Forthcoming

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

 

Nov 5, 2018 A report on two pstate NY races:--CD 19, and NY State Senate 42. From Egypt and Tunisia new films by and about women-- "Youm el-Setat" and "El-Jaida"

Sept 24 Do war memoirs really advance education? Attacks on BDS and Americans' freedom of speech continues.

Sept 17-- Sport stars and politcal dissent stemming from Kaepernick's actions. NY State's Sept 13 Primaries

Sept 10  Assessing Muslim Americans' ongoing fight for Muslim rights, and in the context of today's election cycle.

Aug 27, Where are Muslim Americans in the US administration's immigrant purge?

Aug 20 Celebrating achievements-- Sam Anderson and Rosemari Mealy. And still more published memoirs fro Middle East peoples

August 1- The inexorable struggle for Palestinian rights

July 2, WBAI Radio  Exploring EXILE in American literature:--  "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits", and "In The Light of What We Know".

June 25 EXILE in literature: a review of the novels "Cutting For Stone" and "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers".

June 18, The vicissitudes of Nepal's fledgling democracy. And a review of White House Ramadan "iftar" ceremonies.

June 11 The rentier economy of Jordan and current public protests. How the UK and US use Jordan. And celebrities' role in news.,

June 4 "Naila and The Uprising" a film memory of Palestinian resistance. And: why is Tariq Ramadan imprisoned?

April 30 How could detante in Korea affect other conflicts? And a look at our own role in plastic pollution.

April 23  The US mission creep into Syria, and more reviews of children's books about refugees. 

April 16  Why are Islamist rebels are being escorted out of the so called liberated areas, and where are they going? and a review of new Arab American memoirs 

April 9; Saudi Arabia's long and deep times with the US film industry. And we review the plethora of Arab women's memoirs

April 2 documenting war trauma. Do some war traumatized matter more than others? 

March 26 Iraq's neglected agricultural industry, and the persecution of Swiss-Arab Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan

March 19, Iraq today. And the legal challenges facing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against apartheid Israel.

March 12,Commentary on the fall of Myanmar's Ang Sang SuKyi; and recent observations for Iraq.

Jan 8, 7:45 am Film review of "Land of the Pomegranates", and an introduction to the American organization "Muslimish"

Nov 27, Russia and Syria: commentary on this longstanding relationship in the current international scene

Nov 20. A look at the new crisis created around Lebanon PM Hariri's resignation. Comments on a culture that's infused and spilling over with sexual predators.

Nov 13 Update on Kirkuk, Iraq. Veterans Day USA: Is celebration of war heros increasing?.

Nov 6, WBAI  News of Kirkuk, N. Iraq after the failed Kurdish referendum; Accusations towards male religious figures in ongoing sexual abuse exposes.

Sept 25: Syria update: the changing status quo and resulting change in US media coverage.. The Kurdish referendum

Sept 18: Myanmar's Ang San Su Kyi's eary history; beware of simplistic sectarian analyses

Sept 11: women as pawns in justifying American "wars to protect"

August 28, 7:45 am WBAI. Linda Sarsour, Arab American and US Muslim community leader: in her defence. Margo Shetterley author of "Hidden Figures"

Aug 21, WBAI Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh, stripped of citizenship and deported this week.

Aug 14: BN Review of the anti-Israel boycott action in the US Congress. WBAI, 90.5 fm

July 10:  Nepal just completed its first election in 20 years for nationwide local admin posts.

July 3, WBAI Radio. "All politics is local":-- the hard work of using local news resources.

June 26: WBAI Radio We ask why is there no anti-war movement in the US? And: “Martyrdom”—an archaic phrase but a concept we need to think about today.

June 19  On the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war, and Israel's seemingly unstoppable political, diplomatic and territorial march, it’s remarkable that the Palestinian voice is heard at all.

June 12  The dilemma of 'moderate Amercian Muslims; following ReclaimNY , a child of Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer.

May 1, Workers Day, WBAI 99.5 fm. BN Aziz highlights the rise of the 'gig economy'

April 24, 7:45 WBAI 99.5 fm. A check on our progress as American Muslims; and, Lynne Stewart: the Peoples' Lawyer. 

See Ramzy Baroud's assessment on how our Muslim community misuses celebrity Muslims as surrogates for their own stuggle.

 

Monday April 17 WBAI Radio, NYC. Why is there essential no anti-war movement in the USA?

April 10;  A critical look at media coverage of the US assault on Syria; and an update on ReclaimNY.

B. Nimri Aziz weekly radio commentary on events around the globe and in the USA. Listen in at 99.5 fm, or online www.wbai.org where we are livestreamed.

"We are more alike than we are different"

  Maya Angelou

March 8, Women's Day Radio Specials  10-11 am on WJFF Radio, 90.5 fm, and 11:am on WBAI, 99.5 New York: B. Nimri Aziz interviews director Amber Fares about her new film "Speed Sisters" and exerpts from 2009-2010 interviews with professional women in Syria, Nadia Khost and Nidaa Al-Islam.

 

 

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singer at 89

 

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain

 

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore

 

 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:

 

"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.

 

Gifts for the Holiday: A Book and A Film

2013-12-20

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Arabs in America are barely heard from nowadays. Either we are Palestinian, Syrian, Yemeni, Egyptian or Iraqi, unarguably moderate, perhaps Sunni, sometimes Christian. Increasingly the ‘Arab’ is missing. This is doubtless related to the demise of Arab nationalism and the end of pan-Arab events that once invited us to explore and affirm common ground. That lost union may also result from the ceaseless wars and uprisings abroad that compete for our loyalties. Finally, we find ourselves overtaken by Muslim interests that more aggressively defend and promote this piece of our heritage.

This is by way of announcing two reasons to celebrate our survival:--one a film, the other a book. Screenwriter/filmmaker Rola Nashef and short-story author Evelyn Shakir recount Arab experience through their art, and they do it powerfully.

First the book. “Teaching Arabs, Writing Self” (forget the title, read the book) is a joyful read by a gifted writer. Evelyn Shakir’s leap from sociologist to fiction writer came with her 2007 collection of short stories “Remember Me to Lebanon”.

This book is a posthumous memoir of equal literary quality. Here Shakir skillfully weaves our elusive ‘arabness’ into contemporary American life. The memoir navigates through several worlds:-- her childhood in Boston, teaching appointments in Lebanon, Bahrain, and Syria, and eventually through the cancer that ended Shakir’s life in 2010.

Her opening essays recall a childhood brimming with family and neighbors, a community of newcomers, all quintessentially 1950s America, more immigrant than Arab. Yet, in her nuanced language Shakir captures our irreducible arabness. Tender humor permeates each paragraph too. Into the chapter where every summer the family converged at Boston’s Revere Beach around uncle’s “Cyclone” roller coaster, she threads vignettes of Lebanon and mother. “I harvest memories of my mother”, Shakir admits.

Shakir devotes half of this memoir to her teaching experiences overseas. Bahrain was a trial for her --it was a test of ethnic identities-- which she documents with candor. Syria, her final tour, was different. Clearly her favorite posting, Damascus was the Arab place where she found friendship and civility. (Are all foreigners so seduced by Syria’s shopkeepers?) One of the best portraits of contemporary Damascus, Shakir’s account seems more precious because of what’s happening there today.  

Wherever she stays, Shakir layers that scene with voices from all the places along her journey.

 Rola Nashef’s testimonial to our US existence is her newly released film, “Detroit Unleaded”. A first feature film, it announces Nashef as a filmmaker to watch, now and tomorrow. Not only a skilled scriptwriter and director, Nashef’s work has a unconventional message. “Detroit Unleaded” invites us to view a slice-of-life of Arabs at work in America.

And where does Nashef place her Arab portraits? A gas station. Yes, most of the film takes place in a gas station in a tough part of Detroit city. Here, a story of class, race, young lives, and economic choices is played out.

As Nashef explained in our interview (podcast on RadioTahrir) after the NYC screening: “The gas station was a great metaphor in a city which can be very segregated. For me, the gas station was where people seemed to come together…you see much more intermingling. I think of it as a turnstile where people come in and out of each other’s lives, yet do so through that (bullet-proof) glass  barrier.”

Detroit’s gas station proprietors are often Arab men. And Arab men are indeed this film’s main characters. Nashef decided this, noticing how little the public knows of economic and social pressures on our Arab brothers, uncles and fathers. “It was a deliberate choice for me to leave out politics and religion… I think it’s important to also show and explore more authentic, daily slice-of-life Arab American characters. No one in my film are political messengers… ; they’re just  everyday people…”. She made this film, she tells me, “to open a window to everyday Arab America… crucial to translating culture and to identifying with us.” Every man is different; my characters are a bouquet,” she adds.

Oh, by the way, “Detroit Unleaded” is a comedy. It’s had superb reviews and its Manhattan run was extended from one week to two.

With this production, Nashef establishes herself as a pioneer and a long distance runner. First, she was able to secure funding (taking several years’ of her time) largely from within Detroit’s Arab business community. Second, Nashef demonstrates that she can develop a powerful script (nine drafts!) and then direct a large production team of actors and crew. Third she studied film, not politics; fourth, she dares to tell the story she believes in, not one that might be easier to sell to commercial interests.  Ask your local theater to screen it.

Note: our last blog was published under a new title in the widely distributed left online site Counterpunch

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With visible breath I am walking. A voice I am sending as I walk. In a sacred manner I am walking. With visible tracks I am walking. In a sacred manner I walk.    

- from Joseph Epes Brown's The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk's Account of the Seven Sacred Rites of the Ogl

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