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Displaced Intentions

[Still image from

Write Down, I Am an Arab, directed by Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin. Israel/Palestine, 2014. Borrowing the opening line of one of Mahmoud Darwish’s most famous poems, “Identity Card,” filmmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin titled her latest documentary Write Down, I Am an Arab. The film, which had its world premiere at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival in April of this year, is described as a biographical portrait of the poet who became the voice of Palestinian people. However, in her director’s statement, the filmmaker discloses an ulterior motive behind making the documentary. She writes, “The film reveals for the first time, the story of Mahmoud Darwish’s first love—a ...

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El Rass

[Image from video below.]

November 2013 Beirut, Lebanon Over the past three years, Mazen El Sayed, aka El Rass, has risen to the forefront of the contemporary Arab hip-hop scene. He stood out, along with a few others, for his focus on the Arabic language and poignant criticism of contemporary societies. Whereas hip-hop might have been his starting point, El Rass (meaning The Head) managed to expand beyond it to other genres, and is quick to assert that he is not limited by any one of them.  In late 2013, Medrar.TV visited El Rass in his Beirut studio, where he worked on his second album featuring a range of Arab musicians. In this interview, El Rass speaks of his beginnings and ...

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Ghassan Salhab: Making of 'The Valley'

[Image from video below]

November 2013 Al Beqaa, Lebanon In November, Lebanese director Ghassan Salhab was busy with his crew, filming 'The Valley', the second film in his triptych inspired by long suffering in Lebanon's modern history, which he compares to feelings of an eminent apocalypse. The film was shot on a vine farm in Al Beqaa region on the border with Syria. In this video interview, Salhab talks of his conceptual approaches to filmmaking in general and in relation to 'The Valley' which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2014. Ghassan Salhab was born in Dakar, Senegal, and teaches film at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts. Along with several ...

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Mehdi Haddab

[Screenshot from video below]

April 2014 Falaki Theater, Cairo Mehdi Haddab is an Algerian French musician, and a pioneer of the electric oud (lute). Over the years, he’s played a major role in developing and adapting the instrument to different music genres. Haddab is known in the West as “Jimi Hendrix of the electric oud” for his masterful performances. He founded several band including Ikova, DuOud and Speed Caravan and has collaborated with prominent musicians, including Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. In April, Haddab visited Cairo and performed with a group of Egyptian musicians, including Ahmed Saleh, Abdullah Miniawy and Mohamed Sami as part of the “Free Voices” concerts in D-CAF ...

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Open Letter to the Brooklyn Book Festival re Israeli Sponsorship

[The following open letter is being ciruclated in protest of the Brooklyn Book Festival's partnership with the Israeli Office of Cultural Affairs in New York to sponsor Assaf Gavrons participation in the festival.] Tell the Brooklyn Book Festival to no longer accept partnerships with the Israeli government or complicit institutions. To the Brooklyn Book Festival Inc. and the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council: We, the undersigned, including participants and exhibitors at the Brooklyn Book Festival, recently noticed that the festival has chosen to accept support from Israel's Office of Cultural Affairs in New York for one of its panels. It is deeply regrettable ...

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Sympathy for the Devil: Palestine’s Tragic Collaborators

[Film still from Hany Abu-Assad's Omar (2013). Image copyright the filmmaker. Courtesy of Film Press Plus.]

Omar, directed by Hany Abu-Assad. Palestine, 2013. Omar, the most recent film by Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad (of Paradise Now fame), opens with a traversing of obstacles—a prefatory homage to the resilient Palestinian spirit. Exuding youthful vigor, the titular character scales the portion of the separation wall isolating his West Bank neighborhood from that of his childhood friends, his resistance brigade, and his love interest. Omar fearlessly scurries along the edges of buildings and leaps across rooftops, exercising what has, by now, become his routine refusal to accept the limits on life, work, and love imposed by the Israeli occupation. We watch him ...

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Telepoetic with Rami Abadir

[Screenshot from video below.]

February 2014 Alexandria, Egypt Medrar.TV is kicking off its special music series with a match up between Telepoetic and Rami Abadir. The Alexandrian band is the outcome of a mixture of musical backgrounds and experiments by the trio: Amir Rizk on drums and pads, Mohamed Desouky on bass guitar, and Ahmed Saleh playing electronics, keys and electric guitar. Telepoetic’s sound has been difficult to categorize although the band’s growing fan base shows that it is gaining wide appeal. Telepoetic’s music is a blend of ‘melodic deformed audio material and improvisations walking over a strong tight acoustic construction.’  Invited to jam and discuss their work with ...

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The Question of Judeo/Arabic(s): Itineraries of Belonging [Lecture at GMU]

CSC cultural Studies Colloquium, a forum for interdisciplinary research, presents: The Question of Judeo/Arabic(s): Itineraries of Belonging Ella Shohat Co-presented with the Middle East Studies Program and the Arab Studies Institute Thursday, September 18, 2014 4:30-6:30pm Johnson Center, Meeting Room E GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY Ella Shohat is the author or editor of numerous books, including Race in Translation: Culture Wars around the Postcolonial Atlantic (NYU Press, 2012), Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices (Duke University Press, 2006), Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (University of ...

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ملف من الأرشيف: محمد عبده

[المفكر محمد عبده]

"ملف من الأرشيف" هي سلسة تقوم "جدلية" بنشرها بالعربية والإنجليزية بالتعاون مع جريدة ”السفير“ اللبنانية. الملفات لشخصيات أيقونية تركت أثراً عميقاً في الحقل السياسي والثقافي في العالم العربي.]         الإسم: محمد عبده بن حسين خير الله. تاريخ الولادة: ولد محمد عبده في عام 1849. مكان الولادة: من عائلة ريفية في قرية "محلة نصر" بمحافظة البحيرة في منطقة الدلتا في وقت عانت فيه أسر الفلاحين من الضرائب والقوانين المجحفة التي فرضتها الحكومة في مصر بحق الفلاحين. المهنة:  من أوائل رواد عصر النهضة الإسلامية ومذهب الإصلاح والتجديد.   محمد عبده - بدأت ميول محمد عبده التجديدية بالظهور في وقت مبكر ...

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September Culture Bouquet

[Safwan Dahoul,

Almost a decade ago, Saadi Youssef began his poem "Imru' al-Qays' Grandson" by asking: "Is it your fault that once you were born in that country? / Three quarters of a century / and you still pay from your ebbing blood / its tax." He ended the poem with an even more vexing question: "What is it to you / now when you are asked to do the impossible?" As this long hot summer ends, we would not be mistaken to imagine these lines could be about Gaza, Mosul, or Ferguson. Maymanah Farhat contributes a recent essay from a monograph on Syrian painter Khaled Takreti. Excerpts from Khalil Sweileh's Barbarians' Paradise, trans. ...

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Samih al-Qasim: I Will Engrave Our Names on the Wind

[Samih al-Qasim and Mahmoud Darwish, Image from Qadita.net]

[While well-known as a poet, the late Samih al-Qasim was also a talented essayist, writing regularly in the Arabic-language press of Palestine/Israel. He was also a remarkable public speaker and letter writer. Over a period of two years—from May 1986 to May 1988—al-Qasim exchanged a series of extraordinary letters with Mahmoud Darwish. The letters are monuments to poetry and language and also friendship and love and, not surprisingly considering the authors, contain some of the most moving discussions of home and exile in the Arabic language. Published as a series of "packets," the collection of letters instantly became a classic of modern Arabic ...

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Samih al-Qasim: Two Poems

[Mahmoud Darwish (l.) and Samih al-Qasim (r.) with Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri, c. 1968-9, image from Isqineeha]

  1. “RAFAH’S CHILDREN” (1971) To the one who digs his path through the wounds of millions To he whose tanks crush all the roses in the garden Who breaks windows in the night Who sets fire to a garden and museum and sings of freedom. Who stomps on songbirds in the public square. Whose planes drop bombs on childhood’s dream. Who smashes rainbows in the sky.   Tonight, the children of the impossible roots have an announcement for you, Tonight, the children of Rafah say: “We have never woven hair braids into coverlets. We have never spat on corpses, nor yanked their gold teeth. So why do you take our jewelry and give us bombs? Why do you prepare ...

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When Your Name is on the Blacklist

[The Gallatin School of New York University invited Amjad Nasser, one of the major poets of the Arab world, to inaugurate its Gallatin Global Writers series on 30 September. On 27 September, US Homeland Security at Heathrow, London, interrogated Nasser and prevented him from boarding the plane without giving any reason. The bilingual reading will take place as scheduled in protest of this occurrence. Nasser will join from London via Skype. The following is the essay Nasser wrote after the incident. It is ...

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Excavating the Sky

[Between 12-14 August 2014 at the 14th Venice International Architecture Biennale, architects, filmmakers, and activists from Syria and the Arab World, gathered for a series of events focused on Syria and the production of its landscape from before the First World War until today. Using the multidisciplinary and live context of Monditalia—curated by the Biennale’s director Rem Koolhaas and architect Ippolito Pestellini—Syrian architect Khaled Malas organized the project “Excavating the Sky.” Jadaliyya ...

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On Dead and Living Characters

Maha George is a young Iraqi Christian woman from Baghdad in her early twenties. I came to know Maha and her family quite well three and a half years ago. She was studying medicine in Baghdad at the time, but had no plans for staying in Iraq. She, like so many, no longer believed that Iraq was her country and planned on immigrating as soon as she finished her studies. The recent events in Mosul and the catastrophic fate of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (Christians, Yazidis, Shabak, and others) have ...

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Muhammad Abduh: A Profile from the Archives

[”A Profile from the Archives“  is a series published by Jadaliyya in both Arabic and English in cooperation with the Lebanese newspaper, Assafir. These profiles will feature iconic figures who left indelible marks in the politics and culture of the Middle East and North Africa. This profile was originally published in Arabic and was translated by Mazen Hakeem.] Name: Muhammad Abduh son of Hussein Khair-Allah Date of Birth: 1849 Place of Birth: Born to a prominent rural family in the village ...

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DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival (DC-PFAF): Program and Tickets

The DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival (DC-PFAF) is a not for profit, volunteer run annual project. It is in its fourth year and aims to showcase the work of Palestinian filmmakers and artists for audiences in Washington, DC and its surrounding areas. It is a unique festival in that the stories told through this project are not necessarily about the Palestinian/Israel conflict, nor are they necessarily stories about Palestinians, but they are stories that reflect the dynamic formation of a ...

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Yasmine Hamdan

 April 2014 D-CAF Festival, Qasr el-Nile Theater, Cairo Yasmine Hamdan became known with Soapkills, the Arab indie band she founded in Beirut with fellow musician Zeid Hamdan in the nineties. Soapkills’ music quickly became the soundtrack to a vibrant, young arts scene which developed in postwar Lebanon, and the band gradually acquired an emblematic status. To this day, Yasmine is considered an underground icon throughout the Arab world. After moving to Paris, she worked with Mirwais, CocoRosie ...

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Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani: A Profile from the Archives

[”A Profile from the Archives“  is a series published by Jadaliyya in both Arabic and English in cooperation with the Lebanese newspaper, Assafir. These profiles will feature iconic figures who left indelible marks in the politics and culture of the Middle East and North Africa. This profile was originally published in Arabic and was translated by Mazen Hakeem.] Name: Sayyid Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani Known As: Al-Husseini – His father is Safdar Date of Birth: August 1838 Place of Birth: ...

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Algeria’s Jewish Past-Present

Given other dramatic events this summer, readers might be forgiven for failing to notice a curious announcement the Algerian Minister of Religious Affairs, Mohamed Aïssa, issued on 3 July. The statement advertised that the ministry was to reopen twenty-five of the synagogues that still remain in the country. This announcement is of far more than local concern, teaching us a great deal about the complex way in which the Middle Eastern Jewish past is put to use in the interest of contemporary ...

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Mohamed Choukri: A Profile from the Archives

[”A Profile from the Archives“  is a series published by Jadaliyya in both Arabic and English in cooperation with the Lebanese newspaper, Assafir. These profiles will feature iconic figures who left indelible marks in the politics and culture of the Middle East and North Africa. This profile was originally published in Arabic  and was translated by Mazen Hakeem.] Name: Mohamed Choukri Known As: The White Blackbird Date of Birth: 1935 Place of Birth: Village of Ayt Chiker, Nador province, ...

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Khaled Takreti: Modern Life

Syrian artist Khaled Takreti has spent the greater part of his twenty-year career exploring a personal history that stretches between Beirut, where he was born in 1964; Damascus, where he lived before moving to the United States in his early thirties; and Paris, where he has resided since 2004. The episodic nature of the painter’s oeuvre dates back to the 1990s, when he began to address self-reflexive themes through autobiographical composites. The culled figures of his canvases are based on his family ...

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Samih al-Qasim: The Last Train

[The late Palestinian poet, Samih al-Qasim, was also a talented essayist, writing regularly in the Arabic-language press of Palestine/Israel. He was also a compelling orator and correspondent. The collection of his letters with Mahmoud Darwish is a uniquely great accomplishment of modern epistolary literature. Al-Qasim's correspondence with Rashid Hussein is slim by comparison, yet this 1990 "letter"—addressed on the thirteenth anniversary of Hussein's tragic death—stands out.] Rashid, my ...

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ABOUNADDARA’s Take on Images in the Syrian Revolution: A Conversation between Charif Kiwan and Akram Zaatari (Part Two)

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