Arab American Taam: Alcohol is Arabic

Posted by Beshouy Botros on July 28, 2015 in Blog
Alcohol is Arabic. Quite literally the etymology of the word ‘alcohol’ points modern readers and consumers to layered, and often buried, roots in the Middle East. Al-kohl once referred to the metallic powder used as eye shadow, and was thereafter used to describe a family of beverages. Arabs are not only to credit for the word alcohol, but spirits themselves have a rich history rooted in medieval and pre-Islamic Arabic culture. Beer and wine have existed for millennia, but spirits as we know them today are a fairly recent phenomena dating back a little over a thousand years. Spirits are products of a chemistry that was revolutionized by the early Arabs. Brewers practiced a science now known as alchemy in order to distill strong liquors and fortify beers, most failed. The term alchemy points to further Arabic origins, al-kimia, or the Arabic word for chemistry practiced in Kemet (or Egypt) allowed Arabs scientists to go beyond their Roman and Greek contemporaries.
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Yemen at Risk

Posted by Neveen Hammad on July 24, 2015 in Blog
Thousands of years of rich, Arab values and Islamic culture were destroyed instantly on June 12th in Yemen this year when a nighttime airstrike executed by Saudi Arabia severely damaged the Old City of Sana’a. As Yemen’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sana’a has been inhabited for over 2,500 years and holds great political and religious value to Arabs and Muslims, especially those of Yemeni descent. According to UNESCO, from the 7th century on, Sana’a was a major influence for spreading the Islamic faith. This is demonstrated in the archaeological remains in the Great Mosque, which was allegedly built during the Prophet Mohammad’s lifetime. By the 11th century, Yemenis built 103 mosques throughout Sana’a.
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Arab American Taam: Hummus Politics

Posted by Beshouy Botros on July 23, 2015 in Blog
For a proper journey through the Middle Eastern dinner table it is best to begin with the basics- hummus may be the single most widely recognizable element of Arab cuisine, with a rich history and occasional controversy. People have been eating chickpeas for millennia, but legend has it that Saladin, Sultan of Egypt and Syria was the first to prepare hummus in the 12th century.
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The Best Medicine

Posted by Gabrielle Borg on July 14, 2015 in Blog
The Fighting-Bigotry-With-Delightful-Posters Campaign has filed a lawsuit against the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority for refusing to put up their funny posters about Muslims. The campaign, spearheaded by comedians Arab American Dean Obeidallah and Iranian American Negin Farsad, features ads like, “Beware! The Muslims Are Coming! And they shall strike with hugs so fierce that you’ll end up calling your grandmother and telling her you love her!” and “Muslims! They invented coffee, the toothbrush and algebra. Oh wait, sorry about the algebra. That’s a year of class you’ll never get back.” After working with the group to revise the posters for months and officially approving the ads in early April, the MTA suddenly changed its policies.Obeidallah and Farsad said “We were told that come April 28, 2015, funny Muslim ads would be gracing 140 subway stations… Then on April 29, the MTA changed its regulations about acceptable posters. The new policy restricted ‘disputed political content’—maybe the MTA considers Muslims who like frittatas ‘disputed political content.’”
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Arab American Taam: Soul Food

Posted by Beshouy Botros on July 09, 2015 in Blog
On July 9, the Arab American Institute will host its Annual Arab American Generations Iftar to bring together local Arab Americans and raise money for Basmeh and Zeitooneh, a grassroots Beirut-based organization, dedicated to serving Syrian refugees and vulnerable communities in Lebanon. With only two weeks left in Ramadan, Muslims everywhere are making the most of this time to pray, reflect, and heal. Fasting has had especially marked effects on Middle Eastern and Arab peoples and by extension their cuisines. Fasting practices are as diverse as the people of the Middle East. Ramadan of course entails abstaining from food and water from sunrise until sunset. Breaking fast with dates, one of the most ancient crops from the Middle East, is a nearly ubiquitous tradition that unifies the ummah. For nomadic peoples, date palms, which are indigenous to desert climates, have long provided protein, energy, and a delectable treat. Yet dates are much more than a convenient snack, they are ordained. The Hadith ties this age-old tradition to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who is said to have always broken fast with dates and water.
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Carnegie Corporation of New York Honors Syrian American Composer Malek Jandali

Posted by David Curtis on July 09, 2015 in Blog
Every year since 2006, the Carnegie Corporation of New York has recognized immigrants to the United States who it considers to be the “Pride of America.” Over the July 4th weekend, world-renowned Syrian American composer and pianist Malek Jandali joined this distinguished list of naturalized Americans – which include the likes of Madeleine Albright, Yo-Yo Ma, and Isaac Asimov.
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Arab American Taam: The Arab Grocery

Posted by Beshouy Botros on July 08, 2015 in Blog
Middle Eastern food is far more complicated than it is presented in the menus of tacky shisha bars and so-called Mediterranean restaurants. Every dish has several different names, regional versions, and each one has its own story. These are stories of power, culture, identity, and memory-- tales that illuminate an intricate mosaic of spices, sweets, and sumptuous dishes with regional and national character. Nowhere is this poetry more evident than in the aisles of an Arab grocery. These stores invoke the souk, the marketplaces of Middle Eastern heritage and in so doing they curate a nostalgia for new immigrants and Arab Americans alike. It is in these indoor souks that we find sights, smells, and tastes we are deeply acquainted with, we hear Arabic we recognize (or Arabic we cannot understand), and witness the same aunties scrutinizing tomatoes, cucumbers, and greens. For those of us lucky enough to live reasonably close to one of these stores, these aisles become well-worn territory. Otherwise, a trip to the Arab market becomes a seasonal treat – a pilgrimage a whole family undertakes to stock up for Eid. Regardless of the distance, a trip to an Arab grocery store is always emotion laden, and regardless of the frequency with which a group treks to this hallowed ground it is an occasion.
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Tackling Negative Stereotypes Through Art

Posted by David Curtis on July 07, 2015 in Blog
Arab Americans tend to have a strong focus on education, and they make up an integral part of highly educated professionals in the United States excelling as doctors, lawyers, and engineers. It could be said that Arab Americans have not done enough to successfully inject themselves into American arts and culture; the absence of more Arab Americans in the arts could be one reason for the conspicuous deficiency in progress to combat negative stereotypes and preconceptions that people may have about the Arab American community. This is the viewpoint of Egyptian-born Yussef El Guindi, a noteworthy Seattle playwright who recently spoke with AAI: “We have enough doctors and engineers … We need more dreamers and cultural workers. More people in the arts making a difference in the cultural sphere. That will be the only way to alter perceptions: to become part of the many cultural conversations going on in the States and elsewhere. These end up filtering into other areas like politics and policy.”
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Egyptian Cinema Blog

Posted by Shadi Matar on July 01, 2015 in Blog

YouTube has started  a new channel called “Aflam” featuring classic Egyptian films. Aflam, which means films in Arabic, launched on April 2nd and has already amassed 40,625 subscribers and over 1500 films. The channel is now bridging the gap between conventional media and classical Egyptian cinema for Arab Americans and other interested audiences

Google Arabia started the channel and has partnered with companies such as, “Mazzika,” “Masr Online,” “3alshasha,” and “Misr International Films,” to compile all these films together in one place. These companies host the films on their individual YouTube channels while Aflam sorts them by genre,...

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Egyptian Cinema on Youtube

Posted by Shadi Matar on July 01, 2015 in Blog
YouTube has started a new channel called “Aflam” featuring classic Egyptian films. Aflam, which means films in Arabic, launched on April 2nd and has already amassed 40,625 subscribers and over 1500 films. The channel is now bridging the gap between conventional media and classical Egyptian cinema for Arab Americans and other interested audiences
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