Archive | June, 2018

Barry Saks Reads the Poetry of James Baldwin and Lynn Nottage

22 Jun

I’m using the occasion of a party on Saturday, June 23, in which Marlene and I cannot attend to read two poems to express my solidarity with the folks there.

I must credit Marlene for putting this together.

 

 

But life is also more complicated than we think.  I forgot to show the covers of two small books I read from.  So we needed to re-shoot a little.  The video below was an outtake from the re-shooting.  It put a little smile on my face.

 

 

 

“The Wanted 18,” Which Variety Calls ‘Ingenious’ to Screen in Long Beach

20 Jun

The Middle East Task Force of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will show on Sunday, June 24, at 4 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church, 6500 East Stearns St., Long Beach, the film, “The Wanted 18.”

Jay Weissberg, in his film review of Nov. 29, 2014, said, “Only the tragically absurd Israeli-Palestinian situation could transform the simple act of milking cows into a perceived threat to national security, yet that’s the amazing story of Paul Cowan and Amer Shomali’s ingenious documentary…Mixing talking heads, a smattering of archival footage, and smile-inducing claymation (stop-action animation with clay), the helmers (directors) bring to life a time during the First Intifada when the residents of Beit Sahour, in the Occupied Territories, started a dairy collective, highlighting the ridiculous without losing track of the seriousness of all acts of resistance….In 1988…citizens from Beit Sahour decided they were tired of being forced to purchase all dairy supplies from Israel, so they bought 18 cows from a sympathetic kibbutznik.  It was an anomaly on multiple levels: Palestinians have a sheep-raising (not bovine) (sic) culture, and, beyond that, this was a community of academics and professionals, so they sent student Salim Jaber to the U.S. to learn the finer points of milking and animal husbandry.”

To read the Variety review, click here.

The Al-Jazeera review of April 26, 2016 pointed out Beit Sahour was a “predominantly Christian Arab village.”

Cowan is associated with the National Film Board of Canada and has directed nine other films.

Shomali, besides directing the film, narrates.

According to the website of Columbia University’s Center for Palestine Studies, in welcoming Shomali as a visiting artist, Shomali “is a Palestinian multidisciplinary artist, using painting, digital media, films, installations and comics as tools to explore and interact with the Palestinian sociopolitical scene focusing on the creation and the use of Palestinian revolution iconography. He holds a Master’s degree in Animation from the Arts University Bournemouth in the United Kingdom and a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Birzeit University” and that “his work at many exhibitions around the world including France, Belgium, Greece, Tunisia, Germany and Canada.”

According to a PDF flyer for the event, at 6 p.m., a catered Middle Eastern dinner will be available, “free-will offering will be taken (donations accepted), an opportunity “to discuss the film and…current events” and at 7 p.m., there will be a “Prayer Service for Peace.”

According to the website of the Southern California Synod of the ELCA, more than 120 churches comprise the synod, serving the counties of Kern, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Khaled Bakrawi’s Legacy Continues: Refugee Resource Center Opens

7 Jun

Some months back while my wife and I were traveling, I received an email from the Palestinian Youth Movement, which announced the opening of the Khaled Bakrawi Center in El Cajon, California.  Because we were traveling where we only had at best unreliable access to the internet, I did not read the email until much later after getting home.  While it’s been more than four months since the center’s opening, I’m compelled to write about it.

The Khaled Bakrawi Center, according to the PYM (US) website, “was created for… serving immigrant and refugee youth by teaching various life skills, such as English language, and computer training…. (The) trauma informed services and culturally relevant programs generate a sense of collective healing and community power meant to minimize senses of alienation and loss which often accompanies war trauma and the struggles of exile for these children and youth. There is significance in opening a center catered to immigrant and refugee youth in El Cajon. Since the 1990s, this city, sometimes called ‘Little Baghdad,’ has been a hub for refugees, specifically Iraqi refugees fleeing dictatorship, sanctions, and imperialist wars.”

To read the PYM statement on the opening of the center, click here.

However, what I was most interested was to understand who Khaled Bakrawi was and how he died.  To that end what follows is my attempt at answering those two questions.

Much of Budour Youssef Hassan’s Feb. 18, 2015 piece “Syria’s disappeared Palestinians,” for the Electronic Intifada, is devoted to Khaled Bakrawi.

Hassan said Bakrawi was a prominent activist and co-founder of the Jafra Association for Aid and Development, which works to improve conditions in Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, and as “(a) refugee from Lubya (During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Israelis destroyed the town and its population was removed.), Bakrawi was active around Palestinian refugee rights well before the (Syrian Arab Spring) uprising began and was shot by Israeli occupation forces in June 2011 during the Naksa Day march to the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.  But after…displaced Syrians sought refuge in Yarmouk, he directed his efforts towards organizing humanitarian aid to them.”

Hassan, who is identified as an anarchist in the same story, also said, from interviews of Bakrawi’s friends, that Syrian security forces arrested Bakrawi in January 2013 and his family did not learn of his death until September.

To read Hassan’s story, click here, click here.

In a Zaman al-Wasl news story, “Khaled Bakrawi: Activist of Unforgettable Chivalry” of Feb. 22, 2015 by Faris al-Rfai with translation by Yusra Ahmed, al-Rfai quotes artist and activist Mohamed Zaghmout from his documentary, “Words about Khaled Bakrawi.” Zaghmout said, ‘Khalid -the camp- (sic) as his friends used to name him was an icon of aid and relief work inside Palestinian camps all over Syria, he participated in funerals, educated youth by (sic) many lectures and supported displaced children.’

To read the news story by Faris al-Rfai in Zaman al-Wasl, click here.  According to the Zaman al-Wasl news website, Fathi Bayoud founded Zaman al-Wasl in Homs, Syria in 2005 and it is “Syria’s leading news site delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the events shaping the war-torn country.”

Khaled Bakrawi Exhibit from the SYRIAN TORTURE VICTIMS Exhibition in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Masih Sadat/The Turban Times

The 88-page study, “Palestinians of Syria: Bloody Diary and Unheard Screaming,” by the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria and the Palestinian Return Centre-London, claims Bakrawi was identified as being tortured through leaked photos.  According to the AGPS website, AGPS is “a London-based human rights watchdog that monitors the situation of Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria” and that “AGPS material is purely fact-based and rooted in real data compiled by a team of professional journalist, on-the-spot reporters, news correspondents, veterans and local activists.”  According to the PRC website, the PRC “is an independent consultancy focusing on the historical, political and legal aspects of Palestinian Refugees (sic).”

To read the study, click here.

According to the PYM announcement of the opening of the center, Bakrawi was 24 when he died.