Wednesday, August 26, 2009

3rd Annual Lebanese Festival in Northville, Michigan this week

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The Third Annual Lebanese Festival
A Vibrant World Class Celebration of Heritage, Culture & Art
August 28-29 at Town Square in Downtown Northville
(NORTHVILLE, MI/USA)...The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce LEBFEST! The 2009 Lebanese Festival – A Vibrant World-class Celebration of Heritage, Culture & Art at Town Square in Downtown Northville.
The third annual two-day event – also known as a ‘Mahrajan’ – will take place on Friday, August 28, from 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM & Saturday, August 29, 2009 from 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM. Everyone is welcome to attend and encouraged to bring family & friends to savor the sights, sounds and tastes of EVERYTHING LEBANESE! The weekend event will feature: specialty food booths offering tasty authentic Lebanese cuisine & American fare; International Artisans, Crafters and Lebanese merchandise tents; a Children’s Fun & Play area; Live Entertainment with Music, Folkdance Troupes & Bellydancers; Cultural Displays, Mouth-watering Pastries & Homemade Ice Cream, a traditional Ethnic Bazaar & Market, and more!
Honorary Chairperson of the 2009 Festival Host Committee is Pamela Faris, wife of Lt. Governor John D. Cherry. The 2009 LEBFEST Grand Marshall is HBO Sports Commentator & Kronk Gym Legend Emmanuel Steward, who will officially cut the ribbon to open the concert. Steward, the former boxing coach for Tommy Hearns, has trained many young, up-and-coming Lebanese American boxers and will be joined on the MainStage by acting Lebanese Consul General Ara Khatchadourian, Chief Pentagon Correspondent for Al Hurra Television Joe Tabet, Award-winning Lebanese American author Raff Ellis, Miss Lebanon USA Rima Fakih and Our Lady of Lebanon Pastor Fr. Hanna Tayar, Northville Mayor Christopher J. Johnson, Northville Township Trustees Abe Munfakh & Christopher Roosen, Honorary Consul of Grenada Rob David, and The Official Red Robin Mascot.
The Baalbeck-style live concert on the Paramount Bank Stage will present ‘An Evening of Lebanese Stars’ under the Northville skies, with a special appearance by the ‘Voice’ of the Detroit Red Wings Karen Newman singing the US & Canadian National Anthems, Lebanese Diva Amalia Kaddo, International Superstar Usama Baalbaki, the Jazz Stylings of Eric Watson, Hollywood Actor Alex Safi, Comedians from the Arab American Comedy Show, Oud Virtuoso Laith Alattar & Al-Flamenco, Teen Heartthrob Lance Atallah, The Abud Brothers Jazz Quartet, Composer & Vocalist Tara Khnanisho, Highly-acclaimed Opera Performer Lara Alamie, The Fabulous Nicholas Brothers with Percussionist Extraordinaire Tony ‘The Tiger’ Tannous among others.
Some highlights for this year include new features at LEBFEST! with the First Annual Bachelor Auction benefiting the Lebanese Chamber, a Fashion Show by Lebanese designer Deanna Ansara, an Open Casting Call with Filmmaker Rola Nashef coupled with a Special Movie Premiere of the Film Short: Detroit Unleaded, a special appearance by Arabian Villagers from the Michigan Renaissance Festival, photo opportunities with Miss LEBFEST! ‘08 Nancy Daoud & Miss LEBFEST! ’09 Nicole Frangie, and two great bands will perform: America's favorite Rock'n'Roll Band Steve King & the Dittilies and Al Sutterfield & The Complete Abandon Band.
Festival Eve will bring an exclusive red-carpet Celebrity Preview Party to the Tom James Gallery of Fine Art in Northville. This star-studded event and champagne reception will include an exhibit of great new works by renown Lebanese American Artist Stephen Deeb and a book-signing by best-selling Lebanese American author from Florida, Raff Ellis. Patrons can expect celebrity sightings with the presence of several Detroit sports figures; dine on delicious Lebanese culinary hors d'oeuvres, courtesy of Beirut Bakery and tantalizing desserts thanks to the all new Sweet 220 - all while listening to the soothing sounds of the internationally acclaimed Abud Brothers Jazz Quartet. Much more awaits guests as they arrive along the limousine-lined curb to be formally greeted by models from Deanna’s Fashions, with guided tours of one of Michigan’s most awe-inspiring galleries at this invitation-only spectacular event.
As part of the official closing ceremonies of this year's LEBFEST!, the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce in association with Madonna University Department of Broadcast & Cinema Arts, is hosting an Advance Screening of a short film shot entirely on location in Detroit, on Sunday, August 30, at 2:00pm. Lebanese American Filmmaker Rola Nashef will be introduced by Hollywood Actor Alex Safi and be in attendance at the feature premiere to offer brief remarks prior to the start of the film. Immediately following the showing, Ms. Nashef will take questions from the audience and be available for photos and autographs. Also, in special arrangement with the Chamber, Ms. Nashef is producing DVD copies of the film to be available for purchase before and after the screening. Seating is limited to the first 300 guests, and a release date for the full length feature will be announced.
LEBFEST! is a project of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce. Admission is free. Town Square is located in beautiful downtown Northville and is situated off of Main Street between Center & Hutton Streets. Guests are encouraged to bring a lawn chair to sit on to enjoy the concert. Opening Ceremonies take place on Friday at 6:30 PM. An official AfterParty takes place on Saturday night at Bak Bar following the concert.
For more information please visit
- END -

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Anti-Defamation League honors Muslim student in First Amendment Award

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Local Villa Park Student Wins First Amendment Award

Adem Shauipas of Villa Park Honored at the ADL’s First Amendment Freedom Award Dinner

On September 16, Villa Park resident and Islamic Foundation School student Adem Shauipas will be honored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Upper Midwest chapter for his knowledge and expression of the First Amendment. Adem is a first place Essay Winner in the Grades 10 & 11 category, and, in addition to attending the First Amendment dinner, he will receive $1000.

“We were amazed at the thoughtfulness and eloquence of the essay finalists,” says ADL Upper Midwest Chapter Regional Director Lonnie Nasatir. “We were also especially heartened by the fact that over 1700 high school students took the time to sit down and write about how the 1st Amendment affects their every day lives.”

The 2009 First Amendment Art & Essay Contest, sponsored by ADL, Greenberg Traurig, LLP and the Chicago Tribune, was held this past May. Students in grades 8 through 11 were asked to submit their artwork and/or essays based on how one or more of the five freedoms listed in the First Amendment personally affects their daily lives. The entries were judged based on creativity, originality, general skill and following the theme. There were two finalists in each grade level and a total of 14 honorable mentions, and the winning art pieces and essays were chosen from over 1700 entries.

About the 4th Annual First Amendment Freedom Award Dinner

On September 16, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Upper Midwest chapter will honor Abner J. Mikva and Newton N. Minow, two men who have fought to preserve the five freedoms guaranteed to every American under the First Amendment, and the First Amendment Art & Essay Contest winners in the 4th Annual First Amendment Freedom Award Dinner. The event will take place on Thursday, September 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Chicago Hilton. To purchase tickets, please visit

Please see below for a complete list of judges and student winners for the 2009 First Amendment Art & Essay Contest. Also, please let me know if you would like to speak with the students.

Andrea Cordts

Arab American Music Awards announced

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Still accepting nominations for Musical Artists

August 20, 2009, Hollywood, CA - The first annual Arab-American Music Awards will be held Saturday January 30th 2010 at 7:30pm at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood, CA. This award ceremony is to celebrate years of musical talent by Arab-Americans and also to recognize the new up and coming stars of the Arab-American culture. There will be many performances by the nominees and the evening will be filmed live for worldwide distribution.

We are still accepting nominations for all categories, including: Favorite Artist, Favorite Band, Duo, Group, Favorite Composer, Favorite Lyricist, and Favorite Album, among many other categories. For a full list of categories, please visit our website <> . Being the first of its kind in America, the AAMA Organization, partners and its sponsors are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a memorable and historic event, as we celebrate and recognize our achievers in the field of Arab American music. The awards are decided by independent panels consisting of some of the music industry's most distinguished practitioners. This is in 10 categories, with additional awards decided on as we narrow the nominations.

All nominations can be submitted through the website. The nominees must be Americans of Arab descent and must sing original material. Nominees should have a music video and/or professionally recorded music.

We have a host of high profile presenters and entertainers guiding you through the night. Music Moguls, Film Legends, Fashion gurus, and community leaders, will all participate in the event's presentations, making it truly the most glamorous Arab-American event in the USA for the year 2010.


If you would like more information on this event, please contact the Producer, Tania Ayoub (949) 230-1886 or email at:

President Obama offers Ramadan Greetings to Muslims

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Office of the Press Secretary


August 21, 2009

Below is the text of a web video from President Obama marking the beginning of Ramadan. Video of the President’s message is available HERE.

Remarks of President Barack Obama

Ramadan Message

Washington, DC

On behalf of the American people – including Muslim communities in all fifty states – I want to extend best wishes to Muslims in America and around the world. Ramadan Kareem.

Ramadan is the month in which Muslims believe the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, beginning with a simple word – iqra. It is therefore a time when Muslims reflect upon the wisdom and guidance that comes with faith, and the responsibility that human beings have to one another, and to God.

Like many people of different faiths who have known Ramadan through our communities and families, I know this to be a festive time – a time when families gather, friends host iftars, and meals are shared. But I also know that Ramadan is a time of intense devotion and reflection – a time when Muslims fast during the day and perform tarawih prayers at night, reciting and listening to the entire Koran over the course of the month.

These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.

For instance, fasting is a concept shared by many faiths – including my own Christian faith – as a way to bring people closer to God, and to those among us who cannot take their next meal for granted. And the support that Muslims provide to others recalls our responsibility to advance opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere. For all of us must remember that the world we want to build – and the changes that we want to make – must begin in our own hearts, and our own communities.

This summer, people across America have served in their communities – educating children, caring for the sick, and extending a hand to those who have fallen on hard times. Faith-based organizations, including many Islamic organizations, have been at the forefront in participating in this summer of service. And in these challenging times, this is a spirit of responsibility that we must sustain in the months and years to come.

Beyond America’s borders, we are also committed to keeping our responsibility to build a world that is more peaceful and secure. That is why we are responsibly ending the war in Iraq. That is why we are isolating violent extremists while empowering the people in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we are unyielding in our support for a two-state solution that recognizes the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security. And that is why America will always stand for the universal rights of all people to speak their mind, practice their religion, contribute fully to society and have confidence in the rule of law.

All of these efforts are a part of America’s commitment to engage Muslims and Muslim-majority nations on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect. And at this time of renewal, I want to reiterate my commitment to a new beginning between America and Muslims around the world.

As I said in Cairo, this new beginning must be borne out in a sustained effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another, and to seek common ground. I believe an important part of this is listening, and in the last two months, American embassies around the world have reached out not just to governments, but directly to people in Muslim-majority countries. From around the world, we have received an outpouring of feedback about how America can be a partner on behalf of peoples’ aspirations.

We have listened. We have heard you. And like you, we are focused on pursuing concrete actions that will make a difference over time – both in terms of the political and security issues that I have discussed, and in the areas that you have told us will make the most difference in peoples’ lives.

These consultations are helping us implement the partnerships that I called for in Cairo – to expand education exchange programs; to foster entrepreneurship and create jobs; and to increase collaboration on science and technology, while supporting literacy and vocational learning. We are also moving forward in partnering with the OIC and OIC member states to eradicate polio, while working closely with the international community to confront common health challenges like H1N1 – which I know is of particular to concern to many Muslims preparing for the upcoming hajj.

All of these efforts are aimed at advancing our common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. It will take time and patient effort. We cannot change things over night, but we can honestly resolve to do what must be done, while setting off in a new direction – toward the destination that we seek for ourselves, and for our children. That is the journey that we must travel together.

I look forward to continuing this critically important dialogue and turning it into action. And today, I want to join with the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world – and your families and friends – in welcoming the beginning of Ramadan, and wishing you a blessed month. May God’s peace be upon you.



Talfazat Arabic Cable TV offers special Ramadan programs

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Talfazat TV News

AUGUST 14, 2009

This month we want to share with you some incredible new updates and enhancements to Talfazat’s service.
With Ramadan fast approaching, we understand the value in watching the television shows that matter to you most. We want to continue to bring you the best in Arabic entertainment. There are some amazing new features to the Talfazat TV box that allow you to maximize your viewing experience. You can now enjoy:

Time Shift Capability: You’ll never miss your favorite program again! Simply use the Program Guide to go back 24 hours and watch any program you might have missed and start watching immediately.

Language Selector: You get to choose the language for viewing on the Talfazat TV box. Using your remote control, click: Settings > Personal Settings > Language. This allows you to switch between Arabic and English.

Video on Demand: Enjoy our huge selection of the greatest Arabic programs and series on demand. Choose what you want to watch when you want to watch it.

Coming this Ramadan:

  • Sheta’a Sakhen: Starring Abass Al Nouri, the series is based on a true story that evolves around a gang of thieves head by Al Wakeel.The gang robbed a jewelry store and flee with lots of gold and money, then they discover that a security camera has recorded the events. More crime occurs as the gang tries to get rid of the recordings.
  • Beit Jeddi 2: All our favorite characters returns for the continuation of the tale that left us hanging on the edge of our seats. After Sabry Afandy survives murder, he tries to regain control over the old Damascus neighborhood and the Gold.
  • Ma Tkhafoush: Tells the story of Makram Badawi Mehedi Alcardawi . Makram became a successful businessman owning a satellite TV “Al Cho’ela “. Makram’s television program "Ma Tkhafoush" breached the prohibitions, and invited the viewers to fight and resist the corrupted business giants who control the people’s and earth’s destiny. Starring Nour Al Shareef.

Check out some of our top Arabic VOD Titles:

  • Bab Al Hara 3: Watch Bab Al Hara 3 on Talfazat and be ready to enjoy Bab Al Hara 4 this Ramadan live on MBC with Talfazat. This ever popular series takes place in a neighborhood called Al Dabe’ located in Al Sham in 1929.
  • Al Ijtiyah: A detailed account of the dramatic Preventive Shield Operation carried out by Israel in the WestBank.
  • Khawater 4: Ahmad Shoqairi presents Khawater during Ramadan with more useful guidance and advice to the youth population.
  • Moghamarat Abu Riad: The show reflects social conditions in an ingeniously written package, played by Adel Karam.

Arab American Museum plans tribute for Helen Thomas next August

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Dearborn, MI (August 14, 2009) – Journalist Helen Thomas, the dean of the White House press corps and a proud Arab American, marked her 89th birthday this year by sharing cupcakes with U.S. President Barack Obama, who observed his 48th birthday the same day, August 4.

Next year, when Thomas turns 90, it’s possible there will be a new tribute to her many accomplishments on display at the Arab American National Museum – a bust of Thomas by sculptor and former White House photojournalist Susan Tinsley McElhinney.

Fundraising is now underway to finance this unique tribute to a legendary journalist and leading Arab American; visit for details.

Helen Thomas was born to Lebanese Christian immigrant parents in Winchester, Kentucky and raised in Detroit, Michigan, where she attended public schools and graduated from Wayne State University. She launched her journalism career as a copy girl for the Washington Daily News and joined wire service United Press International in 1943. Thomas took on the White House beat for U.P.I. as President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961; she remained with U.P.I. until 2000, when she became a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. Thomas has been “first woman ever to…” on many occasions.

Thomas is an honorary Member of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where one of her vintage typewriters is on permanent display in the Making an Impact exhibit.

Susan Tinsley McElhinney is an Arlington, Virginia-based sculptor whose private commissions in clay and bronze may be found in homes and formal gardens throughout the U.S. She was a rare female photographer at Newsweek magazine in the 1970s, covering the White House, Capitol Hill and presidential travels and currently works as photo editor for the National Wildlife Federation. McElhinney attended The Maryland Institute College of Art and The Corcoran School of Art.


The Arab American National Museum documents, preserves, celebrates, and educates the public on the history, life, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans. We serve as a resource to enhance knowledge and understanding about Arab Americans and their presence in this country. The Arab American National Museum is a project of ACCESS, a Dearborn, Michigan-based nonprofit human services and cultural organization. Learn more at and

The Arab American National Museum is a proud Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Read about the Affiliations program at

The Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI, 48126. Museum hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday; Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is $6 for adults; $3 for students, seniors and children 6-12; ages 5 and under, free. Call 313.582.2266 for further information.


Toronto Palestine Film Festival & Art Exhibit Sept 26

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For Immediate Release
August 24, 2009

TPFF: Toronto's Other September Film Festival

EVENTS: Toronto Palestine Film Festival & Contemporary Art Exhibition

WHEN: September 26 - October 2, 2009

WHERE: WHERE: Toronto and Mississauga: Bloor Cinema, AGO Jackman Theatre, the Revue, Square One Theatre, Beaver Hall Art Gallery

The second annual Toronto Palestine Film Festival (TPFF) is coming to GTA theatres in September. The festival will showcase 34 films, many of which are Canadian and North American premieres. TPFF is pleased to be opening and closing the festival with the critically acclaimed feature films Amreeka and Laila's Birthday. TPFF will also preview segments from Road Movie, the epic twelve-screen multi-media installation by Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky, at the beginning of the weekday programs throughout the festival.

TPFF 09 will offer audiences a wide selection of award-winning short, feature, documentary, experimental and animation films. The films cover many different topics including Gaza, immigration, environment, childhood, music, food, media, sexuality, human rights and exile. The festival will also feature the work of prominent Canadian filmmakers including Larry Towell, Mary Ellen Davis, Taghreed Saadeh and Sidrah Laldin.

Running from September 28 - October 3, 2009 at the Beaver Hall Art Gallery is the contemporary art exhibition entitled Jewels in the Machine: New Media Works at TPFF. Curated by Reena Katz, the exhibition will display innovative and provocative video, audio and visual artistic installations from eminent Canadian and international artists.

On the morning of September 27, 2009, TPFF will be hosting Sahtain! Film & Food Brunch at 93 Harbord. The morning will commence with the screening of food-themed short films, which will be followed by a cooking lesson and tasting of a traditional Palestinian brunch.

During the course of the festival, TPFF will host several discussion panels featuring distinguished speakers including Palestinian filmmaker and academic Sobhi Al-Zabaidi. Topics of discussion range from stereotypes in cinema; film and the art of resistance; Palestinian cultural production; environmental issues; and life in the Gaza strip.

Presenting non-stereotypical cinema, TPFF celebrates film as an art form and means of expression by showcasing the extraordinary narrative of a dispossessed people living in exile and under occupation. TPFF is proud to be sponsored by the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council and many other generous supporters.



Cherien Dabis - Fiction - 2009 - USA - 96 min - Canadian Premiere

Comedy-drama about Muna, a single mother who leaves Ramallah with her teenage son, Fadi, to provide him with a better future in small-town Illinois. As Fadi learns to navigate high school hallways, Muna, a former bank employee, scrambles together a new life cooking up hamburgers at the local White Castle.

Grand Jury Prize Nominee Sundance Film Festival 2009, Winner FIPRESCI International Federation of Film Critics Award Cannes 2009

Laila's Birthday
Rashid Masharawi - Fiction - 2008 - Palestine/Tunisia/The Netherlands - 71min

Abu Laila is a judge turned taxi driver who must purchase a cake and present for his daughter Laila?s birthday. This becomes an epic task as Abu Laila navigates the chaos of daily life in Ramallah. The film is a revealing and humorous portrait of a city and decent man at the breaking point.

Official Selection Toronto International Film Festival 2008

Road Movie Elle Flanders + Tamira Sawatzky - Multi-Media Installation - 2009 - Canada

TPFF is proud to preview a selection of segments from Road Movie, the epic twelve-screen multi-media installation by Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky. Continuing their work on landscape and its relationship to shifting political geographies, each segment traces a single journey on Palestinian or ?Jewish only? roads ? all shot in stop-motion animation in single takes. One segment of Road Movie will premiere before individual programs throughout the Festival.

SAHTAIN! Film & Food Brunch
Sunday Sept 27, 11:00-1:00 pm
93 HARBORD, 93 Harbord Street, Toronto
Traditional Palestinian brunch with talk and demo by acclaimed chef Isam Kaisi. Screening two food-themed short films.

Missing Gaza Sobhi Al Zobaidi
Documentary - 2005 - Palestine/Israel - 13 min
A group of friends, originally from Gaza but unable to return because of the siege, meet for lunch in Ramallah. While making a traditional meal of molokheya, their conversation inevitably turns to politics and homesickness. The lunchtime discussion is inter-cut with footage from Gaza of their friends, families and homes.

Daggit Gazza Hadeel Assali / Iman Saqr
Documentary ? 2009 ? US ? 8 min
Politics, food, and family are the topics of a phone conversation between Houston and Gaza that serves as voice-over commentary to the preparation of a spicy tomato salad.

Jewels in the Machine: New Media Works at TPFF
Sept 28 - Oct 3, 12:00pm - 6:00pm
Beaver Hall Gallery, 29 McCaul St., Toronto
Exhibit Opening: Tuesday Sept 29, 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Exhibit Curator: Reena Katz

Artists and Works:

Jamelie Hassan - London, ON
The Oblivion Seekers, 1985 (2009 DVD format premier of film-installation work)

John Kameel Farah - Toronto, ON
New Piano Composition (TPFF Commission)

Project Hope - Nablus, Palestine
The West Bank: A Collection of Graphic Novels (Cells from upcoming book)

Sandi Hilal + Alessandro Petti - London, UK + Bethlehem, Palestine
Decolonizing Architecture (Silent Projections)

Jumana Manna - Oslo, Norway + Jerusalem
Familiar + Ramallah Computer Game (Video Works)

Not Your Harem Girl: Cinema and Stereotypes
Monday Sept 28, 4:00-6:00 pm
William Doo Auditorium, 45 Willcocks Street, Toronto
Panellists: Dana Olwan, Nahed Mansour, Natalie Kouri-Towe

As this year's festival theme is "non-stereotypical cinema," this panel will look at the history of stereotypical representations of Arabs in film, particularly Arab woman. The panel will also discuss how young Arab artists are subverting these stereotypes through filmmaking and literature.

Cinema Politica: Film and the Art of Resistance
Wednesday Sept 30, 3:30-5:30 pm
Beaver Hall Gallery, 29 McCaul Street, Toronto
Panellists: Vicky Moufawad-Paul, Ali Kazimi, John Hupfield

Three documentary filmmakers who use filmmaking to tell unheard stories will discuss their art together. The evening will include a screening of shorts by Vicky Moufawad-Paul, Programming/Exhibition Coordinator of A Space Gallery, and John Hupfield from 7th Generation Image Makers, an arts and mural program for Native youth in Toronto.

Steel for the Spirit: Palestinian Cultural Production Today Friday Oct 2, 3:30-5:30 pm
Beaver Hall Gallery, 29 McCaul Street, Toronto
Panellists: Sobhi al-Zobaidi, Rafeef Ziadah, Yafa Jarrar

The closing panel features three emerging Palestinian artists discussing what drives Palestinian cultural production today. The panellists will examine art forms ranging from spoken word to satiric filmmaking to dabke (Palestinian folk dancing), and how each is used to tell the stories of the Palestinian people.

For more information contact: Dania Majid, Media Liaison
Toronto Palestine Film Festival

September 26-October 2, 2009


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Those pimping for the U.S. Census should be honest, its about their money not our community empowerment

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The U.S. Government has done a great job hiring Arabs in our community to shill for their cause, to continue to oppress our community. The focus on the effort is the U.S. Census.

I want you to notice something. Everyone one pimping and pushing for the American Arab community to "participate" in the U.S. Census are all PAID by the U.S. Government to tell us to fill out the census form.

They lie that filling out the census form and "writing in our race" Arab in the little line at the bottom of the form is a way for us to be empowered. And when someone questions their lies, they slam and slander Arabs who argue that we have been misled by lazy, do-nothing Arab activists who have taken the short and easy route to money instead of fighting the long term challenge.

What is the long term challenge? Arabs should be listed officially on the census.

Here is who are now listed on the U.S. Census:

The census form asks for your Race, listing Hispanic, Latino or Spanish Origin. And they ask if you are Mexican, Mexican American (I didn’t know there were two categories of Mexicans), or Chicano? What kind of race is “Chicano?” What country do “Chicanos” come from? “Chicano-stan?”

They ask the same question again on the long form: Are you White? Black, African American or Negro? Are you American Indian or Alaskan Native and they even give you a place to write in your tribe name.

That’s not all. The form asks are you Asian Indian? Japanese, Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Korean, Guamanian or Chamorro, Filipino, Vietnamese, Samoan or Other Asian where they give you a space so you can print your “race” like Laotian, Thai, Pakistani, Cambodian “and so on.”

Oh, they don’t stop there. They ask are you “Pacific Islander” and ask you to print your race like Fijian, Tongan “and so on.”

Way at the bottom, in case they missed someone, someone not so important, they have the throw away line, to check here if you are “Some Other Race – Print Race.”

That is where I have to hand-write that I am “Arab.” And proud of it too, by the way.

Read the full original column that has Rashad al-Dabbagh, who works for the census, and some members of the Arab American Institute targeting me because I don't agree with their laid-back lack of activism against this problem. Click here to read the column?

The fact is that while these activists are cashing their checks and telling American Arabs, "Don't worry. You don't have to be listed on the census form, you can write it in so the AAI can complete their list," government agencies across America are discriminating against American Arabs specifically and directly because the U.S. Census DOES NOT list Arabs as "Arab" on the Census form.

The federal government requires police officers who pull people over for traffic stops to list the race of the person being stopped. But, they are required only to list those races AND ethnicities listed on the U.S. Census form.

Why is that important? If the race is listed on statistics, communities can easily see if they are being targeted for discrimination by police officers and then use that as "EMPOWERMENT" to demand that the police department hire American Arabs.

But American Arabs are NOT listed and police are not required to list us at all.

In every instance of EMPOWERMENT, not being listed on the U.S. Census means we are denied the ability to confront and stop discrimination, discrimination that is holding our community back.

And all that the activists who are PAID by the U.S. Census can do is attack me ands my argument and tell us little American Arab Sheep to "write your race on the form."

Well, writing your name on the form does not stop the discrimination and it DOES NOT force government agencies from the top of the Federal Government to the bottom of the local suburban government to recognize the rights of Americans Arabs.

When we ask school districts how many Arabs have they hired, the answer is "We are not required to list employees based on the race 'Arabs' and we only list race and ethnicity based on those identified in the U.S. Census."

I know what the problem is. It's easier for some in our community to take the handout from the government and keep the American Arabs in a stupor than to find the courage to stand up and change a system that needs to be change.

Arabs should and MUST be listed on the U.S. Census form and until we are, we will continue to be discriminated against, denied government grants, denied government jobs and marginalized in our society.

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Israel continues theft of lands from Christians and Muslims through jewish National Fund

New Israel Land Reform Law Passed by Knesset

"Adalah will challenge the new Israel land reform law before the Supreme Court as it violates the constitutional rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel as well as the property rights of the Palestinian refugees"

(Haifa, Israel 3 August 2009) Today, 3 August 2009, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) passed the Israel Land Administration (ILA) Law, with 61 Members of Knesset (MKs) voting in favor of the law and 45 MKs voting against it. The new land reform law is wide ranging in scope: it institutes broad land privatization; permits land exchanges between the State and the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet Le-Israel) (hereinafter - the “JNF”), the land of which is exclusively reserved for the Jewish people; allows lands to be allocated in accordance with "admissions committee" mechanisms and only to candidates approved by Zionist institutions working solely on behalf of the Jewish people; and grants decisive weight to JNF representatives in a new Land Authority Council, which would replace the Israel Land Administration (ILA). The new law is extremely prejudicial to the constitutional rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, and it violates the property rights of the Palestinian refugees as it contravenes international humanitarian law (IHL) applicable to them and their property.

Currently, the State of Israel controls and the ILA manages 93% of the land in Israel. State-controlled properties are leased on a long-term basis to residents. The new ILA Law or the "Israel Land Reform Law" will lead to the transfer of ownership from the state to private individuals, those who have been leasing the properties, throughout certain urban, rural and agricultural areas of the state, as well as with respect to land governed by outline plans that enable the issuance of building permits. It will lead to the transfer of title to private owners in real estate properties which were expropriated by the state from the Palestinian Arab population. The law will also lead to privatization of property of some of the lands of destroyed and evacuated Arab villages, as well as many properties belonging to Palestinian refugees, which are currently controlled by the state's Custodian of Absentee Property and the Development Authority. This privatization policy will frustrate any future possibility of returning the abovementioned lands to their original Palestinian owners, in violation of their constitutional right to property and in contravention of both domestic Israeli law and IHL.

Israel confiscated massive amounts of land from Palestinian citizens of the state under several laws; a principal law used was the Land Acquisition (Validation of Acts and Compensations) Law - 1953. Under this law, lands in the destroyed and evacuated villages, as well as lands in the Arab villages which survived the War of 1948, were expropriated. The scope of these expropriated lands under this particular law is estimated at approximately 1.2 million dunams (around 300,000 acres). In addition, much land was expropriated under the Land Ordinance (Acquisition for Public Purposes) - 1943 such as the 1976 Land Day expropriations of approximately 21,000 dunams (around 5,200 acres).

For more information, please contact:
Gabrielle Rubin, International Media Coordinator, Adalah; Mobile: 052-8332430

Adalah ("Justice" in Arabic) is an independent human rights organization and legal center. It works to promote and defend the rights of Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

Facts and Figures: Land

1. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) presently owns approximately 2.5 million dunams of land, about 13% of the area of the state of Israel. These lands are spread over all areas and regions of the country.
2. About two million dunams of land were transferred to the JNF by the state.[1] This fact led to the granting of special status to the JNF in Israeli law, and to a view of the JNF as the decisive entity in land policy in Israel.
3. Over half of the Arab citizens of Israel (53%) live in the northern district, and about 13.9% live in the south. These areas have the highest concentrations of Arab citizens in the state.
4. 69% of the Arab villages and towns in Israel (excluding the mixed Arab-Jewish cities and the unrecognized villages) are located in the north. In the south, there are seven government-planned towns for the Arab Bedouin, and another 10 Arab Bedouin unrecognized villages have been recently afforded official recognition. There are 40 unrecognized villages in the Naqab,[2] in which 80,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel reside.
5. The jurisdictional areas of Arab local councils in the north constitute 12.2% of the land, whereas the Arab population in the north constitutes 53% of the entire population therein.[3]
6. In the Beer Sheva district in the south, the jurisdictional areas of the Arab local councils, in addition to those recently recognized, is less than 1%, while the percentage of the Arab population in the area is 28.3%.[4]
7. The Arab population in these districts is relatively young: the percentage of Arab citizens belonging to the 0-19 age group out of the total Arab population is 50%.[5]
8. A detailed look at the northern and southern districts shows that the young Arab population (the 0-19 age-group) in the north amounts to 46.6% whereas in the south this group constitutes 66.1%.[6] At the same time, the growth rate of the Arab population in the south is 4.4% per annum, and in the north, it is 2% per annum.[7]
9. The ongoing policy of non-recognition of the villages has led to extremely abysmal living conditions: there is no water, no electricity, no infrastructure, no health services and no educational facilities in many of these villages. Approximately 50% of the Arab Bedouin in the Naqab (Negev) are affected by these policies.

For more information:
See: "Adalah position paper on behalf of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel: Critique of the Israeli government's land reform bill", 21 July 2009
[1] Arnon Golan, Seizure of Arab Land by Jewish Settlements in the War of Independence, Katedra: The Journal of the History and Settlement of the Land of Israel, 63, pp. 151-152; Ruth Kark, 1955, “The Emergent Shaping of Authorities, and State Land Policy in the State of Israel,” The Institute for the Study of the Use of Land, p. 177; Yif’at Holman-Gazit, 2002, “Using the Law as a Status Symbol: the JNF Law, 5715-1953, and the JNF’s Struggle to Establish its Status in the State,” Iyunei Mishpat, 26(2), p. 636.
[2] Some of these villages existed even before the establishment of the State in 1948, and some were set up pursuant to orders issued by the military governor, at the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s. The military governor then transferred these residents from their original villages to the present ones.
[3] Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) Israel Statistical Annual No. 59, 2008, Table 2.8.
[4] Ibid. .
[5] Ibid., Table 2.10.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid., Table 2.4.

Monday, August 03, 2009

ANERA revives vocational training in Northern Lebanon


August 4, 2009 Washington, DC - ANERA is pleased to announce a $245,000 grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Transition Initiatives to rehabilitate vocational training centers for Palestinian and Lebanese youth in and around the Nahr El Bared Camp in northern Lebanon. The project includes rebuilding the training center in the adjacent area of the old camp that was destroyed during three months of fighting there in 2007.

Two Lebanese community organizations based in the camp will partner with ANERA to carry out the project. The National Association for Vocational Training and Social Services (NAVTSS) and Beit Atfal Assumoud’s National Institution for Social Care and Vocational Training have worked on vocational training and youth programs in the camp for 30 years.

ANERA will help rehabilitate and re-equip the NAVTSS center that will house vocational training programs and host summer recreational activities. Classes will offer training in high-demand skills such as carpentry, aluminum work, nursing, child care, and automotive electronics. The Afaquna Youth Center and multi-purpose workshop will be rebuilt to support youth activities and conflict resolution workshops. The project will support summer and other youth activities to take place within the next six months. In addition, the project will help to equip the Beit Atfal Assumoud computer lab.

“ANERA has been eager to rebuild vocational training programs that can better prepare underprivileged Palestinian and Lebanese youth who face a jobless future without appropriate skills,” said John Viste, ANERA’s Lebanon Country Director. “The program will reach more than 400 youth each year and will help prepare them to play a productive role in their community. This is an important component of ANERA’s overall efforts to support education and youth development in Lebanon.”

More than 433 businesses were directly affected by the 2007 fighting in Nahr El Bared. More than 4,976 jobs were lost. Unemployment is estimated now at 80%, compared to 27% before the outbreak of violence. Under-employment also has been aggravated by the loss of more than half a year of schooling. Many of the most damaged schools have not reopened, increasing the threat of juvenile delinquency, violence and enrollment in militias among school dropouts.

Rehabilitating the youth center will enable ANERA and NAVTSS to bring together Palestinian and Lebanese for training in communication skills, conflict resolution techniques, and approaches to peace building. NAVTSS programs also offer career counseling and job placement.

About ANERASince 1968, ANERA has been a leading provider of development programs in health, education and job creation in communities throughout the Middle East. In 2008 alone, ANERA delivered more than $75 million for programs in Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan.
For more information, please contact Laurie Kassman, Media Relations (