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

ISLAMOPHOBIC? How Does It Feel to Be a Problem with Donald Trump as President?

Politicians, not terrorists, are the chief instigators of Islamophobic prejudice, and with every election it gets worse. By Moustafa Bayoumi Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast If you had told me in 2008, when How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? was first published, that ten years later the United States would be in the midst of a national debate about banning Muslims from entering the country, I would have scoffed in disbelief. Of course, I knew then, as I know now, that there have been many times in American history when the nation has turned on its vulnerable minorities. But back in 2008, I had grown optimistic about the future of the country, mostly owing to the experiences I had while writing this book. The young people I wrote about in these pages faced all kinds of problems stemming largely from being Arab or Muslim at a time when that fact alone could prompt undue suspicion from others. These were ordinary young people thrust into extraordinary circumstance, and I was fortunate to witness firsthand the creativity, energy, and commitments they found to overcome the problems they faced. Here were young people who were not only determined to make their lives better but were also, in many cases, devoted to making the United States a better, more equitable place. They inspired me and gave me hope for the future. Continue reading

Refugee from the War in Yemen: An Excerpt from Mohammed Al Samawi's Memoir

The US-backed Saudi war in Yemen rages on and the killing continues. On Saturday, August 17, 2018, when the news that 40 school children on a bus in Yemen were obliterated by a bomb manufactured by Lockheed Martin reached actor Jim Carrey’s TV screen in Los Angeles, he walked into his nearby artist studio and drew this image, publishing it on his Twitter feed with the comments "40 innocent children killed on a bus in Yemen. Our ally. Our missile. Our crime":   Continue reading

The Sephardic Way: on Jewish Life by Joyce Zonana

Joyce Zonana, an Egyptian Jew who came to the United States as a child, has always identified closely with her Arab and African roots. In this personal essay, as American Jews prepare for the September High Holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur), she reflects on what it means to be Jewish in the context of the Middle East, even as American Jewish identity continues to be defined by a European Ashkenazi hegemony. —TMR * Continue reading

Life in the Danger Zone: An Interview with Borzou Daragahi

Reporter Borzou Daragahi covering conflict in Libya in 2011 These days it's not uncommon for journalists (and citizen journalists) to become the first casualty when it comes to investigating conflict and reporting the news. According to Reporters Without Borders, 51 reporters and 10 citizen journalists have already been killed in 2018 alone. Over 300 have been imprisoned. And when not being imprisoned or shot, reporters face skeptics who scrutinize their every word. With history's heavy-hitting dictators like Stalin and Hitler calling the press "the enemy of the people," you have to wonder what page Donald Trump is on, as he plays fast and loose with the facts while accusing the press of reporting "fake news" and insisting that the media is the enemy. Continue reading

The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

Gaza: An Inquest into Its MartyrdomUniversity of California Press, 2018; 440 pages, hardback, $34.95An E-book version is also available. The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza By Eric A. Gordon “The nadir of the Palestinian struggle is now,” says distinguished but controversial scholar Norman G. Finkelstein. He spoke on March 26 at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “Nothing is happening there in Palestine. There is no mass resistance.” That explains why worldwide the pro-Palestinian cause is not drawing the crowds it once did. It also explains why the USC auditorium was at most half full. As Finkelstein surveyed the audience, he pointed to one college-age man in the front row, observing that he was by far the youngest person in the room. In Gaza today, 51 percent of the population is under 18 years of age. Half of Gaza’s people would be younger than this young man. However, if the martyrdom of Gaza seems right now to be sealed in the pages of history, “We don’t know what will come tomorrow,” says the author, on a tour to promote his newest book, Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom. “So we must keep preparing the ground.” Continue reading

A 20-Year Retrospective on Arts and Activism in Southern California

By Jordan Elgrably For more than 20 years, I brought a wealth of public programs to Southern California. As I prepare to turn 60 in what has been a rich and rewarding life, here is a look back, from 1996 to 2017. Jordan Elgrably in 2014, protesting the bombing of Gaza Support Jordan Elgrably's research & writing for his 60th birthday, 2/28/18: Contribute SOME YEARS AGO, at the tail end of a painful divorce, I was working as a journalist and feature writer in Los Angeles, when the Washington Post asked me to profile an author named Victor Perera. I hadn’t previously been familiar with his work and began to prepare for our interview by reading his most recent book, a family memoir entitled The Cross and the Pear Tree, A Sephardic Journey. Perera’s story of generations of Spanish and Turkish Jews picking up and moving to flee persecution or seek economic opportunity resonated with me. My paternal grandparents had left Morocco after World War I, looking for a better life in France, where my father and most of his siblings were born and raised. My father later emigrated to America, to get away from poverty in post-WWII Europe and Morocco. And according to family rumors, the Elgrabys had once lived in Spain and Palestine. This was a time in my life when I began to explore my own sense of belonging, particularly with respect to Arab and Jewish identity. Continue reading