Sunday, December 14, 2008

Santa Claus in Baghdad: And other stories about teens in the Arab World

Author Elsa Marston has written a wonderful book about the Middle East, but not another boring political analysis of why the conflict started or who is to blame. Instead, she focuses in on the children of the Middle East under the inspiring title "Santa Claus in Bgahdad: and other stories about Teens in the Arab World."

There are 8 stories in this compelling collection that brings the reader to the harsh realities of a very harsh part of the world. The stories reflect the experiences of Arab and Muslim children from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine and from a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, from where the greatest injustices continue till this day. Stories from Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan round out the poignancy of this book with the title coming from one story in Iraq, now under American military occupation and rule.

This book does more than offer compelling stories. It offers real insight into why the conflicts continue, contracts what Americans think they know and how little they really know about the causes of the conflicts from the standpoints of innocense and tragedy an perikous lives of young children clouded only by the desire for peace.

I read it and I couldn't put it down until I was finished. I hope you will read it too.

The book is published by the Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis and can be purchased through many online and retail book stores, and from their web site at Or, call 1-800-842-6796.

Marston is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction. her books include "Women in the Middle East; Tradition and Change; the Cliffs of Cairo; and Muhammad of Mecca, Prophet of Islam.

This book needs to be in every library.

-- Ray Hanania

Phyllis Bennis offers two new insights into problematic foreign policy challenges

Phyllis Bennis has authored two small soft-cover books that help readers betters understand the challenges we face in "Ending the Iraq War" and "Understanding the US-Iran Crisis." Theya re easy reads and that offer he often doctrinaire perspectives that are essential to unraveling these complex political challenges.

Most Americans are never exposed to the full balanced of information about the Middle East and it is not surprising that the American understanding of all of the conflicts, from Iran to Iraq and Palestine remained skewered by misunderstanding, driven by prejudice and simply wrong. Bennis offers some light into two of the most topical of these conflicts that if Americans ever did spend a moment to read, they might actually learn something.

But as we know, the Arab perspective that does not fit neatly into the dominant stereotype of hatred, discrimination and politically motivated bias, is a perspective few will take the time to even bother to read.

They should, even if those perspectives can come across more clinical than compelling. The entertaining truth is easier to sell in America than the hard truth, but it's the hard truth Americans need right away.

Both books are available at InterLink Publishing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Running for All the Right Reasons: A Saudi-born Woman's Pursuit of Democracy" a hit

In 2004, Ferial Masry, born in Mecca, became the first Saudi American to run for political office in U.S. history. A recent immigrant and naturalized citizen with a heavy Middle Eastern accent, Masry made a spirited run for the California State Assembly seat in a staunchly Republican district, which sparked worldwide interest. She was ABC’s Person of the Week, was interviewed by Peter Jennings, and made headlines in the New York Times and Associated Press. Against all odds, her grassroots campaign succeeded in winning the write-in vote, a historic victory for all Arab Americans.

Running for All the Right Reasons chronicles Masry’s remarkable life, from her childhood in Mecca and her decision to emigrate to the United States to her career as an educator and her bold entry into the world of politics. Masry’s story, as well as her passionate belief in democracy and commitment to her community, is the stuff of legends.

Ferial Masry is currently running for California State Assembly in the 37th District. She teaches government and history at Cleveland High School in Los Angeles and has served on the boards of the Education Committee for the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and of the National Women’s Political Caucus, among others.

Susan Chenard is an English professor at Gateway Community College in New Haven, Connecticut, and a freelance writer.

Order the book?

Review: This is a fascinating book, especially if you are interested in how immigrants merge into the American political system. Ferial Masry's experience is the quitessential American experience. The book is not only a personal insight into Saudi Arabia -- a very misunderstood country that has been a strong ally of the United States -- it is also a compelling tale of the Arab American political experience. Masry is a role model for Arab Americans who, after more than 150 years years in this country, are only now engaging the American political system with widepsread and growing empowerment and engagement.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Foods of Chicago Features Arab American recipes and writers

Gloria Baraks
Vice President/Marketing
G. Bradley Publishing, Inc.
112 W. Jefferson/Suite 122
St. Louis, MO 63122
Web -

THE FOODS OF CHICAGO: A Delicious History

Chicago was built by immigrants, and in creating this urban behemoth these newcomers they got their hands dirty. First, they toiled to clear and rebuild the city from the charred remains of the Great Fire. They labored in the awesome and fearsome vast Union Stockyards and faced the fiery furnaces of the mighty steel mills. Many took pride in their workmanship raising and supporting the impressive Worlds Columbian Exposition of 1893.

These immigrants came to a Lake Michigan shoreline paved not with gold, but with opportunity. They raised families, taught their children and built divinely inspired houses of worship. They opened the door for people of every nation and culture to come and share the intense drama of life in a growing city.

But even as they aspired to become fully American, these immigrants did not leave everything of their old worlds behind them. They brought memories, photographs, languages and faiths. They also brought Grandmas recipes, the cherished taste of home reminding them of the love and warmth of their roots. Indeed, they were defined by what they put on the table.

This publication is a companion piece to the television program The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History, produced by WTTW11 Chicagos public television station. WTTW producer/writer Dan Protess and host Geoffrey Baer see the program and book as a celebration of Chicagos diversity. Dan summed it up perfectly when he said, I really cant think of a better window into Chicagos distinct communities than food.

The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History is a wonderful blend. a book like no other. Much like a recipe that offers delightful combinations to entice the senses, this book is a delectable mixture of culinary delights and reflections on the rich cultural history of Chicagos diverse communities. You and your family will enjoy and cherish this book for years to come.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Egyptian author releases English version of his new novel based in Chicago called "Chicago"

Egyptian author releases English version of his new novel based in Chicago called "Chicago"


Contact: Jane Beirn


The best-selling Arab writer both in the Middle East and abroad, Egyptian novelist Alaa Al Aswany used a Cairo apartment building as the backdrop for his international success, The Yacoubian Building, which brilliantly captured the daily drama and comedy of life in the teeming metropolis on the Nile. For his much-anticipated second novel, CHICAGO (HarperCollins Publishers; October 7, 2008; $25.95), this acclaimed fiction writer and controversial journalist – who despite literary success still practices dentistry in Cairo – shifts the stage to America’s Windy City, where a group of Egyptian émigrés navigate the shifting tides of life in the post 9/11 United States.

The many stories that converge in CHICAGO are set in and around the histology department at the University of Illinois, where Aswany himself studied dentistry in the 1980s. The characters, Muslim and Coptic Egyptians, as well as white and black Americans, all struggle with life’s quotidian demands, confronting issues of love, sex, religion and politics that have great impacts on their lives and aspirations. As their personal choices and interactions often
spiral out of control, the threat of life-altering consequences looms over their every decision.

Shaymaa Muhammadi is a brilliant young woman who has come to America on scholarship to further her medical education. Thirty and unmarried, she is religiously conservative, and appropriately modest in dress and demeanor, which isolates her from the free-wheeling Americans. When she meets a fellow Egyptian, another serious-minded student named Tariq Haseeb, she at first resists his advances. But the sexual chemistry between them proves too great, causing Shaymaa to compromise everything she has been raised to believe. The newest student, Nagi Abd al-Samad is politically suspect to some of the established members of the department, most particularly Ra’fat Thabit, a doctor who has fully assimilated, even marrying an American. But Ra’fat’s perfect world is shattered when he discovers that his daughter is harboring a cocaine addiction.

Another Egyptian married to an American, Muhammad Salah has been in this country for thirty years. Now sixty, Dr. Salah faces a crisis, his marriage has fallen victim to sexual impotence and he wallows in nostalgia for a woman he long ago left behind in Egypt. Ahmad Danana, president of the Egyptian Student Union in America, may be exploiting his student visa in order to remain in the States as an agent for the right wing government back in Cairo. When he clashes with Nagi’s over the new student’s revolutionary beliefs, the conflict may prove more serious than a mere student agreement. Meanwhile, Nagi’s situation is made all the more precarious by the fact that he has found himself a Jewish girlfriend in America. Rounding out the intertwined cast: Karam Doss, a brilliant heart surgeon with liberal politics whose Coptic beliefs stood in the way of his medical career at home; Dr. John Graham, an aging leftist who has found love late in life; and Carol, Graham’s African American girlfriend, who struggles with racism in her frustrating search for a job.

In its twelfth Arabic print run and an immediate bestseller when published in France last year, CHICAGO speaks to both the modern Arab reader and to the non-Arab interested in the ordinary lives of the modern Egyptian. The international edition of Time says Aswany’s “writing tackles the most pressing issues facing Egyptian society today, from dictatorship and corruption to economic inequality and Islamic extremism,” yet at the same time, here is a popular writer who entertains while he informs. The U.S. publication of CHICAGO, in this new English translation by Farouk Abdel Wahab, is sure to cement Alaa Al Aswany’s reputation as one of the most talked about writers on the world literary stage.

About the Author:
Alaa Al Aswany, 50, is the bestselling author of three previous books published in Arabic, including THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING, which was published in English by Harper Perennial and went on to top bestseller lists around the world. It was made into the biggest movie ever in Egypt and premiered in the US at the Tribeca Film Festival. A journalist who writes a controversial opposition column, Al Aswany makes his living as a dentist in Cairo.

# # #
June 9, 2008

Dear Book Review Editor:

The New York Times Magazine recently profiled Alaa al Aswany, the controversial Egyptian journalist and host of one of Cairo’s most talked about literary and political salons, who is also the world’s best-selling Arab-language novelist. Aswany’s first book, The Yacoubian Building, was an international sensation, selling hundreds of thousands of copies in Egypt alone – a country with 50 percent illiteracy – and has been published in more than a dozen foreign languages. Critics and devoted readers have drawn comparisons to Egypt’s great Nobel laureate, Naguib Mahfouz. Yet while Aswany “does share the legendary author’s talents for constructing simple stories about Egyptian life that convey universal truths in defense of human dignity,” Time magazine has said, “[h]is writing tackles the most pressing issues facing Egyptian society today, from dictatorship and corruption to economic inequality and Islamic extremism.”

Already in its twelfth Arabic print run and an immediate bestseller when published in France last year, Aswany’s new novel, CHICAGO, provides a kaleidoscopic view of the lives of Egyptian expatriates in post 9/11 America. The colorful tapestry of interwoven storylines is filled with memorable characters – among them an idealistic medical student with a blonde American girlfriend; a veiled PhD candidate facing the conflict between her upbringing and the Western culture she encounters; an ambitious state security officer cum informant; a university professor nostalgic for the past – whose detail-rich everyday lives come to embody the complex collision between traditional Arab ways and modern American mores. An entertaining storyteller, Aswany has a singular talent for portraying the forces that shape these lives in a subtle, realistic manner, and CHICAGO is unusual in the way it shows us how America is seen from a Middle Eastern perspective.

Despite his global literary status, Aswany still works as a dentist in his native Cairo, an occupation that allows him to hear the stories of the kinds of ordinary Egyptians who populate his books. Indeed, it was the time he spent studying dentistry at the University of Illinois that has provided the core material for CHICAGO. Working on a broad canvas, Aswany keeps his finger firmly on the pulse of the modern Arab experience. “He is read everywhere,” says Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury, editor of Al-Mulhaq, the Arab world’s preeminent literary supplement. “The importance of Al Aswany is that he reinvented the popular Egyptian novel.”
In addition to his literary success, The Yacoubian Building was made into a highly successful film starring some of the biggest stars in Arab-language cinema.

HarperCollins is proud to be publishing this illuminating new work by one of world literature’s most impressive and important talents. I hope you agree that CHICAGO merits prominent space in your pages.


Alaa Al Aswany
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: October 7, 2008
Hardcover/$25.95/352 Pages


Barnes & Noble / Upstairs at the Square
@ 7:00 pm, 33 East 17th Street

Women’s Athletic Club
@ 12:00 pm, 626 North Michigan Avenue

Writers on the Record with Victoria Lautman
@ 6:00pm, Harold Washington Library, 400 South State Street

Politics & Prose
@ 7:00 pm, 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Arab author Aladdin Elaasar dissects Sarah Palin in new book "Barracuda"


This timely book describes how McCain’s choice of ‘the Barracuda’, a.k.a. Sarah Palin, as his running mate, opened the flood gates of the media to controversy and speculations.

While Radio host Rush Limbaugh and former Bush adviser Karl Rove hailed Palin, some Republicans were dismayed, who felt the choice underscored McCain's weaknesses. Palin is facing an investigation in Alaska for alleged abuse of power involving her former brother-in-law.

McCain’s choice of Palin could not have been more timely and savvy. Palin managed to steal all the attention and the limelight from Senator McCain who could not be happier!

American media has quickly turned its attention from JoeBama to McPalin – but more so to Republican VP and Alaska Governor Sarah. Where does Palin buy her eyewear? Will Oprah ever have Palin on her show? She’s been in the spotlight for few days and has given plenty of news for the media to talk about

McCain-Palin Republican presidential campaign buttons now read “The Hottest Chick,” “Our mama is better than your Obama,” “Read my Lipstick,” “She proved you can throw a punch with a French manicure.”

“Though Sarah Palin is clearly a powerful speaker, I kept thinking it was a monologue on Saturday Night Live and Palin was "news roaster" Tina Fey, says one commentator.

“Will the media test her on substance or let her play "Ms. Congeniality?" It is up to the public to see through the fact-free diet we're being fed. Despite Campaign Spin, McCain Would Be a Disaster on Women's Rights”, claims columnist Laura Flanders.

Columnist Kimberly Gadette describes Palin pick as “The Bikini Car Wash: One Sexist Tradition” “in selecting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain is dusting off an old GOP tool: the estrogen guard. Slap a friendly, female face on a hard core-conservative political platform, and pray that the pundits will only take pot-shots and talk about gender. It worked for George W. Bush and it just may work for Palin”.

The choice of Sarah Palin, as it seems, is a high risk bet that could bring high rewards, but there are no guarantees. Many wonder whether she is ready to be vice-president and lead the US, should something happen to McCain if he is elected president.

Democrats said they felt insulted that McCain thought he could woo women by just putting any woman on his ticket, with one sentence making the rounds: "Palin, you are no Hillary Clinton".

Aladdin Elaasar’s BARRACUDA is a must-read for all American voters and those following American elections and politics. The result of this year’s election will not only impact the USA, but many nations around the globe.

In this timely book, Aladdin Elaasar investigates: Who is the real Sarah Palin? Palin’s Political Records; Palin’s connections with Big Business and Big Oil. Is Sarah Palin’ an Extremist? Is she a Zombie Republican or a Right Wing Feminist? How Populist is Sarah Palin? Can Sarah Palin's faux-feminist machismo and her handlers succeed in using purely symbolic appeals and Culture Wars to camouflage her actual record and the plain contradictions in her story? Will the Slogan of the McCain/Palin Administration- in their quest for oil- be: Drill, Baby, Drill?


For media reviews and interview:
Please contact

Aladdin Publications
1723 Hudson Bay,
Palatine, Illinois 60074
Tel 847 668 4206

About the Author

Aladdin Elaasar is a syndicated columnist and lecturer. Some of his writings are: “Iraq, the State and Terrorism”; where he predicted the downfall of former Dictator Saddam Hussein. Elaasar also wrote: Silent Victims: The plight of Arabs and Muslims in Post 9/11 America. And “The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Volatile Mid East”. Elaasar has been a frequent commentator on Middle Eastern affairs on several local American TV and Radio networks and media and cultural consultant since 1992. Email him at:

Praise for the Last Pharaoh

"Peeling back layer after complex layer of Egyptian intrigue, culture and politics, Aladdin de-mystifies Egypt without tarnishing her almost mystical status as the pinnacle of Arabian culture, and the bedrock of human civilization. The book is stunning in its revelations of Mubarak’s stranglehold on every aspect of life in this glorious, long suffering nation. Connecting one mysterious dot to the next, Aladdin teases the reader from chapter to chapter as he lucidly explains the details of Egypt’s worst kept secrets of all…the ‘secret’ of Mubarak’s power and how he plans to rule from his own royal crypt. "

- Professor Tate Miller, expert on International Negotiations; Conflict Management; Government Relations and Diplomacy; Cross-cultural Communication, and Senior Lecturer at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

The Last Pharaoh should be indispensable to anyone -

“Combining an uncanny sense of clarity and understatement, Aladdin Elaasar weaves Egypt’s historical grandeur with an unnerving cascade of political intrigue that reveals a side of Mubarak the world cannot long ignore. In one fell swoop, my admiration for Egypt is both strengthened, and the source of my unease revealed, as the author sheds light on the darkness of Egyptian politics that could one day turn catastrophic. With so much at stake, the west is slowly coming to grips with a new reality; a reality which no single book or author could possibly address. But the views expressed by Aladdin Elaasar in The Last Pharaoh should be indispensable to anyone hoping to understand Egypt’s role, not only the Middle East, but the potential for Mubarak’s Egypt to impact the destiny of global events.”

- Professor Tate Miller, Assistant Dean for Academic Programs and Senior Lecturer of International Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies

Why everyone has to read this book? -

“Let me give you the four scariest words I can't pronounce in Arabic: Egypt after Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak's "emergency rule" dictatorship is deep into its third decade, making him one of Egypt's most durable pharaohs. His succession plan is clear: Son Gamal tries to replicate Beijing's model of economic reform, forestalling political reform... “

- Thomas P. M. Barnett, Esquire columnist and author of “The Country to Watch: Egypt"

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sheikh Zayed Book Award

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award, one of the world’s most prestigious and well-funded prizes, to see whether we could post a call for nominations for the award’s 2009 session on your website.

Writers from across the world are invited to apply across all nine categories of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award – with AED 7 million (€1,282,868) in prize money available for the winners.

Two of the 2008 Sheikh Zayed Book Award winners, whose work was judged to have contributed to the Arab world’s cultural development, were based in Europe.

Ibrahim Al Kouni, who resides in Switzerland and spent his childhood in the desert in Western Libya, won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Literature prize for his novel A Call Not Too Far. Rifa’at Al Chadirji, who now lives in Britain, won the 2008 Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Fine Arts.

We would therefore like to encourage any writers whose work has contributed to the Arab world’s cultural development to nominate themselves before the October 15 2008 deadline.

One of the 2008 Sheikh Zayed Book Award winners, whose work was judged to have contributed to the Arab world’s cultural development, resides in Switzerland. Ibrahim Al Kouni won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Literature prize for his novel A Call Not Too Far.

The award, which was established under the umbrella of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and in memory of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, has been running for three years with nine categories open for nominations:

• Literature
• Children’s Literature
• Translation
• Young Author
• Fine Arts
• Publishing & Distribution
• Cultural Personality of the Year
• Development of the Country
• Best Technology in Culture

Winning authors from previous years have received considerable attention in the international media as well as coverage across the Arab world.

If you would like some more details on the application process for next year’s award, visit

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Last Pharoah Book video released

The Last Pharaoh’s Video Released -- Free Sneak Preview on Youtube….

Hollywood, California // Newswires-- In a Star-studded gala, award-winning and best- selling author Aladdin Elaasar celebrated the release of The Last Pharaoh video based on his latest book that tells the true story of Egypt’s Last Pharaoh, Mubarak. Utilizing the latest technology of I-pod and Smartphone, Palm Os, Symbian, Blackberry, Pocket-PC, Cybook, and Tablet PC’s, the story can be downloaded and enjoyed through Mobipocket, an Amazon company.

“This is the book that The Last Pharaoh and his gang do not want you to read and are trying to ban from circulation. This is the book that is a must read for every Western politician and decision maker, not to mention those who enjoy a true story. It should be under the pillow of Obama, McCain, Biden and Palin”, said Mike Donovan of Book Review.
Combining an uncanny sense of clarity and understatement, Aladdin Elaasar weaves Egypt’s historical grandeur with an unnerving cascade of political intrigue that reveal a side of Mubarak the world cannot long ignore. In one fell swoop, my admiration for Egypt is both strengthened, and the source of my unease revealed, as the author sheds light on the darkness of Egyptian politics that could one day turn catastrophic. With so much at stake, the West is slowly coming to grips with a new reality; a reality which no single book or author could possibly address. The story of The Last Pharaoh should be a must read for anyone hoping to understand Egypt’s role, not only the Middle East, but the potential for Mubarak’s Egypt to impact the destiny of global events.
The book (The Last Pharaoh) has been hailed in literary circles as a triumph of a new genre that combines the narrative of a thriller while based on historical facts and characters. "Peeling back layer after complex layer of Egyptian intrigue, culture and politics, Aladdin de-mystifies Egypt without tarnishing her almost mystical status as the pinnacle of Arabian culture, and the bedrock of human civilization. The book is stunning in its revelations of Mubarak’s stranglehold on every aspect of life in this glorious, long suffering nation. Connecting one mysterious dot to the next, Aladdin teases the reader from chapter to chapter as he lucidly explains the details of Egypt’s worst kept secrets of all…the ‘secret’ of Mubarak’s power and how he plans to rule from his own royal crypt, " said Professor Tate Miller, expert on International Negotiations; Conflict Management; Government Relations and Diplomacy; and Senior Lecturer at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
Award-winning and best selling author Aladdin Elaasar was born, raised and educated in Egypt, lecturer and is one of the foremost authorities on Egypt and the Arab World. Some of his writings are: “Iraq, the State & Terrorism” where he predicted the downfall of former Dictator Saddam Hussein. Elaasar also wrote: Silent Victims: The plight of Arabs and Muslims in Post 9/11 America. And The Last Pharaoh
Elaasar has been a frequent commentator on Middle Eastern affairs on several local American TV and Radio networks and media and cultural consultant since 1992.

Email him at:, or call Cell 224 388 1353 for interviews and book reviews.

For a free preview of The Last Pharaoh, please click here:

The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Mid East

Watch “The Last Pharaoh” on at this link:

Friday, August 29, 2008

Barbara Nimri Aziz's new book: Swimming up the Tigris: Real Life Encounters with Iraq

“Swimming Up the Tigris: Real Life Encounters with Iraq” by veteran anthropologist and journalist Barbara Nimri Aziz wins praise from all sides of the public spectrum.

Etel Adnan, poet, essayist, and artist writes: "It's so human. I loved the poems, the images, the anecdotes. They're heartbreaking. You want to hug these people. They will survive, and they will rebuild. We have to believe in that."

Scott Ritter, chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq (1991-1998) says of this unique perspective on Iraq: "Barbara Nimri Aziz has written a must-read book which puts a human face on an Iraqi people dehumanized by simplistic, misleading and inaccurate media accounts before, during and after America's illegitimate invasion and occupation of their homeland.
She also puts an inconvenient truth to the lies and misrepresentations often held as a fact by many Americans…, the awful impact of sanctions before the 2003 invasion, and the sophistication and depth of a thousands-year-old culture in the process of being destroyed."

Anthropologist Professor Laura Nader sees Aziz’s report on her many years observation of Iraq as “informative, empathetic, and eye-opening”. Nader writes “This gripping story about the embargo war on Iraqi peoples and culture is critical to understanding how American foreign policy erases history and the collective memory of both Iraqis and Americans”.

Aziz herself sees this account, stories and facts culled from her 42 trips to Iraq, as a portrait of a people who love their country. “If this concept, so lacking in war and conflict portrayals, can be grasped by Americans who too love their land,” she writes, “there is hope”.

This is a book which combines the analytical skills of a veteran anthropologist and the narrative ability of a journalist.

Returning from her Fulbright professorship in Algeria, Dr. Aziz will be touring the country, speaking at colleges and community centers. To set up an engagement, contact, or write directly to

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the uncertain future of Egypt in the Volatile MidEast

A new book predicts the end of the Mubarak and the coming political earthquake

Aladdin Elaasar

For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL - Award winning journalist, Aladdin Elaasar has just released his latest book: THE LAST PHARAOH: MUBARAK AND THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF EGYPT IN THE VOLATILE MID EAST, predicting the downfall of President Mubarak of Egypt and the aftermath of the collapse of his regime .
Packed with facts and telling the story of both modern and Ancient Egypt, how the modern Arab and Islamic Worlds evolved, and interviewing and quoting experts, politicians, journalists and Western diplomats, Elaasar tells a compelling story that needs to be read by every one. Combining an uncanny sense of clarity and understatement, Aladdin Elaasar weaves E gypt’s historical grandeur with an unnerving cascade of political intrigue that reveal a side of Mubarak the world cannot long ignore. In one fell swoop, my admiration for Egypt is both strengthened, and the source of my20unease revealed, as the author sheds light on the darkness of Egyptian politics that could one day turn catastrophic. With so much at stake, the west is slowly coming to grips with a new reality; a reality which no single book or author could possibly address. The Last Pharaoh should be indispensable to anyone hoping to understand Egypt’s role, not only the Middle East, but the potential for Mubarak’s Egypt to impact the destiny of global events.
"Peeling back layer after complex layer of Egyptian intrigue, culture and politics, Aladdin de-mystifies Egypt without tarnishing her almost mystical status as the pinnacle of Arabian culture, and the bedrock of human civilization. The book is stunning in its revelations of Mubarak’s stranglehold on every aspect of life in this glorious, long suffering nation. Connecting one mysterious dot to the next, Aladdin teases the reader from chapter to chapter as he lucidly explains the details of Egypt’s worst kept secrets of all…the ‘secret’ of Mubarak’s power and how he plans to rule from his own royal crypt, " says Professor Tate Miller, expert on International Negotiations; Conflict Management; Government Relations and Diplomac y; Cross-cultural Communication, and Senior Lecturer at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
“Egypt is the next domino to fall and, as they say, so goes Egypt so goes the Middle East...explaining why a pillar of American dominance in that part of the world is about to crumble.” Says Robert Baer, former Middle East-based CIA operative and author of See No Evil, and Sleeping with the Devil.
The 83 years old President Mubarak of Egypt has been in power since 1981 and was elected for six more years in 2005. Concerns about Mubarak’s health draw much greater attention to the question of who will next rule the nation of Egypt? Succession plan for Mubarak’s son Gamal is already in place.
Haunted by the memories of the overnight fall of the Shah of Iran to the Ayatollahs, U.S. policymakers fear a similar event in Egypt. Once thought to be a strong U.S. ally, the Shah, lost his grip over power to the zealous clergy sabotaging every effort for peace and stability in the region. Marcos and Suharto, two old dictators considered strong U.S. allies, as well, fell to the angry mobs in the Philippines and Indonesia. Bush's successor is likely to=2 0find himself (or herself) facing an unbelievably bad choice in the largest Arab country. Would America intervene militarily to preserve Gamal’s faltering rule? Is Africa where Al-Qaeda hides its money, guns, recruits, training camps—and its future? Africa would be the last gr eat stand in this Long War, where all those impossibly straight borders will inevitably be made squiggly again by globalization's cultural reformatting process. Now this fight heads south...and yes, the Long War could be even uglier there.
About the Author
Born, raised and educated in Egypt, lecturer and writer Aladdin Elaasar is one of the foremost authorities on Egypt and the Arab World. Some of his writings are: “Iraq, the State & Terrorism”; where he predicted the downfall of former Dictator Saddam Hussein. Elaasar also wrote “Silent Victims: the Plight of Arab & Muslim Americans in Post 9/11 America”, 2004. He has been a frequent commentator on Middle Eastern affairs on several local American TV and Radio networks since 1992.

For a free preview please click here:

New Book "Prophets and Princes" by Mark Weston released


Prophets and Princes – Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present By Mark Weston
Presents a new, post – 9/11 history of Saudi Arabia

New York, NY – Saudi Arabia is easy to criticize. It is the birthplace of Osama bin Laden and fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. Saudi women are not permitted to drive, work with men, or travel without a man’s permission. Prior to 9/11, the Saudis sent millions of dollars abroad to schools that taught Muslim extremism and to charities that turned out to be fronts for al-Qaeda. Yet the country is the economic and spiritual center of the Middle East, the source of one fourth of the world’s oil, and the cradle of Islam.

In PROPHETS AND PRINCES (Wiley, August 2008, $35.00), Mark Weston, a scholar who has lived in Saudi Arabia, writes that despite its serious shortcomings, the Saudi kingdom is still America’s most important ally in the Middle East. The country is a voice for moderation toward Israel and on the price of oil, and it is starting to make the economic and cultural changes necessary to adjust to modern realities.

Most books on Saudi Arabia focus on current events and give short shrift to the long history that is the key to understanding the Saudis. PROPHETS AND PRINCES begins with the birth of Muhammad in 570, but almost half of the book is a revealing portrait of Saudi Arabia today. Drawing on interviews with many Saudi men and women, Weston portrays a complex society in which sixty percent of Saudi Arabia’s university students are women, and citizens who seek a constitutional monarchy can petition the king without fear of reprisal.

PROPHETS AND PRINCES is loaded with new information about Saudi Arabia, painting a more complete picture of the country than other recent books on the topic do. For example:

· The Saudi government has stopped charities from doing any work abroad since 9/11, fired 1300 radical clerics and forbidden them to preach, and is completing the process of replacing over a million textbooks that had hostile references to Christians and Jews.

· The terror-filled spring of 2004, when Westerners were getting killed every few days, came to an abrupt end in June of that year when the Saudi police raided several terrorist hideouts after receiving tips from “disgusted neighbors.”

· 22 members of the bin Laden family were able to leave the U.S. in the days after 9/11 because the FBI had already thoroughly investigated the entire family, with their full cooperation, after the 1998 African embassy bombings.

· The outrage following the tragic girls’ school fire in Mecca in 2002, when fifteen girls were trampled to death as religious policemen prevented fire fighters from entering the school because the girls were not wearing the full veil, has led to a freer press and the transfer of the administration of the nation’s girls’ schools from religious authorities to the Ministry of Education.

Weston also brings to life the story of Muhammad, his successors, and origin of the Sunni-Shi’ite split in the 7th century; ibn Abdul Wahhab and the rise of Wahhabism in the 18th century; the discovery of oil in the kingdom in the 1930s, and the influence of the Egyptian writer Sayyid Qutb on al-Qaeda in 20th and 21st centuries.

Mark Weston, a former Visiting Scholar at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, has been a lawyer for ABC Television and a journalist for ABC News. His articles have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. He is the author of Giants of Japan, The Lives of Japan’s Greatest Men and Women and The Land and People of Pakistan.

Filled with new and underreported information about life in Saudi Arabia, PROPHETS AND PRINCES is a must-read for anyone interested in the Middle East, oil, Islam, or terrorism.

Friday, August 1, 2008

"If Olaya Street Could Talk" gives Americans a clear and fascinating perspective on Saudi Arabia

(Listen to podcast interview with author, below). Saudi Arabia is the whipping boy of the American public. Any time something goes wrong, blame it on the Arabs and the symbol of the Arabs remains an old, outdated video clip of King Faisal in old black sunglasses with a keffiyeh on his head and wearing long white gowns surrounded by similarly dressed sheikhs. King Faisal was a very dedicated Arab leader who did his best to bring the Arab World into the modern century without losing the cultural uniqueness of being an Arab. It continues today, but Americans only selfishly think of oil and blame their own troubles on everyone else, and Saudi Arabia often takes the beating.

But a new book is out that is perfect for American readers called "If Olaya Street Could Talk." It's written by an American, John Paul Jones, who launched one of the only real Arab American printing houses to focus on badly needed objective books about the Middle East, Taza Press at

Jones offers firsthand insights into the reality of Saudi Arabia and focuses on the Islamic-Western divide which is often exaggerated to achieve political agendas.

Olaya Street is the principle thoroughfare in Riyadh, which Jones notes is the equivalent to New York ity, a street he first saw in 1978 when he first arrived in the country. Back then, he remembers, it had goats grazing along its easements. But today, 60 story office buildings garnish the main arterial road. The cover photos alone show how the street changed from a desert highway with oil rigs and cranes to a bustling cosmopolitan city that Jones guides the reader through, offering a real, firsthand look at the Saudi people, their customs and their religion, Islam, a religion of peace.

Jones does what most other Islamic scholars and activists fail to do, separate the political agendas and their selfish needs from the reality of life, when the Vietnam Veteran returned home to find a possible opportunity working for a company in the desert kingdom.

What he brings back thirty years later is an objectivity and a truth that no one who has covered Saudi Arabia and the Arab and Muslim Worlds has ever managed to give the American public. An unvarnished, accurate look at the reality of life there without worrying about the political agendas that transform lies into truth and truth into propaganda.

"If Olaya Street Could Talk" is a book Americans definitely should invest what little money they have left from their salaries that isn't spent on gasoline and other products exploited by multi-national corporations and balmed on the Arabs.
Author John Paul Jones
Albuqurque, New Mexico
2007, 236 Pages

PODCAST INTERVIEW: POINT TO POINT. August 1, 2008: Ray Hanania interviews Author John Paul Jones on his new book "If Olaya Street Could Talk: Saudi Arabia the Heartland of Oil and Islam" published by Taza Press. A detailed look at the Saudi world through the eyes of a typical American. Listen to podcast?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda's most recent book

Pope Shenouda has several books out worth reading. One of the mostr recent is "Have You Seen the One I love." Here is the book's web page.

Here is the Pope's biography from his web page:

Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria is the 117th Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Coptic Orthodox Church. He has served as Pope of Alexandria since November 14, 1971, presiding over a worldwide expansion of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

A graduate of Cairo University and the Coptic Orthodox Seminary, Nazeer Gayed joined the Syrian Monastery of the Ever-Virgin Mary the Theotokos and became a monk under the name Fr. Antonios the Syrian, later to be elevated to the priesthood. In time, Pope Cyril VI summoned Fr. Antonios to the patriarchate where he ordained him Bishop of Christian Education and Dean of the Coptic OrthodoxTheological University, whereupon he assumed the name Shenouda. On November 14, 1971, His Holiness was chosen to be the 116th successor of St. Mark the Evangelist.

During his papacy, Pope Shenouda III has appointed the first-ever Bishops to preside over North American dioceses, as well as the first Bishops in Australia, France, England, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and the first Coptic Churches in South America. He is known for his commitment to Christian unity and has, since the 1970s, advocated inter-denominational Christian dialogue.

In 1973, Pope Shenouda III became the first Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria to meet with the Pope of Rome in over 1500 years. In this visit, Popes Shenouda III and Pope Paul VI signed a common declaration on the issue of Christology and agreed to further discussions on Christian unity. He has also had dialogues with various Protestant churches worldwide.

Pope Shenouda III is well known for his deep commitment to Christian unity. In an address he gave at an ecumenical forum during the International Week of Prayer in 1974, he declared, "The whole Christian world is anxious to see the church unite. Christian people, being fed up with divisions, are pushing their church leaders to do something about church unity and I am sure that the Holy Spirit is inspiring us." His Holiness is one of the Presidents of the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches and pursues Christian Unity worldwide.

In the year 2000, His Holiness was awarded the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence by UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura on the recommendation of an international jury.

In August, 2007, Pope Shenouda III received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the University of Lawrence in Michigan, USA for his efforts in spreading the values of peace, human love and tolerance in the world. This is the eighth Honorary Doctorate which His Holiness has received in his life. The Letter from the Institute declares that Pope Shenouda is a "man of peace who works in his utmost efforts to maintain more understanding between the Middle Eastern people, regardless their religions or nationalities". The letter continues by saying that His Holiness "shows us the way of reconciliation in that region which is torn apart by wars".

A prolific author, His Holiness has authored over 100 books in Arabic, English, French, Spanish, and German. His Holiness offers a unique ability to speak to the multitudes, drawing on over thirty years in the pontifical See of St Mark. Moreover, he draws on the entire Bible as a vehicle to bring the reader to a better understanding of their spiritual life.

The solitude of the barren desert provided His Holiness with the strength necessary meditate on the Holy Scriptures and solidify his union with the Lord. It is from these years of monasticism in the Egyptian desert of Saints Antony, Macarious and Pachomius that His Holiness emerges and radiates experience in love and union with our Lord. Since becoming Pope in 1971, His Holiness delivers weekly addresses at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, defending the faith in this overwhelmingly Muslim society, promoting love and peace.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Holy Land Lost By Raja Shehadah, Reviewed by AAI President Jim Zogby

Holy Land Lost

by James Zogby

Al-Ahram Weekly , On-line Issue No 905: 10-16 July 2008

"Raja Shehadeh's Palestinian Walks provides a rare historical insight into the tragic changes taking place in Palestine." - Jimmy Carter

The very words "Holy Land" evoke powerful imagery. But the scenes that come
to mind are rapidly disappearing from the landscape.

The occupation of the West Bank -- a military and political reality that dominates the lives of Palestinians -- has become concretised: with massive housing projects connected by ribbons of highways; a wall and barbed wire barrier winding its way from north to south, cutting through villages, encapsulating others; and hundreds of checkpoints -- all overtaking and transforming the once open terrain.

Raja Shehadeh has described all this in vivid detail in his most recent book, Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape. A hiker from a young age, Shehadeh tells his story in a novel way. Detailing six walks he has taken in and around his home in Ramallah during the last 30 years, he invites his readers to witness the transformations that have occurred, that increasingly circumscribed his movements and marred his beloved land.

In his early years, Shehadeh set out roaming the hillsides to discover the life his parents and grandparents lived. The hills of the West Bank, once described by Western travellers as desolate and barren, come to life in Shehadeh's narrative.

Dry one season, yes, but in the spring they were covered with flowers and new life. Conforming to this rough environment, generations of Palestinian farmers adapted their lives to the seasons and mastered these hills, naming every spring, wadi (valley) and cliff, and cultivating olives, grapes and family plots. It was the world they knew and the land they loved.

As they defined the land, it, too, defined them, shaping Palestinian culture and social relations for generations.

This is what Shehadeh saw, in the beginning. The cycle of life, at one with its environment, that had existed for millennia. It was the Holy Land we know from picture postcards, lithographs and biblical stories. But it is being lost, and this is a tragedy -- not only for the Palestinians, though
especially for them.

"The biography of these hills is in many ways my own, the victories and failures of the struggle to save this land also mine. But the persistent pain at the failure of that struggle would in time be shared by Arabs, Jews, and lovers of nature anywhere in the world. All would grieve, as I have, at the continuing destruction of an exquisitely beautiful place."

As the book progresses, the landscape changes; marked by the ever-increasing intrusions of the occupation. Walks became more difficult and, in some cases, fraught with danger.

"The other day I had to plead with a soldier to be allowed to return home. I told him that I really did not know a curfew had been imposed on Ramallah. I was away all day and hadn't listened to the news. 'I'm tired,' I said, 'please let me through.' Oh, the humiliation of pleading with a stranger for something so basic."

"How unaware many trekkers around the world are of what a luxury it is to be able to walk in the land they love without anger, fear or insecurity, just to be able to walk without political arguments... without the fear of losing what they've come to love, without the anxiety that they will be deprived of the right to enjoy it."

As settlements grew (there are now almost half a million Israelis living in settlements in these occupied lands), not only did Palestinians lose ancestral lands and agricultural areas, they also lost freedom of movement, their way of life, and their hope for the future.

"The [settlement] master plan viewed our presence here as a constraint and was aimed at preventing 'undesirable development'. By creating new human settlements where none existed, connecting them with roads and isolating existing ones, it would not only strangle our communities but also destroy this beautiful land, and in a matter of a few years change what had been preserved for centuries."

Jerusalem, too, was impacted. At first, cut off from the rest of the West Bank by a ring of settlements and a maze of highways, and now by a meandering and oppressive wall, the heart has been excised from the rest Palestine. Both the city itself and its once surrounding communities have suffered. The impact has been economic, social, cultural and psychological.

"As we descended towards East Jerusalem... I realised that the beautiful Dome of the Rock was no longer visible. It was concealed by new construction. This was by design. Not only had Israeli city planners obstructed the view of this familiar landmark, they had also constructed a wide highway along the periphery of Arab East Jerusalem, restricting its growth and separating it from the rest of the city. Highways are more effective barriers than walls in keeping neighbourhoods apart. Walls can always be demolished. But once built, roads become a cruel reality that is more difficult to change. No visitor would now sigh, let alone fall on his knees as many a conqueror and pilgrim in the past had done, upon beholding the Old City nestled in the hills. Now contorted, full of obstructions, walls and ugly blocks, it is a tortured city that has lost its soul."

There is much more to Palestinian Walks. Woven through the narrative are stories of the author's family and accounts of legal challenges to land confiscations (Shehadeh is a noted human rights lawyer).

This is not an explicitly political book filled with diatribes and prescriptions. Nor is it a hopeful book. Shehadeh has written about a land fighting against time. "As our Palestinian world shrinks, that of the Israelis expands, with more settlements being built, destroying forever the wadis and cliffs, flattening hills, and transforming the precious land that many Palestinians will never know."

This book is real, and it is disturbing, and deserves to be read by everyone who calls that land Holy.

The writer is president of the Arab American Institute.

Web link

“Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Disappearing Landscape”
Raja Shehahdeh
Publisher: Scribner
Published: 3 June 2008

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chicago writer/publisher releases new book on Poetry

Inspired by Carl Sandburg, Studs Terkel and Nelson Algren, Chicagoan Sam Kuraishi was moved into writing and poetry.

His new book "Alone Under the Prairie Moon" is a collection of poems reflecting his experiences traveling through the prairies of Illinois and the Midwest.

The book is a fun and easy read. It can be inspiring, too. Many Arab Americans and Middle Eastern writers turn towards poetry as the favored form of writing style. Kuraishi, a longtime former magazine publisher in Chicago and writer, has much experience that he shares in a simplistic yet moving style.

Published by Metra Press, Chicago. For more informatio or to order the book, go to

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New book challenges Arabs and Muslims to defeat extremism to win a Palestinian State

New book challenges Arabs and Muslims to defeat extremism to win a Palestinian State

Chicago -- Palestinians need to overcome the growing movement of secular and religious extremists in their own community before they can be strong enough to overcome the challenges from Israel and create their own independent Palestinian State, says award winning journalist Ray Hanania in a new book "The Catastrophe: The One-State Solution is the No-State Solution. How Palestinians can stand up to the extremistsand create a Palestinian State."

Hanania, whose writings "define the moderate Arab voice," has been a outspoken critic of extremism in the Arab and Muslim community.

Consistently denouncing violence on both sides, Hanania argues in his book that Israelis and Palestinians each face an uncertain future as the extremist secular left partners with the fanatic religious right to use violence prevent peace based on compromise, to advance the so-called "One-State Solution," and to exploit Palestinian suffering as a means of preventing them from the only viable option for statehood, the creation of a Palestinian State in the context of a Two-State Solution.

"We are watching as Palestine is being erased not just from the maps but from reality as Israel's government exploits the failures of our leadership and the uncontrolled emotions of our people," Hanania argues.

"Palestinians are being held hostage by these extremists and fanatics on the left and the right who reject any compromise and who live in a dream of the past that has become our nightmare. To save our people, we must reject the rejectionists, embrace compromise and recognize the reality of our situation in the hopes of someday rebuilding a dream that is the cornerstone of justice."

In the book, Hanania also argues that Palestinians must regain the principled moral stand and cannot succumb to the emotions of their failures over the past 60 years of Israel's existence, writing:

"Being honest about one's mistakes -- and failures -- and acknowledging the reality of history, rather than its myths, is a crucial step towards lifting oneself out of defeat. You cannot make something "better" if you do not honestly acknowledge that things are "bad" or you attempt to do so from a "bad" position. Only those who are "better" can make a situation better. Improve it. Correct it. Bring it back to the moral center.

"But just being 'better,' as a relative statement, is not good enough. You are either pregnant or you are not pregnant. There is no in-between. The road to pregnancy is pregnancy. The road to peace is peace. Either Palestinians have a state or they don't have a state. You either support peace or you don't support peace. Those who use violence to achieve 'peace' are not seeking peace at all. The use of violence is in and of itself a rejection of peace. Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims must answer this important issue correctly. We must clean our own house first before we can insist on cleaning out the houses of others, our 'enemies.' We cannot demand justice from others when we deny justice to others in our actions, in our arguments in our beliefs. Doing so is to deny justice to ourselves."

The book is available directly from the author through his web site at

"The Catastrophe"
238 Pages, softcover 7 x 9 trade
Ray Hanania Enterprises
PO Box 2127
Orland Park, IL., 60462

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History by WTTW Channel 11 and G. Bradley Publishing

The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History is a phenomenal book that examines the various ethnic and food servings found in Chicagoland. It was produced in conjunction with the WTTW Channel 11 (Public Television) program hosted by Geoff Baer called "The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History" which aired recently in Chicago.

The 152 page book with high resolution color photos of each food serving and the food makers (from a wide range of ethnic groups that include Palestinian and Arab foods) is a high quality production available for about $35. You can get information on purchasing the book at

Foods covered include Arab/Palestinian, African American, Chinese, Cuban, Lithuanian, Greek, Irish, Italian, Polish, Native American, Jewish, Lebanese, Mexican, Puerot Rican, Swedish, South Asian and Polish. Each recipe features a detailed full color photograph, a recipe and, more importantly, the book puts each recipe into a cultural context with profiles of the many families and individuals who prepared the foods for the book. Three Arab families are included int he book from Chicagoland.

The compelling stories are edited and written by Diane Gannon, Gloria Baracks, Mark Weinstein, Liz Roy, with photography by Katherine Bish. Excellent.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New poetry book released

W.W. Norton & Co announces the release the much anticipated:
"Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, & Beyond"

Edited by Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal and Ravi Shankar
Foreword by Carolyn Forché.

Come celebrate with us on Friday, April 25th, 2008, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
at The Rubin Museum, New York City

Rubin Museum of Art · 150 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011 · 212.620.5000

Other Readings this Month in NYC:
May 1 Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond
When: Thursday, May 1Where: Segal Theater, CUNY Graduate Center: 365 Fifth Ave. What time: 1–2:30 p.m. With Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal, Ravi Shankar, and special guest poets Free and open to the public. No reservations.


Look out for readings nationally and internationally…

Buy your copy now and spread the word:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"The Transparent Cable" by author Stephen J. Sniegoski

What a phenomenal book and exercise in understanding the challenges of today's Middle East. "The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East and the National Interest of Israel" by author Stephen J. Sniegoski is must read to understand the pernicious policies of Western World corruption that have inffected the Middle East and Islamic world and brought injustice and unDemocratic rule.

It has a powerful forward by former Congressman Paul Findley, one of the most brilliant minds on American foreign policy, a victim of the vicious slander of the extremist right and pro-Israeli fanatics who have placed Israel's interests way above principle, the rule of law, morality and justice for both Arabs and Israelis.

The book will be published June 15, 2008. It attempts and can help invigorate the lack of national discussion and debate on the war crimes of President George W. Bush -- that one day will, hopefully, be prosecuted -- and on the failed policies of the US invasion of Iraq and how Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld help create a training ground and expanded presence for al-Qaeda terrorism in the Middle East that plague us till this day far worse than the terrorist crimes of Sept. 11, 2001.

For too many years, Americans were prohibited from having this debate, accused of being unpatriotic by neocons and American extremists who never even served in the military themselves. hypocrits who exploited American fears to undermine the American Constitution and deny civil rights to people based on race and religion and national origin. These policies erode the fundamental strength of the vision of a genuine American democracy and set the stage for the nation's destruction.

With new leadership, an open and honest national debate and discussion, and Sniegoski's book, this could all change for the better and terrorism may one day be wiped clean from humanity.


"The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" by author Noah Feldman

Noah Feldman's book "The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" conveys many of the common stereotypes and political assertions that have undermined justice in the Middle East, Arab World and Islamic World. Althoug it offers some deep thought, it is consumed by common stereotypes: for example in Iran, the author argues that Islamicists merged Islamic law with political government, but really doesn't put the blame where it belongs, on the corruption of American and Western foreign policy which helped create confrontation pushing Muslims into a corner in the world that they have learned to dominate and use as a base for expansion.

Iran was governed by one of the most brutal secular tyrants in the world, the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi. He was a murderer worse than Saddam Hussein or even Hitler and yet he had the bacing and support of the American government for years as he oppressed his people. When the people of Iran rose to force the Shah out of office -- fighting against the Shah and his American supporters -- the natural reaction was to turn to an extremist Islamic code of justice to compensate for the American corruption that the Shah represented.

Of course, the author does not address the role of Israel, another instance where Western powers sought to impose political situations on the Middle East only to have created a situation where Christians and Muslims were plagued with Western-style injustice. The response, again, has been an extremist rise of anger against Israel and the West, pushing the two sides to extremist ends.

Never criticism of Israel, of course or its role in pushing the Islamicists to the extreme.

If you strip away the politics and perceptions -- which is difficult -- Feldman does try to offer an analysis of today's Islamic world challenges in today's context. His historical narrative is very accurate in many instances. But the bottom line is that no one can expect the Islamic World to embrace legal reform and the rule of law when it is not practiced in other parts of the Middle East, especially in Israel and in Iraq, which is today an American occupied wasteland and killing field.

The real challenge is to address the hypocrisies of the Western World as it applies to Islam and how the failings of the Western World have made it almost impossible to establish true Democracy in those Islamic countries.

The best answer to the Islamic challenge is to practice what you preach and set an example, rather than explaining how the Islamic World has failed to evolve to meet our, Western, expectations.

A great read, despite some need to reinforce missing aspects of the story.


Inclined to Speak: a collection of Arab poetry

"Inclined to Speak" offers a broad array of poetry from some of Arab America's best modern poets. The book is edited by Hayan Charara and includes many of the well known poets in the community who write often and are found throughout the Arab American community. The poetry addresses everything from love to politics and begins with a very lengthy introduction by Charara on the state of Arab American poetry today.

This will reach many Arab Americans but Arab American poetry hasn't yet broken through to mainstream Americans -- some, but not enough.


Monday, April 7, 2008

PRESS RELEASE: Gabriel Tabarani's "Israeli-Palestinian Conflict"

Author House, an Indiana, USA based publishing house confirmed today the release of a new book titled: "Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: From Balfour Promise to Bush Declaration - The Complications and The Road for a Lasting Peace"

The author, Gabriel Tabarani, is a very well known and respected specialist on Middle East affairs. He has been involved in journalism in Beirut and London as a reporter, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief for over 25 years. He has already authored two books: "The Tears of the Horizon" a romantic novel, as well as "The Winter of Discontent in The Gulf" (1991) about the first Gulf War when Saddam Hussein took over Kuwait.

"My goal with this book is to provide a fair and balanced view on a very important, sensitive and long running conflict," says Mr. Tabarani. Experts agree that the book is a fair and balanced piece, which makes it very rare in its kind.

Mr. Tabarani takes us on a trip back through the history of the Middle East reaching back into Biblical times. He discusses in detail the origins of both Zionism and the Palestinians as well as from which Biblical and historical sources the Jewish and the Palestinians factions base their claims to the former British mandate of Palestine.

The book develops and explains the substantial body of history required for meaningful understanding of the current troubles, it covers in detail the wars, conflicts and compromises, as well as their impacts and consequences on the Palestinian and the Jewish peoples, including the 1948 war, the Suez war in 1956, the Six-Day War in 1967, the 1973 War, the Lebanese Wars, and most recently the two Palestinian "Intifadas" (uprising)…

Furthermore, he argues and discusses in detail the issue of both Palestinian and Jewish refugees in addition to the political effects of those wars on the peace process.

Moreover, Tabarani speaks in detail about the obstacles to a lasting peace, taking into consideration international involvement of various parties, including USA, EU, Russia and Iran. In addition, he discusses the economical and political viability of a Palestinian state in the West bank and in the Gaza Strip.

In his conclusion Tabarani comes to recommendations as to how to broker a stable peace in the Middle East. It is groundbreaking for a book to provide such a detailed course of action that can help all parties involve to reach a lasting peace.

This book (450 Pages) can be found and bought by Internet on, or, or or or, or… The Internet selling price (from authorhouse) is 22.99US$ plus the shipment costs. From Amazon, other Internet sellers and in stores the price is 24.99US$. The book can be found too at Ingram Book Group and its affiliates and other distributors in USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and around the world.

For more information you can contact:
Lisa Metcalf
Author Services Representative
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403, USA
Tel: 1-888-519-5121 Extension: 5407
Fax: 1-812-349 0807

Thursday, April 3, 2008

PRESS RELEASE: "Once Upon a Time in Iraq"

=====================FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE===================
March 27, 2008For more information, contact:Basil Balian, phone: 513-236-0260E-mail:
New Book Details Life in a once Peaceful and Progressive Iraq

CINCINNATI—Imagine an Iraq where people of different religions and ethnicity lived in harmony and peace, where children could grow up and be educated, where businesses both large and small thrived, and the basic necessities of life were within nearly everyone’s reach. Imagine a progressing, economically vibrant Iraq on its way to becoming a vital and functioning developed country. A new book, "Once Upon a Time in Iraq", by Basil Balian, offers such a view.Balian, an ex-Iraqi and resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, memorializes his growing-up years in Iraq in this book. "Once Upon a Time in Iraq" provides American readers with a glimpse of a pre-Saddam Hussein Iraq in which ordinary life was possible. Described by one early reviewer as "informative, humorous, insightful and humanizing of the Iraqis," _Once Upon a Time in Iraq_ provides the reader with a vision of Iraq they’ve never seen before, a place of growth and progress but also traditions and customs, a place of human comedy as well as tragedy.>From his early childhood spent among the Kurds in Khanaqin, near the Iranian border, as the son of a British Petroleum Company executive, to his adolescent and young adult years in Baghdad and as a student at the American Jesuit high school, Baghdad College, Balian treats readers to personal stories in a place that’s become known only as a place where devastating explosions are a daily occurrence and American soldiers go to die. Balian’s motivation for writing the book, he says, "came from friends and acquaintances who seemed interested in what I had to say about the Iraqis after our involvement in Iraq. They thought what I had to say needed telling." He continues, "Iraq was going through relatively normal times during the decades that I write about. Iraq was pro-West at this time. There was an underlying strong nationalistic sentiment among the middle class and educated masses to be independent but the main outside influence was a western influence. Indications are that history is about to repeat itself. Maybe there are lessons to be learned this time." "I believe the failure of the West in the past was that they did not take enough time to understand the Iraqi culture. I hope it will be different this time, and I hope this book will be helpful," he adds.The 250-page book is available only from as an e-book for $6.50 or $16.50 for a paperback copy. To view a preview of the book, go to the website and type "Balian" in the Search button.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Who Speaks for Islam by authors John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed

Who Speaks for Islam by authors John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed (Gallup Press, 2008) is Gallup's largest study of Muslim populations worldwide and challenges the conventional wisdoms and the inevitability of a global conflict as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue. Gallup's authors argue that the world still does not fully understand Islam and Muslims, arguing that Islam and Muslims are misunderstood. The authors seek to put the Muslim people in perspective.

The book is based on six years of research and more than 50,000 interviews representing 1.3 billion Muslims who reside in more than 35 nations. The authors compiled the polling data in one of the largest polls ever conducted. And no organization better conducts polls than the Gallup Organization.

Gallup Press,

Young Jesus by author Jean-Pierre Isbouts

Jean-Pierre Isbouts book "Young Jesus: Restoring the Lost Years of a Social Activist and Religious Dissident" may well offer the closest retelling of the world's most famous biography, Jesus Christ. Isbouts, the author of the National Geographic's "The Biblical World," puts the life of Jesus in the context of the times in which he lived, based on extensive research.

The book was also mad einto a TV movie "Young Jesus: An Interfaith Perspective" which brings together the Jewish, Christian and Muslim context of historical Jesus, focusing on his childhood and adolescence.

Published by Sterling Publishing, New York, 2008,

On the Hills of God by author Ibrahim Fawal

Author Ibrahim Fawal's novel "On the Hills of God" (Black Belt Press, 1998) is one of my favorite books, one of the few great Palestinian novels in English that tells the story of the Palestinian experience in English and more importantly, compelling. The story is about Yousif, a Palestinian in 1947 Palestine who falls in love for the first time, with a young Palestinian girl and with Palestine itself.

Fawal was born in Ramallah, Palestine, and graduated with a Masters degree from UCLA in Film. He worked as the "Jordanian" assistant director on the classic film "Lawrence of Arabia."

Get more information at

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People by Jack A. Shaheen

Author Jack Shaheen has been studying the impact of Hollywood on ethnicity and race for decades and his latest softcover book, "Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People" by Olive Branch Press is a comprehensive examination of the incidents of that impact. It is a Roger Ebert volume of every movie and film ever made and a short description of the films themselves, describing the impact, positive or negative, on the actuality of the Arab image. This huge collection of 574 pages covers every film from A to Z in essential detail with a powerful introduction.

Every Arab American understands the hate inspired against their culture from Hollywood films, some unintentionally and others by such notorious Arab haters as Canon Films (Golan-Globus) which is given a separate chapter entry, have vilified a people in the most vicious form of hate that in most countries is today a violation of existing laws. But hatred of Arabs is tolerated and is an industry in Hollywood, where hate is a common commodity. Films by notorious anti-Arab haters as Chuck Norris distort the reality that Americans have never had a chance to know the truth about the Arab World. The feeding of that vicious stereotype by Hollywood producers bent on political and selfish motives has perpetrated ignorance and misunderstanding that in many ways has laid the foundation for today's conflict, violence and terrorism.

Buy it from

The Arab American Experience in the United States and Canada, edited by Michael W. Suleiman

Michael Suleiman has been for years carefully documenting the Arab experience, among only a handful of Arab American authors who have published books on the history of the Arab experience in America. This book, "The Arab-American Experience in the United States and Canada" (published in April 2006 but still very notable today) attempts to bring together the most comprehensive collection of notations and citations of every article, essay, dissertation, magazines, Arab American newspapers, academic journals, in English and Arabic, and the few published books that share that unique experience.

So much has been written (only a very few books, however) and Suleiman does a tremendous service to bring it together in a powerful collection of every aspect of Arab American life.

This is a researcher's dream and reflects the dream of a researcher who has spent 25 years examining this until-now collected experience. Bibliography entries include author name, date, title, pages, publisher, location and a brief description.

As a young researcher myself, I recall having hand-written 500 index cards with similar notations and comments that filled two small boxes.

Published by Pierian Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting, Edited by Nicholas Tromans

Tate Publishing has published a phenomenal book of photographs and essays titled "The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting (1830-1925)" to coincide with the equally phenomenal displays of the same name at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut (ongoing through April 27) that also features during the same time a second display, "Pearls to Pyramids: British Visual Culture and the Levant (1600-1830)."

"The Lure of the East" features approximately 90 paintings displays encounters between British artists and the Arab World, sponsored by the Sharjah Art Museum, UAE, the Pera Museum in Istanbul, the British Council and organized by Tate Britain. "Pearls to pyramids" features nearly 90 pieces of art depicting the history of British cultural interchange with the Middle East through trade, toruism archeological exploration, and military interests. The collection is phenomenal.

If you love the history of the Middle East and especially the Arab World, you will love the reprints of oil paintings and art in this softcover booklet from portraits of Arabs in full regale of the period to harems, Mosques, buisness rooms covered in carpets, Col. T.E. Lawrence, panoramic views of cities like Cairo, and gatherings of nomads on Camel back, and reflecting the lure of once pristine Palestine and the Holy Land which is today consumed in hate-driven conflict. The paintings offer a glimpse into the past, into history forgotten by today's headlines featuring the works of artists from the period including William Holman Hunt, John Frederick Lewis, Joshua Reynolds, David Roberts and Stanley Spencer.

The collection of some 90 paintings are accopanied by essays authored by Rana Kabbani, Fatema Mernissi, Christine Riding and Emily M. Weeks.

The web site for the Center is:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Howling in Mesopotamia" by Author Haidar Ala Hamoudi

"Howling in Mseopotamia" is about the return of Iraqi American Haidar Ala Hamoudi to his native homeland of Iraq following the toppling of the oppressive regime of dictator Sadam Hussein. Although he returned with hope, he was consumed with fears and concerns for his life. He grew up in America, in Ohio's large Iraqi-American community, and immigrated to Baghdad in 2003. Published by Beaufoort Books in New York (2008), Hamoudi offers an insight into the tragedy and transformation of Iraq that few others can provide with such intimacy and firsthand knowledge. Iraq isn't just a news story to Hamoudi. It is his life. Excellent, easy read.

"Arab on Radar" by Author Angele Ellis

Angele Ellis has written a fascinating book of poetry on Arabs in America called "Arab on Radar" (Six Gallery Press, 2008). The title poem and five other poems appeared in MIZNA, the leading Arab American writing journal and has been favorably reviewed by RAWI ( The book of poetry helps readers understand the challenges that Arabs are facing in today's post-Sept. 11, 2001 world. We encourage you to check it out.

The Art of Column Writing: Author Suzette Martinez Standring

The Art of Column Writing (Marion Street Press, 2008) is an excellent collection of essays from some of the nation's best columnists, sharing their insights into a specialized craft of opinion writing and commentary. It's not something anyone can do or that every journalist can achieve with success. Standring brings in two dozen of the country's best writers to share their thoughts on column writing in general, or specialized writing.

We highly recommend this book.