Monday, December 21, 2009

It's Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street; A Jerusalem Memoir

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It’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street:
A Jerusalem Memoir
by Emma Williams

 “This book must be one of the most honest accounts of those terrible years. It's proportionate, subtle and comprehensive… biased towards nobody but the voices of moderation and hope.” —The Guardian
 “This intelligent, incisive account…and Williams’ cool analysis of the humanity and hypocrisy at the heart of the Israeli/Palestinian fighting is striking.” —The Times
 “A reader only vaguely aware of the reality behind the headlines will find much that is observant and saddening in her vivid portrait of this tribal dispute.”—The Independent
“…notable for the depth of observation and insight and for the vividness of the descriptions of particular events and people… a moving and beautifully written book...  It will certainly help outsiders to better understand both sides and their struggle.”—Brian Urquhart, New York Review of Books

In August 2000, Emma Williams arrived with her three small children in Jerusalem to join her husband and to work as a doctor. A month later, the second Palestinian Intifada erupted. For the next three years, she was to witness an astonishing series of events in which hundreds of thousands of lives, including her own, were turned upside down.
Williams lived on the very border of East and West Jerusalem, working with Palestinians in Ramallah during the day and spending evenings with Israelis in Tel Aviv. Weaving personal stories and conversations with friends and colleagues into the long and fraught political background, Williams’s powerful memoir brings to life the realities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She vividly recalls giving birth to her fourth child during the siege of Bethlehem, and her horror when a suicide bomber blew his own head into the schoolyard where her children played each day.
Understanding in her judgment, yet unsparing in her honesty, Williams exposes the humanity, as well as the hypocrisy, of both sides. Anyone wanting to understand this complex and seemingly intractable dispute will find her unique account a refreshing and illuminating read.
Emma Williams studied history at Oxford, and medicine at London University. She has worked as a doctor in Britain, Pakistan, Afghanistan, New York, South Africa, and Jerusalem. She wrote for several newspapers and magazines about Palestinian-Israeli affairs and was a correspondent for the Spectator from 2000–2003. She now lives in New York.

It’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street: A Jerusalem Memoir
by Emma Williams
Olive Branch Press, an imprint of Interlink Publishing Group, Inc.
Memoir/Middle East 6” x 9” 448 pages • maps  
ISBN 978-1-56656-789-3 • paperback • $16.00

Praise for the British Edition of
It’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street:
A Jerusalem Memoir
by Emma Williams

One of three books ‘You Really Must Read.’  Our choice of the best recent books... Williams is an excellent recorder of dialogue on both sides of the political divide. Her purpose is to illuminate the plight of each community… It makes grim reading, but it is all true.” —Sunday Times
“Notable for the depth of observation and insight and for the vividness of the descriptions of particular events and people…  Emma Williams’s affection and feeling for those people and her doctor’s dedication to healing has caused her to produce a moving and beautifully written book which I hope will find a US publisher soon.  It will certainly help outsiders to better understand both sides and their struggle.”Brian Urquhart, New York Review of Books
Brilliant and moving... one of the best of recent books about Israel and Palestine… [U]nusual mixture of memoir and journalism, [Williams’] experience … will be welcomed by anyone who wants to understand the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…, Williams’s own voice seeks truth, moderation and dialogue.”—New Statesman
“…brilliant memoir…she succeeds like few others in her ability to view the situation through the eyes of Jew and Arab… sensitive, compassionate and superbly written.  …more illuminating and instructive than many a pundit’s tome.”—Theo Richmond, The Spectator
Superb memoir… If Williams is as fine a physician as she is a memoirist, I would entrust my own innards to her any day of the week. Splendidly crafted and passionately engaged, this is the most artistically delectable way of boning up on the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle that one could wish for.” —Terry Eagleton, Times Literary Supplement
“I recommend Emma Williams’s expatriate memoir of Jerusalem in the second intifada as an initial exposure to the dispiriting reality behind the propaganda, theirs and ours… an engrossing exploration of what that means.” —Eric Silver, The Jewish Chronicle
“One of the most honest accounts of those terrible years. It's proportionate, subtle and comprehensive… biased towards nobody but the voices of moderation and hope.”—The Guardian
“A clever book, in the best sense of the word… a valuable, highly readable contribution.”—The Australian
“Many books have been written about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… What makes Emma Williams’ memoir unique is the honesty of her observations on ordinary life: what it is like to live with occupation and suicide bombers…The beauty of this book is that, as the author’s political awareness grows, so does that of the reader.  She explains the conflict in simple terms, without getting bogged down by the tedious chronology that weighs down other Jerusalem memoirs…I plan on giving this book to people who ask me: ‘what is going on over there?’  Williams answers that question, and so much more.”—Daily Telegraph
“This intelligent, incisive account…and her cool analysis of the humanity and hypocrisy at the heart of the Israeli/Palestinian fighting is striking.” —The Times
Compelling… extraordinary and insightful account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”—Harpers Bazaar
“On one level, it is a personal memoir… On another level, it strikes in a more profound way, keeping at front and centre the people afflicted by the conflict and making tangible the fear to which many are condemned.”—Financial Times
“A careful and accessible explanation of the background to ‘the situation’…Williams manages to be scrupulously even-handed about one of the most contentious situations in the world.” —The Scotsman

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ordinary Lives by Rania Matar

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Lebanese Photographer Rania Matar takes us through the tragedy of the Palestinians in Lebanon and the tragedy of Lebanon itself in a array of brilliant black and white photographs. The gallery of images are offered with only a very brief explanation of context, very general context devoid of the political narratives that so often cloud conflict and tragedy. The reader is left to appreciate the message of the images themselves, the faces of the subjects from young to old. With some poetry and writings from Palestinian Lisa Suhair Majaj, the book features, at the end, a moving and compelling essay by Pulitzer Prize winning Lebanese American journalist Anthony Shadid.

In an interesting format, at the end of the collection, Matar offers details and thumbnails of the photographs at the end of the book allowing you to appreciate the images and later learn about those that might strike you with impression.

It's a beautiful presentation of tragedy and hope.

For more information, visit
Distributed by W.W. Norton & Company

Fatal Embrace by author Mark Braverman

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Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land
By Mark Braverman

This is a fascinating perspective on the Middle East conflict by a Jewish American author with much experience in the Middle East. Braverman has the courage to argue that it is not anti-Semitism to criticize Israel nor is it anti-Semitism to defend the rights of the Palestinian people.

Braverman articulates his perspective eloquently and in an easy-to-read writing style. Although he suggests support for the "one state" agenda, which supporters argue is the only just solution and many moderates view as the longterm imprisonment of Palestinians in an occupation-apartheid purgatory, his book addresses American Christians to break free from their limited understanding of the Middle East conflict and see past the propaganda to understand the truth of Palestinian justice.

I enjoyed reading it although I may disagree with some of the notions offered. It certainly engages your understanding or the lack of understanding of this very complex conflict.

-- Ray Hanania

Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land
By Mark Braverman
Synergy Books
Austin, Texas
$16.95, 416 pages

Here is some information on the book from the author's web page at

The State of Israel was established as a safe haven for the Jewish people, but its expansionism and treatment of the Palestinians have made the prospects for peace in the Holy Land recede further and further. In Fatal Embrace, author Mark Braverman shows how the Jewish quest for safety and empowerment and the Christian endeavor to atone for centuries of anti-Semitism have united to suppress the conversations needed to bring peace. Tracing his own journey as a Jew struggling with the difficult realities of modern Israel, Braverman delivers a strong message to Jews and Christians alike: it is not anti-Semitic to stand up for justice for the Palestinian people.  Describing the spiritual and psychological forces driving the discourse in America, in Israel, within the Jewish community, and within the church, Braverman turns to the prophets’ cry for justice and to Jesus’ transformative ministry to show the way forward.


Fatal Embrace:
Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land

Mark Braverman
Israel-Palestine is the longest-running problem on the world stage. The conflict pulls all who try to solve it into a quicksand of contradiction and enmity.  A civil war has broken out between those American Jews who staunchly defend the Jewish State against all critics and those who fear for its very soul.  A powerful, well-organized system of American Jewish institutions — synagogues, Jewish Philanthropic Federations, political lobbying organizations — move quickly to suppress or neutralize any possible criticism or threat to that support.  The Pastor who opens his or her church to a conference on Palestinian human rights faces protests and editorials from Jewish organizations charging anti-Semitism.  Powerful Christian Zionist organizations join with the pro-Israel Lobby to support the U.S. administration’s unconditional support of the Jewish State.
Meanwhile, sputtering efforts at a “peace process” to resolve the conflict between Israel and its Palestinian subjects appears increasingly futile to a growing number of stakeholders on all sides.  Indeed, the entire effort to achieve a “settlement” appears to be based on a massive, collective self-deception:  While appearing to hold Israel to account, the world powers actually give Israel free rein to pursue policies that breed popular resistance among Palestinians and promise only to prolong the conflict.
This book presents the struggle of an American Jew to come to terms with the dilemma of modern Israel.  It presents an approach to solving the conflict through an understanding of the origins of Zionism and the contemporary Christian reaction to its own anti-Jewish past. Through a discussion of issues of faith deeply embedded in our Western culture, the book addresses two fundamental questions: (1) Why are Jews pursuing a course in Israel which, far from fulfilling the goals of the Zionist movement, is actually heightening the threat to Israel’s security and serving to isolate us in the world?  and (2) Why is the Christian world enabling Israel’s tragically flawed policies rather than holding us to a faithfulness to our shared tradition of justice?  In addressing the first question, I explore the tension in Judaism between the universalism inherent in our monotheistic creed and ethical code, and the particularism so deeply embedded in our cultural identity and history.  I argue that the Jewish quality of exclusivism enshrined in the concept of election is being enacted in the current self-defeating policies of the modern State of Israel.  In taking up the second question, I review post-Holocaust revisionist Christian theology.  I discuss the attempts by contemporary Christian theologians to rehabilitate Judaism through a revised Christian theology and world view in order to atone for the horrors of  anti-Semitism.  I show how this effort, although courageous and commendable, has now resulted in the uncritical legitimization of Zionist strivings as well as a suppression of any honest interfaith dialogue on the issue of the State of Israel.  It has and continues to give Jews license to establish and pursue a nationalist, colonial political agenda in Israel that violates principles of justice as well as international law, and which presents a formidable obstacle to peace. I show how even those Christian thinkers most committed to a social justice agenda struggle with a profound ambivalence toward the Jewish people’s right to a tragically flawed political project.  This ambivalence runs counter to their principles and continues to lend support to those political elements that would block holding Israel to account and that impede progress toward peace.
It’s a fatal embrace:  together, these two powerful, deep-seated forces combine to keep us stuck in Israel-Palestine. I argue that the persistence and power of these beliefs – the more powerful because they are unrecognized, unexamined and even denied – play a major role in thwarting progress toward a peaceful settlement of the political conflict.  I believe the key to a political resolution lies in the initiation and strengthening of a broad-based movement within the major Christian denominations in the U.S., and my book will include a call to action directed at them, as well as to other groups.
Fatal Embrace should be at home on both the Religion and Current Affairs shelves of the bookstores.  A deep exploration of the religious issues is fundamental to understanding the political situation in the Holy Land as well as the social and political forces in the U.S. that exert such a profound influence on Israel’s politics.  There is an excellent literature that covers Zionism from historical, philosophical, and sociological perspectives, and the book reviews some of these writers.  However, the topic has not been approached from the perspective outlined here.  The literature on the question of Zionism and Israel, from Christian and Jewish writers alike, in the fields of politics, history, sociology and religion, are devoted either to defenses of or critiques of Zionism.  Furthermore, I do not believe that anyone has yet addressed the phenomenon of the Zionism – implicit and explicit – to be found in mainstream Christian thought and practice.
In the course of the book I return again and again to my personal journey.  I have deep family roots in Israel, grew up as a religious Jew in the U.S., and in the past several years have become deeply involved in social and political activism with various Jewish and interfaith organizations working for peace and justice for all peoples of the region.  My family background, my experiences growing up Jewish in postwar America, and my encounters with Israelis, Palestinians and Americans since my first visit to the West Bank in 2006 form the scaffolding for the book’s chapters.
I have written the book primarily in order to influence the minds, hearts and actions of Christians in the West today and to lend support to those Jews who are working to salvage our people’s moral standing in the world.  I believe that only in this way can we create a future for the people of the State of Israel as well as for the Palestinian people.  My hope is that by exposing the unexamined assumptions and unacknowledged strivings that are in part responsible for the failure to resolve the conflict, and by helping Christians overcome their fear of being perceived or labeled as anti-Semitic, the book will enable a more open, productive dialogue within the Christian community as well as between the faiths.  I also directly appeal to the church to embrace and pursue actions that will advance the cause of peace in the Holy Land based on justice.  I present specific actions that will advance the emerging broad social movement needed to change Israeli and US policy in the region.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Arabs: A History by Middle East scholar Eugene Rogan

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So much has been written about the history of the Arab World, most driven by interpretations of emotion,  suffering and partisanship. Many of the books have been narratives reflecting the author's bias or political preferences, making them either easy to read satisfying your needs or difficult to read challenging your beliefs. Eugene Rogan, the director of The Middle east Centre at St. Anthony's College in Oxford, however, provides a clinically accurate and compelling "history" that gives the Arab World in a timely examination and explanation.

The introduction details why knowledge of the history of the Arabs is so important and it is followed by chapters that take you through the major developments and the evolution of today's Arab. How did they get to where they are at? And, are they being marginlized and erased by the growing Islamic revolution which is burying the richness and uniqueness of the secular Arab culture in a cult of religious bastardization? These are only some questions that one might answer in understanding the history of The Arabs in Rogan's book.

We all know the historical chronology, but Rogan takes us through a more interesting read through Ottoman rule, the Muhammad Ali empire, reformation, colonization in African, World War I, the disastrous rule of Britain in the Middle East, France in Lebanon, the disaster in Palestine, the rise of Arab nationalism, and the decline of Arab nationalism, the age of oil and the age of Islam, with a look at the consequences of the aftermath of the Cold War.

The other problem I have with past narratives of Arab history has been the writing. It's so hard to read some of the past historical collections. They are painful to the reader and intended for the scholar. Rogan's book mixes his firsthand experience living in the Middle East, his love for the Arab people and a writing style that encourages the non-scholar to appreciate and enjoy the rich cultural and political history of the Arabs. What the Arab World needs is less interference from the professors and scholars and more understanding among the public at large. The public needs this book more than the dusty shelves of some Middle East studies department or the classroom of affected PhD wannabes.

It's the ease by which one can read this thick scholarly work that makes it so valuable. Knowledge is worthless if it can't be expressed and passed along to the less knowledgeable. Rogan has taken the complexities of the Middle East and the role of its evolution under The Arabs and made it something everyday readers will enjoy. More importantly, they will take something away from this enjoyable reading experience. I've read almost every book on the Middle East and the Arabs over the past 35 years of American Arab activism, but Rogan's "The Arabs" has been the most enjoyable, and that makes it the most educational.

I am not a scholar on the Middle East, just a lifelong student. Reading through Rogan's book has been very informative and enjoyable. I highly recommend it.

More information on "The Arabs":

The Arabs

A History
by Eugene Rogan

Nov 2, 2009
US $35.00
CAN $44.50
ISBN: 9780465071005
ISBN-10: 0465071007
Published by Basic Books


To American observers, the Arab world often seems little more than a distant battleground characterized by religious zealotry and political chaos. Years of tone-deaf US policies have left the region powerless to control its own destiny—playing into a longstanding sense of shame and impotence for a once-mighty people. In this definitive account, preeminent historian Eugene Rogan traces five centuries of Arab history, from the Ottoman conquests through the British and French colonial periods and up to the present age of unipolar American hegemony. The Arab world is now more acutely aware than ever of its own vulnerability, and this sense of subjection carries with it vast geopolitical consequences. Drawing from Arab sources little known to Western readers, Rogan’sThe Arabs will transform our understanding of the past, present, and future of one of the world’s most tumultuous regions.

Eugene Rogan

Eugene Rogan is a faculty fellow and university lecturer in the Modern History of the Middle East at St Antony’s College, Oxford, where he serves as director of the Middle East Centre. His previous book, Frontiers of the State in the Late Ottoman Empire, was judged by the Middle East Studies Association of North America to be the best work on the Middle East in 2000 and awarded the Albert Hourani Prize. He lives in Oxford, England.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Maria Khoury: Book signing schedule for "Coloring with Christina" and "Witness in the Holy Land"

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Maria C. Khoury / Fall 2009 Holy Land Presentations with Book Signings Promoting Coloring with Christina, featuring the Holy Sites for the very young and Witness in the Holy Land for older readers.  New children’s book at Christmas from Christina Book Series: Meet the Evangelists, featuring a close-up look at Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

October 24, 2009 Presentation following Vespers 6:30 pm
St. George Antiochian Cathedral,
3400 Dawson St.
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213                                           
Church Tel:  412-681-2988

October 25, 2009  Liturgy, 10:00 am (Presentation & Children’s Program)
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral
419 S. Dithridge Street
Pittsburgh, PA  15213
Church Tel: 412 682 3866

October 26, 2009
Three Hierarchs Eastern Orthodox School (Children’s Program)
1819 Ellswroth Ave
Heidelberg, PA  15106
School Tel:  412 278 3333

October 27, 2009  6 pm (Event by Invitation)
Latrobe Academy of Medicine Dinner
at Giannilli' II, Route 30
East Greensburg, PA 15601

October 28, 2009 5:30 pm Student Presentation
North Park University
Chicago, Il

October 29, 2009
St John the Baptist Church 9:00 am Parents & Children & 7 pm Paraklesi
2350 Dempster Street
Des Plaines, IL  60016
Church Tel:  847 827 5519

October 30, 2009 10:30 am Children’s Program
Pythagoras Children's Academy of the Greek Orthodox Church
Saint Demetrios
893 North Church Road
Elmhurst, IL  60126
Church Tel:  630 834 7010

October 30, 2009 6:30 pm Children’s Program & Presentation
St. Spyridon Church
12307 S. Ridgeland
Palos Heights, IL  60463
Church Tel:  708 385 2311

October 31, 2009 7:00 pm SS Vespers Holy Anargyroi - Cosmas & Damianos Philoptochos Celebration
St. Demetrios Church
893 North Church Road
Elmhurst, IL  60126
Church Tel:  630 834 7010

November 1, 2009 Liturgy 10 am Children’s program 1:30 pm Presentation
St. George Antiochian Church
1220 S. 60th Crt
Cicero, IL  60804
Church Tel 708 656 2927

November 2, 2009 6:30 pm Youth Encounter
SS Constantine & Helen Church
11025-45 South Roberts Rd
Palos Hills, IL   60465
Church Tel:  708 974 3400

November 8, 2009 10:00 am St. Julia CafĂ©’ Parish Hall
One Clock Tower Drive
Wellesley, MA 02481
Tel:  781-431-6463

November 9, 2009 5:00 pm Tree of Life Conference/participant
First Congregational Church
Cape Cod, MA

November 29, 2009 10 am Liturgy Children’s program
St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church
West  Roxbury, MA

December 4, 2009 8 pm Youth Religious Retreat (Lock-In)
615 Mercer Street
Cherry Hill, NJ  08002
Church Tel:  856 665 1731

December 5, 2009 4 pm Reading with Students / Presentation following Vespers 5pm
St. George Church
30 East Forge Road
Media, PA 19063
Church Tel:  610 459 0366

December 6, 2009
St. Sophia Church
900 South Rooper Road
Jeffersonville, PA 19403
Church Tel:  610 650 8960

Monday, October 12, 2009

Film Trailer on Taybeh Palestine

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a film trailer on line about Taybeh Oktoberfest. 
It needs a minimum amount of votes to stay on line so thought to share it with you so you might view it, vote, share it with others if possible

It appears on the second page of the site as:
Palestine, Beer & Oktoberfest: Under Occupation

The filmmaker Lara Van Raay filmed this last Oktoberfest 2008 and I will try (don’t know how right now)  to use this film as a fundraiser to help finish the Taybeh Post Office since my husband started this public building but did not finish it so when I show it in the usa I will ask for a minimum donation of $500 written to the Taybeh Municipality specifically towards the Post Office building and hoping this will be David Khoury’s last month as mayor but it would be great to finish the post office project which has been in the works for three years.

The synopsis:

Meet the family that created Palestine’s first beer and see a side of Palestine where Jews, Muslims, and Christians all drink together in peace. A heart-warming story of success that touches on the politics of Jewish settlements, control of natural resources and the difficulties of doing business under occupation. Filmed at the Oktoberfest in the Christian town of Taybeh, on Palestine’s West Bank- this is a light, festive, and positive story from Palestine that you never get to see. (43 minutes)

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Book by Hussein Ibish debunks myth of "one-state" agenda

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Scholar and media pundit Hussein Ibish, one of the nation's leading champions of Palestinian rights, has published a new book called  "What's Wrong with the One-State Agenda?" The book, available for only $10 from the American Task Force on Palestine and free as an eBook download, details why the "one-state" agenda is designed to prevent peace and undermine the Palestinian national drive to establish a national homeland and state in Palestine.
Ibish, who writes a popular web blog at, argues with reason and common-sense to expose the fraud of the "one-state agenda" which in its fundamental premise actually weakens the battle against the Israeli occupation. The one-state agenda essentially assumes that Jews, Christians and Muslims can go back to a 1920's scenario where everyone lives together as equals, assuming that Israelis -- who have refused to return land or dismantle settlements, will simply extend "equal rights" to non-Jewish citizens.
The one-state agenda actually negates the suffering of Palestinians under Israel's oppressive military rule and ignores the decades of discrimination against so-called Arab Israeli "citizens," pretending as if those denials of rights ever existed.
Ibish discusses his precedent-setting book which advances the only solution to the conflict, creating a "two-state solution," during an interview on my national radio show (Radio Baladi).
Ibish argues that the one-state agenda relies on a fallacy that a one-state reality already exists, and that Arab population growth threatens to impose a one-state reality on Israel. In fact, the population growth has not threatened Israel's anti-Arab policies at all and in fact are leading to a situation where issues of apartheid-like scenarios have become more and more common practice.
Ibish also discusses the powerful agenda that President Barack Obama is pursuing which has taken the push for a Palestinian state durther than any other American president. Obama's speech to the United Nations (and past speeches including the speech to the Muslim World) have put enormous pressure on Israel's government, which has resisted peace.
Of course, the Palestine-Israel conflict is troubled by years of pain and suffering and that pain and suffering has been exploited by activists who argue calls to continued conflict and non-solutions like the one-state agenda. It's difficult for some to accept the reality of the only choice left to them, two states -- the majority of Palestinians support the Two-State Solution, although the one-state activists continue to exploit the suffering and fan the flames of rejection.
Ibish's book re-sets the fundamentals of Palestinian reality and helps those who desire the creation of a Palestinian State to actually see the possibility of it being achieved. It definitively exposes the flaws in the one-state agenda argument, revealing am agenda that will only mean more and more suffering for Palestinians who have suffered more than any people deserve.
It's time to end the conflict and create two-states and allow Palestinians to begin the process of nation-building and national salvation. The only way to do that is through the Two-State Solution which has found a powerful advocate in President Barack Obama.
-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Classic Lebanese Cuisine by Kamal al-Faqih -- press release

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170 Fresh and Healthy Mediterranean Favorites

by Kamal Al-Faqih  

Take the trip of a lifetime, let the flavors of Lebanon be your guide …

The cuisine of Lebanon epitomizes the best of the Mediterranean diet, which is highly regarded for its positive health benefits.  It includes an abundance of vegetables, grains, fresh herbs and spices, poultry, meats, seafood and stews — creating meals that are full of robust and earthy flavors. Chef Kamal Al-Faqih invites readers to join him on a trip to his ancestral homeland and to taste the healthy flavorful foods of Lebanon.

CLASSIC LEBANESE CUISINE (Three Forks, September 2009, $24.95) features a dazzling collection of 170 recipes from appetizers and salads to side dishes, entrees and desserts. Readers will discover new flavors as Chef Kamal introduces these time-honored recipes steeped in the authenticity and ethos of the dishes he grew up with.  Accompanied by easy to follow step-by-step instructions, CLASSIC LEBANESE CUISINE makes Lebanese cooking accessible to everyone who seeks to prepare it for the first time or reproduce their favorite flavors and dishes. Chef Kamal ’s expert narrative and mouthwatering recipes will pave the way for the journey.

Inside, readers will find recipes including:
·    Pomegranate-Beef Crescents (Sambousik bi Lahmi)
·    Smoked Eggplant Dip (Baba Ghannouj)
·    Eggplant Salad (Salata Batanjan)
·    Cod Baked in Citrus Tahini (Tajen)
·    Jute Mallow and Garlic-Cilantro Stew with Lamb (Mloukhiyeh)
·    Lentil Soup with Ruby Swiss Chard and Lemon (Adas bi Hamood)
·    Semolina Pistachio Cookies (Mamoul bi Fistouk)

More than just recipes, the book features striking full-color photographs, and a section describing techniques such as rinsing and storing produce, handling filo dough, the recommended procedure for measuring flour, and more. The “pantry” section describes and defines ingredients, sauces, flavorings, oils, and spices. There is a section of suggested menus, which recommends combinations of recipes that you may want to consider when planning a cocktail party, brunch, afternoon luncheon, or dinner. Readers will also find information on how to prepare for a Lebanese feast before the guests arrive.

CLASSIC LEBANESE CUISINE is linked to Chef Kamal’s website,, where additional cooking techniques and demonstration videos aide readers in the preparation of these delicious dishes.  In addition, his recently-launched e-commerce site,, provides easy access to specialty ingredients for the pantry.

About the Author

Born in the United States as the son of a diplomat, Chef Kamal Al-Faqih was quickly introduced to Lebanese cuisine at his parent’s home in Washington D.C. where he would assist his mother in the kitchen as they prepared time-honored family recipes. His background and upbringing instilled in him a natural authenticity and palate for Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine. In 1986, the chef made his debut as the owner and head chef of the first exclusively Mediterranean catering company in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area (Med Catering). He has cooked for major American celebrities and foreign dignitaries alike, including Francis Ford Coppola, Angelica Houston, the Jordanian Royal family, and the White House. In addition to his professional catering business, from the early 1990s to the present, Chef Kamal has led a variety of cooking demonstrations across North America. From Georgetown University and the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C. to dozens of private homes on the West Coast, Chef Kamal’s charm and natural skills in the kitchen has introduced hundreds of individuals to heart-healthy Mediterranean foods for both formal entertaining and casual dining.

by Kamal Al-Faqih
Three Forks
September 2009
Hardcover Original/$24.95
ISBN: 978-0762752782

A Country Called Amreeka by Alia Malek

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This is a phenomenal book that opens the door to understanding the American Arab experience. Very easy to read, funny, sad, well written.

Here is some more information on this book.

-- Ray Hanania

=== ====

“Infectiously readable. . . . This book gives us the faces behind the names, and tells the story of a community that both enriches and embraces the American fabric.  A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA, and the people who inhabit it, are remarkable.”

—Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, author of A Leap of Faith: Memoir of an Unexpected Life


One of the biggest issues facing America today is how to engage the people of the Middle East and Muslim World. President Obama made that clear to the world in his historic Cairo speech this past July. But how can we hope to foster cross-cultural peace overseas when we know so little of the Arab population in our own backyard?

Just as the recent award-winning National Geographic Entertainment film AMREEKA, by Cherien Dabis, blazed new ground in its depiction of a mother and son from the West Bank trying to assimilate in America, Syrian American civil rights attorney Alia Malek’s A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA:  Arab Roots, American Stories (Free Press; October 6, 2009; $25.00) brings to captivating life true stories of a wide variety of Arab Americans from across the country, navigating the divide between their original heritage and their new world in the United States.

There are an estimated 3.5 million Arab Americans living in all 50 of the United States today. They are neighbors, classmates, voters, heroes, relatives, and friends.  Since 9/11, they have become the object of relentless scrutiny, yet little is understood about them. For example, current statistics show that most Arab Americans (75%) are NOT Muslims, and most Muslims in America (76%) are NOT Arab. In A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA,  Malek gives faces to the hard-to-pronounce names and tells the story of a community that has become essential for us to recognize, so that we better understand our own American history and how our society is evolving. 

Organized around a timeline of events that begins unexpectedly for most readers in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s, each chapter corresponds to one event and one Arab American, allowing readers to live that moment in history in the skin of an individual Arab American.  Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan calls the book, “Infectiously readable, the profiles in A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA add character and texture to the history of the Arab-American community, challenging every tired stereotype and giving us new insight into what it means to be an Arab-American today.”

In an interview about A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA, Alia Malek can discuss not only the specifics of the Arab American narrative and place in American history but issues relevant to all Americans such as:

·         The “new America” of people with hyphenated-identities who saw themselves in President Obama and were essential in bringing him to power (and who applauded his choice of a wise Latina for the U.S. Supreme Court)
·         How race and ethnicity have evolved in American society in the last 100+ years and how demographic changes have re-defined who Americans are ethnically and racially   
·         The disproportional effect of the Arab Israeli conflict and the Palestinian struggle on Arab American lives
·         Ethnic profiling post-9/11
·         What it’s like for Arabic-speaking soldiers to fight for the U.S. in Iraq
·         The Arab American perspective on events such as the Birmingham church bombing in 1963, the 1973 Oil Embargo, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and of course 9/11
·         What it’s like to be shut out of the national narrative
·         Any current event in the world, from an Arab-American perspective
More Advance Praise for Alia Malek’s A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA
(Free Press; October 6, 2009)
Written with wit, compassion and insight, [A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA] is at once timeless, in its telling of immigrants in America, and unique, in its exploration of the diversity of the Arab-American community….a stirring story of humor, loss, love and triumph.”
 Anthony Shadid, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War

 “[A]superb snapshot of the Americans of Arab-speaking descent…. With a remarkable ability to capture her subjects' voices, Malek, a Syrian-American civil rights lawyer, sketches illuminating responses to her question: ‘What does American history look and feel like in the eyes and skin of Arab Americans?’….an excellent book, one certain to put right some of the wrongs it catalogues.”      —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review, Pick of the Week)

“What does American history look like for those stereotyped as oil rich sheiks or terrorists? Syrian American civil rights lawyer Malek tells us in a direct, open style…It works beautifully, because each chapter is based on her personal interview with one Arab American in a particular place, from an autoworker in Dearborn to a bellhop in Chicago, and with a focus on one political event…. An essential addition to the Booklist Core Collection: “The New Immigration Story.”       —Booklist

 "Alia Malek's impassioned and harrowing set of profiles of Arab-Americans gives vitality and resonance to a cause that is dear to my heart: fostering cross-cultural understanding and respect. Infectiously readable, the profiles in A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA add character and texture to the history of the Arab-American community, challenging every tired stereotype and giving us new insight into what it means to be an Arab-American today. This book gives us the faces behind the names, and tells the story of a community that both enriches and embraces the American fabric. A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA, and the Americans who inhabit it, are remarkable." —Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, author of A Leap of Faith: Memoir of an Unexpected Life

A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA by Alia Malek is great reading for anyone who is interested in the hyphenated American immigrant.  The hopes and dreams of ordinary people who have come to the Land of Great Hope are beautifully depicted in her book.  The lives of the people she depicts are compelling for their struggles for a better life.  The book is engaging and enlightening, impossible to put down.”  —Helen Thomas, columnist for Hearst Newspapers

 “If you’re not an Arab-American, then it’s really imperative for you to read this fascinating book. You couldn’t ask for a more informative, engaging, and provocative introduction to millions of our fellow citizens. From football star to soldier, from gay activist to union leader, cheerleader, minister, Democrat, Republican, Christian, Muslim – Alia Malek brings the entire spectrum of Arab America to vivid, three-dimensional life.” —Samuel G. Freedman, author of Letters to a Young Journalist and Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry

 “Alia Malek's A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA is a unique, engaging portrayal of Arab American lives.  Malek deftly combines the genres of biography, history, memoir, and commentary to produce a story of Arab Americans that is nearly impossible to put down.  Malek takes the reader on multiple journeys, from the Arab World to the American heartland, all the while introducing us to lovable, quirky, diverse characters who all have in common a desire to find comfortable spaces in A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA.  Malek does not romanticize or vilify Arab Americans.  She presents them in all their complex lifeways and worldviews.  The result is a book of great imagination and unusual depth.” 
—Steven Salaita, author of Anti-Arab Racism in the USA: Where it Comes From and What it Means for Politics and The Uncultured Wars: Arabs, Muslims and the Poverty of Liberal Thought

A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA by Alia Malek is a deeply engaging series of portraits of Arab American lives in a profoundly complicated time. Malek's compelling ability to imagine and construct perspectives and problems of a wide range of individuals feels intuitively masterful. This should be a textbook across the nation -- even the most reluctant readers will (hopefully) be enlarged, their stereotypes neutralized.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Habibi.