VOMENA: July 8, 2015

Iran’s Nuclear Deal and the Day After

s200_kamran.matinFor more than a week, diplomats from Iran and six world powers have gathered in Vienna’s Coburg Palace to finalize a historic deal on Iran’s nuclear program.   The officials from Iran and the US have told reporters  “we are making good progress on almost all of the issues..But there are a few issues which … remain to be resolved” as a result, the self imposed deadline of June 30th is now extend to Friday July 10th.

This week, we spend the hour with Kamran Matin, Assistant Professor in International Relations at Sussex University about the sticking points of the negotiations, the impact of sanctions on Iran’s economy and polity, and what we may expect in the country if the issue of Iran’s nuclear program is resolved peacefully.


July 9th is the 10th anniversary of Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions; and the 11th anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling against the Wall.

On Thursday, July 9th Palestinian physician, activist, and politician, Mustafa Barghouti who serves as General Secretary of the Palestine National Initiative Will be speaking about the BDS movement, ICJ’s ruling against the apartheid wall, his trip to Gaza, the settlement expansion and future strategies. After returning from Gaza in September 2014 following Israel’s brutal 51-day assault, Dr. Barghouti said, “This inhumanity can’t continue. There’s only one way out – to establish boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel in order to dismantle this occupation and this apartheid.”

This event will take place on Thursday, July 9th from 7-10 pm at the First Congregational Church, located at 2345 Channing way in Berkeley. The Event is a Benefit for Middle East Children’s Alliance projects for Palestinian children


The Guardian’s coverage of the negotiations

Kamran Matin’s book Recasting Iranian Modernity: International Relations and Social Change

Mustafa Barghouti in Berkeley July 9th

Arab Film Festival Facebook


VOMENA: July 1, 2015

Max Blumenthal on the 2014 Assault on Gaza

51daywarJuly 8th marks the first anniversary of last year’s Israel’s military assault on Gaza, a fifty-one day attack that left over 2,000 people dead, at least 10,000 homes destroyed and nearly 300,000 Palestinians displaced. In his new book , “The 51 Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza,” award-winning journalist and author  Max Blumenthal reveals the cynical deceptions that led to the brutal, genocidal operation.

This week, we have a conversation with Max Blumenthal about his new book “The 51 Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza” and the BDS movement. Max Blumenthal was on the ground during this onslaught, which he argues was an entirely avoidable catastrophe.

Delinda Hanely on Receiving the Racheal Corrie Award

Delinda-Hanley-Ed.Delinda Hanley of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs is this year’s recipient of Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee’s “Rachel Corrie Award.” She has been recognized for her tireless work to educate Americans and the public about the Middle East and issues such as the Israeli killing of Rachel Corrie. This week, we speak with Delinda about her work and receiving this illustrious award.


Max Blumenthal Speaking at First Congregational Church in Berkeley July 1st

“The 51 Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza” Verso Books

Delinda Hanely Receives  the Rachel Corrie Award


VOMENA: June 24, 2015

Omar Dahi on the Syrian War and  Humanitarian Crisis

dahi-omarThe war on Syria has taken over 200,000 lives and 11 million people have either been internally displaced or have fled the country as refugees. Although the situation is the worst for those who are displaced inside Syria, the multifaceted conflict has created huge humanitarian crises in  Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.  This week we spend the hour with Omar Dahi, He is an associate professor of economics at Hampshire College, a member of editorial board  at the Middle East Report , and co -editor Syria Page for Jadaliyya e-zine.


Omar Dahi in The Middle East Report

Jadaliyya’s Syria Page

UN Report on Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis

VOMENA: June 17, 2015

Salar Abdoh on Tehran Noir

abdoh2The literary genre of Noir captures the shortcomings and self-destruction of characters involved in violent stories. But what is the significance behind the use this particular literary genre to illustrate the character of a city? In his new anthology, Tehran Noir, Iranian-American novelist and essayist Salar Abodoh  has compiled and translated the work of 16 Iranian authors whose short stories reveal a darker side to the sprawling metropolitan capital of Iran. In his introduction he writes “Most writers around the world are inclined to think that their own sprawling metropolis is the capital of every imaginable vice and crime, of impossible love and tenderness and cruelty and malice in measures that seldom exist anywhere else. For me, Tehran’s case is no different—except that there really is a difference here. The city may be a hothouse of decadence, a den of inequity, all of that. But it still exists under the watchful eye of a very unique entity, the Islamic Republic”.

On this episode, we have an extended conversation with Salar Abdoh about the anthology, the noir genre, and life under the Islamic Republic. Salar Abdoh is an Iranian-American novelist and essayist, and the recipient of the New York Foundation for the  Arts Prize and the National Endowment for the Arts award. He is the author of the novel Tehran at Twilight and the editor of the new anthology Tehran Noir.

Kate Rafael on Resisting the Pinkwashing of the Israeli Apartheid

outsideThe  LGBTQ  annual film festival, Frameline, widely regarded as the largest queer community institution in the world, has been criticised and confronted for pinkwashing of Israeli apartheid. In response to Frameline Festival’s sponsorship by the Israeli government, Queers for Palestine activists organized the alternative Outside The Frame: Queers for Palestine Film Festival. The festival’s website, “calls on all queers to join in questioning what has become the dominant narrative of assimilation rather than liberation. Part of that narrative is that Israel is a “friend” of queers simply because it gives money to a queer cultural event, or supports the production of a queer film that will be used as propaganda for Israel.”

We speak with anti-apartheid activist Kate Rafael about the festival and Frameline’s continuing relationship with the Israeli government. Kate Rafael is a writer journalist and anti-war and anti-occupation activist.  She is one of the founding members of  Outside The Frame: Queers for Palestine Film Festival. The Festival will be June 19th-21st at the Brava Theater in San Francisco.


Excerpt from Tehran Noir

VOMENA: June 10, 2015

Erdem Yörük on Turkey’s Parliamentary Elections

A rally for the HDP. Photo: Middle East Institute

A rally for the HDP. Photo: Middle East Institute

Sunday’s parliamentary election in Turkey was supposed to be an affirmation for the leadership of President Erdogan.Since 2002, The ruling Justice and Development Part AK Party had always won a majority in every Turkish election. On Sunday June 6, however, the party lost its parliamentary majority and was handed their first decline in support in over a decade falling from 49% of the vote to 41%.Meanwhile, The leftist People’s  Democratic Party (HDP) won a major victory, with 13% of the popular vote. HDP crossed the country’s unusually high 10 percent electoral threshold that affected the distribution of seats and, consequently, the power of the ruling party.

This week, we speak with  Professor Erdem Yörük to discuss the underlying reasons for the shift of popular support away from the ruling party.  Erdem Yörük is an assistant professor of sociology at Koç University in Turkey. (Photo: Middle East Institute)

Lindsey Hilsum on the Mediterranean Refugee Crisis

Photo: Booksmith.com

Photo: Booksmith.com

Everyday thousands of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and a host of other African countries attempt the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to the shores of southern Europe. According the European Union border control agency, Frontex, the death toll of the immigrants is on the rise. At least 1,770 people have died traversing the Mediterranean so far this year, compared to only  56 at this time last year. The International Organization for Migration warns that the migrant death toll could reach upwards of 30,000 in 2015. On this program, we hear from award winning journalist Lindsay Hilsum about her reporting trip to the Libyan port city of Misrata, where she spoke to detained refugees.

Lindsey Hilsum is an award winning journalist and  the international editor  of Channel 4 News in London. She has reported extensively on the Middle East and North Africa. She is the author of Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution.


The Guardian’s coverage of the June 7 elections in Turkey.

Death Toll of Mediterranean Refugees

Review of Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution


VOMENA: June 3, 2015

Sandy Tolan on Children of the Stone

stolanThe constant struggle for Palestinians to lead anything resembling  normal lives  in the occupied territories is expressed in many forms. In the case of Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, normalcy means being able to play the viola. This week, we speak with Sandy Tolan about his new book Children of the Stone: The Power of music in a Hard Land, which tells the story of Ramzi, a child of the first Palestinian Intifada, whose Al Kamandjati music center serves hundreds of Palestinian Children in the west bank and refugee camps in lebanon. The book examines the transformative power of music to help inspire children dealing with military occupation.

Sandy Tolan is a journalist, teacher, and documentary radio producer. He is associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC. He has written three books, including two dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the acclaimed work The Lemon Tree and his latest, Children of the Stone: The Power of music in a Hard Land . He is speaking at the Bay Area Book Festival this Saturday, June 6th.

Also in the program, veteran war journalist Anna Bakhen  speaks with us about her  book The World is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village. Through a close observation of the ancient tradition of carpet weaving, Anna Badkhen chronicles the daily lives of the 240 residents of the isolated and unmapped village of Oqa in all it complexities and simplicity. Anna Badkhen writes about people in extremis. She has written five books about war and peace in the Global South, including Walking with Abel.


LA Times review of Children of the Stone

Bay Area Book Festival

“The World is a Carpet” Pulitzer Center review







VOMENA: May 27th, 2015

Marnia Lazreg on the May 8, 1945 French Massacre of Algerians.

may81945On May 8, 1945, as France celebrated its victory against Nazi Germany, simultaneously,  its colonial army was busy massacring tens of thousands of Algerian civilians in Sétif, Guelma and Kherrata. The tragic events provided the spark for Algeria’s war for independence nine years later.

Le Monde Diplomatique writes of the massacre, “The army’s actions caused a military historian, Jean-Charles Jauffret, to say that its conduct “resembled a European wartime operation rather than a traditional colonial war” …The final toll is speculative, as the French government closed the commission of inquiry directed by General Tubert and the killers were never tried. We know all about the judicial measures that were taken and the number of Europeans who died, but the number of Algerian victims is a mystery and is still debated among Algerian historians (5). The figures released by the French authorities are not reliable. Pending impartial investigations (6), we must agree with Rey-Goldzeiguer that, for 102 European dead, thousands of Algerians paid with their lives.

There were many repercussions: any hopes of a deal between the Algerian people and the European colony were off. In France the political forces of the wartime resistance movement failed their first test on decolonisation, allowing themselves to be taken over by the pro-colonial party.”

This week, to mark the 70th anniversary of the May 8 massacres, we speak with Hunter College Sociologist Marnia Lazreg about the gruesome events of that fateful day and its continuing moral and political implications for non-european victims of genocide. Marnia Lazreg is Professor of Sociology at Hunter College. She is the author of several books, including her most recent, titled Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algiers to Baghdad.

Read more from Le Monde Diplomatique

Marnia Lazreg’s latest book

VOMENA: April 29, 2015

Christoph Reuter on the Origins of ISIS

christophA  7-month investigation based on recently aquired documents  by Der Spiegel’s Christoph  Reuter shows for the first time, a direct link between the IS and Saddam Hussein’s former intelligence and military officials – as well as indirect links with the current Assad regime.  The documents outline former Iraqi Intelligence colonel Haji Bakr’s plan for the tactics and structure of the Islamic State.  This week, we speak with  Christoph Reuter about his findings and their implications for the future of the region. Christoph  Reuter is the Middle East correspondent   for the German magazine Der Spiegel.

Also in this program, we bring back a 2005 interview in which Juliano Meir-Khamis spoke with professor Beshara Doumani about his award winning documentary, “Anna’s Children”. Juliano Meir-Khamis was a leading Palestinian rights activist, actor, filmmaker and Artistic Director of Freedom Theatre in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West bank. He was mysteriously murdered  April 4th 2011 as he was leaving the theater.


Christoph Reuter’s article on the connections between IS and Hussein’s former officals

The Freedom Theatre

Article on Juliano Meir-Khamis

VOMENA: April 22, 2015

100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

Armenian_woman_kneeling_beside_dead_child_in_fieldApril 24th marks the centennial of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, when the Ottoman Empire began carrying out a systematic plan to annihilate its Armenian population. As a result, between 1 million and 1.5 million people were killed or died of starvation.  This week, to mark the 100th anniversary of this tragic event, we  bring back a 2006  conversation Beshara Doumani had with  Dr. Stephan Astourian,   about the historical circumstances that led to the  genocide. Beshara Doumani is a Professor of Modern Middle East History and Director of the Middle East Studies at Brown University.  Dr. Stephan Astourian is the Executive Director of the Armenian Studies Program and associate adjunct  Professor of History at UC Berkeley.

Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh: The Life of a Palestinian Doctor

For the past 35 years,  Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh has  provided healthcare  to his fellow Palestinians in  the Galilee. In 1981, he  set up The Galilee Society, an NGO working for equitable health, environmental and socio-economic conditions for the Palestinian citizens of Israel. In 2008, he published his first book, a work of non-fiction, about his life as a Palestinian doctor in his memoir, A Doctor in Galilee: The Life and Struggle of a Palestinian in Israel. On this program, we speak with Dr. Kanaaneh about his recently published book, “Chief Complaint: A Country Doctor’s Tales of Life in Galilee,” which provides a unique look at the Palestinian struggle in historic Palestine through a series of fictional short stories based on his experience and the experience of patients he treated in Galilee. In a light-hearted and entertaining way, this book explores the changing, precarious, and ever-shrinking world of Palestinians living in Israel

We at VOMENA want to remember a very special member of the KPFA community, our dear and irreplaceable board-up engineer Wesley Burton, who was also the co-host of KPFA music shows, Sideshow Radio. Westley died early Saturday morning in a hit-and-run car accident. The KPFA family grieves the sudden loss of Wesley,  a kind, helpful, generous person and committed broadcaster. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife Lucrecia, his three children and all of his family and friends.  Wesley will be profoundly missed. To donate to the  fund set up to help Wesley’s family click here


The Armenian Genocide and Memory

The New York Times Armenian Genocide Overview

Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh speaking at Berkeley Methodist United Church on April 26.

Review of “A Doctor in Galilee”

The Galilee Society



VOMENA: April 15, 2015

Atiaf Al-Wazir on the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen 

Atiaf_1As the world stands by, Saudi led military intervention against the Houthis in Yemen has devastated its population and infrastructure. According to the UN,  since March 25th, the start of the Saudi led military intervention,  more than 600 people have been killed and 2,000 wounded in in Yemen. The ongoing airstrikes have caused more than 120, 000 people to flee their homes. The intervention coupled with the coalition’s  naval blockade of Yemen’s ports have created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the poorest country in the Arab world.  This week, we speak with Atiaf Al-Wazir, an independent researcher, journalist  and co-founder of the media advocacy group SupportYemen about the dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen  and the political consequences of the military intervention in the country.

Safa Al-Ahmad Discusses the Making of Her New Documentary The Fight For Yemen

Journalist and documentary filmmaker Safa Al-Ahmad began filming in  Yemen’s capital just two weeks after the Houthis had taken over the city. Safa’s new FrontLine/BBC Arabic documentary The Fight for Yemen, is a rare and extraordinary look into the Houthis a once-unknown band of rebels from the mountains of northern Yemen who rose to power last September.  Safa Al-Ahmad is a journalists and documentary filmmaker maker based in London. Her last documentary, Saudi’s Secret Uprising is the joint recipient of the 2015 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for Journalism.


Support Yemen Web Page 

Safa Al-Ahmad’s BBC Arabic/FRONTLINE documentary The Fight for Yemen.






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