Saturday, October 31, 2009

LInk Hokey-Pokey

1) Redefining Punk My Way

This is a great article by Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed from the Taqwacore Webzine about inventing yourself within a subculture. Ahmed discusses the way you can both find yourself in a scene and also still feel excluded. I understand what she means: I love that the Taqwacores exist and I'm a big fan of the scene but the truth is, I don't always feel so at home with them either. That scene is more Muslim than Arab, and it seems dominated-- in my experience-- by South Asian bands and fans. All of that is fine by me, but it isn't my experience any more than a standard (i.e usually white) hardcore show. So I appreciated Ahmed's point that, for her, Taqwacore, isn't about creating new labels and boxes for what punk "is". She writes, "We are defining what it means to be Taqwacore, together. Whether we have different class backgrounds, races, or religiosity, the empathy of understanding commonality amongst this posse is not lost. This empathy translates into a building of bridges with all sorts of communities including those that are not punk/Muslim/brown. And to me, that is how Taqwacore is redefining what it means to be punk, in a whole new brilliant way."

Tags: Music, Culture is Politics

2) UN Inquiry Finds Israel “Punished and Terrorized” Palestinian Civilians, Committed War Crimes During Gaza Assault

Democracy Now posted this interview with Israel/Palestine scholar and activist Norman Finkelstein after the Goldstone Report, which was generated by the United Nations to investigate the possibility of war crimes during Israel's assault on Gaza, was published and summarily rejected by the Israel. Democracy Now's Amy Goodman writes, "The 575-page report came at the end of a six-month inquiry and was based on dozens of interviews and investigations. The inquiry was led by Judge Richard Goldstone, the former chief prosecutor of the international courts for Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Judge Goldstone said Israel deliberately attacked civilians and failed to take precautions to minimize loss of civilian life. " The Goldstone Report concludes that Israel committed grave breaches of the Geneva Convention during the assault including, killing "1,400 Palestinians—about a third of them women and children." As usual Finkelstein breaks it down in the video interview (and accompanying free transcript). He writes, "The report basically is consistent with the findings of the other human rights organizations, that Israel targeted civilians, Israel targeted civilians who were carrying white flags, Israel systematically targeted the Palestinian infrastructure. The findings were consistent with those of the other human rights organizations: Israel is guilty of a very significant number of war crimes. And also, the findings which were—other reports, the same conclusions, that the Palestinians were not using hospitals to hide Hamas officials. There’s no evidence that the ambulances Israel targeted were carrying Hamas militants or ammunition. And most significantly, in terms of the coverage during the Gaza massacre, the report found, as did Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, there’s no evidence whatsoever—and I would want to underline that—there’s no evidence whatsoever that Hamas was guilty of human shielding. But on the other hand, there is significant evidence, actually copious evidence, that Israel was guilty of human shielding."

This is essential reading for understanding what the Goldstone report actually says and for dismantling the Israeli objections to its findings.

Tags: Goldstone, Palestine/Israel

3) VIDEO "If we allow Obama to live, then America Dies"

The blog Political Carnival has linked to a YouTube Video of Rev. James Manning of New York's ATLAH Worldwide ministries calling for President Obama's death. For real. He says,

2:28 to 2:40

"If Obama lives, then the constitution, and America dies. Now listen to me very carefully, please hear me, please hear me: If we let Obama live, America dies..."

5:12 to 5:35

"What we need to be focused on, if we allow Obama to live, in his present state as a criminal, then America is torn apart. God knows America is gone. America is gone, if we allow Obama to continue, then the nation is gone, so which, which is it? Obama lives and America dies?

10:08 to 10:43

"Now what's it going to be? What's it going to be? Is it going to be Obama? He will live and ride off into the sunset as America's first African-American....President, which is a lie from the pit of hell. But are you gonna let that lie stand, and then the Constitution and America. I can tell you now. Five months from now America will no longer be. We must take immediate and decisive action now."

Oh, and yes, Rev. Manning is black. Discuss amongst yourselves. I got nothing.

Tags: Conservative Nutjob

4) Clinton faces Pakistani anger at drone attacks: One TV anchor says: "You had one 9/11. We are having daily 9/11s in Pakistan."

The Los Angeles Times reports (via the Associated Press) that Hillary Clinton faced angry and incredulous Pakistanis during her recent visit. She was questioned directly about the use of drones to drop bombs all over Pakistan, a tactic that has resulted in civilian deaths and inspired pointed questions about the US use of Pakistan as a battleground to fight "Islamic extremsim." The AP writes,

"During an interview with Clinton broadcast live in Pakistan with several prominent female TV anchors, before a predominantly female audience of several hundred, one member of the audience said the Predator attacks amount to "executions without trial" for those killed.

Another asked Clinton how she would define terrorism.

'Is it the killing of people in drone attacks?' she asked. That woman then asked if Clinton considers drone attacks and bombings like the one that killed more than 100 civilians in the city of Peshawar earlier this week to both be acts of terrorism.

"No, I do not," Clinton replied.

Another man told her bluntly: 'Please forgive me, but I would like to say we've been fighting your war.'"

Although this article mentions it in passing there has been little comment about the fact that Clinton's most articulate critics during this visit were Pakistani women, some of whom were covered. The US press cannot wait to draw an explicit link between South Asian or Arab ethnic identities, Islam and the repression of women under other circumstances (like in cases of domestic violence, for e.g.). But when confronted with images of politically engaged, plain-spoken Muslimahs who were clearly unafraid to pose difficult questions to a US official in front of international television cameras... nothing. The AP video that accompanies this article only shows Clinton's (rather defensive) response and not the women who first raised the questions in the first place. In order to actually see footage of the female Pakistani journalists interviewing Clinton we must turn to the site PKPolitics, who have posted it here (after the introduction the interview footage is in English).

Tags: Feminism, Politics is Culture

5) Huma Mulji: High Rise

In keeping with the "Pakistani Women Representing Themselves " theme of the above post I am linking to Dubai-based artist and writer Valerie Grove's article (in digital art magazine Nafas) about Lahore-based artist Huma Mulji. Mulji's sculpture and installations have what Grove calls a "slapstick theatricality" that gives it a conceptual edge: In her most recent work Mulji has integrated large scale taxidermy with constructions. She employs the preserved carcasses of actual water buffaloes, which represent Asia and camels, which refer to an Arab landscape. Grove writes, "Merging installation, sculpture and photography, Huma Mulji gleefully manipulates both context and content and juxtaposes unlikely materials to create her own brand of situationist absurdity. Within this process, and underlying the humour and spectacle, are some acute observations on the social and economic realities of contemporary Pakistan."

Her Suburban Dream (2009) Huma Mulji
painted steel pipe, taxidermied water buffalo

The results of using once-living animals in her new work are funny and disturbing. And this work from an accomplished woman artist from Pakistan, working in a contemporary genre with experimental materials, further gives the lie to a Western stereotype about universally oppressed Pakistani women. Even if this sort of art isn't your thing I think this essay is worth checking out. After all, culture is politics. I wonder if Hillary got to see much art during her trip? I'm going to guess no.

Tags: Installation, Photography, Performance, Emerging Artists


6) According to Pat Robertson & company: the Hate Crime Bill is wrong, plus, there are Demons in Halloween candy

I had to add this link to the great blog The Intersection of Madness and Reality, by a very funny guy who posts as RippDemUpp. Ripp writes,

"The claim about the demonic candy was actually made by in a blog written by Kimberly Daniels (a Black woman) which was posted on Robertson's website. The post itself has since been reedited on Robertson's site, but can be read in it's original content here. Which is kinda funny because it served as a warning for Christians to forego the celebration of Halloween; something I'm sure Robertson is down with, unlike the new Hate Crimes Bill of course.

Here's an excerpt from the post:

During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches."
You realize what this means? Witches are responsible for my ass. ::Shakes fist at sky:: Damn you Witches!

Tags: Conservative Nutjob, Politics is Culture

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"It Will Take More Than a Wall to Silence Us": Non-Violent Peace Activist Mohammad Othman is Still in an Isareli Jail

by Jamal Juma', Coordinator, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
via the Huffington Post

"My friend and fellow organizer Mohammad Othman, a 34-year-old Palestinian human rights advocate, was detained by Israel on September 22 while returning home from meetings with Norwegian government officials. I suspect he was not surprised. A few months earlier, Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint within the West Bank had taken him aside and threatened him with arrest. "We're going to arrest you," one said, "but it's difficult with you because all you do is talk."

As a grassroots leader, this chills me to the bone. Like Mohammad, my colleagues and I spend a great deal of time talking - talking and thinking about how nonviolent peace activists can halt Israel's relentless expansion into our agricultural land. If talking is a crime, if urging the international community to hold Israel accountable for theft of our land is a crime, then we all are vulnerable.

Law, which on paper protects the rights of the occupied, seems powerless to stop Israel in practice.

For the last month, Israel has inveighed against the UN's Goldstone report, which meticulously documents Israeli war crimes during its assault on Gaza. The "new" U.S. of Barack Obama has unfortunately reverted to looking very much like the Bush administration by backing down on demands that Israel freeze construction of its illegal settlements and its vigorous effort to kill the Goldstone report. Brutalized Palestinian civilians in Gaza would be forced to swallow a bitter pill in forgoing the protections offered by international law and the slim satisfaction of a measure of justice.

Israel, for its part, has with single-minded intensity sought to bury the message and attack the messenger, notwithstanding the fact that Judge Goldstone is Jewish and a committed Zionist.

But attacking a messenger like Goldstone is not new for Israel. Israeli authorities are increasingly imprisoning and abusing Palestinians - not just Mohammad Othman - for speaking out abroad about hardships faced by Palestinians.

Mohammad Omer, a journalist from Gaza, was severely beaten by Israeli intelligence officials on his return from Europe last year. Just prior to his return, he had received a prestigious award for his reporting. During a ferocious interrogation, Omer, like Mohammad Othman, was told that he was talking too much (to the outside world). He answered, "Well, it's my job to talk, and I want that, and it's my choice. I want to get the message out."

In June this year, Mohammad Srour, from Ni'lin, another village whose lands are confiscated by the illegal barrier, was arrested on his way back from Geneva, where he had testified before Goldstone.

Many anti-Wall activists with ties to the international community have been imprisoned by Israel on non-existent or trumped-up charges. It's the Jim Crow South in the wild West Bank. There are more than 11,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are held for months or years in administrative detention without charge or trial. Twenty-eight Palestinians from the West Bank village of Bil'in - also losing land to the apartheid barrier - have been arrested in night-time raids since June and 18 of them remain detained.

As for my friend, Mohammad Othman, he has spent much of his time since September 22 in solitary confinement. His detention has already been extended four times and an appeal rejected. Most recently, his detention was extended another 13 days on October 27 (with an appeal expected October 29). Mohammad spent his birthday enduring interrogation behind bars as a political prisoner charged with no crime and unable to see any "evidence" against him. Strikingly, Israeli authorities have yet to bring evidence or charges against him in the military court. Perhaps this is because, as the soldier at the checkpoint admitted, Mohammad is guilty only of talking; of speaking out against injustice.

Mohammad hails from the impoverished village of Jayyous. He speaks tirelessly about the high-tech fencing that steals his family's land. Nearly 20 years ago the world cheered the fall of the Berlin Wall yet today Israel constructs an even more massive wall to enclose tens of thousands of human beings in isolated enclaves. And rather than build its barrier on the Green Line, Israel has used the wall to seize more Palestinian property.

Mohammad has chosen against great odds to speak out because the life of his community is at stake. He has discovered he has a powerful voice. International visitors are riveted when Mohammad describes how Israeli diamond mogul, Lev Leviev, is building an illegal settlement on his village land. Our American colleagues tell us that The New York Times opinion page regularly runs Leviev's diamond advertisements; visitors who have discussed Leviev's expansionist politics with Mohammad, however, will likely not be buying his tarnished goods.

Mohammad, who is mostly self-educated and only recently started traveling to Europe, met last month in Norway with the Finance Minister and representatives of the Norwegian State Pension Fund to convince them to follow their own human rights guidelines for investment. Less than two weeks before Mohammad's arrest, the Finance Minister announced the Pension Fund's $5.4 million divestment from Elbit, an Israeli company that provides security equipment for the Wall and builds the drones that have killed innocents in Gaza.

To date, this was one of the greatest successes of the campaign to divest from Israel for failing to abide by international law. Mohammad was a national hero returning home, only to be intercepted by an Israeli government that while losing the moral battle abroad still exercises ultimate control over our lives.

If President Obama is to live up to his Nobel Peace Prize, then he should ensure that Israel releases political prisoners such as Mohammad and insist that trapping Palestine's emerging Gandhis and Mandelas behind walls, electrified fences, and segregated roadways is incompatible with a peaceful and just future."

Author Jamal Juma' was born in Jerusalem and attended Birzeit University, where he became politically active. Since the first Intifada, he has focused on grassroots activism. He is a founding member of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange and Palestinian Environmental NGO Network. Juma' is since 2002 the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. He has been invited to address numerous civil society and UN conferences, where he has spoken on the issue of Palestine and the Apartheid Wall. His articles and interviews are widely disseminated and translated into several languages.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Performance Artist and "Terrorist Drag Queen" Vaginal Creme Davis Appearing at NYU

The Department of Performance Studies presents:

Vaginal Creme Davis in an original performative lecture/oratorio.

Monday, November 9, 2009
7:00- 8:30pm
Tisch School of the Arts
721 Broadway, 6th floor
NYU Department of Performance Studies

RSVP on Facebook:

By Dominic Johnson via Frieze Magazine

"Vaginal Creme Davis is an originator of the homo-core punk movement and a gender-queer art-music icon. Her concept bands -- including Pedro Muriel and Esther, Cholita! The Female Menudo, black fag, and the Afro Sisters -- have left an indelible mark on the development of underground music. Like Ron Athey, Ms Davis made her name in LA's club performance scene, and has earned herself a similar notoriety as a cultural antagonist and erotic provocateur.

Set apart from gallery-centered art, and Hollywood movies, and from those systems' necessities of high-polish, low-substance production, Vaginal Davis's low-budget -- often no-budget -- performance, experimental film and video practice has critiqued exclusionary conceits from the outside. Davis has been a prolific producer of club performance, video and Xerox-produced Zines, and other forms of antagonistic low-cost, high-impact work. Such as in her drag reconstruction of Vanessa Beecroft's Navy SEALs performance, Ms Davis derails collector-friendly raciness in spectacles of femininity, queerness and blackness. She critiques both the gallery system and the larger cultural trend that it mirrors, with tongue-in-cheek self-exploitation and rude provocations of racial and gender confusion.

Vaginal Davis is the key proponent of the disruptive performance aesthetic known as terrorist drag. Disrupting the cultural assimilation of gay-oriented and corporate-friendly drag, she positions herself at an uncomfortable tangent to the conservative politics of gay culture, mining its contradictory impulses to interrupt the entrenchment of its assimilatory strategies.

A self-labeled "sexual repulsive," Ms Davis consistently refuses to ease conservative tactics within gay and black politics, employing punk music, invented biography, insults, self-mockery, and repeated incitements to group sexual revolt -- all to hilarious and devastating effect. Her body a car-crash of excessive significations, Vaginal Davis stages a clash of identifications within and against both heterosexual and queer cultures, and Black and Hispanic identities. From bubblegum songstress Graziela Grejalva to aging deviant John Dean Egg III, Davis's personas reject the internal counter-cultural mandate to refuse self-criticism, instead problematising the functions and assumptions of normative trends within the margins.

By renewing uncertainties within alternative cultures and identities, Vaginal Davis opens up spaces for their continual struggle towards renewed and greater challenges, over and against these practices' timid appeasement and appropriation by the mainstream."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

Self-Portrait* (2007)

So I have a website now. It features my artwork and information about my scholarship and teaching. If you aren't too busy maybe you could take a look. I'm just saying.

*Yeah, that's me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

ACROSS HISTORIES ARTIST TALK SERIES Segregated Spaces: On Progress, with Naeem Mohaiemen

Cabinet Magazine Space, Brooklyn
Tue, Oct 27, 7 p.m.

"Curated by Lauren Pearson, Across Histories is a free monthly series focused on developing an ongoing critical discussion of artistic practices in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and diasporas. Debuted at the Elizabeth Foundation Gallery in Manhattan in 2008, and now housed in Brooklyn's Cabinet Magazine Space, Across Histories provides a compelling platform for artists, designers, curators and art critics to present and discuss their work, oeuvres, historical moments, theories, writings and exhibitions that have had the most impact on their professional practices.

This month, the series will host Naeem Mohaiemen, a writer and artist who works in Dhaka and New York City, exploring the contradictions between Bengalis in marginal migrant status and majoritarian roles in their own country.

Naeem Mohaiemen is a writer and artist working in Dhaka and New York City. He uses text, photo, video and archives to explore histories of the international left, utopia/dystopia slippage, post-partition South Asia, and globally interlinked security panic. Projects include My Mobile Weighs A Ton (militarization); Otondro Prohori, Guarding Who (surveillance); Penn Station Kills Me (monuments); Kazi in Nomansland (amnesia); and Red Ant Motherchod Meet Starfish Nation (military coup).

Working between two countries, Mohaiemen sometimes explores the contradictions between Bengalis in marginal migrant status, and majoritarian (and authoritarian) roles in their own country. He writes on Bangladesh's religious and ethnic minorities for the Ain Salish Kendra Annual Human Rights Report (, and on activist blogs ( As part of this work, Muslims or Heretics: My Camera Can Lie was a documentary about the problem of multiple audiences. His essays include Islamic Roots of Hip-Hop (Sound Unbound, MIT Press); Beirut: Illusion of a Silver Porsche (Men of the Global South, Zed Books); Why Mahmud Can't be a Pilot (Nobody Passes, Seal Press); Adman Blues Become Artist Liberation (Indian Highway, Serpentine Gallery); Everybody Wants To Be Singapore (La Buena Vida, Carlos Motta, ICA); and the book Collectives in Atomised Time (with Doug Ashford, Idensitat, Spain). Mohaiemen's exhibition at CUE marks his first solo show in New York."

For more information, please visit

Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Religion

An aging libertine, such as myself, is perhaps a poor champion for organized religion, in general or in any of its specific manifestations.


I was raised Catholic and the epic weirdness of that faith is as much a part of me as my bones. Certainly my artwork is completely influenced by Catholic aesthetics, saturated colors, twisting bodies, ecstatic pain and painful ecstasy, incense and peppermints... While there isn't much of a Catholic intellectual tradition to speak of--certainly not compared to the towering traditions in Judaism, Islam or, say, Buddhism-- there is a kind of ancient intensity to Catholicism that appeals to me. It is more a religion of images than words, sensual and visceral. We fetishize Christ's tormented body, his blood. And at the height of our ritual we eat God, consuming His flesh and taking it inside of ourselves.

It is no accident we have the best art.

Philosophically too, I have been shaped (for better or worse) by Catholicism. For example, it employs paradoxes as a matter of course: God is one and also three, Mary is both Mother and Virgin, Christ is both God and man, etc. So from an early age I understood at a deep level that seeming opposites could co-exist without negating one another --a surprisingly elastic world view that has served me well.

So, despite the fact that I do not attend mass, it would be disingenuous to refer to myself as an "ex-Catholic", or in a joking way, a "recovering Catholic" because it would mean inserting a wedge of ironic distance between Catholicism and myself, and therefore denying its influence on me. But I am talking here about the faith, which I distinguish from the Church. I have fundamental differences with the Catholic Church about sex, sexuality, the infallibility of the Pope in matters of faith, the role of women in the church, and so on. Not to mention my strong feelings of disgust over the history of Catholic complicity in colonialism and more recent abuses like political opposition to same-sex marriage, the shielding of pedophile priests from legal prosecution etc. etc. etc.

All of which is to say that my relationship with religion is complicated.

In general, I find public displays of faith discomfiting, usually because they seem to require something of me that I am unprepared to give. My relationship with the Divine is private and I don't want to explore it in public. Besides, religion is so often employed to disguise and justify xenophobia, that I am reticent to praise it, even in the abstract. And I have no investment whatsoever in getting anyone else to sign on to my perceptions about religion in the sense of missionary conversion.


As easy as it is to find horrific examples of adherence to the belief in one God used as a weapon, you can also find examples of that belief employed as a positive force, not only on individuals, but on society. For example, millions of 12-step members, whether they are affiliated with an organized religion or not, surrender to the notion of a higher power, over which they have no control, and are healed by it. In the post-enlightenment West the notion of submission to God is difficult to reconcile, which is the source of many uninformed knee-jerk critiques of Islam. But if considered honestly we can see that this concept has also had undeniable benefits.

The current wave of new atheist literature by European figures such as Richard Dawkins exemplify the mistaken notion that atheism is the final refuge of rational men. These discourse seem to suggest that if religion were to suddenly disappear then the ills that have been perpetrated in its name would go along with it. This seems to me a terribly naive idea. The simplistic notion that organized religion is the root of divisions between people and cultures is a cartoonish oversimplification that denies the political dimension to such dealings. If men and women have used religious doctrine to marginalize, attack and destroy one another and those doctrines were suddenly unavailable, they would simply use another ideology to do the same thing. For example, atheists like Hawkins and Hitchens, etc. prove that ideologies that have nothing to do with religious faith or philosophy can be used to perpetuate division and reinforce hierarchies. The blatant Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism of the new breed of European atheists is as dangerous as anything the televangelists are cooking up.

Perhaps it would be more proper to say then that ideology--whether it is religious, political or cultural-- can be used to incite violence, torment and exclude those who fall outside the limits it imposes. To give organized religion (any organized religion) the entire credit for messing up the world, is a partisan political statement and should be understood as such.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sometimes Being Lebanese is Awesome.

Lebanese Prepare Two Tons of Hummus


"BEIRUT (Oct. 24) - Lebanese chefs prepared a massive plate of hummus weighing over two tons Saturday that broke a world record organizers said was previously held by Israel — a bid to reaffirm proprietorship over the popular Middle Eastern dip.

'Come and fight for your bite, you know you're right!' was the slogan for the event — part of a simmering war over regional cuisine between Lebanon and Israel, which have had tense political relations for decades.

Lebanese businessmen accuse Israel of stealing a host of traditional Middle Eastern dishes, particularly hummus, and marketing them worldwide as Israeli. 'Lebanon is trying to win a battle against Israel by registering this new Guinness World Record and telling the whole world that hummus is a Lebanese product, its part of our traditions,' said Fady Jreissati, vice president of operations at International Fairs and Promotions group, the event's organizer.

Hummus — made from mashed chickpeas, sesame paste, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic — has been eaten in the Middle East for centuries. Its exact origin is unknown, though it's generally seen as an Arab dish.

But it is also immensely popular in Israel — served in everyday meals and at many restaurants — and its popularity is growing around the globe.

The issue of food copyright was raised last year by the head of Lebanon's Association of Lebanese Industrialists, Fadi Abboud, when he announced plans to sue Israel to stop it from marketing hummus and other regional dishes as Israeli. But to do that, Lebanon must formally register the product as Lebanese. The association is still in the process of collecting documents and proof supporting its claim for that purpose. Lebanese industrialists cite, as an example, the lawsuit over feta cheese in which a European Union court ruled in 2002 the cheese must be made with Greek sheep and goats milk to bear the name feta. That ruling is only valid for products sold in the EU.

Abboud says that process took seven years and realizes Lebanon's fight with Israel is an uphill battle. Meanwhile, he says, events like Saturday's serve to remind the world that hummus is not Israeli. 'If we don't tell Israel that enough is enough, and we don't remind the world that it's not true that hummus is an Israeli traditional dish, they (Israelis) will keep on marketing it as their own,' he said Saturday.

Some 300 chefs were involved in preparing Saturday's massive ceramic plate of hummus in a huge tent set up in downtown Beirut. The white-uniformed chefs used 2,976 pounds of mashed chickpeas, 106 gallons of lemon juice and 57 pounds of salt to make the dish, weighing 4,532 pounds.

It was not clear what the former Israeli record was, and organizers gave conflicting reports on when it was made. But chefs and visitors broke into cheers and applause when a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records presented Abboud with a certificate verifying Lebanon had broken the previous record. The plate was then decorated with the red, green and white Lebanese flag.

A similar attempt to set a new world record will be held Sunday for the largest serving of tabbouleh, a salad made of chopped parsley and tomatoes, that Lebanon also claims as its own."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


NYU's Department of Performance Studies presents

The Performance Studies Lecture Forum


Jibz Cameron is a musician and performance artist, known for her one-woman performance persona Dynasty Handbag. She is currently a visiting lecturer in Performance Studies. K8 Hardy is a video and performance artist and is one of the founding editors of LTTR, a radical gender-queer, lesbian-feminist art collective and journal. She also works as a fashion stylist for clients including Fischerspooner and has made music videos for bands such as Lesbians on Ecstasy and Le Tigre. Please join us on MONDAY, OCTOBER 26th, 7-8:30PM to see these two cutting edge downtown New York artists in conversation about gender, politics, performance persona, and whatever else you want to ask them about.

Located in the Performance Studies Studio at Tisch School of the Arts (721 Broadway, 6th Floor)

FREE. Reception (with free food and drinks!) following talk.

No reservations required for NYU students and faculty.

Non NYU-affiliated folks please RSVP to:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Life in Hell: A Journalist's Account of Life in Gaza

The Palestine Center invites you to a briefing

"Life in Hell: A Journalist's Account of Life in Gaza"


Mohammed Omer
Gaza Correspondent, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Thursday, 5 November 2009
12:30 - 2:00 pm
The Palestine Center

"Mr. Omer will describe his interviews with Gazans trying to survive the stifling blockade on the Gaza Strip. As another winter approaches, he will discuss how Gazans are coping without electricity, water, fuel, sewage treatment and adequate health care or building materials. Gazans can't fix water tanks, windows, and doors damaged by bombs or shells during Israel's attack last winter because Israel forbids access to reconstruction supplies. Winter rains and floods will make life even more hellish for Gazans this winter unless border restrictions are lifted.

Mohammed Omer is an award-winning Gaza correspondent for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. In addition to his articles for the Washington Report, he has published articles in dozens of newspapers and magazines worldwide and his photographs are featured in various international news agencies, including the Agence France-Presse (AFP) wire service. Mr. Omer was born and raised in the Rafah refugee camp."

This briefing is free and open to the public. A light lunch will be served to registered guests at 12:30 p.m. The briefing and question/answer period will be from 1:00-2:00 p.m. Registration is required. Unregistered guests will not be admitted. To register, click here or call (202) 338-1958 ext.11 by noon Wednesday, 4 October 2009.

Monday, October 19, 2009

OPEN SHUTTERS IRAQ: An Evening With Filmmaker Maysoon Pachachi

Alwan for the Arts Presents:

Screening and Discussion: OPEN SHUTTERS IRAQ: An Evening With Filmmaker Maysoon Pachachi

Wed, October 21, 2009 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts
Our Feelings Took The Pictures: OPEN SHUTTERS IRAQ
 A documentary film by Maysoon Pachachi (102 minutes)
Followed by a Discussion with the Director
Wednesday, October 21, 7 PM
Free and Open to the Public

"OPEN SHUTTERS IRAQ film documents a remarkable photography project. A group of women, from five cities in Iraq, live and work together in a traditional courtyard house in the Old City of the Syrian capital, Damascus. There they learn to take photographs, and at the same time, present their ‘life maps’ to each other: large charts full of family photos, scrawled poetry and quotations, the names of emotions and crisscrossing green, red and black marker lines, detailing all the ups and downs, forwards and reverses of their lives. With grief, humour, and defiance, the women unearth memories and tell stories that have been buried for 30 years in the course of just trying to survive devastating wars, dictatorship and sanctions. In the end, they have woven together the threads of their individual lives into a collective fabric. This project experience is not merely creative. It is transformative, too; the act of remembering and listening is dynamic and productive. 

The women return to Iraq and shoot hundreds of photographs, each imbued with the sharp emotional truth of lived experience. As one woman says, “It is our feelings taking the pictures, not us.” In Iraq a sense of hope is not easy to sustain, but this intimate, moving film is ultimately hopeful. It shows how people, traumatized and silenced by the ‘un-making’ of their world, can sometimes re-assert a sense of existence with an act of creative articulation.

A book of the OPEN SHUTTERS IRAQ project will be published in autumn 2009 by Trolley Press in the UK and the work is being is being exhibited internationally .

Maysoon Pachachi is a London-based filmmaker who studied philosophy at University College London and subsequently graduated from the London Film School. She worked for many years as a film editor, and since 1994, as a documentary director. Ms. Pachachi has taught film in Britain and Palestine (in Jerusalem, Gaza and at Birzeit University), and is a founding member of ACT TOGETHER: Women’s Action for Iraq ( In 2004, she co-founded INDEPENDENT FILM & TELEVISION COLLEGE, a tuition-free film-training school in Baghdad ( Maysoon Pachachi's film RETURN TO THE LAND OF WONDERS (2004), which was made on her first trip back to Baghdad in more than 35 years, chronicled her family history and events subsequent to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq."

Alwan for the Arts
Alwan is wheelchair accessible
16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor (bet. Broad & Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

TRAINS: 4/5 to Bowling Green; J/M/Z to Broad St.; R/W to Whitehall St.; 1 to Rector St. or South Ferry; 2/3 to Wall St.; A/C to Broadway-Nassau
BUSES: M1, M6, M9, M16, M20.
BIKE: Hudson Rvr. Greenway, East Rvr. path, Liberty St., Broadway, Water St.
Google Maps:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Film Screening: Objects and Memory UPDATE

"Objects And Memory"
Film Screening And Discussion With Filmmaker Jonathan Fein
and Dr. Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Cantor Film Center
36 East 8th Street
Theater 101

by Monday, November 2, 2009 online at

or email: or call 212-992-9653.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

"During traumatic events, the normal flow of day-to-day life is disrupted in an instant. In the aftermath of sudden upheaval and incomprehensible loss, people seek a bridge between the irreplaceable past and a hopeful future. The documentary film Objects and Memory examines the innate drive to maintain connection and continuity by preserving the past and speaking to the future.

The project emerged from the New York-based filmmakers' personal need to understand human responses to the 9/11 tragedy and evolved into a documentary film and related educational initiative. Never before had so many historically significant items been produced so suddenly, and curators were faced with the struggle of anticipating what future generations would consider valuable. At the same time, people from all walks of life felt compelled to preserve resonant objects or bring offerings to sites of remembrance.

Narrated by Frank Langella and with music by Philip Glass, "Objects and Memory" traces the actions and motivations of these people and relates stories of the objects' symbolic transformation. Along A/P/A Institute's archive and collections initiatives, the film touches on the importance of and issues surrounding collecting the present for the future."

A Q&A will follow the screening with filmmaker Jonathan Fein and Dr. Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen, Founding Director of A/P/A Institute at NYU.

Co-sponsored by: the NYU Center for Media, Culture and History/Center for Religion and Media; and NYU Trauma and Violence Transdisciplinary Studies
Supported by: NYU Museum Studies

Please note: the date for this event has been changed to November 11. Please see

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Jackie Look: A Performance by Karen Finley

Tuesday, October 20, 7pm
The Jackie Look
A performance by Karen Finley
Hemispheric Institute
20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor

"Finley will appear as Jackie Kennedy Onassis looking back at her images in pictures. Using the structure of a lecture set in the present day, Jackie contemplates her life in pictures and society’s projection onto her as a monument of grief . The performance is site specific, meaning Finley will situate Jackie to address the city or institution that she is invited to. But the performance speaks and includes her return to Dallas and the memories. Finley will use the performance opportunity to consider the trauma of our nation’s historical imagery and to be conscious of the healing power of the transformation of our painful memory landscape into new images of future promise and imagination. Included in the text is Jackie considering the public viewing of Michele Obama as First Lady."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Book Review: The Uncultured Wars, Arabs, Muslims and the Poverty of Liberal Thought

I was invited to submit a review of Steven Salaita's new book, The Uncultured Wars, Arabs, Muslims and the Poverty of Liberal Thought on electronic intifada (ei). I was happy to do it, its a great book and you should go and read it. Below is a cross-post of my review:

Book review: Orientalism and Islamophobia in the American left
Joseph Shahadi, The Electronic Intifada, 15 October 2009

Steven Salaita's new collection of political essays, The Uncultured Wars, Arabs, Muslims and the Poverty of Liberal Thought exposes orientalism and Islamophobia on the American left. Salaita draws his title and premise from the notion that in the Western imagination Middle Eastern societies and people are considered barbarous and therefore essentially uncultured. It is this assumption that implicates all Arabs and Muslims in the "War on Terror" and justifies the grotesque excesses of the American right -- the expansion of presidential powers, the attendant decrease in civil liberties and the legalization of torture. But Salaita argues that this discourse also has currency on the left and over the course of 13 essays he targets liberal icons like Barbara Ehrenreich, Michael Moore, Michael Lerner and Katha Pollitt among others, for their anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia. Salaita characterizes his book-length engagement with these thinkers -- and the "chattering and intellectual classes" (2) they represent, whose liberal politics usually exempt them from such critiques -- as his emergence into the uncultured wars.

While the demonization of Islam and anti-Arab racism on the right is often blatant and easily identified, progressive expressions are more subtle, and rely as much on lies of omission as rhetorical bluster to make the same case. This is a strategy Salaita defines as "the act of professing liberal political viewpoints through the partial use of illicit racism as an unacknowledged rhetorical device" (53). For example, he notes the curious adoption of the passive voice among liberal commentators, as when Barbara Ehrenreich writes, "unknown numbers of [Afghan] civilians... managed to get in the way of [our] bombs and bullets, earning us the lasting enmity of their survivors" (17). The self-sustaining model of violence suggested by Ehrenreich and others omits both the history of colonial intervention into the Arab and Islamic worlds and the contemporary military policies of the United States and Israel. Ironically enough the subtext here, that Arabs and Muslims are fundamentally violent and irrational, while the US and Israel only use military force strategically, is about white supremacy, a philosophy that presumably liberals like Ehrenreich would find repulsive under other circumstances. Not so in relationship with the "War on Terror," which she "with great reluctance and foreboding" agreed with former US President George W. Bush needed to be launched (17). Salaita is especially contemptuous of the liberal value of "tolerance" which allows white liberals to express general displeasure without truly disrupting a power structure that benefits them as well. It is this "smokescreen" which he argues allows "liberals and progressives to be sufficiently critical of the United States and Israel while upholding the longstanding assumptions that relegate Arabs to the status of subhuman -- and more important, safeguard white privilege ..." (21).

Israel's brutal bombing of Lebanon in 2006, which was framed in the American media as an act of self-defense rather than military aggression, provides Salaita with a prime example of his thesis. Zionist pundits like Alan Dershowitz predictably argued that aggression was an essential Arab trait while Israeli military action, such as the devastation it was visiting upon Lebanon, was a sad duty, despite unfortunate photographs of delighted Israeli schoolchildren writing racist messages on about-to-be-launched missiles. However, Salaita traces this same premise through editorials in The Nation, The New York Times and The Washington Post, concluding that "anti-Arab racism generated on the right finds its way subtly into political analyses on the left" (12). During the 2006 bombing, the Lebanese point of view was entirely omitted in favor of the Israeli one, a rhetorical strategy that reduces complex social and political phenomena to cartoonish simplicity: good guys vs. bad guys.

As a fair-skinned Arab Christian and not incidentally a professor of English, Salaita has a level of social invisibility and access that often grants him a front row seat to the peculiarities of white liberal rhetoric. He writes with grim wit of attending a faculty function for "distinguished" (read: rich) alumni which was -- with the notable exception of himself, a single African American colleague who left quickly, and a four person catering staff -- wholly white. As the evening progressed a conversation about Evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell culminated with the suggestion, heartily seconded by laughing liberals, that the best way to neutralize the conservative pundit would be if he were discovered in a hotel room "with a black boy" (27). In other words, for the white liberals who wished to end Falwell's career, on balance the sexual molestation of a child of color seemed an acceptable price to pay. This logic depends on an understanding of the theoretical boy as not quite human, but doubly objectified, first by a predatory fantasy Falwell and second by the cocktail-sipping liberals willing to use him to silence the infamous preacher.

Salaita succeeds brilliantly at deconstructing the hypocrisy of such scenes, making clear that liberal politics are no guarantor of empathy. He writes, "Most white liberals have a remarkably difficult time identifying with the subjects of their sympathy" (165). Salaita argues this difficulty is especially acute when the subjects are Arabs or Muslims, whose lived experiences are so often disregarded in favor of racist caricature. However, to insist that Arabs and Muslims are more complex than their barbarous stereotype suggests is to become "uncultured" in Salaita's terms, a victim of white liberal sanctimony. And the key difference between neoconservative anti-Arab and Muslim hatred and its liberal parallel is that the former is openly hateful, while the latter maintains a compassionate pose while reinforcing damaging stereotypes.

In one of the most affecting essays in this collection, "I was called up to commit genocide," Salaita affirms his identity as a Palestinian Christian to disrupt the claim to authority of Christian Zionists who cite biblical justification for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. However, he is conscious of the trap inherent in using Christian identity to advocate for Palestine, namely the risk of further defamiliarizing the majority of Arab Muslim voices in the West. If the impression of legitimacy that Arab Christians convey in the West is based on familiarity, then that is not the same thing as actual legitimacy, especially when it depends on the continued suppression of Muslim voices. This conundrum, in which the simple act of describing oneself in religious and/or cultural terms becomes complicated because of the powerful perceptions of those outside the community, is a quintessentially Middle Eastern problem. Salaita writes, "with Arabs this problem is acute because we exist in political colloquy as characters, never narrators ... [But] we too deserve the courtesy of telling our own cultural and historical stories" (165).

The Uncultured Wars is a worthy contribution to a tradition of works by Arab American essayists, a distinguished company that includes Joseph Massad, Elmaz Abinder, Diana Abu-Jaber, Edward Said and others. Its theme is timely, as the shift to the left that swept Obama into office has rendered less tangible benefits than were originally hoped for. The Obama Administration has resisted calls to prosecute the members of the previous administration for war crimes, backpedalled on closing Guantanamo Bay and instead proposed its own system of "preventive detentions," escalated war in Afghanistan and, of course, remains as blindly committed to Israel as George W. Bush ever was. In other words, in material terms the overwhelming victory of American liberalism has not effected much change for Arab and Muslim Americans. While it is too early to make any definitive judgments about this presidency it is clear that situating Arab and Muslim American concerns between the right and left does not offer the clear-cut results one might assume. With this book, Steven Salaita offers a corrective and a warning about the capacity of white liberal altruism to victimize, especially when its intent is to affirm the superiority of its own worldview.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Eric Alterman for the New York Times: American Jewish Organizations Begin to Pressure Israel and Neo Cons Begin to Panic


"NEW YORK — Later this month, a bevy of organizations, many of them Jewish and all of which consider themselves to be pro-Israel, will meet in Washington to plot political strategy.

What is significant about the meeting is that virtually all these organizations are on record in opposition to the policies of the current government of Israel, and are urging President Obama to keep up U.S. pressure to ensure that Israel does not take any further steps, such as settlement expansion, that would be likely to further antagonize its Palestinian negotiating partner.

Given the reluctance of any American Jewish organization to disagree in public with Israel in the past, the meeting can only be viewed as uncharted territory for organized American Jewry.

What has changed is the founding of J Street, a lobby that seeks to bring this viewpoint into the mainstream of Jewish American politics, and whose conference this is. It is too early to judge J Street’s success, but so far it is growing in a way that dwarfs all previous efforts. In the 18 months since it began, it has created a $3 million organization with a staff of 22. This doesn’t compare to the $70.6 million budget of the reigning pro-Israel lobby, Aipac (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), but it’s an auspicious start.

The meeting, J Street’s founder, Jeremy Ben-Ami explains, is designed in part to demonstrate that America’s Jewish peace camp “isn’t just 10 people gathering in a basement,” as well as to give its supporters the opportunity to “look at and see each other and feel less like lone voices in the wilderness.”

Not surprisingly, the voices that have until now dominated debate not only among Jews, but also in Congress and much of the media, are less than enthusiastic. Commentary’s Noah Pollak called J Street contemptible, dishonest and anti-Israel; James Kirchick of The New Republic called it the Surrender Lobby; Michael Goldfarb of The Weekly Standard said it was obsequious to terrorists and hostile to Israel.

Perhaps, but it is at least equally plausible to view the intemperance of their language as evidence of panic. The days of right-ruled American Jewish debate appear to be numbered, and with good reason.

No other nation on earth, save perhaps Israel, treats the Middle Eastern conflict as the United States does, with the Palestinians viewed exclusively as the irrational attackers and Israel as aggrieved innocents.

Yet, however costly and controversial, the policies continue almost unchanged from administration to administration, and Congress to Congress, dominated by the hardline positions of Aipac.

There are many good reasons why Aipac is so powerful and why American Jews defer to its judgment over who should be empowered to speak for them about U.S. Middle East policy. But support for the organization’s right-wing agenda is not one of them. According to recent polls by J Street, U.S. Jews support by 76 percent to 24 percent a two-state deal between Israel and the Palestinians, along the lines of the agreement nearly reached nine years ago during the Camp David and Taba talks.

This approach is routinely condemned by Aipac. The lobby has also remained silent on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister. According to J Street, when U.S. Jews were told about Lieberman’s campaign proposal that Arab citizens of Israel should sign loyalty oaths and his threats against Arab members of the Israeli Parliament, they opposed these by 69 percent to 31 percent.

So the paradox is that while American Jews remain committed liberals — they voted overwhelming for Barack Obama over John McCain — they fund and support a neoconservative-dominated lobby when it comes to the Middle East.

It can’t go on forever. “As we get further from World War II, it’s harder to scare young people into support for Israel,” says M.J. Rosenberg, until recently with the dovish Israel Policy Forum. “They will support Israel if they believe in Israel and if Israel appeals to them. But those scare tactics, ‘write checks because there’s going to be another Holocaust,’ that doesn’t work with the under-60 crowd.”

These trends indicate that Barack Obama took a smaller political risk than his predecessors would have when he (temporarily, alas) stood up to Mr. Netanyahu on the issue of settlement expansion.

Not long before Ehud Olmert was forced to resign as prime minister, he predicted that “if the two-state solution collapses, Israel will face a South-Africa style struggle for political rights.” And should that happen, “the state of Israel is finished.”

Just how successful President Obama may be when the time comes to help Israel save itself from this fate might just depend on the success of voices finally coming in from the wilderness."

Eric Alterman, a distinguished professor of English and journalism at Brooklyn College, New York, is at work on a book on American Jewish history.

An Outsiders' Vision of Morrocco: Two Films

Presented by Abdellah Taïa

"Bidoun magazine and Semiotexte invite you to attend a screening of two rarely shown works depicting outsiders' visions of Morocco, introduced by celebrated novelist Abdellah Taïa, Morocco’s first openly gay writer, who will discuss the fascination that Moroccan literature, landscape and culture has exerted over American expats and travelers.

Taïa writes, 'More than 50 percent of the Moroccan population is under the age of 25... I feel it is my responsibility to be an example of freedom...I am not the only one who wants to light the torch to revive the Moroccan dream. The Islamist parties’ ideas are gaining ground daily in Morocco and the Arab world. We have to destroy this new fear that they are trying to instill in us.'

An American In Tangier, Mohamed Ulad, 1993, 27 mins

Leaving the US for Tangier, Morocco in 1947 when he was 37 years old, the American writer Paul Bowles remained there until his death in 1999, immersing himself in Moroccan culture. In addition to the classic novels he is best known for, Bowles translated numerous stories by Moroccan storytellers (Mohammed Mrabet, Larbi Layachi and others) and compiled two LP recordings of traditional Moroccan music. An American in Tangier is an intimate conversation in which Bowles reflects upon his life in Morocco.

Print courtesy of Cinematheque de Tanger and LACMA.

Chronicles/Morocco, Michel Auder, 1971-71, 26 mins
Morocco 1972: The Real Chronicles with Viva, Michel Auder, 2002, 36 mins

Auder alternately refers to the Chronicles as video diaries or novels that are Proustian in nature. Edited almost thirty years apart, Chronicles/ Morocco and Morocco 1972: The Real Chronicles with Viva together are a study in Auder's approach to his memories. The footage is all from the same trip that was a family vacation. Tension developed between the couple and Viva left a few weeks into the trip, while Auder remained for several more months. Auder subsequently edited Viva out of the first version. He also misdated the trip by accident. It took place in 1972, not 1971. Considering Chronicles/Morocco 1971 a construct of emotional convenience unfaithful to memory, Auder decided to supplement the first version with a fuller account. The two works feature almost entirely different footage. There are, however, sections where one can see where Auder has omitted Viva. The star of the 1971 version is a young Moroccan Adonis who appoints himself tour-guide for a group of Europeans, including Michel. The camera follows his charming antics as he flaunts his nubile body and rather blunt but effective skills as a hunter. The supplement, Morocco 1972, stars Viva and Alexandra, continuing the theme of mother and child as it was poignantly established in Auder's other diaries."

Tickets - $7, available at door.

Where: Light Industry
Address: 220 36th Street (btw 2nd and 3rd Ave). 5th Floor Brooklyn, NY
When: Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Time: 7:30pm-9:30pm

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories, TONIGHT

Book Reading/Signing: A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories, by Alia Malek

A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories (Free Press, 2009) By Alia Malek
What does American history look and feel like in the eyes and skin of Arab-Americans?
Wednesday, October 14, 7 P,M
Free and Open to the Public

Arab-Americans are among the United States' most diverse hyphenated communities. Their migration to the US came at different periods and for different reasons, encompassing multiple religious traditions, racial and national identities, and diverse social, economic, and educational experiences. Yet, in a climate of suspicion and political opportunism, they share common experiences of scapegoating, discrimination and just plain injustice, being asked, usually rudely, to choose between being American or Arab. The choice is a false one, of course, yet it often affects the way Arab-Americans live their lives.

In A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories (Free Press), Alia Malek tells the stories of Arab-Americans as they experience life in the United States. Organized around a time-line, each chapter corresponds to one historical event as it occurred in the life of one Arab American, allowing readers to live that moment in history in the skin of an individual Arab American. From the Birmingham, Alabama church bombing in 1963 to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Malek introduces an ensemble cast that represents the diversity within Arab-America itself.

What readers are saying:

“Written with wit, compassion and insight, is at once timeless, in its telling of immigrants in America, and unique, in its exploration of the diversity of the Arab-American community….a stirring story of humor, loss, love and triumph.”
- Anthony Shadid, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War

Engaging and enlightening, impossible to put down.”
- Helen Thomas, columnist for Hearst Newspapers

About the Author:

Alia Malek is a Syrian-American civil rights attorney who worked for the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Jutice from October 2000 until resigning on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq. She then moved to Beirut where she assisted a Lebanese NGO offering free legal aid for asylum-seeking refugees from Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. Ms Malek returned to the United States in 2004 to run election protection campaigns in Georgia and Florida for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. In 2006 she graduated with a Masters Degree in Journalism from Columbia University and now works as a freelance writer based in New York. "A Country Called Amreeka" is her first book.

Alwan for the Arts
Alwan is wheelchair accessible
16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor (bet. Broad & Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

TRAINS: 4/5 to Bowling Green; J/M/Z to Broad St.; R/W to Whitehall St.; 1 to Rector St. or South Ferry; 2/3 to Wall St.; A/C to Broadway-Nassau
BUSES: M1, M6, M9, M16, M20.
BIKE: Hudson Rvr. Greenway, East Rvr. path, Liberty St., Broadway, Water St.
Google Maps:

Quote of the Day

"This machine kills fascists"

Woody Guthrie (scrawled on his guitar)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lawsuit says student falsely accused a Palestinian Muslim teacher of making anti-Semitic remark

Columbia College sued by former teacher alleging discrimination

Lawsuit says student falsely accused teacher of making anti-Semitic remark

By Manya A. Brachear

Chicago Tribune

October 6, 2009

"A Palestinian Muslim teacher and former Chicago talk radio show producer filed a federal discrimination suit Monday against Columbia College Chicago, saying she was fired after a student falsely accused her of making an anti-Semitic remark in class.

The suit said the unidentified student complained that Suriya H. Smiley, a part-time radio instructor of Palestinian origin, told him while taking roll one day: "I should have known you were Jewish by the size of your nose." The suit said the college did not investigate the student's allegations before firing Smiley, 44, in January. She had taught at the school for 14 years after working as a producer at WLS-AM.

"The unsubstantiated allegation against, and subsequent firing of, Sue Smiley reeks of racism," said Kevin Vodak, an attorney for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which filed the suit on Smiley's behalf. "For the school to not investigate the veracity of one person's singular claim before terminating instructor Smiley's job is malicious and irresponsible. It is apparent that she was mistreated based on her Arab ethnicity."

Columbia spokeswoman Elizabeth Burke-Dain said the college does not comment on personnel matters.

Vodak said the student's motives for making the allegation remain unclear. He said Smiley believed she had "criticized his performance in the proper manner."

The council's Chicago chapter has filed at least five workplace-discrimination suits this year. In July, a Cook County judge awarded $200,000 to Abraham Yasin, an Arab-American corrections officer who accused the Cook County Sheriff's Department of ignoring his claims that co-workers had targeted him with slurs.

Among other things, Smiley wants all wages she would have gotten since her termination in January."

Friday, October 2, 2009

King Oedipus by Zhejiang Peking Opera Troupe

Kupferberg Center Performances Presents


In Goldstein Theatre @ Queens College
Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 7:30 PM

Shanghai Theatre Academy & Zhejiang Beijing Opera Company perform cutting-edge Beijing Opera based on famous Greek tragedy -

(Flushing - September, 2009) - Experience Beijing Opera with an experimental twist on October 6th when King Oedipus—based on the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex—is performed in the Goldstein Theatre at Queens College on Tuesday, October6th at 7:30 pm.

"Set in a mythical era, Prince Oedipus defies the fate of “killing his father and marrying his mother” and becomes King, only to face the most horrible test he could ever imagine. This extraordinary performance has garnered critical acclaim, both in China and during the company’s recent European tour.

Founded in 1969, Zhejiang Peking Opera Troupe is one seven provincial troupes in Zhejiang and the only professional Peking opera troupe. It became a First-class troupe in 1988, and was chosen as one of the nationally important provincial Beijing-opera troupes by the China Ministry of Culture in 2005.

Weng Guo Sheng, artistic director and head of the troupe, has won the China Opera Plum Blossom Prize, the Wen Hua Acting Prize, the White Yulan Magnolia Leading Actor Prize and the Outstanding Director Prize by China Ministry of Culture and has been chosen as the Five First Excellent Artist by the Zhejiang provincial propaganda department.

Zhejiang Peking Opera Troupe places great importance on the creation of new plays based on traditional plays and traditional classical operas. Since the 2002, the troupe has searched for new scenic forms of Beijing opera and has created Youth-Beijing Opera, presenting a number of successful plays such as The Date under the Plenilune and Love Song on the Internet, and Peacock Feather. Peacock Feather has been performed over 400 times all over China and has won many prizes. Since 1987, Zhejiang Peking Opera Troupe has performed in the U.S.A, Japan, Australia, Tunis, Morocco, Thailand, Deutschland, Vietnam, some Eastern European countries and places like Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan. Today, with 90 members, the troupe’s goal is to develop and perform innovative works and to expand its reach."

Related Event:
To gain a deeper understanding of the Asian Theatre Arts as exemplified by the production of King Oedipus, the public is welcome to attend a free workshop and free symposium at Queens College on Monday, October 5th. InterCultural Performance Workshop

Monday, October 5, 2009 from 10:50 pm – 12:05 pm

Rathaus Hall, Studio 101A


Lead by Weng Guo Sheng, Principle of the Zhejiang Beijing Opera Company