirteenth Centuries CE” with David Sanson, Vivarium Journal 47, 1999. In addition he is the author of two forthcoming articles “Avicenna on Floating Man Arguments” Journal of Islamic Philosophy, volume 10/2014 “Avicenna on Animal Self-Awareness, Cognition and Identity” Cambridge Journal of Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 2015. He is currently is working on monograph book Avicenna’s Philosophy of Mind, where investigate a set of topics in Avicenna’s psychology. Before coming to Pitzer College, Dr. Alwishah taught at Stanford University and UCLA. He is a life member of Clare Hall College at Cambridge University and awarded a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, UCLA, 2007-2008.

    Sponsored in part with support from the A & A Fund and Bana & Nabil Hilal. 

     

     

     

     

     
  • Democratoz

    • Saturday, July 30, 2016 at 08:00 PM
    • Pico Union Project, 1153 Valencia St, LA 90015
    • $20.00 USD
    • 16 people are going
    Democratoz live in LA at the Pico Union Project
    What do Arabs, Berbers, Democracy, Raï, Reggae and Rock have in common? The answer, friends, is the Algerian band Democratoz. Performing in a roots-reggae style infused with elements of jazz, funk, gnawa and dub, Democratoz is a talented band of young performers who have lit up stages across North Africa and Europe, and now are on their first U.S. tour, coordinated by Center Stage (see credits below) Read a new Roots World article!
     
    Democratoz lays down hard-grooving reggae, raï & rock with all the ecstasy and defiance of young North Africa. Hailing from Oran, Algeria's cultural nexus, the group digs back into the city's best-loved pop form, rai, and makes dance-floor filling calls for social change in the bargain. "With its galvanizing set, Democratoz electrified the crowd, which had gathered en masse from the four corners of the desert to be here, much to the surprise of the local authorities, and festival organizers." (La Liberté/Algeria)
    Democratoz at the Pico Union Project concert hallDuring this time when we've witnessed an unrelenting backlash against Arab refugees, and against Muslims as a whole, lumped together with criminal extremists, the Democratoz tour is a most welcome one. It's time to celebrate what the Arab youth generation has to say, and not vilify them when their government leaders fail to lead.
     
    Presented by The Markaz on our 15th anniversary, Democratoz performs live in L.A. on Saturday, July 30, 8 pm, at the Pico Union Project, located at 1153 Valencia Street (at the corner of 12th St.), located two blocks north of Pico, one block east of Union, just west of downtown Los Angeles. There is free lot and street parking. All seats are $20 General Admission online or CASH AT THE DOOR. 

    Doors open 7:30 pm. Light refreshments available during the concert.
    WATCH

    MORE about Democratoz

    “Reggae music is the music of revolution,” exclaims vocalist and songwriter Sadek Bouzinou of 
    Democratoz. And as Sadek sings in his resonant, passionate voice over rock-solid beats and urges the audience to move and join him, it’s easy to get swept up by this seven-piece Algerian band.

    For Democratoz, revolution starts with music itself. Three years after a 19-year State of Emergency was lifted, Algeria is in the middle of a period of musical experimentation, fueled by its Maghreb roots and an urge to reconnect to the wider world. The band mashes up local gnawa and diwan music and instruments, reggae’s thrumming pulse and rock’s recurring licks. Rolling drums and modal reeds, skin-covered guimbri and chiming percussion hint at the band’s origins, even when the group leans confidently into dubbed-out jams, vocal hooks, and lyrics that speak truth to power.  

    All of this mixing comes naturally to Democratoz, who hail from Oran, the cosmopolitan city on Algeria’s Mediterranean coast known as the cradle of North Africa’s best-known sound, raï (“opinion” in Arabic). From its outskirt origins in the early 1900s, to its 1980s jump from cabarets into the international limelight, and to its current resurgence, it has maintained its primacy as a cacophonous voice of the people. Among rai’s mix of Berber, Arabic, Andalusian, French, and other influences, its sound owes some of its heady punch to reggae. “Our city has a history that’s connected to reggae,” explains Sadek. “Rai has roots in reggae, mixed with folk music. Even if they don’t know that rai came from reggae, people here get reggae; they love the bass and the drums.”

    CREDITS

    Democratoz is presented in partnership with Center Stage, a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, with support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. 

     
  • after orlando

    • Thursday, July 14, 2016 at 07:00 PM
    • LA Press Club, 4773 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90028
    • 64 people are going

    Islamophobia and Homophobia After Orlando

    Since the tragedy in Orlando there has been a spotlight on homophobia within Muslim communities, the subsequent anti-Islam backlash, and the claim by conservative Muslim organizations that you are "either with us or against us." Ask A Muslim, the monthly series organized by The Markaz and Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), presents an opportunity for an honest discussion about being LGBTQI and Muslim.

    This panel features Dr. Hamid Mavani, an Islamic scholar at Bayan Claremont, and Ani Zonneveld from MPV,  with LA Times moderator Jaweed Kaleem. The conversation will review the realities faced by LGBTQI Muslims in the U.S. and abroad, and will discuss how mainstream Muslim organizations deal with homophobia. The panel will also discuss recent revelations pointing to the fact that there is an entire “Islamophobia industry” in the United States, funded to the tune of more than $200 million.

    This media conference and panel is free and open to the public. Light refreshments included. Thursday, July 14th, 7 pm, at the LA Press Club, 4773 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (just west of Vermont). Ample free lot parking. RSVP below. 


    Ask A Muslim is a new monthly series free and open to the public that addresses some of the most pressing questions surrounding Islam today. In a time when Islam is the subject of much discussion and controversy in the media, Ask A Muslim hopes to foster an ongoing open dialogue, in a safe space for debate, and promote a more informed understanding of Arab/Muslim cultures. Ask A Muslim engages the greater Los Angeles community across all religious, cultural and political boundaries, to foster public conversation about the Qur’an and what constitutes a compassionate, egalitarian and peaceful practice in all its manifestations, with the intention to dispel simplistic or stereotypical interpretations and vilification of the Muslim religion. 

    Human Rights CampaignMuslims for Progressive ValuesPresented by the LA Press Club, The Markaz and Muslims for Progressive Values. Sponsored in part by the A & A Fund and Bana & Nabil Hilal. This panel is also cosponsored by the Human Rights Campaign.

    The Markaz is L.A.’s Arts Center for the Greater Middle East, where arts and peace give voice to our dreams for peace. MPV’s mission is to embody and be an effective voice of the traditional Qur’anic ideals of human dignity, egalitarianism, compassion and social justice.


    BIOS

    hamid-mavani-350.jpgHamid Mavani is an Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Bayan Claremont—Claremont School of Theology in California. His expertise in Islamic Studies stems from both academic training at universities as well as specialized theological training at the traditional seminaries in the Muslim world. His primary fields of interest include Islamic legal reform, women and Shi‘a law, Islamic theology and political thought, Islam and secularity, intra-Muslim discourse, and environmental ethics. He is the author of a book published by Routledge in June 2013 titled, Religious Authority and Political Thought in Twlever Shi‘ism: From Ali to Post-Khomeini. Dr. Mavani’s scholarship also includes translations of Islamic texts from Arabic and Persian into English. His most recent translation from Persian to English is a work on jihad by Ayatollah Salehi Najafabadi, providing a novel and a creative re-reading of this much misunderstood concept. He is presently under contract with the Center for Islam and Religious Freedom (CIRF), translating a ground-breaking work by Ayatollah Mohsen Kadivar on Islam, apostasy, and blasphemy.

    Ani-Zonneveld-press-image380.jpgAni Zonneveld is founder and President of MPV. Since inception, Ani has presided over MPV’s expansion to include chapters and affiliates in 12 countries and 19 cities. She has organized numerous interfaith arts and music festivals, participated in many interfaith dialogues and is a strong supporter of human rights and freedom of expression. She is the brainchild of Literary Zikr – a project that counters radical Islam on-line and co-editor of MPV’s first book, an anthology titled “Progressive Muslim Identities – Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada”; she has contributed to many forewords and numerous anthologies and is a contributor for HuffingtonPostOpenDemocracy and al-Jazeera, and recently gave her TEDx talk titled – Islam: As American As Apple Pie. As an award winning singer/songwriter, she utilizes the power of music and the arts in countering radicalism as she speaks-sings her message of social justice and peace from a progressive Muslim woman’s perspective, and is the first woman to release an English Islamic pop album in the U.S. in 2004. Born and raised Muslim from Malaysia and based out of Los Angeles, Ani spent a good portion of her formative years raised in Germany, Egypt and India as an Ambassador’s daughter. Her exposure to different politics, religions and cultures has shaped her inclusive worldview.

    Jaweed Kaleem(Moderator) Jaweed Kaleem is the national race and justice reporter at the Los Angeles Times, where he writes about how race and ethnicity shape our evolving understanding of what it means to be American. Before joining The Times, Kaleem was the senior religion reporter at the Huffington Post for five years. From 2007 to 2011, he was a reporter for the Miami Herald. He attended Emerson College in Boston and grew up in Northern Virginia.

    MORE

    Read an Al Jazeera article on the multimillion-dollar Islamophobia industry in the U.S. 

    Read an interview with 7 Muslim Americans.

     

     
  • Dolunay, New York-based Turkish Fusion Trio

    • Thursday, July 07, 2016 at 07:30 PM
    • Chevalier's Books, 126 N N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90004
    • $15.00 USD
    • 14 people are going

    dolunay-851-new-2.jpg 

    Watch a brief video clip of the concert here. The concert was a big success. One attendee commented: 
    Dolunay is a Brooklyn-based Turkish fusion group

    "I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s Dolunay concert. Kudos to The Markaz and your Musical Director Alfred Madain for lately arranging so much Turkish music. I have visited Turkey regularly for more than 20 years, and lived there for 3. My iPod has more than 6,000 Turkish music pieces in a variety of musical genres. Due to your promotion of the concert as 'Brooklyn-infused Turkish music,' I was sort of expecting it to be a kind of hybrid music (which, frankly, I’m generally not fond of because I feel such attempts are usually not musically successful). So imagine my delight when the repertoire was made up of Turku, original contemporary songs, and classically-based instrumental pieces. The program and the musicians were fantastic. In fact I bought the CD, which I love." —Walter


     

    The Markaz's music director, Alfred Madain, has specially selected Turkish-Rumeli ensemble Dolunay to play a unique Los Angeles performance. The concert features Jenny Luna on vocals and percussion, Adam Good on oud and tambura, and Eylem Basaldi on violin. The concert takes place at the classic L.A. bookstore, Chevalier's, in the Larchmont district, on Thursday, July 7th. The cover on this concert is only $15 when you reserve in advance ($20 at the door). Doors open 6:00 pm, café and bookstore available.

    Reserve in advance by purchasing tickets online below. Also available at the door, Chevalier's Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., LA 90004 (located between Beverly Blvd. and 3rd St., street parking available).

    This concert is sponsored in part by Spirit Quest Tours, leading a group on a tour of mystical Morocco, Oct. 17-27 2016, and in particular to the Sufi Festival of Fez.

    Listen here!

    RSVPs strongly suggested as seating is limited. Reserve online below, or call 310.402.8866.

    More About Dolunay

    With a musical vision that is at once ethereal and grounded, Dolunay flirts with the soundscape of the ancient Ottomans, tracing its migration through Balkan villages, coaxing it across seas and oceans, and grafting it onto a Brooklyn-based backdrop. The trio infuses classic and contemporary traditions with an urban grit that can only be found in New York City’s confluence of musical and cultural forces. With an array of original compositions offered alongside renditions of Turkish and Rumeli standards, the music of Dolunay (Turkish for “full moon”) offers listeners an escape from the press of city life. By the light of the moon, bits of the Rumeli soul mingle with the diverse musical and linguistic influences of members Eylem Basaldi, Adam Good, and Jenny Luna to create a sound world that is uniquely New York. Dolunay on Facebook.

    Since 2012, Dolunay has lured audiences with an approach to Turkish and Rumeli musical traditions that pays homage to the diverse musical roots of the Balkan region. Rumeli, a term encompassing the diverse landscapes of Southeastern Europe once under Ottoman influence, evokes a musical mosaic that is enriched by centuries of cultural encounters that traverse the boundary between East and West. Dolunay continues this tradition of musical alchemy as they share their unique interpretations of these works with modern audiences. The music is based in a system of musical modes known as makam, and features songs about people’s homes, their families and lovers, their villages, and overcoming life’s familiar challenges—aspects of everyday life that create a sense of identity against the backdrop of history and the sweep of the mountains.

    Dolunay’s first CD, Our House, released in 2015, has been characterized by New York Music Daily as an innovative and evocative approach to the music of the Balkans: “Bracing Middle Eastern modes, eerie chromatics and minor keys rise and fall, sometimes into a gentle, jangly backdrop.” The group skillfully negotiates the complexities of a microtonal framework with ornaments and rhythms as diverse as the regions they pull from.

    Dolunay performs regularly at Brooklyn venues Barbés and Jalopy, and has been featured at Golden Festival NYC, Maqam Fest NYC, Make Music New York, EEFC Balkan Music and Dance Workshops, the American Folk Art Museum, Boston Balkan Music Night, and Club Passim. They have offered makam and song workshops at Bard College and the Rhody Center for World Music and Dance.

     

     
  • Egypt's Dina El Wedidi Plays L.A., with Bedouin X

    • Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 08:00 PM
    • El Cid, 4212 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90029
    • $15.00 USD
    • 57 people are going

    dine el wedidi plays l.a.

    The Markaz's music director, Alfred Madain, has specially selected Egyptian singer-composer Dina El Wedidi with her Egyptian folk/Arab fusion for a unique Los Angeles performance. The concert takes place at the classic L.A. flamenco nightclub, El Cid, in Silverlake, on Tuesday, June 14th and opens with a short set by one of our favorite local bands, Bedouin X. Who says you can't have a great time on a Tuesday night in El Lay? Best of all, the cover on this concert is only $15 when you reserve in advance ($20 at the door). Doors open 8 pm, Bedouin X at 8:30 pm, Dina El Wedidi at 9:30 pm.

    Reserve in advance by purchasing tickets online below. Also available at the door, El Cid, 4212 Sunset Blvd, LA 90029 (just east of Fountain Ave., parking available).

    This concert is sponsored in part by Spirit Quest Tours, leading a group on a tour of mystical Morocco, Oct. 17-27 2016, and in particular to the Sufi Festival of Fez.

    About Dina El Wedidi

    dina el-wedidi portraitWith her powerful, nuanced voice and authentic style, Dina El Wedidi has spent the past six years carving out her place on the Egyptian music scene. While studying oriental languages at the University of Cairo, Dina joined El Warsha Theatre Troupe, exploring Egyptian folklore and performing in such unlikely places as a Cairo prison, and later she performed classical Egyptian and Arabic songs with the Habayebna band. These experiences pushed Dina to sing in many styles, and were the impetus for her to begin composing her own songs. In 2011, she took the fundamental next step and formed her own band; from here her success has soared. In 2011 she became one of the first members of the Nile Project, a cultural and environmental ethnomusicology adventure on which she spent three years, collaborating with musicians from all of the Nile countries, touring through East Africa and the United States, and making 2 albums (AswanJinja). In 2012, Dina became a Rolex Program award winner, which placed her under the tutelage of legendary Brazilian songwriter Gilberto Gil. In 2013, they performed together at the Cairo Jazz Festival, and he advised her on her debut album, guest performing on the song “El Leil.” This album, Turning Back (Tedawar W’Tergaa) was released in 2014. Dina’s achievements are many: she performed at TEDGlobal in Scotland, participated in workshops with Grammy award winner Fathy Salama, Kamilya Jubran, and has worked with the Mazaher Ensemble in Cairo. She has performed throughout Egypt, and in Jordan, Tunisia, Sudan, England, Italy, Norway and Sweden. 

    Bedouin X 

    bedouin-at-markaz2.jpgBedouin X is the result of Alfred Madain's many years of musicianship and study of Arab and Islamic music throughout the greater Middle East and Africa. A Jordanian-born Angeleno, Madain is an ethnomusicologist and musician who is credited with co-creating The Los Angeles Near East Arabic Classical Music Ensemble which became Kan Zaman, The Upper Egyptian music and dance ensemble and Radio-Al-Fareed. Along with David Markowitz, former director of the Aman Dance Co. and musician extraordinaire, he came to create Bedouin X, an original group that brings a form of music to North America that had never been heard before on the continent. Bedouin X is a concept group created to revive and bring the socially and politically conscientious music that sprang out in the African parts of the Arab World and present the music along with original work to western audiences. It features Madain on vocals and percussion and Markowitz on saz and guitars, joined by Egyptian-American percussionist extraordinaire Ava Nahas on world percussion, Italian-Japanese percussionist David Martinelli from the UCLA school of ethnomusicology on Moroccan percussion, reggae, jazz and electronica bassist Mike Gadsby on fretless bass. and Egyptian-American singer Nehal Shahin on backup vocals. The group is also joined on occasion by Lebanese violinist Timothy Malouf, Sengalese kora player Amadou Fall, Palestinian oud player Clarissa Bitar, Karl Forander on Indian tablas, David Cipriani on Indian slide guitar and electric guitars, Ziyad Marcus on oud, Moroccan accordion player and composer Simo Chilal, and Syrian hip hop artist Omar Offendum. The Bedouin X repertoire draws from Afro-Arab trance, inducing and spiritual music of North Africa and that spans from Morocco and Senegal to Nubia and Ethiopia to create highly danceable music that is known to induce a state of trance and is oriented for performance in clubs, concert venues and festivals. During the last three and a half years the group has gathered quite a following of local music lovers and has performed at Occidental college, Levantine Center/The Markaz, The Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Primavera Festival and regularly at the Pico Union Project and the Del-Monte Speakeasy. 

     
  • A Night of Moroccan & Malian Music with Brandon Terzic & Nacho Arimany

    • Saturday, May 28, 2016 at 08:30 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $15.00 USD
    • 12 people are going
    may-28-banner-851.jpg

    A night of Moroccan & Malian music with Brandon Terzic & Nacho Arimany fuses North and West African as well as Middle Eastern modalities and rhythms to create a rich tapestry of sound.

    On Saturday, May 28th, 8:30 pm, The Markaz is pleased to present touring multi-instrumentalist Brandon Terzic, a master on the oud as well as the Malian Djeli Ngoni and the Moroccan gimbri (native Gnawa bass, also known as the sintir), for a night of traditional Moroccan and Middle Eastern music, particularly in the North and West African traditions. His background in jazz and blues delivers a new voice and context for these instruments and their respective language. Terzic has worked with everyone from master composer Henry Threadgill to Sudanese pop Diva Alsarah and the Nubatones. He has performed in major festivals internationally. He'll performing with master world percussionist Nacho Arimany, and offering a workshop master class in advance of the evening's concert, from 6:30-7:45 pm.
    At The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035, between La Cienega & Fairfax. Street parking.

    Advance tickets are $18 for the concert and $15 for the music workshop, or $25 for both (limited space available, advance online reservations below are suggested).

    Come for dinner available from 8 pm. Delicious affordable homestyle Moroccan catered dinner by our popular chef Bouchra Azizy, available separately: choice of mixed green baby salad, homemade hummus, feta cheese fatayer, spinach fatayer, Bastilla (Moroccan chicken pie with almonds and caramelized onions), chicken tagine with preserved lemon (served with couscous), or maakouda, Moroccan potatoes (vegetarian).

    RSVP online below or call 323.413.2001.

    This concert is sponsored in part by Spirit Quest Tours, leading a group on a tour of mystical Morocco, Oct. 17-27 2016, and in particular to the Sufi Festival of Fez.

    Listen to music samples here or go to Soundcloud.

    About the Music Workshop, 6:30-7:45 pm

    Brandon Terzic and Nacho Arimany will be offering a workshop master class prior to the concert, lecturing and distilling the unique tonalities, rhythmic and improvisational concepts of North African and Middle Eastern Musics, Tying together the shared affinities between these different styles. For musicians of all levels, but non-musicians are welcome as well.

    Topics covered:

    Makam and microtonal theory (middle Eastern scales)
    North/West African rhythmic approaches
    Ornamentation and inflections of melodies
    The Art of Taxsim (Middle Eastern improvisation)

    About the Musicians

    Brandon Terzic has studied music in Morocco and Senegal and traveled widely throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Originally a blues guitarist inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, he later took quickly to the oud and the gimbri in Morocco. He has performed with gnawa master Hassan Hakmoun and dozens of other top musicians in New York and Europe.

    Nacho Arimany is more than a multi-instrumentalist with a special ear for world percussion, he’s a translator, and a channel for creating dialogue between different cultures. This dialogue is spoken through rhythm. Arimany says this language is universal and spoken by all of us. When he’s on stage, whether during his solo performances or when he’s joined by an improv jazz trio, Arimany is surrounded by his pallet of instruments. He sees them all as different colors that paint the picture of humanity. “I always play two instruments at a time, it is really rare that I’m only playing one instrument, so I’m putting in dialogue these instruments that come from different cultures,” he said. “So I really see myself like this bridge and translator between cultures, colors and rhythms.”

     

     
  • Oriented doc

    • Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 08:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $10.00 USD
    • 5 people are going

    oriented, a film about Palestinian gay life in Israel

    Join friends of The Markaz and Muslims for Progressive Values when we view the hit documentary ORIENTED from director Jake Witzenfield, about the lives of three gay Palestinian men, Khader, Naim and Fadi living in Tel Aviv. The director will join us for a post-screening discussion, moderated by Ramy Eletreby, plus after-party. At The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., LA 90035 (between La Cienega & Fairfax), street parking.

    Reservations online below or call 323.413.2001 (RSVPs strongly recommended as sitting is limited). $10 advance/$12 at the door.

    Tel Aviv has long been home to one of the Middle East's most vibrant LGBTQ communities, though the struggles of many living in the shadows is still an unfortunate reality as depicted by a new documentary called Oriented.

    An intriguing look at the juxtaposition between the personal and political, Oriented shows viewers what it's like to be gay in the Middle East, as many still grapple with the myriad familial and societal pressures that encourage them to stay hidden. The documentary focuses on three Palestinian friends living in Tel Aviv, Khader (a Muslim living with his Jewish boyfriend), Fadi (a "Palestinian nationalist confronted by guilty Jewish love") and Naim (a man who must come out to his family); over a 15-month period, we follow the charismatic trio as they navigate their personal lives in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of summer 2014.

    It's also worth noting that the title is a brief acknowledgment to Edward Said's concept of "orientalism," which first-time director Jake Witzenfeld says is a nod toward his own identity as a Westerner (Witzenfeld is British but lives in Tel Aviv). However, it's clear that a significant portion of the film is also dedicated toward addressing related misperceptions, as Khader says early on that "the west has monopolized concepts of liberalism and of being out of the closet." 

    And though the film originally started as an apolitical project, it's inevitably remade itself into an intimate profile of the actual people living through this all, the ones who "hope that people recognize us and our desire to be recognized, and just know that we exist in this big mess." [Event description from Paper] [Read Variety article.]

    Watch the official Oriented trailer.

    View a special message:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb3Ikrm3NLo 

    About the Cast and Crew

    KhaderKhader is a Tel Aviv “It Boy” and provocateur from a prominent Muslim mafia family from TelAviv’s neighbouring Arab suburb of Jaffa. An aspiring journalist and producer, he lived for many years in the heart of Tel Aviv with his "Jew-ish" boyfriend David and their Dalmatian, Otis. Today he has returned to Jaffa and is an outspoken activist for Palestinian culture in Tel-Aviv.

    FadiFadi left his Christian community in a northern Israeli town to pursue his dream of becoming a nurse. He feels that his new freedom is marred by the guilt of his nation’s tragedy. Fadi's passionate nationalism is challenged when he falls in love with an American Jew fighting in the Israeli Defense Forces. Today, Fadi has transcended his inhibitions and is living with his long-term Jewish boyfriend, Nadav.

    NaemNaeem describes himself as a Palestinian, vegetarian, and feminist. Like Fadi, Naeem comes from a Christian family in northern Israel. His time in Yafo inspired him to confront his family’s expectations and be honest with his loved ones about his sexual identity. Today, Naeem is busy about town living the life of a hedonistic 20something and enjoying his new found personal liberation.

    Jake WitzenfieldJake Witzenfeld is a British film director and producer. Born and raised in Essex, England, Jake graduated from theUniversity of Cambridge with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies in 2012. Shortly thereafter, he relocated to Tel Aviv where he discovered the story that became ORIENTED. Jake co-founded a creative agency and has launched an international production company with 10 projects in development, both documentary and scripted. ORIENTED is Jake’s debut film.

    Moderator:

    Ramy Eletreby is a Muslim Arab-American writer, performer, and applied theatre artist based in Los Angeles, California. He directs and facilitates original artistic projects in collaboration with communities throughout Southern California. His writings have appeared on The Huffington Post, Queerty, KCET, and the award-winning blog Love Inshallah. His short story "The Ride" appears in the ground-breaking anthology, Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy. Ramy recently developed "The Ride" into a solo theatre piece, which he premiered this past January at the Whitefire Theatre as part of its annual Solofest, the largest solo theatre festival on the West Coast. 

     
  • refugees europe

    • Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 07:30 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $5.00 USD
    • 6 people are going
    the truth about refugees

    The Truth About Refugees in Europe, with Suzie Abdou
    in conversation with Lilah Khoja

    As we know, the situation for many refugees coming out of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries is dire. If you've ever been a refugee or had challenging immigration issues, you can identify with their plight.

    International development specialist Suzie Abdou, a native of Egypt, has recently turned from working in the field, where she led a needs assessment and served refugees in Greece, Serbia and France. She and her colleagues documented everything from corruption at the highest levels to abuse of refugees at the hands of the French police.

    Suzie will share what she observed to help raise awareness of what's really going on with our people from the Middle East fleeing war, police states and oppression. She will be in conversation with Lilah Khoja who works on refugees issues with the Karam Foundation. Read an op-ed by Bono on why the refugee crisis affects us all.

    The Truth About Refugees, at The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., LA 90035 (between La Cienega & Fairfax). Street parking. 

    Reserve online below or call 323.413.2001 (RSVPs are recommended but not mandatory).

    suzie abdouSuzie Abdou is an expert on democracy and women’s issues in the MENA region. She recently returned from the Jordan field office of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs where she served as the Manager of their Women’s Political Participation & Parliamentary Development Program. Suzie was the Director of Global Programs at Women's Voices Now, where she was responsible for developing and implementing their international programs including traveling their short film festival, “Women's Voices from the Muslim World.” Previously, she worked on State health legislation for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Suzie has worked in entertainment law, handling, among other transactions, licensing for television and radio. She has worked for several Arab film festivals both domestically and internationally including the Dubai International Film Festival, Tunisian Film Festival in Los Angeles, and the Arab Film Festival in Los Angeles. Suzie is regularly called upon by American Public Media radio programs “Take Two”, “Real Talk with Larry Mantle” and formerly on “The Madeleine Brand Show” as well as the NBC network television program “Nonstop News L.A.”, speaking on the 2011 Egyptian revolution and its aftermath. Suzie is fluent in Arabic and has lived in and traveled throughout the Middle East and North Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola Marymount University, and a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of California Riverside.  Find her on Twitter: @suzieabdou and IG: suzieabdou. 

    lilah khojaLilah Khoja is the Advocacy Coordinator at Karam Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the dignity and quality of life for people affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria by eliminating barriers to success through innovative education, entrepreneurial development, and community-driven aid. As Advocacy coordinator, she is responsible for compiling regular reports on the situation of Syrian refugees in host countries, putting out relevant press releases and infographics, as well as updating Karam’s Giving Blog regularly. She has also been working with the Innovative Education team to establish scholarships for secondary school and college aged refugee students in the United States. She has also joined Karam on their Innovative Education missions along the Syrian border, where she bore witness to the needs and struggles of Syrian refugees. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Michigan with a concentration in Health Behavior & Health Education. She is focusing on refugee health and wellbeing and hopes to advocate for better solutions to the long term health problems faced by refugees.

     

     
  • Ask A Muslim: Women

    • Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 07:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • 11 people are going

    women in Islam

    The Markaz and Muslims for Progressive Values presents the third edition of Ask A Muslim on Women in Islam, Thursday, May 5th. Our speaker is Ani Zonneveld, founder and president of Muslims for Progressive Values, fresh from her TED talk earlier this month. She'll address women's rights in Islam: 

    • Can Muslim women lead prayer?
    • "Honor" killing
    • Hijab/niqab - cultural, anthropoligical, theological influences
    • Female genital mutilation/cutting
    • Is interfaith marriage permissible for Muslim women?

    Tonight's speaker is the founding director of MPV, Ani Zonneveld, who recently gave this TedX talk at Occidental College:

    https://youtu.be/FsedODeuAUM

    Open to the public, bring friends, families and your questions (you'll find good things to eat next door at the Indian or Ethiopian spots). At The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., LA 90035 (between La Cienega & Fairfax), street parking.

    Ask A Muslim is a new monthly series FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC that addresses some of the most pressing questions surrounding Islam today. It takes place on the first Thursday every month at The Markaz.

    In a time when Islam is the subject of much discussion and controversy in the media, Ask A Muslim hopes to foster an ongoing open dialogue, in a safe space for debateThe series endeavors to promote a more informed understanding of Arab/Muslim cultures, and to engage the greater Los Angeles community across all religious, cultural and political boundaries, to foster public conversation about the Qur’an and what constitutes a compassionate, egalitarian and peaceful practice in all its manifestations, with the intention to dispel simplistic or stereotypical interpretations and vilification of the Muslim religion. 

    Presented by Muslims for Progressive Values and The Markaz, and sponsored in part by the A & A Fund and Bana & Nabil Hilal.

    MPV's mission is to embody and be an effective voice of the traditional Qur’anic ideals of human dignity, egalitarianism, compassion and social justice.

    Ani ZonneveldAni Zonneveld is Founder and President of MPV. Since inception, she has presided over MPV’s expansion to include chapters and affiliates in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Columbus (OH), Ottawa and Toronto, Canada as well as Paris, France, Chile and Australia. She has organized numerous interfaith arts and music festivals, participated in many interfaith dialogues and is a strong supporter of women and LGBTQ rights. She is the brainchild of Literary Zikr – a project that counters radical Islam on-line and co-editor of MPV’s first book, an anthology titled Progressive Muslim Identities – Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada. Ani is a singer/songwriter and producer and is the first woman to release an English Islamic pop album in the U.S. Ani performs Islamic wedding services for mixed faith and gay couples and in 2006, she was named a Muslim Leader of Tomorrow by the American Society for Muslim Advancement.

    Born in Malaysia, Ani, a Muslim since birth, spent a good portion of her formative years raised in Germany, Egypt and India as an ambassador’s daughter. Her exposure to different politics, religions and cultures has shaped her inclusive worldview.

     
  • no enemies

    • Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 07:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $5.00 USD

    refusing to be enemies, palestinians and israelis resist occupation 

    At a time when BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions)—a peaceful protest movement against Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza—is under attack everywhere, imperiling free speech and protest on college campuses and in the streets, from California to New York and across Europe, it's essential to remind ourselves that Israeli authorities have long sought to stop nonviolent resistance. And yet both Israelis and Palestinians have engaged in nonviolent resistance to the Occupation. Peaceful protest is in the democratic tradition.

    Please join us at The Markaz when author Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta presents the findings in her book Refusing to be Enemies: Palestinian and Israeli Nonviolent Resistance to the Israeli Occupation (foreword by Ursula Franklin with contributions by Ghassan Andoni, Jeff Halper, Jonathon Kuttab & Starhawk among others).  A Quaker Jewish activist and writer from Burnaby, B.C., Canada, Kaufman-Lacusta speaks from first-hand experience based on seven years living and working in Jerusalem.

    Her book is an interview-based study that presents the voices of over 100 practitioners and theorists of nonviolence, the vast majority either Palestinian or Israeli, as they reflect on their own involvement in nonviolent resistance and speak about the nonviolent strategies and tactics employed by Palestinian and Israeli organizations.

    "Refusing to Be Enemies" is an event in the Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and US Middle East Foreign Policy series, coordinated by LA Jews for Peace at The Markaz and in partnership with various groups around Los Angeles, including the Friends of Sabeel. The program requests a suggested donation of $10/$5 for students. Copies of Refusing to Be Enemies will be signed by the author.

     

     

     

     
  • Muslim Writers Collective: A Night of Spoken Word

    • Saturday, April 30, 2016 at 07:30 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $10.00 USD
    • 5 people are going

    Muslim Writers Collective night of spoken word

    The New York-based collective returns to Los Angeles for its third outing, hosting local and national Muslim writers for an evening of spoken word (comedy, poetry, song, fiction, creative nonfiction), on the theme of "Everybody Plays the Fool." 

    Everybody plays the fool sometime... It's true! But in the end these experiences have the potential to make us that much wiser. Tell us about a time you were deceived, manipulated or fooled and how you became all the more wiser because of it. We want to hear it!

    If you are interested in being considered for the open mic., sign-up here. The Markaz is located at 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035 (just east of La Cienega, one block east of Crescent Heights). Street parking. Minimum suggested cover is $10. Doors open 7 pm, event starts 8 pm. 

    Comedy, poetry, song, short stories, excerpts are all welcome.

    See you Saturday!

    Reserve online below.

    Founded in 2014 by by Ayisha Irfan and Hamdan Azhar, the Muslim Writers Collective is a bold initiative aimed at reclaiming control over the American Muslim narrative and providing a safe space for current and aspiring writers. Through storytelling, creativity, and culture, we seek to incubate a vibrant literary tradition among youth in our community.

    Our core event is a monthly Open Mic where participants share their writings, stories, and spoken word. We also have numerous member-led initiatives that are in early stages of development, including a prison writing project, writing workshops, book clubs, and an urban citizen journalism project.

    We have active chapters in both New York and San Fransisco, as well as nascent chapters in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.

    Thank you to The Markaz for cohosting this evening with us.

    Read more about the Muslim Writers Collective.

    THIS EVENING'S HOSTS ARE LYNNE MANGIONE & AMIN NASH, WHO KINDLY REQUEST THAT YOU RSVP. SHUQRAN/MERCI! CALL 323.413.2001.

     
  • Jaffa Road Live at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts

    world music with Jaffa Road

    Jaffa Road, the award-winning band from Canada that performs a fusion of Middle Eastern, European, Jewish and Indian music, will appear live at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts, on Saturday evening, April 9, 2016. The concert is the first presented by The Markaz (“The Center”) in its new “SLO World Arts & Cultures” series, bringing world music and international comedy to San Luis Obispo County. Tickets are $28 general admission, $18 students and seniors with I.D. & groups. 

    Reserve tickets here.

    listen on soundcloudNamed World MUSIC GROUP OF THE YEAR at the 2013 CANADIAN FOLK MUSIC AWARDS and nominated for TWO JUNO AWARDS (2010, 2013) Jaffa Road is a highly acclaimed Toronto-based world music group made up of some of Canada’s most exciting and innovative interpreters of inter-cultural music. They released their sophomore CD Where the Light Gets In to critical acclaim, a Juno nomination, and an enthusiastic, standing room only crowd at Hugh’s Room, one of Toronto’s premier music venues.  Their music creates a unique sonic landscape that draws organically from the worlds of Jewish music, Arabic and Indian music, modern jazz, electronica, rock, pop, and dub.  Their song, L.Y.G., off their debut album, Sunplace, won Grand Prize and the Lennon Award in the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the band was also awarded Best World Music Artist at the Toronto Independent Music Awards.  They have traveled to many communities across North America and Brazil delighting audiences with their unique brand of genre-bending fusion. 

    “Jaffa Road’s performance for a packed hall was easily one of my favourite moments of the festival. This group of fantastic musicians has an uncanny ability to bring an audience to the edge of their seats one moment, and then get them on their feet dancing the next.” —Chris Dearlove, National Arts Centre’s Ontario Scene Festival

    “Their eclectic mix has a combination of cultural elements that is a virtual peace plan for the Middle East – their essence should be distilled and sent to long feuding lands.....Highly recommended!” —Larry Rossignol, The Distillery Jazz Festival

    “Jaffa Road at Blue Skies Music Festival was beyond magical...” —Julia Phillips, Blue Skies Music Festival

    The Markaz is an L.A.-based nonprofit arts organization, founded in 2001, that presents cultural arts programs across the United States in an effort to promote dialogue and build bridges. The SLO World Arts & Cultures series will present world music concerts from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, along with select international comedy shows. The Markaz—where arts and the humanities give voice to our dreams for peace. 

    For tickets and information, contact the Clark Center for the Performing Arts, 805.489.9444. To interview the band or further info on The Markaz series, contact Jordan Elgrably, 805.464.2692.


     


    Listen on Soundcloud.
     
  • Jaffa Road Live at the Pico Union Project

    Jaffa Road in L.A. 

    Jaffa Road, the award-winning band from Canada that performs a fusion of Middle Eastern, European, Jewish and Indian music, will appear live at the Pico Union Project, 1153 Valencia Street, LA 90015, on Thursday evening, April 7, 2016.

    The concert is presented by The Markaz (“The Center”) in its world music series. Tickets are $28 general admission, $18 members, students and seniors with I.D. & groups (10 or more). 

    soundcloudNamed World MUSIC GROUP OF THE YEAR at the 2013 CANADIAN FOLK MUSIC AWARDS and nominated for TWO JUNO AWARDS (2010, 2013) Jaffa Road is a highly acclaimed Toronto-based world music group made up of some of Canada’s most exciting and innovative interpreters of inter-cultural music. 

    Their music creates a unique sonic landscape that draws organically from the worlds of Jewish music, Arabic and Indian music, modern jazz, electronica, rock, pop, and dub. 

    Jaffa Road’s appearance is made possible in part by the generous support of the Music Touring Program at the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to support the Arts in Canada.  

    “Jaffa Road’s performance for a packed hall was easily one of my favourite moments of the festival. This group of fantastic musicians has an uncanny ability to bring an audience to the edge of their seats one moment, and then get them on their feet dancing the next.” —Chris Dearlove, National Arts Centre’s Ontario Scene Festival

    “Their eclectic mix has a combination of cultural elements that is a virtual peace plan for the Middle East – their essence should be distilled and sent to long feuding lands.....Highly recommended!” —Larry Rossignol, The Distillery Jazz Festival

    “Jaffa Road at Blue Skies Music Festival was beyond magical...” —Julia Phillips, Blue Skies Music Festival

    The Markaz is an L.A.-based nonprofit arts organization, founded in 2001, that presents cultural arts programs across the United States in an effort to promote dialogue and build bridges.  The Markaz—where arts and the humanities give voice to our dreams for peace. 

    For tickets and information, contact The Markaz, 323.413.2001.


     


    Listen on Soundcloud.
     
  • Ask A Muslim: LGBTQ!

    • Thursday, April 07, 2016 at 07:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • 11 people are going

    open forum on the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer Muslim community

    The Markaz and Muslims for Progressive Values presents the second edition of "Ask A Muslim" with LGBTQ!, talking about the issues facing gay, Lesbian and other "queer" Muslims, on Thursday, April 7th, and every other first Thursday of the month thereafter. Moderator: writer Ramy Eletreby. Panelists: Naveed Marchant, Ani Zonneveld. Q&A to follow.

    What is LGBTQI? We will explain, and we will also address the misguided teachings, the homophobic stance imams, religious leaders and teachers take that have resulted in the demonizing and ostracizing of LGBTQI Muslims by members of their communities and even families. 
    We will go over the theology that debunks Islam as homophobic and that is affirming of LGBTQI's dignity and basic human rights.
    According to statistics 47% of American Muslims support Marriage Equality yet we don't see one single mosque leader or representative, Sunni or Shia openly support LGBTQI basic rights. 

    "Ask A Muslim" is a new monthly series FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC that addresses some of the most pressing questions surrounding Islam today. It takes place on the first Thursday every month at The Markaz (May 5, June 2, etc.).

    EVENT BIOS:
    Panelists:
    Naveed Najmuddin Merchant
    is a first-generation American of Pakistani heritage.  A native of Los Angeles, he grew up in the Dawoodi Bohra Shi’a tradition of Islam.  Naveed came out as a gay man to his family in 1990 at the age of 19.  In 1995 he joined forces with other LGBTIQ South Asians and co-founded Trikone Los Angeles, currently known as Satrang.  In 1999 he joined Al-Fatiha, the international Muslim LGBTQ organization now known as MASGD or Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity.*  Naveed’s writings have been featured in the Satrang’s Coming Out, Coming Home and in Q&A Space: Stories and Resources for the API LGBTQ Community.  Throughout the years, Naveed has been extremely grateful for his family’s support. He has, however, managed thus far to resist his mother’s attempts to secure for him a same-sex arranged marriage.

    In a time when Islam is the subject of much discussion and controversy in the media, Ask A Muslim hopes to foster an ongoing open dialogue, in a safe space for debate. The series endeavors to promote a more informed understanding of Arab/Muslim cultures, and to engage the greater Los Angeles community across all religious, cultural and political boundaries, to foster public conversation about the Qur’an and what constitutes a compassionate, egalitarian and peaceful practice in all its manifestations, with the intention to dispel simplistic or stereotypical interpretations and vilification of the Muslim religion. 

    Ani Zonneveld is founder and director of Muslims for Progressive Values. Since inception, Ani has presided over MPV’s expansion to include chapters and affiliates in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Columbus (OH), Ottawa and Toronto, Canada as well as Paris, France, Chile and Australia. She has organized numerous interfaith arts and music festivals, participated in many interfaith dialogues and is a strong supporter of women and LGBTQ rights. She is the brainchild of Literary Zikr – a project that counters radical Islam on-line and co-editor of MPV’s first book, an anthology titled “Progressive Muslim Identities – Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada”. Ani is a singer/songwriter/producer and is the first woman to release an English Islamic pop album in the U.S. Ani performs Islamic wedding services for mixed faith and gay couples and in 2006, she was named a Muslim Leader of Tomorrow by the American Society for Muslim Advancement. Born in Malaysia, Ani, a Muslim since birth, spent a good portion of her formative years raised in Germany, Egypt and India as an Ambassador’s daughter. Her exposure to different politics, religions and cultures has shaped her inclusive worldview. 

    Moderator:
    Ramy Eletreby
     is a Muslim Arab-American writer, performer, and applied theatre artist based in Los Angeles, California. He directs and facilitates original artistic projects in collaboration with communities throughout Southern California. His writings have appeared on The Huffington Post, Queerty, KCET, and the award-winning blog Love Inshallah. His short story "The Ride" appears in the ground-breaking anthology, Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy. Ramy recently developed "The Ride" into a solo theatre piece, which he premiered this past January at the Whitefire Theatre as part of its annual Solofest, the largest solo theatre festival on the West Coast. 

    Presented by Muslims for Progressive Values and The Markaz, and sponsored in part by the A & A Fund and Bana & Nabil Hilal.

    Space is limited, reservations are suggested. RSVP below or call 323.413.2001

     
  • Al-Sham: A Night for Syria

    • Saturday, April 02, 2016 at 07:30 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $20.00 USD
    • 27 people are going
    al-sham-apr-2-banner-851-new.jpg

    The Markaz in Los Angeles is participating with the Global Week 4 Syria (organized out of Beirut) that takes place across the world in April. Global Week 4 Syria is a movement for peace led by hundreds of musicians, artists, creatives, and intellectuals standing for peace and making a difference in the present and future of Syria. Through music, art, and culture, Global Week For Syria brings to life the possibility that Syria would once again take its place as a beacon of rich culture, deep history, and unwavering hope for human compassion and understanding.

    We present an evening devoted to Syria, on Saturday, April 2nd, 8 pm (doors 7:30), featuring live traditional Syrian music on oud and percussion with Naser Musa, along with co-authors Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shaimi presenting their major new book, Burning Country, plus Syrian American spoken word artist Omar Offendum. This salon will build on the program we presented last October, Soup for Syria Food and Arts Festival, that raised awareness of and provided financial relief for the Syrian refugee crisis. It is supported in part by FELM's Syria Initiative.

    A light dinner and soft drinks are included with this program (cover $25 in advance, $30 at the door and $20 for Markaz members). Autographed copies of Burning Country and other recent books on Syria will be available. Seating is limited, advance ticket purchase is strongly advised (as this event will sell out early) Reserve below or call 323.413.2001.



    More About the Event

    One Middle East observer argues Syria is the new Stalingrad. Four million Syrians are internally displaced, and millions more are living in tents or on the streets, while some, including children, are drowning on the high seas, trying to escape to safety.
    In April, more than two hundred musicians, visual and performing artists, cultural activists, philosophers and other European, American and Middle Eastern intellectuals will join in the Global Week for Syria, a multidisciplinary call for peace and reconciliation in Syria.

    In 2011, many Syrians took to the streets of Damascus to demand the overthrow of the government of Bashar al-Assad. Today, much of Syria has become a war zone where foreign journalists find it almost impossible to report on life in this devastated land.

    Burning Country explores the horrific and complicated reality of life in present-day Syria with unprecedented detail and sophistication, drawing on new first-hand testimonies from opposition fighters, exiles lost in an archipelago of refugee camps, and courageous human rights activists among many others. These stories are expertly interwoven with a trenchant analysis of the brutalization of the conflict and the militarization of the uprising, of the rise of the Islamists and sectarian warfare, and the role of governments in Syria and elsewhere in exacerbating those violent processes. 

    With chapters focusing on ISIS and Islamism, regional geopolitics, the new grassroots revolutionary organisations, and the worst refugee crisis since World War Two, Burning Country is a vivid and groundbreaking look at a modern-day political and humanitarian nightmare. 


    burning-country-cover250.jpgAbout the authors: 

    Robin Yassin-Kassab is a regular media commentator on Syria and the Middle East. He is the author of the novel The Road to Damascus (Hamish Hamilton, 2008) and a contributor to Syria Speaks (Saqi, 2014). He resides near London.

    Leila Al-Shami has worked with the human rights movement in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. She was a founding member of Tahrir-ICN, a network that aimed to connect anti-authoritarian struggles across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. 

    Praise for Burning Country:

    "For decades Syrians have been forbidden from telling their own stories and the story of their country, but here Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila al-Shami tell the Syrian story. Their words represent the devastated country which has denied them and their compatriots political representation. Burning Country is an indispensable book for those who wish to know the truth about Syria." —Yassin al-Haj Saleh 

    "Burning Country is poised to become the definitive book not only on the continuing Syrian conflict but on the country and its society as a whole. Very few books have been written on 'the kingdom of silence' that effectively capture how we all got here while not omitting the human voice, the country's heroes and heroines — a combination that is rare but essential for understanding the conflict and its complexities. Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami have written a must-read book even as the conflict still rages to understand what happened, why it happened and how it should end."

    —Hassan Hassan, co-author of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror (New York Times bestseller), Associate Fellow, Chatham House, London 

     

     


     
     
  • Muslim Writers Collective: A Night of Spoken Word

    • Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 07:30 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $10.00 USD
    • 24 people are going

    Muslim Writers Collective night of spoken word

    The New York-based collective returns to Los Angeles, hosting local and national Muslim writers for an evening of spoken word (comedy, poetry, song, fiction, creative nonfiction), on the theme of "Awakening." If you are interested in being considered for the open mic, register here.

    Food and refreshments available. Reserve online below.

    Founded in 2014 by by Ayisha Irfan and Hamdan Azhar, the Muslim Writers Collective is a bold initiative aimed at reclaiming control over the American Muslim narrative and providing a safe space for current and aspiring writers. Through storytelling, creativity, and culture, we seek to incubate a vibrant literary tradition among youth in our community.

    Our core event is a monthly Open Mic where participants share their writings, stories, and spoken word. We also have numerous member-led initiatives that are in early stages of development, including a prison writing project, writing workshops, book clubs, and an urban citizen journalism project.

    Founded in January 2014 in New York City, we have active chapters in both New York and San Fransisco, as well as nascent chapters in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.

    Thank you to The Markaz for cohosting this evening with us.

    Read about the Muslim Writers Collective.

    The Markaz is located at 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035 (just east of La Cienega, one block east of Crescent Heights). Street parking. Minimum suggested cover is $10. Doors open 7 pm, event starts 8 pm. Food and drink available.

    THIS EVENING'S HOSTS ARE BASSAM JAZAIRI & AMIN NASH, WHO KINDLY REQUEST THAT YOU RSVP SO WE KNOW HOW MUCH FOOD TO PREPARE (SPACE LIMITED). SHUQRAN/MERCI! CALL 323.413.2001.

     
  • Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief, March 25th!

    • Friday, March 25, 2016 at 08:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $12.00 USD
    • 22 people are going

    Middle East Comic Relief March 25, 2016

    Wildly fun, packed audiences always make the Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief show an unforgettable experience!

    Headlining this show is the extremely funny and astute Aron Kader, the Palestinian American comedian, actor and writer, who costarred in the original Sultans shows and the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour (Comedy Central) and is a regular at the world-famous Comedy Store. (Watch the video clip below.)

    Crazy funny comedy with young American comedians of diverse Middle Eastern heritage—that's what you get with the Sultans of Satire. Truthfully? Life in L.A.—forget about the situation in the Middle East—can be hell, so why deprive yourself of some justified comic relief? Come out and spend time with the Sultans of Satire (the original Middle Eastern comedy show launched in 2005).

    Hosting this show is Sherwin Arae, plus performers Sammy Obeid—the first comedian to ever do 1001 stand-up nights in a row!—and the very funny Melissa Shoshahi, Ramy Youssef, Jennifer Jajeh and Paul Elia. Special guest Sheno Khal will do a guest spot. He makes the third Palestinian in this show—it's a conspiracy!  

    Recommended minimum age 18+. The Markaz is located at 5998 W. Pico Blvd., LA 90035 (between La Cienega and Fairfax). Street parking.  Tickets are only $18 general admission (but $20 at the door, so it's better to buy them in advance), or $12 students with I.D. and Markaz members. 

    RSVP with lynne@themarkaz.org or better yet, go to the bottom of this page to reserve your seats, or call 323.413.2001. 

    WATCH:

    Aron Kader was born to a Palestinian Muslim father and Mormon mother. He was one of the original cast members of the Comedy Central special Axis of Evil, and has performed in the New York Arab American Comedy Festival, started by fellow tour member Dean Obeidallah, and a regular cast member of the Sultans of Satire since 2005. 

    Lebanese-Palestinian-Syrian-Italian-American, born in Oakland, California, Sammy Obeid is best known for his 1,001 day streak of consecutive comedy performances. It began on December 26th, 2010, and concluded on September 21st, 2013– four days after an appearance on TBS’s Conan. Breaking the old world record on Day 731, Sammy set the new one at 1,001 Arabian Nights of Comedy.

    Melissa Shoshahi is an Iranian-American stand-up comedian and actress based in Los Angeles who  can currently be seen on the road opening for Max Amini and at comedy clubs throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Comedy festival credits include San Francisco Comedy Competition and The She Devil Festival in NYC. 

    Originally from Tehran, Iran Sherwin came to America at a young age. Raised in an Iranian household while attending American schools created Sherwin's comedic foundation. "Our neighborhood was mostly white, with the exception of one black family next door to us, I was so happy to see that Iranians were not the only ones who put plastic covers on their furniture."

    Ramy Youssef is a young and talented Egyptian American comedian who landed a shot on Nick at Nite. He makes up one half of Inside Joke Films, an award-winning New York City based sketch duo who have been official selections at Chicago, San Francisco, and New York Sketch Comedy Festivals.

    Jennifer Jajeh is an American actress, comedian and writer. She was born in San Francisco, California to parents of Palestinian Christian descent. Her hit one-woman show I Heart Hamas toured internationally. 

    Paul Elia is a very funny Iraqi American comedian and actor. He has performed at the Laugh Factory and other comedy clubs and is known for his work on Mentor, The Finalist and Only in L.A.

     

     
  • Multiculti Sunday for Kids!

    • Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 03:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • 24 people are going

    multiculti kids!

    On Sunday, March 20th, from 3 to 5 pm, The Markaz welcomes kids and parents to the first monthly Multiculti Sunday for Kids, where young children (ages 3 to 12) will experience multicultural storytelling (in Arabic, Persian, French and Hebrew with English introductions), a magic show by Stoil from the Magic Castle, drawing/painting, games and healthy snacks! Kids from all cultures and religions welcome! This is a secular and fun educational afternoon!

    This program is free to the community, but a maximum of 25 kids plus parent(s) will be allowed, and you must RSVP in advance! (Donations welcome.)

    Future Multiculti Sundays (the third Sunday afternoon each month) will include a variety of surprise activities, such as robotics, puppetry, Lego, calligraphy, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and French, storytelling and fun!

    Please RSVP below, or call our reservation line at 323.413.2001.

    This Multiculti Sunday sponsored by Camil A. To sponsor a future Multiculti Sunday, please contact jordan-at-themarkaz.org.

     
  • THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT! [Salon Algerien: Exploring Algeria]

    • Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 07:30 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • 34 people are going

    Salon Algerian: Exploring Algeria

    *SOLD OUT* AS OF SAT., MAR 19, 2 PM this event is SOLD OUT. We can accept to further reservations. We invite you instead to make a reservation for our next salon, on Syria, featuring the music, food, poetry and writing of Syria. Click here*SOLD OUT* 


     

    *SOLD OUT* The Markaz welcomes you back on Saturday, March 19, 2016, 7:30 pm to its new series of social salons or tertulias (Spanish for literary-social gathering) to celebrate Algeria today and yesterday. The Salon Algerien takes place in a comfortable artistic setting, and is the third in a regular monthly series (next up, Syria, April 2nd!). 

    The music, culture & cuisine of Algeria, with Chaba Fella Oudane, includes a light Algerian dinner catered by Nadia Bousmal, art by Abdelkarim Kebir, cosponsored by the Algerian American Association of Southern California and Dr. Hamoud Salhi of Cal State Dominguez Hills.

    You needn't necessarily be Algerian—indeed, everyone's welcome and the conversation is open. Personal stories, professional experiences and thoughtful opinions are welcome, as are poems, short (short) stories, and brief discussion of recent books, movies and music.

    Please note, 7:30 pm doors open for a meet-and-greet and light dinner, the program begins at 8:30 pm. This salon's very special guests are raï master Chaba Fella Oudane and her accompanist, with Alfred Madain on percussion and vocals.

    When you reserve in advance, general admission including light dinner is $20, Markaz members $10 ($25 at the door).

    THIS EVENING'S HOSTS ARE LYNNE MANGIONE AND GANDI KHEIRI, WHO KINDLY REQUEST THAT YOU RSVP SO WE KNOW HOW MUCH FOOD TO PREPARE (SPACE LIMITED). SHUQRAN/MERCI! CALL 323.413.2001.

    AbdelKrim Kebir art
    Art by Abdelkarim Kebir 

    CHABA FELLA OUDANE
    Fella Oudane with Alfred MadainFella Oudane was born in Bab-El-Oued, Algiers, surrounded by music from childhood. A natural percussionist, she played derbouka at a professional level as a teenager and with her sisters, performed in festivals and weddings in Algiers. Her elder sister Habiba appreciated the passion of her younger sister and her innate direction for the rhythm, inviting Fella to play the derbouka in her orchestra. At the age of 15, Fella became one of the most popular performers on the Algiers wedding scene. Later, during an official reception organized for the Arab community in Los Angeles, Fella met Cheb Nasro. Impressed by the hot stamp of her voice, Nasro decided to launch her carrier with a duet released in 2002. Their album Separation was a huge success across Algeria and within the Algerian community abroad. Nasro and Fella continued to work together and in 2004 their last duet "Ana 3achek" and "Ya mama, ya mama" was launched. Admired and encouraged by her public, Fella the artist continued singing and in 2006 she released her first solo album “A3chaktek ana."

     
  • Upcoming Arabic Classes, All Levels, Starts March 12

    • Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 10:00 AM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $300.00 USD
    • 6 people are going

    shami-arabic-banner-851.jpg

    Are you ready to learn Arabic as spoken conversationally in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel and beyond?  The new term at The Markaz begins Saturday March 17, 2016:   

    The Markaz provides students unique opportunities to be immersed in the Arabic language through its numerous classes, social gatherings and film and music events. 

    Available levels this quarter of Shami Arabic include Beginning 1 • Beginning 2 • Beginning 3 • Intermediate • Advanced 

    Language classes run for 6 weeks, 3 hours/class

    Tuition: $400

    Special Offer: $300 if registration is completed BEFORE the first class (sign up below online).

    More info/to register, contact: Lynne Mangione or lynne@themarkaz.org.

    Please note that the minimum age requirement for the following classes is 18 years old.

    Shami  (Levantine) Arabic

    Our Shami Arabic classes teach students the fundamentals of the Arabic language with a focus on the dialect spoken in the Levant— Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan and Palestine.  Beginning classes are taught in both English and Shami Arabic, while the Intermediate and Advanced classes are in Shami only.

    Our Arabic teacher is Bassam Aljazairi, a native speaker and experienced teacher from Syria who has a passion for sharing the language and culture of his homeland. Having travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, North Africa and the United States, Bassam shares his experiences with students in lessons that are lively, interactive and always fun!

    BEGINNING LEVEL I:
    This class focuses on reading and writing the Arabic alphabet, letter sounds, numbers, basic vocabulary, greetings and simple sentence structure.

    Class time: Mondays, 6-9 pm

    Class start-date: March 14


     

    BEGINNING LEVEL 2
    This class is ideal for the student who already knows how to read and write the Arabic alphabet and wants to develop their understanding of language structure and basic conversation skills. Class introduces students to basic grammatical concepts of written Arabic and helps them improve writing technique, pronunciation, listening and speaking skills.

    Class time: Saturdays, 11:00-2:00 pm

    Class start-date: March 12 


    BEGINNING LEVEL 3: 

    This class is for the person who has prior knowledge of Arabic (MSA or any dialect) and wants to begin to learn or improve their understanding of the Shami dialect. At this level students should be able to read and write basic sentences fluidly. Class will help students expand their vocabulary and improve their understanding of language structures in both written and spoken contexts.

    Class time: Saturdays, 2:30-5:30 pm

    Class start-date: March 12 


    INTERMEDIATE:

    This class delves deeper into more advanced grammatical concepts, such as conditional sentences and use of the passive voice. Students are expected to be able to read and write short texts and to speak only Shami during class. Topical discussions will give students a broader understanding of common Shami expressions and the nuances of the dialect within a cultural context.

    Class time: Sundays, 2:30-5:30 pm

    Class start-date: March 13 


     

    ADVANCED:  

    This class is ideal for the student who is fluent in Arabic but wants practice in order to build a more extensive vocabulary and sound like a native speaker. Class format will provide topics for discussion that include culture, politics and art, with the teacher as coach and moderator.

    Class time: Wednesdays, 6-9 pm

    Class start-date: March 16

    Private tutoring with teacher Bassam Aljazairi available through special arrangement. Contact lynne@themarkaz.org for further information.

     
  • Persian Classes

    • Sunday, March 06, 2016 at 02:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035

    Upcoming Persian class info goes here.

     
  • Ask A Muslim: Islam 101

    • Thursday, March 03, 2016 at 07:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • 21 people are going

    Islam101 

    The Markaz and Muslims for Progressive Values presents the first edition of "Ask A Muslim" with ISLAM 101, on Thursday, March 3rd, and every other first Thursday of the month thereafter. Speakers for this month’s topic are Dr. Jim Ghaznavi (Progressive), Dr. Ali Parsa (Shia, historical and philosophical) and Edina Lekovic (Sunni), in a public conversation moderated by Ani Zonneveld, Founder & President of Muslims for Progressive Values. Q&A to follow.

    "Ask A Muslim" is a new monthly series FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC that addresses some of the most pressing questions surrounding Islam today. It takes place on the first Thursday every month at The Markaz (March 3 + April 7 + May 5 etc.).

    In a time when Islam is the subject of much discussion and controversy in the media, Ask A Muslim hopes to foster an ongoing open dialogue, in a safe space for debateThe series endeavors to promote a more informed understanding of Arab/Muslim cultures, and to engage the greater Los Angeles community across all religious, cultural and political boundaries, to foster public conversation about the Qur’an and what constitutes a compassionate, egalitarian and peaceful practice in all its manifestations, with the intention to dispel simplistic or stereotypical interpretations and vilification of the Muslim religion. 

    Presented by Muslims for Progressive Values and The Markaz, and sponsored in part by the A & A Fund and Bana & Nabil Hilal.

    Space is limited, reservations are suggested. RSVP below or call 323.413.2001

     
  • Sultans of Satire, February 26th!

    • Friday, February 26, 2016 at 08:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $15.00 USD
    • 29 people are going

    Angelo Tsarouchas & the Sultans of Satire 

    Wildly fun, packed audiences always make the Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief show an unforgettable experience! This show features very special guest headliner Angelo Tsarouchas, the big funny Greek Canadian comedian and actor, star of multiple Just for Laughs Festivals, the Wild West Comedy Show and movies such as Fred and Vinnie, and TV shows including Sullivan and Son. Angelo will be doing an explosive set at The Markaz, don't miss it! (Watch the video clip below.)

    Crazy funny comedy with young American comedians of diverse Middle Eastern heritage—that's what you get with the Sultans of Satire. Truthfully? Life in L.A.—forget about the situation in the Middle East—can be hell, so why deprive yourself of some justified comic relief? Come out and spend time with the Sultans of Satire (the original Middle Eastern comedy show launched in 2005).

    Hosted by Sultans of Satire regular Noël Elgrably, this show also features the very funny Amir K., Nasry Malak, Melissa Shoshahi, Zara Mizrahi, Feraz Ozel and surprise guests. This show marks the 10th year of the Sultans. Tickets are only $18 general admission (but $20 at the door, so it's better to buy them in advance), or $15 students with I.D. and Markaz members. Middle Eastern menu available, there is 1 food or drink item minimum. Seating is actually limited, this will be an intimate comedy and satire spectacle of the highest order, certain to distract from you from the fact the world is going to hell in a hand basket, yalla! Come out to The Markaz and make a night of it.

    RSVP with monia@themarkaz.org or better yet, go to the bottom of this page to reserve your seats, or call 323.413.2001.

     

    WATCH:

    http://www.tsarouchas.com/#bigger-is-better-comedy-special

    Angelo Tsarouchas has appeared on hit TV shows such as Mad Men and Blue Mountain State. He headlines worldwide and has been touring with Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show. Most recently he finished filming his latest one-hour comedy special to a sold-out audience in Athens, Greece and he also appeared at this years Just For Laughs Festival. Funny and approachable, this native Canadian currently lives in Los Angeles.

    Amir K. is a very funny Iranian American comedian who appears regularly at The Laugh Factory and other major comedy venues around Southern California and across the country.

    Noël Elgrably, a native of the DC area, has been doing stand-up comedy for 10 years. An original Sultans of Satire cast member, he has appeared in the annual Arab American Comedy Festival in NYC, and at the world-famous Comedy Store, the Laugh Factory, Hollywood Improv and comedy clubs across the U.S. and Canada.

    Feraz Ozel is an Afghan-Pakistani comedian with his own energetic brand of insightful comedy. Feraz was recently seen providing comedic relief on The Doctors on CBS, and has performed in Ahmed Ahmed's Next Generation of Evil comedy tour. He won the Funzine Comedy Competition in Budapest, Hungary and was a finalist in San Diego's Funniest Person competition.

    Melissa Shoshahi is an Iranian-American stand-up comedian and actress based in Los Angeles who  can currently be seen on the road opening for Max Amini and at comedy clubs throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Comedy festival credits include San Francisco Comedy Competition and The She Devil Festival in NYC. 

    Nasry Malak is an Egyptian American comedian who grew up on the East Coast and trained with the Upright Citizens Brigade. He's been seen in The Watch List on Comedy Central and first appeared in the Sultans of Satire back at the beginning, in 2005!

    Zara Mizrahi is is an L.A. native of Mexican and Jewish heritage who performs stand-up every night, hosts and produces shows all over Los Angeles, and appears on various podcasts and sketches. 

     

     

     
  • Night in North Africa

    • Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 08:00 PM
    • Pico Union Project, 1153 Valencia St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
    • $20.00 USD
    • 66 people are going

    A Night in North Africa

    The Markaz invites you to enjoy a beautiful, high energy and spiritually-invigorating night of North African music and dance, starring the Bedouin-X ensemble with Alfred Madain (vocals, percussion), Ava Nahas (world drumset, vocals), David Markowitz (saz, oud), Timo Maloof (violin), David Martinelli (percussion) and Mike Gadsby (bass, guitar); plus the colorful Qabila Folkdance Company led by Aubre Hill; and the Algerian master raï singer, Chaba Fella Oudane. Seating for this concert is general admission and tickets are just $20 when purchased in advance, $25 at the door! The concert takes place at the beautiful Pico Union Project concert hall, just west of downtown L.A. There is free parking in the lot and on the street.

    Reserve your seats below or call 323.413.2001.

    ABOUT THE PERFORMERS

    BEDOUIN-X
    Is a veritable supergroup of LA-based musicians dropping North African Arabic jams with captivating rhythmic flow and inspiration. Bedouin X is a political and social trance rock concept group created to revive and bring the socially and politically conscientious music that sprang out in the African parts of the Arab world and present the music along with original work to western audiences.

    CHABA FELLA OUDANE
    Was born in Bab-El-Oued, Algiers, surrounded by music from childhood. A natural percussionist, she played derbouka at a professional level as a teenager and with her sisters, performed in festivals and weddings in Algiers. Her elder sister Habiba appreciated the passion of her younger sister and her innate direction for the rhythm, inviting Fella to play the derbouka in her orchestra. At the age of 15, Fella became one of the most popular performers on the Algiers wedding scene. Later, during an official reception organized for the Arab community in Los Angeles, Fella met Cheb Nasro. Impressed by the hot stamp of her voice, Nasro decided to launch her carrier with a duet released in 2002. Their album Separation was a huge success across Algeria and within the Algerian community abroad. Nasro and Fella continued to work together and in 2004 their last duet "Ana 3achek" and "Ya mama, ya mama" was launched. Admired and encouraged by her public, Fella the artist continued singing and in 2006 she released her first solo album “A3chaktek ana."

     
  • Salon Marocain

    • Thursday, February 04, 2016 at 07:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $5.00 USD
    • 5 people are going

    feb-4-banner-851.jpg




     

     

     

     

    a view of Casablanca, painted by Anna Alworthy


    The Markaz welcomes you back on Thursday, February 4, 2016, 7 pm to its new series of literary salons or tertulias (Spanish for literary-social gathering) to talk about Morocco today and yesterday. The Salon Marocain takes place in a comfortable artistic setting, and is the second in a regular monthly series (next up, Algeria, March 1st!).

    You needn't necessarily be Moroccan—indeed, everyone's welcome (including other North Africans), and the conversation is open. Personal stories, professional experiences and thoughtful opinions are welcome, as are poems, short (short) stories, and brief discussion of recent books, movies and music.

    Please note, 7 pm doors open for a meet-and-greet, the program begins at 7:30 pm and includes Moroccan mezze.

    This salon's very special guests are Souffles-Anfas co-editors Olivia Harrison and Teresa Villa-Ignacio. They will discuss the rich heritage of Moroccan literature, joined by Francophone poet-publisher Guy Bennett and UCLA associate professor Lia Brozgal.  The conversation turns around Souffles-Anfas, the Moroccan journal of culture and politics and celebrates the recent publication of Souffles-Anfas: A Critical Anthology from the Moroccan Journal of Culture and Politics (Stanford UP, 2016). Founded in 1966 by Abdelatif Laâbi and a small group of avant-garde Moroccan poets and artists, then banned in 1972, Souffles-Anfas was one of the most influential literary, cultural and political reviews to emerge in postcolonial North Africa.

    The conversation and poetry readings will be followed by social networking and mixing among the participants and the audience.

    This program is free for Markaz members. Non-member requested contribution for the evening is $10 ($5 students), provided you make a reservation; the cover at the door if you do not reserve is $15. Donations and memberships to The Markaz are posted below.

    THIS EVENING'S HOSTS ARE RIME YASIN AND MONIA FDAÏL, WHO KINDLY REQUEST THAT YOU RSVP SO WE KNOW HOW MUCH FOOD TO PREPARE (SPACE LIMITED). SHUQRAN/MERCI! CALL 323.413.2001.

    professors-1000.jpg 

    OLIVIA C. HARRISON is Assistant Professor of French, Italian and Middle East Studies at USC. Her research focuses on Maghrebi and Beur/banlieue literature and film; diversity in postcolonial France; the historiography and memory of colonization in France and Algeria; women and war in the Middle East and North Africa; anti- and postcolonial theory; Islam and the West; and translation. Her first book, Transcolonial Maghreb: Imagining Palestine in the Era of Decolonization (Stanford University Press, 2016), analyzes the representation of Palestine in Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian literary works and public debates from the 1960s to the present. She is at work on a new book that charts the emergence of the Palestinian question in France, both in political and intellectual discourses and in artistic works. Co-editor of Souffles-Anfas: A Critical Anthology from the Moroccan Journal of Culture and Politics(Stanford University Press, 2016), Harrison has translated essays and poems by Adbelkebir Khatibi, Abraham Serfaty, and Abdellatif Laâbi.

    TERESA VILLA-IGNACIO research and teaching interests include 20th and 21st-century U.S. American, French, and Francophone literature; poetry and poetics; translation studies; literary theory; ethics; intermediality; postcolonial studies; multiculturalism; and globalization. She is completing a book manuscript entitled Poethical Import: Translationships in French-American Poetic Exchange, 1961-present, which examines the centrality of ethics in relations of translation and collaboration among France- and U.S.-based contemporary poets. She produces a related podcast series, Sounding Translation, which features interviews with poet-translators, and has co-edited Souffles-Anfas: A critical Anthology from the Moroccan Journal of Culture and Politics (Stanford University Press, 2016). Villa-Ignacio holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Brown University and has taught in the History and Literature program at Harvard University, the Romance Studies department at Boston University, and as Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of French and Italian at Tulane University. 

    GUY BENNETT is the author of several collections of poetry, various works of non-poetry, and numerous translations. Recent publications include View SourcePoèmes évidents (a French co-translation (with Frédéric Forte) of his Self-Evident Poems), and the edition / translation of Giovanna Sandri’s only fragments found: selected poems, 1969–1998. His writing has been featured in magazines and anthologies in the U.S. and abroad, and presented in poetry and arts festivals internationally. Publisher of Mindmade Books and co-editor of Seismicity Editions, he lives in Los Angeles and teaches at Otis College of Art and Design. 

    LIA BROZGAL earned a BA in French from Chatham College and an AM and PhD—both in Romance Languages and Literatures—from Harvard University. Before joining the faculty at UCLA in 2008, she was an appointed lecturer in History and Literature at Harvard University. Her research and teaching encompass a variety of topics in Francophone North Africa as well as contemporary French literature, history and culture. Recent projects include her monograph on Tunsian writer Albert Memmi, in addition to articles on North African cinema, beur (or immigrant) cultural productions, chronicles of the Holocaust in North Africa, and early 20th-century Judeo-Tunisian literature. 

    The evening will be accompanied by Moroccan food and music.

    Space is strictly limited and reservations are strongly recommended to guarantee your seat; reserve below or call 323.413.2001 during regular office hours (M-F, 10 am–6 pm). Event schedule as follows: 7pm meet and greet, 7:30pm presentations, 8:30pm discussions and social networking.

     
  • Sultans of Satire, January 29th!

    • Friday, January 29, 2016 at 08:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $12.00 USD
    • 20 people are going

    crazy funny comedy with the Sultans of Satire

    Crazy funny comedy with up to eight comedians, that's what you get with the Sultans of Satire. Life in L.A.—forget about the situation in the Middle East—can be hell, so why deprive yourself of some justified comic relief? Come out and spend time with the Sultans of Satire (the original Middle Eastern comedy show launched in 2005).

    Headlining this show is the extremely funny and astute Aron Kader, the Palestinian American comedian, actor and writer, who costarred in the original Sultans shows and the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour (Comedy Central) and is a regular at the world-famous Comedy Store.

    Our hilarious host is Tehran, who hosts his own show regularly at the Laugh Factory, and our costars are Mona Shaikh, Omid Singh, Noël Elgrably and Amir K., with special guest Jennifer Jajeh. This show marks the 10th year of the Sultans. Tickets are only $15 general admission (but $18 at the door, so it's better to buy them in advance), or $12 students with I.D. and members. Middle Eastern menu available, there is 1 food or drink item minimum. Seating is actually limited, this will be an intimate comedy and satire spectacle of the highest order, certain to distract from you from the fact the world is going to hell in a hand basket, yalla! Come out, support The Markaz and make a night of it.

    Go to the bottom of this page to reserve your seats, or call 323.413.2001.

     
  • '16 classes

    • Saturday, January 16, 2016 at 12:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • 2 people are going

    Shami Arabic Classes 2016 

    What are your reasons for wanting to learn a new language? New Year’s Resolution? Romance? Travel? Family? Business? Literature?

    Classes at The Markaz offer students an opportunity to learn about the cultures and everyday languages spoken throughout the Middle East regions...

    Shami Arabic • Farsi • Hebrew • Turkish

    ***Special Offer***

    $100 Discount for Early Bird Registration • New term begins Saturday January 16, 2016 download registration form here and email it to lmangione45-at-gmail.com.

    Language classes run for 6 weeks, 3 hours/class

    Tuition $400 but with Special Offer $300 if registration is completed by the first day of class

    To register or for more information contact: Lynne Mangione lmangione45-at-gmail.com

    Please note that the minimum age requirement for the following classes is 18 years old. Info 310.657.5511 or Lynne, 310.433.9066.

    Shami Arabic [registration form]

    Our Shami Arabic classes teach students the fundamentals of the Arabic language with a focus on the dialect spoken in the Levant— Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine/Israel.

    Teacher: Bassam Aljazairi, a native speaker and experienced teacher from Syria who has a passion for sharing the language and culture of his homeland.

    Beginning Level 1: This class focuses on reading and writing the Arabic alphabet, letter sounds, numbers, basic vocabulary, greetings and simple sentence structure

    Class time: Saturdays, 11-2 pm

    Class start-date: January 16

    Beginning Level 2: Ideal for the student who already knows how to read and write the Arabic alphabet and wants to develop their understanding of language structure and basic conversation skills. This class delves deeper into grammatical concepts such as adjectives and descriptive phrases, forming questions and answers, while of course helping students expand their vocabulary.

    Class time: Saturdays, 2:30-5:30 pm

    Class start-date: January 16

    Intermediate: For the person who has prior knowledge of Arabic (MSA or any dialect) and wants to begin to learn or improve their understanding of the Shami dialect. In this class students continue to expand their vocabulary and improve their understanding of language structures in both written and spoken contexts. This class also teaches verb conjugations in thepresent, past and future. Students practice reading and writing short texts, listening & speaking.

    Class time: Sundays, 2:30-5:30 pm

    Class start-date: January 17

    Persian for Beginners

    Farsi [registration form]

    Teacher: Elham Kharabati, a native speaker and experienced teacher from Iran who loves teaching and learning about her students.

    Beginning Level 2: For the person who already knows how to read and write the Persian alphabet and some basic vocabulary. In this class students expand their vocabulary and improve their reading, writing and basic conversation skills.

    Class time: Mondays, 6-9 pm

    Class start-date: January 18

    Hebrew [registration form]

    Teacher: Aylam Orian, a native speaker from Israel with 15 years experience teaching Hebrew, English and Drama in the US

    Level: TBD*

    Class time: Sundays, 11-2 pm (possibility of daytime classes during the week, upon request*)

    Class start-date: TBD*

    *If interested in registering for Hebrew, email Lynne at lmangione45-at-gmail.com with a brief description of your level of Hebrew, and tell us if you can attend the Sunday classes or would prefer a different day.

    Turkish [registration form]

    Teacher: Dijle Koont, a native speaker with many years of experience teaching in the US—not only Turkish but also seminars on healing.

    Level: TBD*

    Class time: Sundays, 11-2 pm (possibility of daytime classes during the week, upon request*)

    Class start-date: TBD*

    *If interested in registering for Turkish, email Lynne at lmangione45-at-gmail.com with a brief description of your level of Turkish, and tell us if you can attend the Sunday classes or would prefer a different day.

     
  • celeb life 17

    • Friday, January 15, 2016 at 04:00 PM
    • CBS Studio Center—Carla's Café, 4024 Radford Ave, LA 91604
    • 3 people are going

    Celebration of Life with Bassem Youssef, Shohreh Aghdashloo et al 


    *PLEASE NOTE: FOR SECURITY REASONS TICKETS WILL NOT BE SOLD AT THE DOOR. SALES END AT 1 PM ON 1/15 AND WE SUGGEST YOU ARRIVE EARLY AT THE CBS LOT. CLICK HERE OR THE BUTTON TO THE RIGHT TO RESERVE TODAY.

    In a time when the world is plagued by divisions—when increasingly our friends and neighbors are selectively targeted because of their religion, nationality or ethnic heritage, we recognize that the fabric of humanity is compromised. To help heal such divisions we rely on education, arts and culture.

    That's why here at The Markaz we're especially pleased to be a premier cosponsor of our friends Muslims for Progressive Values gala event, “Celebration of Life” coming up on 01/15/17 from 4-6:30 pm at CBS Studios-Carla's Café, a novel interactive approach raising awareness about human rights heroes, with celebrity guests delivering a monologue as the activists they are honoring, among them Bassem Youssef, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Jay Abdo.

     stars-banner-named-825.jpg

    Bassem Youssef, the former heart surgeon and satirist variously known in Egypt and throughout the Arab world as "the Egyptian Jon Stewart" for his show Al-Bernameg, will be present and honored with the 2017 Badshah Khan Beacon of Truth Award

    Shohreh Aghdashloo, the Academy Award-nominated actress for House of Sand and Fog, Emmy-winner for House of Saddam, will read as Hila Sedighi. The very funny comedian Mona Shaikh, a Sultans of Satire regular, will be the Master of Ceremonies. Among those being honored are:

    Amjad Sabri was a briliant Pakistani Sufi singer who was renowned world-wide for his pioneering work in Qawwali music. He was shot by a Taliban offshoot in June. His tragic murder has rocked the entire Muslim world.

    Ashraf Fayadh is a Palestinian poet imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since 2014. His crime was distributing a book of his poems. Charged with apostasy for promoting atheism, he was sentenced to death before a Saudi court downgraded his sentence to eight years in prison and 800 lashes.

    Paradise Sarouri is said to be Afghanistan's first female rapper, and defies cultural expectations by producing music that confronts violence against women. In 2013, hardline Islamists threatened Sarouri, demanding that she cease her work. She is currently living in Germany where she continues to make music.

    Hila Sedighi is one of Iran's most celebrated young poets. An ardent supporter of the Green Movement, Sedighi recited poems criticizing the disputed election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Sedighi was arrested in January 2016 without charges. She was released two days later but due to her vocal resistance to the current regime, she constantly faces the threat of arrest.

    Qandeel Baloch was a Pakistani model, actress, feminist activist and social media celebrity, famous for her sensational videos on social media. On July 15th, 2016, Baloch became yet another victim of "honor violence" when she was asphyxiated to death by her brother.

    Join The Markaz and MPV for an elegant affair in Los Angeles. In a colorful program of personal tributes, poetry readings, and live music, this event will laud the tireless efforts of artists and activists who have fought against human rights abuses in the world and sought to affirm the equal worth of all human beings. By celebrating and honoring these heroic defenders of #FreedomOfExpression and #FreedomOfConscience, MPV affirms that we can inspire others to do the same.  

    *Appetizers and soft drinks will be served with General Admissions. Cocktails available for purchase. Dress code is business casual. Space limited, reserve your seats online at Eventbrite.com now, or become a sponsor. Contact us at info@mpvusa.org, or call 323.696.2678.

     
  • Salon Tunisien

    • Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at 07:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $5.00 USD
    • 9 people are going

    the evolution of Tunisia 

    The Markaz welcomes you on Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 7 pm (7 pm meet and greet, 8 pm program) to its new literary salon or tertulia (Spanish for literary-social gathering) to talk about Tunisia today and yesterday. Salon Tunisien takes place in a comfortable artistic setting, and is the beginning of a regular monthly series. You needn't necessarily be Tunisian—indeed, everyone's welcome (including other North Africans!), and the conversation is open. Among the subjects are discussion of the recent events in Tunisia, the winning of the Nobel Peace Prize, Tunisian society then and now, Muslim-Jewish relations, Tunisian Jews, the Tunisian diaspora and more. Personal stories, professional experiences and thoughtful opinions are welcome, as are poems, short (short) stories, and brief discussion of recent books, movies and music. There will be sample food and a wine-tasting.

    7 pm meet and greet, 8 pm program.

    Dr. Feryal CherifSpecial guest speaker Dr. Feryal Cherif will talk about the Tunisian NGOs that won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize and the status of the democratic transition. She is an assistant professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University. Dr. Cherif studies international relations and politics of the Middle East with an emphasis on gender and human rights. She received her Ph.D. from NYU in 2005. Her recent book, Myths about Women's Rights: How, Where, and Why Rights Advance (OUP, 2015), examines conventional wisdoms about why women’s rights advance in some countries but continue to lag in others.  Her work has also appeared in the Journal of Politics and International Studies Quarterly among others.

    The evening is without charge, provided you make a reservation; the cover at the door if you do not reserve is $10. Donations to The Markaz are welcome and some options, including supporting memberships, are posted below. Additional special guest participants will be announced for this event.

    This evening's hosts are Fay Abed and Monia Fdaïl, who kindly request that you RSVP so we know how much food to prepare (space limited). Shuqran/merci! Call 323.413.2001.

    tunisian-nobel-peace-prize-winners2.jpgPictured here are the four representatives of the Tunisian Quartet, recipients of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. The National Dialogue Quartet has comprised four key organizations in Tunisian civil society: the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT, Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail), the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA, Union Tunisienne de l'Industrie, du Commerce et de l'Artisanat), the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH, La Ligue Tunisienne pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme), and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers (Ordre National des Avocats de Tunisie).

    Watch this video about why the Quartet won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize: 

     
  • Markaz Holiday Party

    • Saturday, December 26, 2015 at 08:00 PM – December 27, 2015
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $5.00 USD
    • 2 people are going

    holiday-party-banner851.jpg 

    Latest news! Our holiday party features DJ Jamal Douzi playing the latest beats from Morocco and beyond, DJ Jeremy Loudenback of DISCOSTAN with new world beats, musical artists Naser Musa, Jim Grippo, Sami Janini, Alfred Madain of Bedouin-X and comedian Aron Kader + other special guests...

    December is always a bittersweet time of year as there are many celebrations, but also reminders of suffering and strife. 

    This is especially true of 2015 as we have witnessed so many challenges to the bridges of understanding we have endeavored to build between the American and Arab/Muslim/Middle Eastern communities. From the January 7 “Charlie Hebdo” shootings to the Syrian refugee crisis, to the many attacks in Baghdad, Syria, Ankara and Beirut, to the November 13 attacks in Paris, and finally with the San Bernardino shootings so close to home—this has been a very difficult year for peace.

    However, we continue to believe and work toward building a foundation for a better future, in the knowledge of the transformative power of arts and humanities as the most convincing tools in addressing local, national and international challenges. 

    This December, The Markaz is staying close to home in the spirit of a better, more dynamic and peaceful new year, as we continue to expand the mission of a cultural arts and community center that can withstand the test of time. 2016 will be our 15th year serving Southern California, and we count on your generous yearly contributions and memberships so that we can significantly extend our programs and services in the greater Los Angeles region.

    To celebrate you as our supporters throughout these years and thank you for attending our programs, taking our classes or engaging with us whether as a valued donor, as a member, or as a volunteer, The Markaz is organizing a Holiday Party in your honor! We will be delighted to welcome you on Saturday, December 26th, 8 pm, at The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035. 

    Please RSVP to monia@themarkaz.org, or call 323.413.2001 to let us know you are attending. There is no cost for this event, although memberships and year-end donations are welcome.

    The party includes open bar + complementary mezze and party favors! You can expect this fête to be joyful and go late!

    As a way of celebrating our common humanity, and acknowledging our friendship and commitment to a more peaceful world, we will be exchanging anonymous gifts. We invite you to participate in this exchange and bring a personal wrapped gift that you would like to share with a random person (it could be a book, CD, DVD or particular item that has significance for you). 

    We can't wait to see you December 26th in the evening, at the Markaz Holiday Party!!! 

    P.S: Regarding your year-end contribution, you can make your check to The Markaz/MPV and mail it to our address below, or check off one of the below membership levels.  

    The Markaz
    5998 W. Pico Blvd.
    Los Angeles CA 90035

    Happy Holidays!

     
  • Facing the "Barbarians" After the Attacks: A Public Forum

    • Thursday, December 03, 2015 at 06:30 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $5.00 USD

    dec-3-forum851.jpg

    The Markaz (Arts Center for the Greater Middle East) invites you to participate in a public forum and panel discussing the recent attacks in Baghad, Beirut and Paris that took place on November 12 and 13, 2015, and the western responses and discourse on these attacks, with respect to Daesh, Islam, and what officials and media mean when they use terms like “barbarians,” “terrorism” and “we will win the war.” 

    The panel consists of Muslim activists Hussam Ayloush (Council on American-Islamic Relations, Southern California) and Ani Zonneveld (Muslims for Progressive Values) and USC French and Middle East-specialized academics Olivia C. Harrison and Edwin Hill. It will be moderated by USC assistant professor Veli N. Yashin. There will be a public dialogue followed by breakout groups, to further and more intimately discuss our reactions and prescriptions on how as a society we progress after such attacks. The Markaz happens to agree with Egyptian critic, film historian and Cairo International Film Festival president Magda Wassef when she says, in response to the attacks, “Culture and civilization is the only way to preserve humanity…This is a war not between Islam and Christianity, but between civilization and barbarity.” 

    Space is strictly limited and reservations are strongly recommended to guarantee your seat; reserve below or call 323.413.2001 during regular office hours (M-F, 10 am – 6 pm). Event schedule as follows: Mixer 6:30-7:30 pm, panel begins promptly at 7:30 pm; breakout groups (optional) at 9:00 pm. Free to the public, donations are welcome. Food and drink available. This program cosponsored in part by LA Jews for Peace/Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and US Middle East Foreign Policy. 

    Questions may include:

    • Many Muslims reject actors of Daesh, the so-called Islamic State, and repudiate the insurgents’ right to call themselves Muslim. How should we interpret Daesh if not as a Muslim phenomenon?

    • While many Muslim organizations condemned the Paris attacks, some critics insist Islam has something to do with these attacks. Is there perhaps a need for self-reflection and criticism within the Muslim community?

    • The majority of the Paris attackers were French or Belgian citizens, how then does French society “win the war” against “the barbarians”? (The term “barbarians” is particularly troubling—that is what the Romans called the natives of North Africa, the Amazigh, better known to the west as Berbers; the term comes from Barbar...)

    • While there is no question that the attacks whether in Baghdad, Beirut or Paris were “barbarian” in nature, it is unclear exactly who is masterminding and funding these attacks. If (worst-case scenario) the attacks were brainstormed by Daesh with CIA trainers and Saudi money, then what kind of a world are we living in?

    • Regardless of who was the mastermind of the Paris attacks, the attackers were in fact young Muslims who had been radicalized primarily in Europe. How and why are Islamic leaders being successful at radicalizing and recruiting them?

    All participants are invited to a mixer to break the ice and meet all the participants, 6:30-7:30, at which point the discussion will begin, as follows: 

    1. Moderator introduction 5-10 minutes
    2. Panelists present, about 10 minutes each
    3. Moderator interviews panelists 15 to 20 minutes
    4. Q & A with the audience 15-20 minutes
    5. Audience and panelists split up into five groups, with each person on the panel supervising a breakout group. One person in each group take notes on the group’s key points or realizations; someone in the group volunteers to present those points when the groups come back together into one audience.
    6. Groups reassemble for report-backs.

    ACTIVISTS:

    HUSSAM AYLOUSH, a native of Syria, has been the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Southern California since 1998. He has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the needy enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. He has appeared on many local, national and international media programs including CNN, MSCNBC and NPR, and written for local and national news outlets including the LA Times, the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and various newswire services on American Islamic issues. As someone whose own close family members include Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Mormons and Jews, Hussam is an active member of various interfaith groups promoting pluralism, dialogue, understanding and cooperation among America’s and our world's diverse faith communities. He is a member of the West Coast Muslim-Catholic Dialogue and the Abrahamic Faith Peacemaking Initiative. He is currently serving as the National Chairman of the Syrian American Council, an organization that supports democracy and human rights in Syria. 

    ANI ZONNEVELD is founder and President of Muslims for Progressive Values. Since inception, Ani has presided over MPV’s expansion to include chapters and affiliates in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Columbus (OH), Ottawa and Toronto, Canada as well as Paris, France, Chile and Australia. She has organized numerous interfaith arts and music festivals, participated in many interfaith dialogues and is a strong supporter of women and LGBTQ rights. She is the brainchild of Literary Zikr – a project that counters radical Islam on-line and co-editor of MPV’s first book, an anthology titled Progressive Muslim Identities – Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada. Ani is a singer, songwriter and producer and is the first woman to release an English Islamic pop album in the U.S. Ani performs Islamic wedding services for mixed faith and gay couples and in 2006, she was named a Muslim Leader of Tomorrow by the American Society for Muslim Advancement. Born in Malaysia, Ani, a Muslim since birth, she spent a good portion of her formative years raised in Germany, Egypt and India as an Ambassador’s daughter. Her exposure to different politics, religions and cultures has shaped her inclusive worldview. 

    ACADEMICS 

    OLIVIA C. HARRISON is Assistant Professor of French, Italian and Middle East Studies at USC. Her research focuses on Maghrebi and Beur/banlieue literature and film; diversity in postcolonial France; the historiography and memory of colonization in France and Algeria; women and war in the Middle East and North Africa; anti- and postcolonial theory; Islam and the West; and translation. Her first book, Transcolonial Maghreb: Imagining Palestine in the Era of Decolonization (Stanford University Press, 2016), analyzes the representation of Palestine in Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian literary works and public debates from the 1960s to the present. She is at work on a new book that charts the emergence of the Palestinian question in France, both in political and intellectual discourses and in artistic works. Co-editor of Souffles-Anfas: A Critical Anthology from the Moroccan Journal of Culture and Politics (Stanford University Press, 2016), Harrison has translated essays and poems by Adbelkebir Khatibi, Abraham Serfaty, and Abdellatif Laâbi.

    EDWIN HILL is Assistant Professor of French, Italian and American Studies and Ethnicity at USC. His research seeks to highlight the marginalized intellectual and cultural dialogs of the black Atlantic diaspora that have taken place, and continue to take place, in France. Hill has published and/or presented on contemporary Caribbean writers, Sub-Saharan francophone literature, African-American popular music, French chanson, and francophone hip hop. Similarly, his teaching interests, while focused on black vernacular culture and France, extend from the poetry of Negritude writers to postcolonial explorations of contemporary francophone writers and musicians. His current book project is Black Soundscapes White Stages: The Meaning of Sound in the Francophone Black Atlantic. At USC, Edwin Hill created “Project Banlieue: French Peri/Urban Cultures and Crises” promoting interdisciplinary scholarship about the riots in France in 2005 and 2007.  

    MODERATOR 

    VELI N. YASHIN is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at USC. His focus is 19th and 20th century Arabic and Turkish literatures and cultures; late-Ottoman cultural and intellectual history; the post-Ottoman world; area studies and literary scholarship; conceptions of authority and sovereignty; legacies of German romanticism; histories and future(s) of philology; Mediterranean studies. He holds a Ph.D. in Arabic and Comparative Literature from Columbia, and is the winner of the 2013 Horst Frenz Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association. His current book project is tentatively titled Disorienting Figures: The Rhetoric of Sovereignty between the Arab and the Turk.

     
  • ali issa

    • Wednesday, December 02, 2015 at 07:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $5.00 USD
    • 1 person is going

     ali-issa851.jpg

    Ali Issa, author of the new book Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq, will make a rare Los Angeles appearance on the evening of Wed., Dec. 2, at The Markaz. Collected from dozens of interviews with, and reports from, Iraqi feminists, labor organizers, environmentalists, and protest movement leaders, Against All Odds presents the unique voices of progressive Iraqi organizing on the ground. Dating back to 2003, with an emphasis on the 2011 upsurge in mobilization and hope as well as the subsequent embattled years, these voices belong to Iraqis asserting themselves as agents against multiple local, regional, and global forces of oppression. As Vijay Prashad notes in the foreword: "Other histories had been possible for Iraq, and indeed might yet be possible. The social basis for the Popular Movement to Save Iraq remains, even if in the shadows. It is the only force that could provide an alternative to the history of blood that stands before Iraq, the nest of bones, the sky of death."

    Workers’ justice, gender liberation, anti-imperialism, and global solidarity have been on the agendas of many Iraqi organizations, in contrast to almost all media and scholarly representations—even those that are sympathetic to popular Iraqi struggles. Media and scholarship instead focus on geopolitics, mass violence, and sectarianism to the exclusion of attempts at independent political action and imagination in Iraq. With the legacy of wars since 1980, followed by the brutal sanctions of the 1990s and the 2003 US invasion and occupation, not to mention the recent emergence of the threatening forces of the Islamic State, understanding and acting in solidarity with these struggles is more crucial than ever. 

    Ali Issa will be in conversation with Deborah Al-Najjar and Dr. Yousef K. Baker to address the state of Iraqi social movements, Iraqis' responses to the current crisis, and the historical roots of U.S. Empire in Iraq.
     
    Deborah Al-Najjar is the co-editor, with Dr. Nadje Al-Ali, of We Are Iraqis, a collection of creative and non-fiction works by Iraqi academics, visual artists, and activists. She is completing her dissertation entitled Around 1991: Racial/Sexual Terror and U.S. Empire.
     
    Yousef K. Baker is Assistant Professor of International Studies at Cal State Long Beach. His current research examines the political economy of the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. 

    Read an interview with Ali Issa in Jadaliyya. 7 pm reception, 8 pm event. $10 donation requested, $5 members/students with ID. Complete dinner available for $15 per person: on the menu either Chicken Tagine or Okra Stew with Beef + Rice Pilaf + Chickpeas with raisins and carrots tagine + zaalouk Moroccan eggplant + salad + fruit for dessert.

     
  • sultans 10th anni

     sultans-7x5-card-web-851.jpg

    Life in L.A., forget about the Middle East, can be hell—so why deprive yourself of some justified comic relief?

    The Markaz invites you to enjoy life and laughter with this very special 10th Anniversary performance of the Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief. The first Sultans show took place in Los Angeles on November 5th, 2005. Headlining this show is the extremely funny and astute Aron Kader, the Palestinian American comedian, actor and writer, who costarred in the original Sultans shows and has been a cultural ambassador with the Levantine Cultural Center/The Markaz for more than a decade.

    Our hilarious host is Sammy Obeid, our costars are Marie-Thérèse Abou-Daoud, Melissa Shoshahi, Jennifer Jajeh and Tehran Von Ghasri, with a mystery spot or two set aside for very special surprise guest comedians! This show not only marks the 10th anniversary of the Sultans, but is a benefit event for The Markaz, Arts Center for the Greater Middle East, a worthy cause (our cause is your cause). Tickets are $25 General admission and include a drink, or $50 Patron admission for reserved seating and free drinks. Middle Eastern menu served, 1 food or drink item minimum. Seating is actually limited, this will be an intimate comedy and satire spectacle of the highest order, certain to distract from you from the fact the world is going to hell in a hand basket, yalla! Come out, support The Markaz and make a night of it.

    Go to the bottom of this page to reserve your seats, or call 323.413.2001.

     
  • zoe dolan

     dolan-banner-851.jpg

    Join us for a book signing and discussion with Zoe Dolan, author of There Is Room for You: Tales from a Transgender Defender's Heart. A reception with drinks and Middle Eastern mezze will be held at 7pm, followed by the book signing and discussion at 8pm.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Zoe Dolan began studying Arabic in college and first lived in Egypt as a 19-year-old student at the American University of Cairo in the mid-1990s. Five years later, on May 11, 2001, she witnessed Egyptian State Security Police conduct a now-notorious raid of the Queen Boat, a floating discotheque on the Nile, which resulted in the arrest of 52 gay men. As she writes in her book There Is Room for You: Tales from a Transgender Defender's Heart, “In that moment I resolved to go to law school and become a lawyer, so that I might stand up against an over-powerful government on behalf of individual rights—the only mechanism I know of to prune the branches of authority that would otherwise entwine us to suffocation.” 

    Since she began practicing law in 2005, Zoe has represented clients in a variety of matters ranging from routine criminal cases to international terrorism trials. She currently represents Suleiman Abu Ghayth, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden and the allegedly highest ranked al-Qaeda suspect to be tried in a civilian court in the United States.

    Zoe Dolan is a trial lawyer, writer, and social advocate. Her law practice focuses on criminal defense, including high-profile terrorism cases. Zoe is the author of There Is Room for You: Tales from a Transgender Defender's Heart, a memoir of life, love, and law, with stories about living in the Middle East before, during, and after her gender transition. Other endeavors include a blog on The Huffington Post and Being Transgender—Naked, a multimedia project centered around this video for Upworthy that has been viewed over 500,000 times across various platforms.

    ABOUT THE BOOK:

    Indulge yourself for a moment and assume that human beings communicate through actions beyond words–and that meaning derives from our personal histories and how we digest them and convert their energy into our identities as individuals and together as a society. Fertilized by those beliefs, do our lives then grow to take on significance from the myths we live out in obscurity as lone souls, so that we may aspire to play a role in the story of humanity? Part memoir and part questioning of criminal justice in America by a trial lawyer known for handling terrorism cases, There Is Room for You is about coming to believe the title’s promise. Let your imagination soar.

    Requested contribution at the door, $10, $5 students with ID. Purchase an advance copy of the book here.

     

     
  • iraqi odyssey

    • Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 07:00 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035
    • $8.00 USD
    • 3 people are going

     iraqi-odyssey851.jpg

    On Saturday, Nov. 14th, The Markaz presents a special preview event highlighting the release of director Samir Jamal al Din's Oscar submission Iraqi Odyssey, playing at the Laemmle's Music Hall on November 27th. The event will include a presentation by Samir about the making of this landmark documentary, as well as show excerpts of the film. Samir will discuss the inspiration behind his approach of re-telling the history of Iraq through the history of his own family. The director will also address the process of filming across the globe, the gathering of rare archival footage, as well as his decision to make a 3D version of the film. Note that the full documentary (163 ms) will screen at USC on November 17th. For more information, please visit the USC events page: https://cinema.usc.edu/events/event.cfm?id=15322

    Reception with the director, 7 pm. Presentation at 8 pm followed by a Q & A at 9 pm. Tickets $10/$8 members/students. Purchase below or call 323.413.2001.

    "Iraqi Odyssey aims ambitiously high in its investigation of the effects of history on one large middle class family“ — The Hollywood

    "A personal, insightful and beautifully made film... I was spellbound in front of the screen."Huffington Post

     "Shedding a new light on a grossly misrepresented country, Iraqi Odyssey is the veteran director's most personal, ambitious, and accomplished feature to date." - Toronto International Film Festival

    ABOUT SAMIR:

    Samir was born the son of a Swiss mother and an Iraqi father in Baghdad. His family moved in 1961 to Switzerland, where he went to school. He attended the School of Design in Zurich (today's ZHdK), completed an apprenticeship as a typographer (1971–73) and subsequently trained as a cameraman with Condor Films. From 1983, he worked as a freelance director and cinematographer. From 1984 to 1991 he was a writer and member of Videoladen Zurich (Video Store Zurich). In 1994 he and documentary filmmaker Werner Schweizer overtook the Dschoint Ventschr film production company. 

    From the mid-1980s, he began to make his own films. In the 1990s he worked among others on behalf of Condor Films as a director of series like Eurocops and television films for German TV stations. His list of works—as a writer, director and/or producer —now includes over 40 short and feature films for cinema and TV. In 2006 he received the Aargau Culture Award (Aargauer Kulturpreis).

    ABOUT THE MOVIE:

    While there are no precise statistics, it is estimated that four to five million Iraqis live outside Iraq today. Award-winning filmmaker Samir was born in Baghdad and has lived in Switzerland since he was a child, while the members of his extended family are scattered all over the world—Abu Dhabi, Auckland, Sydney, Los Angeles, Buffalo, London, Paris, Zurich, and Moscow—with only a handful remaining in Iraq. Recounting his family's stories of departures and uprootings, in Iraqi Odyssey Samir also chronicles how Iraqis' dreams of building a modern and just society after their nation achieved independence in  the 1950s were brutally dashed over the course of half a century. 

    Loosely organized in three acts, the film begins with Samir's grandfather and his role in the struggle against British colonialism. The second act traces the successive waves of emigration as his relatives sought safe havens around the globe to escape from the series of coups and counter-coups in the 1960s and 1970s that resulted in the establishment of Saddam Hussein's three-decade dictatorship over the country. 

    Weaving together the ironic, wistful, and witty testimonies of Samir's relatives with rare documents from private and state archives, Ottoman film footage and 3-D technology, Iraqi Odyssey is a riveting epic that creates a genuine people's history of Iraq, at once humble and majestic. Shedding a new light on a grossly misrepresented country, Iraqi Odyssey is the veteran director's most personal, ambitious, and accomplished feature to date.

    How did it come to this, that all our dreams of a renaissance in the Arab world and the wish for a transformation into a modern, just society were so abruptly and brutally destroyed? Is there a possibility to reconstruct this dream by building on our experiences of migration? Iraqi Odyssey shall tell this story.” —Samir

     
  • Arabic & Persian Winter Class Schedule

    • Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 01:30 PM
    • The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd LA 90035

    arabic-banner-851.jpg

    Ready to Learn Arabic/Persian?

    Shami Arabic classes at The Markaz teach students the fundamentals of the Arabic language with a focus on the dialect spoken in the Levant—Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.

    Persian classes focus on essential conversational development.

    ***Special Winter Offer***

    Five classes for only $188

     

    The Markaz Arts Center for the Greater Middle East • 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles 90035

    www.themarkaz.org   •  Telephone (323)413-2001

    CLASS CONTACT: To sign up or for more information contact: Lynne Mangione,   lmangione45@gmail.com 

    Arabic Teacher: Bassam Jazairi, a native speaker and experienced teacher from Syria who has a passion for sharing the language and culture of his homeland.

    Please note that the minimum age requirement for the following classes is 18 years old.

    Beginning Shami: Ideal for the person who has never studied Arabic and wants to learn the basics. This class focuses on reading and writing the Arabic alphabet, letter sounds, basic vocabulary, greetings and verbs.*

    *Verbs will not be covered in detail during Winter Session due to the limited number of classes

    Beginning Class Schedule: Saturdays, 1:30-4:30 pm at The Markaz.

    Class Dates: 11/14, 11/21, 12/5, 12/12 & 12/19

    Winter Class Schedule—page 2

    Intermediate Shami: Ideal for the person who has some prior knowledge of Arabic (MSA or any dialect) and now wants to begin to learn or improve their understanding of the Shami dialect. In this class students expand their vocabulary and improve their understanding of language structures in both written and spoken contexts. Students practice reading and writing short texts in the Shami dialect, listening and speaking. Students are required to know basic verb conjugations in the present, past and future, however some review is provided. 

    Class time: Sundays, 1:30-4:30 pm

    Class Dates: 11/15, 11/22, 12/6, 12/13 & 12/20

    Private instruction available upon arrangement with Bassam Jazairi:

     Inquire about schedule & rates directly to mbaljazairi@gmail.com

    Persian Classes—Winter Schedule

    BEGINNING FARSI - Mondays 6-9 pm, 11/16, 11/23, 11/30, 12/7 & 12/14 (final).
    INTERMEDIATE FARSI - Thursdays 6-9 pm, 11/19, 12/3, 12/10, 12/17 & 5th class TBD by students*

    *Students can perhaps choose a Wednesday night or opt to do 2 classes one week (the Wednesdays of 11/18 & 12/2 are already booked for other events)

    Persian Teacher: Elham Kharabati, a native speaker and experienced teacher from Shiraz who has a passion for sharing the language and culture of Iran, Elham has taught at the Beverly Hills Lingual Institute and tutored extensively. 

    persian-banner-851.jpg

     
  • David Sheen on Racism In Israel Today: A Public Conversation

    sheen-banner-851.jpg

    The Markaz with support from Jewish Voice for Peace-LA  and LA Jews for Peace presents a MENA-X (Middle East/North Africa Exchange) program featuring independent Canadian-Israeli journalist and filmmaker David Sheen. Returning to the center on his latest tour (coordinated by the Northern California chapter of the International Solidarity Movement), Sheen talk is "The Bullet, the Ballot and the Boycott,an in-depth look at Israeli incitement to racist violence, the focus of his on-the-ground reporting for the past five years. 

    Sheen will describe how top Israeli political and religious leaders use dehumanizing discourse to inspire vigilante attacks toward Palestinians, Africans and other non-Jews, especially during the 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip. His talk will include material that Sheen presented at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Brussels, as well as new information never before been made public in English. Watch an excerpt, Inside Israel's Race Wars, Thieves in the Temple (4 minutes) leading into additional material. Read related op-ed in Mondoweiss.

    As citizens, taxpayers and voters, it's crucial that we have the means to bypass the mainstream media and listen to alternative voices reporting real news, beyond sensationalist headlines, to inform us of what is happening on the ground. To that end the Markaz hosts two ongoing series, MENA-X and Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East, cosponsored by LA Jews for Peace and other participating associations. If you would like to suggest a speaker or a topic, contact Rime Yasin, rime-at-themarkaz.org. This presentation made possible with contributions by Anonymous, Nader Barakat et alia.

    Suggested donation $10, seating limited, advance RSVPs strongly advised. Reserve below or call 323.413.2001.

     
  • Middle East Horror Series: "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night"

     girlwalkshome-851.jpg

    A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT · Saturday, October 24

    Watch movies in an intimate art house setting with film aficionados and horror fans! Third movie in our Middle Eastern American Horror Series is A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014). "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night blends conventional elements into something brilliantly original—and serves as a striking calling card for writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour." The first Iranian Vampire Western ever made, Ana Lily Amirpour's debut basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype, and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave

    A Q&A panel will include actor Dominic Rains (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Jinn), UC Riverside Asian horror film scholar, Lan Duong, and a surprise guest. The panel will be moderated by Alex F. Ago, horror film expert and Director of Programming and Special Projects for USC's School of Cinematic Arts. Series curated by host Marissa Hicks-Alcaraz.

    Reception with delicious Middle Eastern/Moroccan food catering by Bouchra Azizy and craft beer/wine, starting at 6:30 pm, film at 7:45 pm.

    Screening at The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90035.

    Through this series we hope to bring various communities together to share both the thrills and artistry of Middle Eastern American horror, as well as to draw attention to the ways in which Middle Eastern American filmmakers have helped shape American horror cinema and continue to influence the genre today.

    Tickets $12/members and students with ID $10. Please RSVP online or email marissa@themarkaz.org

     

     

    To purchase tickets for The Exorcist, please go to: http://www.themarkaz.org/middle_east_horror_series

    To purchase tickets for The House of the Devil + Raffle, please go to: http://www.themarkaz.org/middle_east_horror_series_20151023

     

     

     BIOS

    Moderator - Alex F. Ago, Director of Programming and Special Projects

    alexago.jpg

    Alessandro Ago is the Director of Programming and Special Projects at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he programs film screenings, festivals, guest speakers and special events. In addition to programming popular courses taught by film critic Leonard Maltin and Pulitzer Prize-winning television critic Howard Rosenberg, Ago also curates Outside the Box [Office], a screening series dedicated to bringing new international, documentary and independent cinema to USC, often followed by conversations with the filmmakers, which Ago moderates.

    Ago has produced festivals celebrating the work of Dino De Laurentiis, John Wayne, Roger Corman, Costa Gavras, Maurice Jarre, Albert Broccoli and the James Bond franchise, as well as world cinema showcases focusing on Japan, Italy, Bollywood, South America and the Middle East. With a special interest in Italian cinema, Ago has hosted events with Roberto Saviano, Mario Monicelli, Lina Wertmueller, Gabriele Salvatores, Claudia Cardinale, Pupi Avati, Marco Bellocchio, Dario Argento and Franco Nero.

    In 2013, he produced a major retrospective of the seminal ABC television series Twin Peaks, featuring panel discussions with 50 members of the cast and crew.

    Ago is currently the Executive Producer of SCA's annual First Look Festival  and also works for the Sundance Institute as a judge in the International Documentary department, helping to select films for competition at the annual Sundance Film Festival.

     

    Panelists

    Dominic Rains, Actor

    dominic.jpg

    (coming soon)

     

    Kevin J. Wetmore, Professor and Chair of Theatre Arts

    wetmore.jpg

    Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr. is Professor and Chair of Theatre Arts with areas of expertise in Japanese theatre, African theatre, Shakespeare, Asian cinema, horror cinema, Greek tragedy, stage combat and comedy. He has degrees from Bates College, the University of Leeds and the University of Pittsburgh, where he completed his doctorate in Theatre and Performance Studies.  He also received an M.A. in Theology from LMU in 2010.

    He is the author of Athenian Sun in an African Sky: Modern African Adaptation of Classical Greek Tragedy (McFarland, 2001), Black Dionysus: Greek Tragedy and African American Theatre (McFarland, 2003), The Empire Triumphant: Race, Religion, and Rebellion in the Star Wars Films (McFarland, 2005), Shakespeare and Youth Culture (Palgrave 2006), Back from the Dead: Reading Remakes of Romero’s Zombie Films as Markers of Their Times (McFarland 2011), Post-9/11 Horror in American Cinema (Continuum, 2012), The Theology of Battlestar Galactica (McFarland 2012), and Modern Asian Theatre and Performance 1900 – 2000 (with Siyuan Liu and Erin B. Mee, Methuen/Bloomsbury, 2014) as well as the editor or co-editor of eleven more volumes, including Modern Japanese Theatre and Performance (Lexington, 2006), Suzan-Lori Parks: A Casebook (Routledge 2007) Revenge: East and West (Palgrave, 2008), Portrayals of Americans on the World Stage (McFarland, 2009), Catholic Theatre and Drama (McFarland 2010), Black Medea: Adaptations for Modern Plays (Cambria, 2013), and the Methuen Drama Anthology of Modern Asian Plays (with Siyuan Liu, Methuen, 2014), among others. He is also the author of numerous articles on theatre, cinema, Japanese culture, popular culture, horror, and performance.

    In addition to his scholarly work, Dr. Wetmore is an actor, director, stage combat choreographer, and comedian. His work has been seen on the stages of Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, New York, New Haven, New England, old England and South Africa with many award-winning productions to his credit. He has also appeared in several films and television programs. He was the Founding Artistic Director of the Unseam'd Shakespeare Company.  He most recently appeared as Van Helsing in Long Beach Playhouse’s Dracula.  A stand-up comedian, Dr. Wetmore has appeared regularly at the Improv, the Downtown Comedy Club, the Ice House, Westside Comedy Theatre and Room 5 Lounge.

    He is currently the Secretary/Treasurer of the Association for Asian Performance and a member of many professional organizations, including the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the Association for Asian Studies, the International House of Japan, the Society of American Fight Directors, and the Horror Writers Association. He is also an associate instructor with Dueling Arts International and LMU’s resident Stage Combat Choreographer.

     

    Lan Duong, Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at UC Riverside

    duong.jpg

    Lan Duong is Associate Professor in the Media and Cultural Studies Department at UC Riverside. She is the author of Treacherous Subjects: Gender, Culture, and Trans-Vietnamese Feminism (Temple University Press, 2012). The book explores the films and literature of the Vietnamese and Vietnamese diaspora through the cultural politics of collaboration. Dr. Duong’s second book project, Transnational Vietnamese Cinemas: Imagining Nationhood in a Globalized Era, examines Vietnamese cinema from its inception to the present-day. Her research interests include feminist film theory, postcolonial literature, and Asian/American film and literature. Duong’s critical works can be found in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, the Journal of Asian American Studies, Amerasia, Asian Cinema, Discourse, Velvet Light Trap, and the anthologies, Transnational Feminism in Film and Media and Southeast Asian Cinema. Her most recent work is a collaborative effort, an edited anthology called  Troubling Borders: Literature and Art by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora (University of Washington Press, forthcoming 2013). She is also a poet and has been published in Watermark, Bold Words: A Century of Asian American Poetry, Tilting the Continent, and Crab Orchard Review. Dr. Duong teaches classes on Introduction to Cultural Studies, Introduction to Film, Feminist Film Theory, Asian American Women’s Films and Literature, Asian Horror, Southeast Asian Diasporic Literature and Film, Vietnamese Cinemas, Chinese Cinema, Hong Kong Cinema, and The Vietnam War in Film. She has recently received a Fulbright Research Scholarship and an Asia Research Institute Fellowship to work on her second book on Vietnamese cinema. 

     
  • Middle East Horror Series: "The House of the Devil"

    house-of-devil-851.jpg 

    THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL + Raffle! · Friday, October 23

    Watch movies in an intimate art house setting with film aficionados and horror fans! Second in our Middle Eastern American Horror Series is The House of the Devil (2009). "Though its underlying themes are familiar, The House of the Devil effectively sheds the loud and gory cliches of contemporary horror to deliver a tense, slowly building throwback to the fright flicks of decades past." Produced by prolific Arab American horror film producer and founder of Maljack Production, a small company that acquired the rights to old horror films abandoned by the movie industry, Malik B. Ali. Series curated by host Marissa Hicks-Alcaraz.

    Reception with delicious Middle Eastern/Moroccan food catering by Bouchra Azizy and craft beer/wine, starting at 6:30 pm, film at 7:45 pm.

    Screening at The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90035.

    Through this series we hope to bring various communities together to share both the thrills and artistry of Middle Eastern American horror, as well as to draw attention to the ways in which Middle Eastern American filmmakers have helped shape American horror cinema and continue to influence the genre today.

    Tickets $12/members and students with ID $10. Seating limited, reservations strongly advised, online or call 323.413.2001

     

     

    To purchase tickets for The Exorcist, please go to: http://www.themarkaz.org/middle_east_horror_series

    To purchase tickets for A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night + Q&A, please go to: http://www.themarkaz.org/middle_east_horror_series_20151024

     

     

     
  • Middle East Horror Series: "The Exorcist"

    horror-series-351.jpg

     

    THE EXORCIST (Extended Director's Cut) · Thursday, October 22 · 6:30pm  · 5998 W. Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90035

     

    On behalf of The Markaz, you are invited to a series dedicated to the horror films of Middle Eastern American filmmakers, the first of its kind in Southern California. Watch movies in an intimate art house setting with film aficionados and horror fans! The first film in our series, programmed for Oct 22, will be the timeless horror film, The Exorcist (1973), written by Lebanese American writer, producer, and director, William Peter Blatty. For 27 years, Blatty, who wrote the original novel and screenplay and produced the film, argued for a longer version of what is considered one of the most horrifying movies ever made. Director, William Friedkin, finally agreed and Warner Bros. (reluctantly) released an extended version 11 minutes longer than the original with added special effects and a revised ending. "[R]eviews generally agreed the film still holds the power to shock and entertain," Rogert Ebert.

    To follow on Oct 23 will be The House of the Devil (2009) produced by prolific Arab American horror film producer and founder of Maljack Production, a small company that acquired the rights to old horror films abandoned by the movie industry, Malik B. Ali; and the world's first Iranian Vampire/Western A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) by Iranian American director Ana Lily Amirpour. A Q&A panel will be held following the screening of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, which will include actor Dominic Rains (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Jinn), UC Riverside Asian horror film scholar, Lan Duong, and a surprise guest. The panel will be moderated by Alex F. Ago, horror film expert and Director of Programming and Special Projects for USC's School of Cinematic Arts. 

    Series curated by host Marissa Hicks-Alcaraz.

    Receptions held before each screening, with delicious Middle Eastern/Moroccan food catering by Bouchra Azizy and craft beer/wine, starting at 6:30 pm, films at 7:45 pm. All three screenings will take place at The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90035.

    Through this series we hope to bring various communities together to share both the thrills and artistry of Middle Eastern American horror, as well as to draw attention to the ways in which Middle Eastern American filmmakers have helped shape American horror cinema and continue to influence the genre today.

    Tickets $12/members and students with ID $10. Seating limited, reservations strongly advised, online or call 323.413.2001

     

     

    To purchase tickets for The House of the Devil + Raffle, please go to: http://www.themarkaz.org/middle_east_horror_series_20151023

    To purchase tickets for A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night + Q&A, please go to: http://www.themarkaz.org/middle_east_horror_series_20151024

     

     

     
  • Soup for Syria Food and Arts Festival

    • Saturday, October 10, 2015 at 05:00 PM
    • Pico Union Project, 1153 Valencia St, LA 90015
    • $25.00 USD
    • 49 people are going

     soup-for-syria-851.jpg

    bloom-cafelogo2.png  carousel-logo-250.jpg   codepink-logo.gif lajp-LogoNew-t-4in.gif

    mbb-la-logo.jpg logo-the-peace-project.jpg

     Community Cosponsors include Anonymous • Haifaa Al-Moammar • Ellen Deeb • John Densmore • Jodie Evans
    • MARKAZ CIRCLE Bana Hilal  • Sarah Jacobus • Paula Walker & many more 

    With Syria’s four million refugees in the news daily, the need for food relief is stark. The roots of this crisis are deep and stretch back to the second Gulf War, but the time has come for western nations to step forward and address this international drama. 

    In Southern California, having formed a coalition, The Markaz, Arts Center for the Greater Middle East, will present SOUP FOR SYRIA, FOOD AND ARTS FESTIVAL, on Saturday, October 10th, 5 to 10 pm. Proceeds from the festival will help feed more than 1,000 Syrian refugees, under the auspices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and the Karam Foundation—an American nonprofit that has been working in Syria for nearly a decade.

    Join us for a delicious dinner in a festive environment, and an evening of live performances on stage with special celebrity guests, at the Pico Union Project! (If you're unable to attend, you can still support this initiative, see below.)

    All profits from the sales of the Soup for Syria cookbook edited by Barbara Massad from Interlink Books will be donated to the UN refugee agency UNHCR to help fund food relief efforts, and 50% of all revenues from this event will be contributed to the Karam Foundation to assist in essential Syrian refugee relief programs. 

    On October 10th, 5 to 10 pm, at the Pico Union Project near downtown Los Angeles, The Markaz in partnership with Muslims for Progressive Values, the Karam Foundation, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, CODEPINK Women for Peace, The Peace Project, Mediators Beyond Borders, LA Jews for Peace, Bloom, Carousel and many other concerned parties, invite you to participate in this very special charity event to benefit the refugees of Syria. 

    You can participate as a supporter at one of the following levels, by making your tax-deductible contribution by check payable to Muslims for Progressive Values, with "Soup for Syria" in the memo line of your check, and send to The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035-2657. We hope to see you there! (Questions? Call us at 310.657.5511.)

    Here's how you can participate (SPONSORSHIP DEADLINE IS SEPT. 30. 2015): 

    1. Cook and donate a large pot of delicious soup or stew (your own favorite recipe) that can be offered for sale with individual servings at the Soup for Syria event [download form here]; AND/OR

    2. Send a charitable contribution to The Markaz or register for the event at the bottom of this page:

    $10,000 Soup for Syria Director’s Circle—Includes listing as the top Soup for Syria sponsor, plus 10 copies of the Soup for Syria cookbook, along with 10 Patron Tickets to the Soup for Syria charity event on Saturday, October 10th, 5 to 10 pm, which includes 10 Patron concert seats and dinner for 10. 

    $5,000 Soup for Syria Ambassador’s Circle—Includes listing at the Ambassador Level Soup for Syria sponsor, plus 5 copies of the Soup for Syria cookbook, along with 8 Patron Tickets to the "Soup for Syria" charity event on Saturday, October 10th, 5 to 10 pm, which includes 8 Patron concert seats and dinner for 8.

    $2,500 Soup for Syria Benefactor’s Circle—Includes listing at the Benefactor Level Soup for Syria sponsor, plus 5 copies of the Soup for Syria cookbook, along with 4 Patron Tickets to the "Soup for Syria" charity event on Saturday, October 10th, 5 to 10 pm, which includes 4 Patron concert seats and dinner for 4.

    $1,000 Soup for Syria Markaz Circle—Includes listing at the Markaz Level Soup for Syria sponsor, plus 2 copies of the Soup for Syria cookbook, along with 2 Patron Tickets to the "Soup for Syria" charity event on Saturday, October 10th, 5 to 10 pm, which includes 2 Patron concert seats and dinner for 2.

    $500 Soup for Syria Director’s Circle—8 Patron Tickets to the Soup for Syria charity event on Saturday, October 10th, 5 to 10 pm, includes 8 Patron concert seats and dinner for 8.

    $250 Soup for Syria Peace Circle—2 Patron passes to the Soup for Syria charity event on Saturday, October 10th, 5 to 10 pm, includes 1 copy of the Soup for Syria cookbook, concert seats and dinner for 2.

    $100 Soup for Syria Activist Circle—2 Patron passes to the Soup for Syria charity event on Saturday, October 10th, 5 to 10 pm, includes 2 concert seats and dinner for 2.

    Return here for updates on participating chefs, artists and celebrities. 

    SoupForSyria-cover.jpgMore Info on the Soup for Syria book from Interlink

    The need for food relief is great and growing. Acclaimed chefs and cookbook authors the world over have come together to help food relief efforts to alleviate the suffering of Syrian refugees. Each has contributed a recipe to a beautifully illustrated cookbook of delicious soups from around the world.  

    More than 80 famous chefs have come together for food relief: Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi, Anthony Bourdain, Mark Bittman, Alice Waters, Paula Wolfert, Claudia Roden, Sally Butcher, Ana Sortun, Greg Malouf, Aglaia Kremenzi, and many others.

    Soup for Syria
    Recipes to Celebrate Our Shared Humanity

    collected and photographed by Barbara Abdeni Massaad (watch a video where she talks about the idea for the book)

    A BEAUTIFUL COOKBOOK TO BE CHERISHED FOR ITS LOOK, ITS CONTENT, AND THE CAUSE IT SUPPORTS

    • Celebrity chefs contribute favorite recipes to help feed Syrian refugees

    • Fabulous soups from around the world—from hearty winter warmers to chilled summer soups

    • Easy-to-follow instructions with stunning color photos throughout

    • Recipes made with no-fuss ingredients found in your local supermarket 

    The profits from the sales of the cookbook will be donated to help fund food relief efforts through the Untied Nation’s UNHCR. Most Syrians hope that one day they will be able to return to their country and rebuild their lives. For now, though, what we can do is listen to their pleas. Be part of this vital work of saving lives and help us deliver essential food items to the displaced refugees.

    Barbara Abdeni Massaad is a food writer, TV host, cookbook author, and a regular contributor to international cooking magazines. She is the author of Interlink’s bestselling cookbook Man’oushe : Inside the Street Corner Lebanese Bakery. She won the the Gourmand Cookbook Award and the International Academy of Gastronomy Award for Mouneh: Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, she moved to Florida at a young age. She gained her real culinary experience while helping her father in their family-owned Lebanese restaurant Kebabs and Things. After moving back to Lebanon in 1988, and completing university there, she decided to pursue her passion for cooking. Determined to gain proper experience within the culinary world, Barbara trained with several renowned chefs at Lebanese, Italian, and French restaurants. She is also a founding member of Slow Food Beirut and an active participant in the International Slow Food movement. She lives in Beirut with her husband and three children.

    Praise for the project

    Soup for Syria may be the most compelling cookbook ever created. Through her photographs and collected recipes, Barbara Massaad directly connects us with a people in dire need of our help.  Just holding this book is nourishment for the soul.”
    —Jim Clancy, former CNN Correspondent and Anchor, awarded A.H. Boerma medal for coverage of food and hunger issues by F.A.O. (U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization)

    From the contributors

    “When I visited the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, I said to them: ‘Had I been a barber, I would have cut your hair for free. Because I am a cookbook writer and photographer, I am doing what I can do to help through my work.”
    Barbara Abdeni Massaad

    “Soup is elemental, and it always makes sense, even when the world around us fails to.” 
    –Anthony Bourdain

    “Whether we are in times of crisis or times of peace, gathering family and friends together around the table and sharing food is one of the most powerful and life-affirming acts we can do. And there is nothing more comforting and nourishing than a bowl of warm soup.”
    —Alice Waters

    International Cooking • 8 ½” x 11” • 208 pages • full-color photos • ISBN 978-1-56656-089-4 • hardback • $30.00

     
  • “The Trials of Spring:” Women’s Voices in the Arab Uprising

    Trials-of-Spring-1170-Poster-2.jpg

    Three years. Six revolutions. Nine women fighting for peace in a state of war...Do women's voices matter? 

    On behalf of The Markaz and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, you are invited to the Los Angeles premier screening and discussion of the documentary, The Trials of Spring, which offers a rare look at the Arab Spring from the perspective of the women who participated in the uprisings. The screening will take place on Thursday, Sept. 24th at the Harmony Gold Theatre. The program will be introduced and moderated by attorney Zoe Dolan, followed by a Q&A with director Gini Reticker and young Egyptian revolutionary, Hend Nafea (via Skype) who in February 2015 was sentenced to life in prison by an over-zealous Egyptian judge (80 minutes. A Fork Films release.)  You can expect a welcoming reception at 7 pm, free parking in lots below and behind the building, and a great crowd for the film and Q & A. There is a requested contribution $10, or $20 Preferred section (front rows).

    "[Director Gini] Reticker chronicles Nafea’s trials without losing sight of the big picture. She both observes the outrages committed against democracy protesters in general and shows how women in particular suffered — enduring a mob of groping hands and more horrific kinds of sexual assault. Groping, we’re reminded, is something men are rarely held accountable for even under the best circumstances, one of many reasons these women are so persistent in their quest for rights that apply to all Egyptian citizens." —John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

    Harmony Gold Theatre, 7655 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90046 (free parking behind and below the building). Reception at 7 pm, film at 8 pm, Q & A 9:30 pm. RSVP to Marissa Hicks-Alcaraz at 323.413.2001 or marissa@themarkaz.org.

    More Info

    The Trials of Spring, from executive producer Abigail Disney, follows the trial of a young Egyptian woman, Hend Nafea, who sneaks out of her village home to join hundreds of thousands of Egyptians in Cairo demanding an end to 60 years of military rule. In the process, she is arrested and tortured. When her family finds out what she has been up to, they do everything they can to stop her. Unbreakable, she sets out on her own in search of freedom in a country in the grips of a political and cultural power struggle. Buoyed by the courage of other women she meets along the way, Hend Nafea’s story mirrors the trajectory of the Arab Spring—from the ecstasy of newfound courage to the agony of shattered dreams. Her indomitable spirit in the face of adversity is a testament to the universal desire for freedom.

    A groundbreaking independent filmmaker for more than two decades, Reticker's other films include The Heart of the Matter (1994), Asylum (2003), A Decade Under the Influence (2003), Ladies First (2004), and Pray the Devil Back to Hell (2008). 

    Moderator Zoe Dolan is a trial lawyer and writer. Her law practice focuses on criminal defense, ranging from routine matters to international terrorism cases. She is the author of two books including There Is Room for You: Tales from a Transgender Defender's Heart, and she blogs on The Huffington PostZoe speaks Arabic and has lived in Egypt at various points.

     

     

     
  • Conversational Persian Classes for Beginners

    persian-banner-851.jpg

    The Markaz is happy to announce registration has begun for a new conversational Persian (Farsi) class for beginners. The Markaz is a Middle Eastern cultural center where you always mix with native Persian speakers at our public programs. And Persian is spoken by more than 100 million people worldwide, particularly in Los Angeles, which has the second-largest number of Iranians after Iran's capital city, Tehran. Class will begin mid-September at the location on Pico Blvd., from Monday 9/14, unless pre-registered students agree on a different day and time.

    Classes are three hours, once a week for eight weeks (a total of 24 hours of class time). Cost is $300 when you pre-register (25% off the standard $400 tuition for day-of registrants). Early registration is now open. To register or for more information, contact Lynne Mangione at lmangione45-at-gmail.com or call The Markaz, 310.657.5511.

    Teaching methodology: Immersion

    The concept of immersion is based on the idea that we acquire knowledge faster and better when we learn it naturally through comprehension. In practice an immersion curriculum does not rely heavily on grammar drills or assignments in translation. Grammar is learned by inference and gentle corrections of speech by the teacher. At the beginning level of our Persian classes teachers will speak as little English as possible. From the intermediate level onward English will not be spoken at all. 

    Students are encouraged to speak and use their new language skills, as much as possible, in order to incorporate them into memory. What this curriculum demands of students is merely that they be open to learning and willing to try to speak and practice the language skills the teacher wants them to produce. Such a methodology is unique to The Markaz in the Los Angeles area.

     
  • Conversational Shami Arabic Classes Start After Labor Day

    arabic-banner-851.jpg 

    The Markaz is happy to announce registration has begun for a new term of Arabic classes, which will begin mid-September at the location on Pico Blvd. Beginning classes start on Saturday, Sept. 12, 9 am-12 noon and every Saturday morning thereafter, for eight weeks. Intermediate classes begin on Sunday 9/13, 1:30 to 4:30 pm for eight weeks. Syrian instructor Bassam Aljazairi has a unique approach to teaching this diverse language: his focus is on the Shami or Levantine dialect, while lessons are infused with Modern Standard Arabic and vocabulary common throughout most dialects.

    Classes are three hours, once a week for eight weeks (a total of 24 hours of class time). Cost is $300 when you pre-register (25% off the standard $400 tuition for day-of registrants). Early registration is now open. To register or for more information, contact Lynne Mangione at lmangione45-at-gmail.com or call The Markaz, 310.657.5511.

    Why learn Arabic at The Markaz?

    The Markaz is an Arab/Middle Eastern cultural center where you always mix with native Arab speakers at our public programs. And Arabic is one of the world's major languages, spoken in a broad belt extending from the Arabian Peninsula north to the Fertile Crescent and then west to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the official language of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania, making it the mother tongue of about 230 million people. In 1974 Arabic was made the sixth official language of the United Nations.

    Whether you are interested in the Middle East for professional purposes or you are looking to discover a whole new world displayed by a rich and different language, our conversational Arabic classes are the answer to your quest. 

    Teaching methodology: Immersion

    The concept of immersion is based on the idea that we acquire knowledge faster and better when we learn it naturally through comprehension. In practice an immersion curriculum does not rely heavily on grammar drills or assignments in translation. Grammar is learned by inference and gentle corrections of speech by the teacher. At the beginning level of our Arabic classes teachers will speak as little English as possible. From the intermediate level onward English will not be spoken at all. 

    Students are encouraged to speak and use their new language skills, as much as possible, in order to incorporate them into memory. What this curriculum demands of students is merely that they be open to learning and willing to try to speak and practice the language skills the teacher wants them to produce. Such a methodology is unique to The Markaz in the Los Angeles area.

    Feedback from our students

    "I really enjoyed my time and can happily recommend Levantine classes to anyone. The enthusiasm of all the staff and the teacher are not only a fabulous background for the learning experience but really made this place feel like home! Thanks for everything!" —Sarah

    "During my time at the Levantine Cultural Center, I made enormous progress in my writing and speaking in Arabic. The programs were flexible and adapted to my needs. My teacher was wonderful and helped me to understand the cultural aspects of his home country of Syria!" —Travis.

    "The thing I am most pleased by is the quality of the teaching and instruction. The teacher is excellent and motivated. I also enjoyed my tutoring sessions. I liked the fact that the teacher encouraged the use of Arabic outside of the classrooms." —Eric.

    "Overall, I was very impressed with The Markaz and would recommend it to friends, students, or university programs." —Jon M.C.

    "I had a great time, received excellent teaching, and learned a lot. It is a friendly place and one I would highly recommend." —Suleiman 

    Fees and Registration

    The Markaz's everyday Arabic program runs for 8 weeks with 3 hours a week. Students are expected to pay the full tuition at the beginning of the program. No cancellations or refunds after the first week of classes. A 25% discount is offered on all Arabic classes when you register early (anytime before the first day of class), saving $100 right up front!

     
  • "A Sinner in Mecca" Director's Screening with Parvez Sharma

    A-Sinner-in-Mecca-FB-banner.jpg

    The Markaz is proud to announce we will be cosponsoring the Los Angeles premiere of Parvez Sharma's daring new film, A Sinner in Mecca!

    For a gay filmmaker, filming in Saudi Arabia presents two serious challenges: filming is forbidden in the country and homosexuality is punishable by death. Vice says: "Brilliant and rare...takes aim at Wahhabi Islam." For filmmaker Parvez Sharma, however, these were risks he had to assume as he embarked on his Hajj pilgrimage, a journey considered the greatest accomplishment and aspiration within Islam, his religion. He brings back the story of the religion like it has never been told before, having endured the biggest Jihad there is: the struggle with the self.

    You can support the film's vital Indiegogo campaign here.

    The film has received great critical acclaim. The Hollywood Reporter calls it "Wrenching...gritty...surreal and transcendent; Visceral and Abstract...an undeniable act of courage and hope. The Guardian notes it is "(told) with poetic simplicity...a delicately personal story and a call to action," and The Daily Beast lauds it for "Go[ing] undercover...a rare look...sure to be controversial."

    Watch the trailer here:

    https://youtu.be/bzshP2k5FMk

    Tickets go on sale September 8th and will be $12 per person.

     

     
  • "What's Your Story" Narratives & Performances of the MENA

    WHATS-your-story-sept-9-banner800.jpg
    98% of those polled in a recent survey said that they believe they have stories to tell. From the ancients to the moderns, a society is reflected by the stories it tells itself and others. “What’s Your Story?” is an oral history workshop hosted by The Markaz and curated by playwright Henry Ong with support from theatre professional Elizabeth Malone—a series that invites refugees, exiles, and descendants of Middle Eastern and North African immigrants and their supporters to share their narratives in a free-flowing, non-judgmental forum. The workshop series on Monday nights at The Markaz will conclude with an evening of poetry, story-telling, and performances on Wednesday, Sept. 9, featuring Stephanie Abraham, Bianca Bagatourian, Jeremy Ebenstein, Valantina Ishaq, Morani Kornberg-Weiss, Susan Lumiere, Nahal Navidar, Elizabeth Malone and Kamelya Youssef.

    Stories include themes of Arab American, Armenian and Iranian identity, roots and “being between worlds,” along with wild adventures to Israel, discovering Palestine in a Tel Aviv bookstore, a history of genocide, and Christians in Palestine. Performances by participants include traditional Debka dance, Assyrian dance, belly dancing, poetry, and song.

    Free to the public, donations graciously accepted.

    This program is presented by The Markaz, Arts Center for the Greater Middle East, with support from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). Henry Ong is a Los Angeles playwright who has worked on many oral history and writing workshops in various communities (Sikh, Thai, Korean, Chinese, and Filipino, and the blind and visually-impaired). His plays have been produced nationally, including at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and internationally in Singapore, the UK, and Canada. Elizabeth Malone is Chair of the Theatre Committee at The Markaz. She received her MFA from Columbia University and has worked with youth and the elderly creating theater in Palestine.

    Special Thanks to Jeremy Srock for documenting the process.


    wys-2.jpg
    wys-1.jpg
     
  • Mekaal Hasan and Bedouin X Concert

    mekaal-bedouin-banner-851-2.jpg


    The Markaz presents this special Trance Fusion concert featuring the Mekaal Hasan Band from Pakistan and the desert trance blues band, Bedouin X, at the Pico Union Project on Saturday, Sept. 5th, 8 pm. Mekaal Hasan is presented with support from the Pakistan Arts Council and USC Pacific Asia Museum. Reserve your seats below before August 31st and save!

    https://vimeo.com/107227718

    The Mekaal Hasan Band, sometimes shortened to MHB, is a Sufi rock band formed in Lahore, Punjab. The band's members have roots in different genres, including jazz, classical music, soul music, and sufi rock, the combination of each member has created a sound which has earned them fans from a variety of quarters.

    Bedouin X is a political and social trance rock concept group created to revive and bring the socially and politically conscientious music that sprang out in the African parts of the Arab World and present the music along with original work to western audiences. Bedouin X's performance includes a special Western Sahara guedra dance performance led by Rosa Rojas.

    Doors will open at 7:30 PM. Delicious Middle Eastern/Moroccan catered food and bar available.

    Tickets are $15 in advance (until August 31st, 5 pm only), and $15 for students. $20 after Aug. 31st and at the door, also Preferred Seating (front rows) available, $25. Bar and snacks available.

     
  • Tickets

    • Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 06:00 PM
     
  • Sultans of Satire

    • Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 08:00 PM
    • The Markaz in Los Angeles, CA
    • $10.00 USD

    sultans-august-15-Facebook-banner.jpg

    Talk about peace and free speech! These American Arab, Iranian and Jewish stand-up comedians are very funny and very free. Here they share their ingenious universal humor on identity politics, Washington, sex, love and more on August 13th, in another edition of the Sultans of Satire: Middle East Comic Relief, the national comedy-satire show launched 10 years ago by the Levantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Featuring special guest Sammy Obeid, hosted by Meslissa Shoshahi and with Tehran, Zara Mizrahi, Ara Basil and Noël Elgrably. Cover is $15 general, $10 members, seniors and students. Reserve by phone, 323.413.2001, online or at the door—but advanced reservations are always advised.

    Reserve tickets online here.

    The Markaz (formerly the Levantine Cultural Center) has served the greater Los Angeles area for 14 years by presenting arts and education programs on the Middle East and North Africa. Welcoming people of all nations and religions, the Center fosters friendship and open dialogue, fights ignorance and intolerance, and forges a stronger, more diverse American society through programs and services that that bridge political, cultural and religious divides. But don't be fooled: this comedy show is as funny as it gets.

    For tickets and information, contact 323.413.2001.

    ABOUT THE COMEDIANS

    HOST MELISSA SHOSHAHI is an Iranian-American stand-up comedian and actress. She began her career as a TV host for a popular Persian channel, and is one of only a few female Iranian stand up comedians in the world. Shoshahi transitions her comedy beautifully between her Middle Eastern roots and her upbringing in America, making her witty style universal to all crowds. She has recently written and produced a sketch for Nickelodeon, and competed in the 38th Annual San Francisco Comedy Competition. Melissa has appeared in the Sultans of Satire since 2012. Watch clips.

    HEADLINER SAMMY OBEID Lebanese-Palestinian-Syrian-Italian-American, born in Oakland, California, Sammy Obeid (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) is best known for his 1,001 day streak of consecutive comedy performances. It began on December 26th, 2010, and concluded on September 21st, 2013—four days after an appearance on TBS's Conan. Breaking the old work record on Day 731, Sammy set the new one at 1,001 Arabian Nights of Comedy. Over the course of the streak, he appeared on NBC's America's Got Talent and advanced to the Las Vegas round, and became the first comedian to perform on The Food Network. Splitsider conducted an extensive interview with him entering the home stretch. LA Weekly praised Sammy's "sheer force of will" in performance and lifestyle, and LA Mag recommended his show highly. He was profiled in TIME Magazine, followed soon after by an article in the New York Times. Published on his final day, it describes his material as "full of wordplay" and "clever misdirection." Chunks of his streak were spent as youngest member of both the CoExist Comedy and Axis of Evil: New Generation national tours. Capping the streak, his debut album, Get Funny or Die Trying, was named a Best Comedy Album of 2013 by iTunes. Not slowed, Sammy has now embarked on a national college tour performing for hundreds of students a week. Sammy has founded his own comedy enterprise, KO Comedy. He's hard at work on both a book and documentary about his 1,001 Nights, each with the witty advice and deep-insider view found on his blog. Watch clips.

    TEHRAN GHASRI is an Iranian African American from the Washington, DC area. He hosts weekly shows at the Los Angeles and Long Beach Laugh Factories and starred in a Sultans show that coincided with President Barak Obama's first inauguration. He was born to an Iranian father and an African-American mother. He received his B.S. and Masters degree from George Mason University in International Politics and in Economic Theory and Principle. He has a law degree from Georgetown Law University. Tehran has hosted his own radio & TV shows and on Rangarang and Tapesh Satellite TV. He performs stand-up comedy in clubs all over the U.S. Watch.

    ZARA MIZRAHI returns for another Sultans show after a multitude of comedy performances throughout Southern California including at the Comedy Store, Flappers and the Laugh Factory. Born in Los Angeles to Mexican and Sephardic parents, she was a child model and began her acting career at 16, with comedy following shortly after. Zara performs stand-up every night, hosts and produces shows all over L.A., and appears on various podcasts and sketches. Watch.

    ARA BASIL is of Armenian descent and a Hollywood native who is no stranger to the entertainment industry. He performs annually in "Laughter for Life", a charity showcase for the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry alongside Sam Tripoli and others. Since then, Ara has performed for countless benefits, festivals, and award shows all over the United States. He was asked to be the feature act for the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour in 2006, sharing the stage with Maz Jobrani, Aron Kader, and Ahmed Ahmed. Ara has also performed in the Sultans of Satire and The Funatical Comedy tours. He has graced the stage with Russell Peters, Chris Rock, Jeffrey Ross and countless others. He's been the opening act for Angelo Tsarouchas's Canadian Comedy tour. His first comedy DVD is Running on Armenian Time. Ara's material is rich with Middle Eastern and western Humor. He provides an intellectual, entertaining, and insightful view of the follies of the two cultures. Ara Basil can be seen regularly at comedy clubs all over the country but frequents the Comedy Store, Laugh Factory, the Improv, and the Icehouse in Los Angeles. Visit his site.

    NOËL ELGRABLY grew up in the nation's capital but left his day-job selling insurance to pursue his calling as a stand-up comedian in Los Angeles. The son of a French-Moroccan father and Moroccan-Israeli mother, he offers an original comedic perspective on growing up as a child of immigrants below the Mason-Dixon line. He can be seen performing regularly at Los Angeles area comedy clubs including the Comedy Store, Laugh Factory, Improv and the Icehouse. He has appeared in the New York City Arab-American Comedy Festival, the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, and is a regular cast member of The Sultans. He has appeared on Fox TV and trained as a dramatic actor. Noël was featured in the indie feature films What Do I Do Now?, Clean, Fairfax File and the comedy short film Please God Someone Normal. Visit his site.

     
  • Eight-Week Oral History Workshop with Playwright Henry Ong

    • Monday, August 10, 2015 at 07:30 PM
    • The Markaz in Los Angeles, CA

    Share your life experiences as a Middle Eastern/North African American or national living in America. Contribute to the larger narrative tapestry of the Middle Eastern/North African community in Los Angeles. The stories shared in the workshop will provide the underlying narrative for a presentation in September that will be open to the public.

    Participants will be taught oral history/story-telling techniques. They will learn performance skills and the use of the body and movement in storytelling. Instructor Henry Ong will guide the participants in developing their narratives, as well as coach each person individually.

    Participation is free. The workshop will be held at 7:30 PM every Monday from July 20th through August 31st, as well as on September 8th, with a final presentation by participants on September 9th.

    Instructor Henry Ong is a Los Angeles playwright who has worked on many oral history and writing workshops in various communities (Sikh, Thai, Korean, Chinese, and Filipino, and the blind and visually-impaired). His plays have been produced nationally, including at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and internationally in Singapore, the UK, and Canada.

    This workshop is made possible, in part, by a City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Artist-in-Residence grant.

     
  • "The Universe in You": Omid Arabian Presents His New Rumi Translations

    Join us at The Markaz on Sunday, August 9th at 5:00 PM as Omid Arabian presents his new book of Rumi translations, The Universe in You.

     
  • Meditations on the Oud with Dimitris Mahlis

    • Thursday, August 06, 2015 at 07:30 PM
    • The Markaz in Los Angeles, CA
    • $10.00 USD
    A Levantine banquet of Greek, Turkish and Sephardic compositions

    The Markaz, Arts Center for the Greater Middle East presents a special house concert, Meditations on the Oud, performed by oud musician and composer Dimitris Mahlis, who has created a unique evening of live performance and musical history that connects the rich past of the Middle East/Levant with the broader Middle East region of today.

    On August 6th he will present the works of Greek, Armenian and Jewish composers of Ottoman classical music. In the rich mosaic that is this tradition, minorities of the empire played a substantial role both in the composition of Ottoman classical music as well as in the making of the instruments on which it was played. Composers such as Kemenceci Nikolaki, Kemani Tatyos, and Tanburi Isak are well known in the musical circles of Turkey and the Middle East, yet largely unknown in their "own" lands. It is in the spirit of coexistence and collaboration that this music will be presented along with the poetry of one of the most famous Greek poets of the Greek diaspora, Constantine Cavafy of Alexandria, Egypt.

    Oudist, guitarist and composer Dimitris "Jimmy" Mahlis has become known in musical circles as an eclectic interpreter of many musical traditions. Having a thorough knowledge of both eastern and western musical theory, he has developed a playing style on several instruments which is both earthy yet intricate. As a composer, his pieces have set a standard in cross cultural pollination. He will perform a "Levantine" repertoire sure to be a feast for the ears. Listen to the artist.

     
  • Khaliji and Middle Eastern Jazz Concert

    "Like two chemicals that flare upon touching, [Baronian's] music is a remarkable hybrid of two cultures."
    —Boston Herald American 

    "From the first rich resonant tones of Naser Musa's oud it is rare to find such an exotic variety of rhythms and songs together...capturing the heart and soul of its cultural source. The [songs] all feature Naser Musa's smooth talent on vocals and each is uniquely different, with many subtleties and changes that make listening a satisfying pleasure." —Mesmera


    A beautiful concert for dancers and music lovers...Leave your worldly cares at the door, join us for a magical journey that weaves traditional Middle Eastern melodies and song with contemporary fusion compositions from Souren Baronian. Then travel along the Silk Road to the Gulf and listen to the desert music of the Bedouins known as khaliji, passionate songs of the Gulf Arabs, performed by oud master and vocalist Naser Musa and his ensemble. Naser Musa, Souren Baronian and friends perform to help raise funds for the new arts center for the greater Middle East, The Markaz (the center). One night only! Tickets just $25 General Admission/$35 Preferred, or $75 VIP front row seating plus a gift bag.

    This is a benefit concert to support the new Arts Center for the Greater Middle East, The Markaz. Come enjoy the best of the best in Los Angeles and contribute to a worthy cause, The Markaz, fighting bias and intolerance, building a stronger Arab, Iranian, Middle Eastern community center.


    july-25-600.img_assist_custom.jpg

    MORE ABOUT THE MUSICIANS
    Naser Musa is recognized by critics of Middle Eastern music as a talented singer, a gifted songwriter, an oud virtuoso, an award winning composer, and a versatile studio musician. He has composed, arranged, and recorded numerous projects in the Middle East and in the United States. His recordings include the Arabia sound track; Khaliji, a collection of folk songs from the Arabian Gulf region; and Christmas and Beyond, a collection of Western Christmas carols and Arabic church hymns. Naser Musa appears on dozens of albums, including contributions on projects for Hollywood with John Debney and John Cameron among others. He has recorded with pop stars Shakira, Beyonce and Michael Sembello, and has shared the stage with Lebanese vocalists, Sabah and Ragheb Alame, and Egyptian vocalists, Hani Shaker and Hakim. Naser's oud was heard on the soundtrack of the film The Passion of the Christ by director Mel Gibson.

    Souren "Sudan" Baronian
     grew up in Spanish Harlem riding two powerful currents of his creativity: his ethnic Armenian heritage, and jazz. His own music is an authentic organic hybrid of those two idioms. The sound of his band is truly unique, applying a jazz vocabulary and the bebop sensibility of Charlie Parker and Lester Young to Middle Eastern rhythms on traditional instruments such as the oud, qanun, G-clarinet and percussions. He perfected his craft in study with saxophonist Warne Marsh, the late master teacher Lennie Tristano, and with greats of the Middle Eastern world. The influence of such creators as Lester Young and Charlie Parker is also eident in his playing. Besides being a powerful reedman, bandleader and the principal composer of Taksim's repertoire, Souren is a multi-instrumentalist, percussionist and teacher who travels the world sharing his kowledge in local workshops. OVer the years he has made individual appearanes at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, the Bottom Line, and on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

    Jim Grippo [qanun, oud] began started playing music as a child and soon discovered his true passion, improvisation. As he matured, he delved into jazz, punk, experimental improvisatory groups, and composition for film, art and dance. But it wasn't until his arrival at the University of California, Santa Barbara, that he found the perfect medium, Middle Eastern music. He joined the UCSB Middle East Ensemble 20 years ago and is now one of their lead instrumentalists; under the accomplished leadership of Dr. Scott Marcus, the ensemble performs music from Morocco to Iran, from Turkey to Egypt. It is this impressive variety, united with his past experiences, that has honed Jim's ability to play within numerous idioms. He started playing the oud (lute), studying maqam (Arab modal theory) and taqasim (improvisation) with Dr. Marcus, and later in Egypt with master oud player Dr. Hussein Saber. A few years later he devoted himself to the qanun (plucked zither), studying with ‘Ala Saber in Egypt. Because of Jim's diverse musical background, his exposure to myriad Middle Eastern and Balkan music cultures, and mastery of his instruments, he is a highly sought-after performer. Some of his most memorable performances include Every classroom lecture/performance for students from preschool to college, reception for Queen Noor, Cairo Opera House and Cultural Palaces, House of Lebanon fundraiser with Jay Leno, soundtrack for IMAX Arabia 3D, Taiwan tour, Gorillaz North America Tour (2010), and is currently recording on the new FX series, Tyrant.

    Paul Ohanesian [oud and percussion], is an exceptionally talented, well-known and well-respected member of the Bay Area Middle Eastern music and dance community who has been playing Middle Eastern music at festivals, clubs, and other cultural events since his youth. Among his musical influences are Richard Hagopian, John Bilezikjian, the legendary Syrian-born oud master Farid Al Atrashe and the Iraqi oud master Munir Bashir.

    Rowan Storm [percussion and vocals] With more than 25 years of experience with cultures and drumming of the Middle East and Mediterranean, Rowan Storm is recognized internationally as a performer and educator. Rowan brings freshness to tradition with her teaching method and frame drum designs, including the Thinline Frame Drums by Remo and her signature Rowan Storm Dayereh by Cooperman, now also produced by Remo. Throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, Rowan has studied and performed with some of the greatest masters of Middle Eastern music. Maintaining a full international concert and workshop schedule, Rowan plays and teaches a wide vocabulary of drumming styles, and sings in several languages.

     
  • The Untold Story of Iran: Nina Ansary, Cyrus Copeland & Sussan Deyhim

    The Markaz, Arts Center for the Greater Middle East (formerly the Levantine Cultural Center) is pleased to cosponsor The Untold Story of Iran at the Last Bookstore. If you'd like an alternative to the Fox News version of what Iran is all about, this is where you want to be on the 10th of July. The evening features Dr. Nina Ansary (Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran), Cyrus M. Copeland (Off the Radar: A Father's Secret, a Mother's Heroism, and a Son's Quest) and international vocalist Sussan Deyhim (as special musical guest) in a conversation about "The Untold Story of Iran." Guests will engage the audience in a humanist perspective on Iran—through personal experience, scholarly expertise, and musical expression—and a discussion aimed at shattering long encrusted stereotypes, taking us from the ancient Iran that issued the first charter of human rights to the patriarchal society of the present.

     
  • Max Blumenthal on Gaza and Israel's Rightward Drift

    The Kirkus Reviews call Max Blumenthal's new book, "An alarming report on Israel's devastating 2014 attack on Gaza...Explosive, pull-no-punches reporting that is certain to stir controversy." As Rod Such writes in his review for the Electronic Intifada, "Max Blumenthal's The 51-Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza will not be well received by the US corporate media. The reasons are apparent in the very title. It's a 51-day war, not a 50-day war as The New York Times and other corporate media repeatedly say. For the Times, 50 days means the war started on 8 July, when Hamas' military wing fired rockets into southern Israel, not on 7 July, when Israel, as even some Israeli media acknowledge, broke its ceasefire agreement with Hamas by killing seven of its members in an air strike. The difference of a day is the difference between portraying Hamas as the aggressor and Israel as acting in self-defense or acknowledging that Israel was the aggressor and Hamas acted in self-defense."

    maxblumenthal.jpg

    Max Blumenthal will talk about his new book and Israel's continuing rightward drift, and will discuss racism, policing and militarism in America and Israel with Hamid Khan. There will be a book signing at the conclusion of the discussion.

    Blumenthal last appeared at the center when he presented his book Goliath, Life and Loathing in Greater Israel (2013). Hamid Khan is the campaign coordinator of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. This program is made possible with support from Anonymous, Mary Ellen Bennett, Anthony Saidy, Hassan Sughayer, LA Jews for Peace and Jewish Voice for Peace-LA.

    Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a former Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for The Nation Institute.

    MORE ABOUT THE 51-DAY WAR (from the Kirkus Reviews)

    Alternet senior writer Blumenthal arrived in Gaza on the 38th day of the recent conflict, just as the Israeli military took to the air with fighter jets and drones to deliver a relentless barrage of missiles and bombs. In a narrative based on interviews with citizens, physicians, and others, the author writes that the Israeli military "unleashed massive force against the civilian population," killing 2,200 people (mostly Palestinian civilians), wounding over 10,000, and destroying about 18,000 homes. Some 3 million bullets were expended in wreaking $7 billion in damage, he writes. "The shocking level of firepower Israeli forces exerted against Gaza's civilian infrastructure told the story of a frustrated Goliath unable to punish its vastly underarmed foe into submission," writes Blumenthal. Israel, protected by an advanced sheltering and early warning system, had far fewer casualties. Sympathetic to Gaza's 1.8 million refugees and highly critical of Israel's increasingly right-wing leaders, the author attributes the ferocity of the Israeli attack on "bloodlust" over the deaths of three Israeli teenagers who, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had been "abducted and murdered by human animals." Netanyahu added: "Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay." Based on his observations and accounts from survivors, the author charges that the Israeli onslaught targeted Palestinian civilians rather than Hamas fighters. He claims that Israeli soldiers engaged in execution-style killings, deliberately destroyed Gaza City high-rise buildings housing dozens of local media organizations, used Palestinians as human shields, and attacked cemeteries as well as U.N. schools that served as refugee shelters. The war elevated the status of "fundamentalist warriors" in Israel and left a wake of "rage and spreading radicalism" that is certain to bring more military conflict.

     
  • "Women Bought and Sold" Short Film Salon Weekend

    • Saturday, June 06, 2015 at 06:00 PM
    • Levantine Cultural Center

    Date:
    June 6 & 7, 2015 6pm - 10:00pm

    Where:
    Levantine Cultural Center
    5998 W. Pico Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90035

    Price:
    $15 general, $12 students with I.D. (light dinner/soft drinks included)
    Reservations strongly advised: 323.413.2001
    Click here to reserve seats for June 6 »
    Click here to reserve seats for June 7 »

    womens-voices-banner-FB-6-6.jpg

    Women Bought and Sold: Voices United Against Violence—a weekend film salon showcasing short films by women of the Arab/Muslim world—aims to portray a deeper understanding of the worldwide issue of sexualized violence against women. Subjects broached in this film salon weekend include trafficking, slavery, domestic, servitude, forced marriages, sexual harassment, sexuality, and sexual freedom. Join us in viewing and discussing these films in the fight against these obstacles to peace, prosperity, and the dignity of women.

    Women's Voices Now seeks to empower all women living in Muslim-majority societies by promoting their free expression, thereby giving voice to the struggles for civil, economic, political, and gender rights. Learn more at Women's Voices Now.

    Your film ticket includes a delicious homestyle meal catered by Bouchra Azizy featuring cheese and spinach fatayer, ground beef and veggie rolls, hummus, falafel, salmon mousse on cucumber a bastilla, a delicious Moroccan speciality, plus for dessert, fruit or baklava. See below for each evening's full schedule.

    Saturday, June 6

    Theme: Body Talk

    Blobfish by Urgur Ferhat Korkmuz and Atilla Borutcu
    In the Name of Tradition by May El Hossamy
    The Reflex by Ali and Hussein Mousavi
    Get Along by Parya Vatankhah

    Theme: States of Violence
    Chronicle of Tahrir Square by Nour Zaki
    Final Moments by Shadi Amin
    Mohtarama by Malek Shafi'i and Diana Saqeb
    Take Care by Afrooz Nasersharif

    Sunday, June 7

    Theme: Conditions of Culture

    Breaking the Silence by Rajae Hammadi and Global Girl Media
    Vomit II - Celia Elslamieh Shomal
    Swap - Sayed Masoud Islami
    Shadow of the Stone by Fatemeh Keihani

    Theme: Women without Men

    Aabida by Maaria Syed
    The Virginity Minarets by Farhad Rezaee
    Behind the Wheel by Elise Laker

     
  • Gil Hochberg on Visual Occupations in Israel/Palestine

    Date: May 27, 2015 from 7pm-8:30pm
    Where: Levantine Cultural Center
    Price: Free to the public (charitable contributions welcome). Reservations suggested. RSVP below.

    may-27-FB-banner.jpg

    An academic and innovator, UCLA comp lit prof Gil Hochberg has written a terrific new book, according to Ella Shohat, Ted Swedenberg and others. It's entitled Visual Occupations: Violence and Visibility in a Conflict Zone, and Dr. Hochberg will present the book at the Levantine Cultural Center on Thursday, May 27th, 7 pm. Writes Swedenberg, "Gil Z. Hochberg's brilliant and lucidly written text provides a vivid analysis of the sharp limits on visibility in Palestine/Israel. The expulsions of Palestinians in 1948 are invisible in Israel, and yet they continue to haunt its citizens and mobilize Palestinian resistance. Palestinians under occupation are hyper-visible, as victims and militants, and they seek both non-spectacular images and a measure of opacity. Through her critical readings of an array of Palestinian and Israeli artistic works, Hochberg offers other ways of looking and being seen in this vastly unequal field of visibility." —Ted Swedenberg, coeditor of Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture.

    In Visual Occupations Gil Z. Hochberg shows how the Israeli Occupation of Palestine is driven by the unequal access to visual rights, or the right to control what can be seen, how, and from which position. Israel maintains this unequal balance by erasing the history and denying the existence of Palestinians, and by carefully concealing its own militarization. Israeli surveillance of Palestinians, combined with the militarized gaze of Israeli soldiers at places like roadside checkpoints, also serve as tools of dominance. Hochberg analyzes various works by Palestinian and Israeli artists, among them Elia Suleiman, Rula Halawani, Sharif Waked, Ari Folman, and Larry Abramson, whose films, art, and photography challenge the inequity of visual rights by altering, queering, and manipulating dominant modes of representing the conflict. These artists' creation of new ways of seeing-such as the refusal of Palestinian filmmakers and photographers to show Palestinian suffering or the Israeli artists' exposure of state manipulated Israeli blindness -offers a crucial gateway, Hochberg suggests, for overcoming and undoing Israel's militarized dominance and political oppression of Palestinians. 

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Gil Z. Hochberg is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Gender Studies at UCLA. She is the author of In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs and the Limits of Separatist Imagination.