The Markaz Review—October 2018

Interview with Sama'a Al-Hamdani on Yemen / Jordan Elgrably Review of Algiers, Third World Capital, Freedom Fighters, Revolutionaries, Black Panthers / Anthony Saidy Palestinian Women Were the Heart and Soul of the First Intifada Opinion: US Anti-Iran Sanctions Harm the Iranian People / Mohamad Huseini Opinion: They Came for Muslims and Immigrants, Then They Came For Me / Stephen Rohde

A Humanitarian Catastrophe: Understanding the War in Yemen

An interview with Sama'a Al-Hamdani On September 26, California Representative Ro Khanna and about a dozen other House democrats put forward a bill to stop US support for the Yemen war—the War Powers Resolution to End U.S. Military Involvement in Yemen—because in fact Congress has not authorized US military and financial support for the war. As of this writing, only two Republicans, Thomas Massie from Kentucky and Walter Jones from North Carolina, were backing it. On September 27, Yemeni-American analyst Sama’a Al-Hamdani spoke in Los Angeles at UCLA along with Tasleem Mulhall about the Yemen conflict in a program presented by The Markaz and UCLA’s Center for Near Eastern Studies. The following interview was conducted by Jordan Elgrably. [Photo: Sama'a Al-Hamdani, Tasleem Mulhall, Jordan Elgrably, by Jo Anderson.]     Why is it that Americans know so little about Yemen, why has the country seemed so off the radar to us? Not to be overly cynical, but is it perhaps in part because of Saudi Arabia’s long-standing relationship with the U.S., particularly with respect to the oil and gas industry and its lobbyists in Washington? There isn’t a single correct answer as to why Americans know so little about Yemen, but one must consider several factors at play. It could be as innocent as poor education or lack of interest. From one standpoint, Yemeni nationals are brown, poor and too remote from America. However, to the majority of Americans, it is the result of a methodical capitalist agenda, which sees no profit in “saving” Yemen, an impoverished country in a very wealthy peninsula with nothing financial to offer the world in general, and the US in particular, without war and terrorism. Continue reading

Algiers, the Black Panthers and the Revolution

Book Review by Anthony Saidy Algiers, Third World Capital, Freedom Fighters, Revolutionaries, Black Panthersby Elaine Mokhtefi (Verso, 2018)At 23, motivated by lofty ideals for world peace and justice, New York native Elaine Klein settled in postwar France, where she found work as a translator and interpreter for international organizations. In 1960 Klein got involved with a New York-based group that was part of the Algerian National Liberation Front, or FLN. They lobbied the United Nations in support of Algeria’s government in exile, working for Algeria’s independence from France. Klein soon found herself swept up in the Algerian Revolution and gave it two decades of her life, marrying the Algerian intellectual and liberation war veteran Mokhtar Mokhtefi (author of J'Étais Français-Musulman). In Algiers, she got attached to Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, for whom she performed various tasks and missions, and was ultimately deported for refusing to be a spy for the Algerian secret police, having long known of their use of torture. Continue reading

Palestinian Women Were the Heart and Soul of the First Intifada

Naila and the Uprising, a film by Julia Bacha Review by Jordan Elgrably   Last month Human Rights Watch presented the Los Angeles premiere of a new Just Vision documentary by directing stalwart Julia Bacha (Budrus, Encounter Point, Control Room). Using a creative combination of animation, live action and archival footage, Naila and the Uprising recounts the story of Palestinian women during the First Intifada (1987-1993). The narrative circles around Naila Ayesh and others who were swept into the maelstrom of confrontation with Israel's then 20-year Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. (Last year marked 50 years of this cruel and ludicrous stalemate.) Continue reading

For the Man in the Street, U.S. Anti-Iran Sanctions Don’t Augur Well

On September 25th, President Donald Trump gave a speech to the UN in which he touted breaking the anti-nuclear deal with Iran as a pro-active move for Middle East peace and stability. Trump insisted U.S. sanctions against Iran are necessary to move the regime away from its agenda in Syria and Yemen. The present writer who lives in Iran under harsh economic conditions begs to differ.   By Mohamad Huseini Are economic sanctions humane? Are they a subversive act of war or are they a gentle way to put pressure on certain unfriendly states to change their ways? Walk through the streets of any city in Iran and all you hear about are the hardships that sanctions have brought to everyday life. From one day to the next, no one knows the price of basics. Standing in line at a bakery you hear people asking each other the cost of bread when they should already know the answer. After all, bread and rice are the staples of life and the cheapest way to fill the belly. Yet no one seems to know how he or she will manage to pay for a few pieces of bread or a kilo of rice. Continue reading

They Came for Muslims and Immigrants, Then They Came for Me

Seventeen years ago, in the wake of 9/11, Rev George Regas convened a wide array of faith leaders and activists in Southern California to found Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace.  Since then, ICUJP has met on over 875 Fridays and has organized hundreds of events to advance its mission that RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES MUST STOP BLESSING WAR AND VIOLENCE.  As the dangerous, threatening and fateful US “War on Terror” began to emerge, I was reminded of the haunting words of Rev Martin Niemöller’s cautionary poem, warning the world during the atrocities of Nazism that when a repressive government moves against the most despised in society, if left unchecked, no one is safe and it will move against its own citizens. In October 2001, I published my own version of “Then They Came for Me,” reproduced here.  Sadly, today, seventeen years later, we are confronting ominously comparable threats to democracy revealing the persistence of fear, hatred, racism and bigotry.  That’s why ICUJP continues it work without interruption and that’s why everyone, everyday needs to resist and advance the cause of peace, justice and liberty for all.     Continue reading

The Markaz Review—September 2018

Special theme on Yemen: Excerpt from the new memoir by Mohammed Al Samawi Profile of artist Tasleem Mulhall Diwan Al Fan presents Yemen Artists in Berlin's "On Echoes of Invisible Hearts" SAVE THE DATE 9/27 for a special Los Angeles forum on Yemen with Sama'a Al-Hamdani & Tasleem Mulhall Continue reading

Yemen Artists in Berlin's "On Echoes of Invisible Hearts"

Exhibition Opening and Reception:September 26, 2018  6 - 8 pmThe Poetry ProjectFehrbelliner Str. 30,10119 Berlin, Germany [EDITOR'S NOTE: The following press release on this unique exhibition is provided by Diwan Al Fan, which is dedicated to supporting visual art, music and film from Yemen through local and international projects - including exhibitions, art residencies and music productions. Providing a global perspective on Yemeni art and culture, Diwan Al Fan encourages the development of projects that expand the discourse around contemporary art, music and film from Yemen. Diwan Al Fan was established in November 2017 by Ibi Ibrahim and is the arts initiative of the Sana'a based Romooz Foundation for the Arts and Cultural Development.] Diwan Al Fan is pleased to announce On Echoes of Invisible Hearts: Narratives of Yemeni Displacement, a group show curated by Lila Nazemian running from September 26 to October 18, 2018 and featuring works by Ibi Ibrahim, Yasmine Diaz, Habeeb Mohammad Abu-Futtaim, Saba Jalas, Eman al-Awami, and Arif Al Nomay. An illustrated catalogue by Yemeni designer Zulfa Ishak will accompany the exhibition. Continue reading

Fleeing Oppression, Yemen-born Tasleem Mulhall Finds Herself in Art and Feminism

SAVE THE DATE: Tasleem Mulhall will be speaking live in Los Angeles and exhibiting her work, along with Yemeni-American political analyst Sama’a Al-Hamdani, on September 27, 2018. For more info email Yemen is where London-based artist and activist Tasleem Mulhall spent the first 15 years of her life and her roots remain firmly planted there. As she avows, “The culture and traditions of the country are always with me, and a lot of my art is inspired by my background. They reveal what it is like to be a Yemeni woman.”   Continue reading

Four Poems by Persis Karim & Sholeh Wolpé

Poetry in the Middle East has always been beloved, from the ancients to such 20th century moderns as Khalil Gibran, Adonis, Mahmoud Darwish or Nizar Qabani. It’s a fact that venerated poets of Iran continue to define Iran today; indeed when you think of Persian culture you automatically think of Rumi, Hafez, Ferdowsi, Omar Khayyam, Attar and more recently Forough Farrokhzad. We are delighted to observe how Iran’s rich culture continues to inspire new generations of poets and writers around the world, and among them Iranian American poets are making their mark—from Persis Karim and Sholeh Wolpé to new-gen bards Solmaz Sharif and Kaveh Akbar, you’ll discover there is a wealth of individual poetry collections, anthologies, novels and memoir writing which convey the experiences of immigrants, refugees and others in the American diaspora.  —TMR     Continue reading