House of Lebanon artists promote arts, culture with ‘Beyond Borders’ exhibition

House of Lebanon Artists Group

By Lara Akl, Communications & Marketing Manager for the Lebanese American Foundation, Inc.

(LOS ANGELES, CA) — While war and conflict in the Arab world are the mainstream media’s current focus, here in Los Angeles, House of Lebanon Artists Group are focusing on their passion for Art to promote culture. Their aim is to showcase their work that brings attention to their collective rich Middle Eastern heritage.

As a group of artists, they are planning the House of Lebanon 4th Annual 2014 Beyond Borders Art Exhibition and Artists & Welcome Reception on Saturday, October 18, 5:00pm – 9:00pm.

The event is open to the community and will be followed by a month-long exhibition that ends on Saturday, November 15, 2014.

“We are a group of Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Arminian, Middle Eastern and American Artists who want to make a difference and promote our heritage and culture,” said Reem Hammad, Beyond Borders Art Exhibition Director. “We want a world of happy colors to paint the rich and diverse cultures of the Middle East and the Arab world. We thrive, through our paint brushes, musical instruments, pencils, cameras, and singing voices to give a different impression of the Arab countries and deconstruct existing negative stereotypes about our cultural group.”

“(The Lebanese American Foundation) embraced our ideas and our vision,” said Carole Choucair Oueijan, Chairman of House of Lebanon Artists Group. “We started as a small group of artists in Los Angeles and now we have expanded to include artists from the USA, the Middle East, and Europe. Thanks to our diverse Artists Group Members, the welcome reception will include an art exhibit, music, film screenings, and live performances. In conjunction with our show, we are offering a series of weekend workshops aimed at inviting the community to explore the Arts from the Middle East. Last year, over 500 people showed up to our 2013 Beyond Borders Art Exhibition Artists and Welcome Reception.”

“Our goal is to represent and empower our artists whose work, in its various forms, is an inspiring, powerful, and educational tool that opens a path to intercultural communications and understanding,” said Judge James Kaddo, Chairman of House of Lebanon Board of Directors. “Through the development of the first Lebanese American Cultural Center in Los Angeles, we offer the community a chance to learn more about our culture via art. Our artists own a unique creative voice that tells our story beautifully.”

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About House of Lebanon

House of Lebanon is a non-profit organization located in Los Angeles. Its mission is to preserve, communicate, and celebrate Lebanese heritage and culture.

For more information visit houseoflebanon.com. You can also find the Facebook page at this link, and the ‘Beyond Borders’ exhibition event here.

About House of Lebanon Artists Group:

House of Lebanon Artists Group is a diverse group of Lebanese, Middle Eastern and American artists whose common goal is to share their love for art with their community and connect with their roots.

PHOTOS: Arab American Civil Rights League “Fight for Justice” Gala

(DEARBORN, MI) — The Arab American Civil Rights League hosted their Third Annual “Fight for Justice” Gala at Greenfield Manor in Dearborn, Michigan on October 10.

The ACRL honored Dr. Farouk El-Baz, a former NASA scientist and professor at Boston University, and Ismael Ahmed, one of the founding members of ACCESS.

Attorney Nabih Ayyad, the founder and chairman of ACRL, said the Arab American community is facing one of the most vicious attacks on their civil liberties and they’re fighting back by filing several lawsuits.

(Photos courtesy of Bill Chapman Photography)

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Lebanese-American businessman sues government for being on ‘watch list’

(DETROIT, MI) — A Detroit area Lebanese-American businessman is suing the U.S. government for what he calls unfair targeting based on his Arab American race.

Dearborn resident Nasser Beydoun says he’s on a government “selectee” list that requires him to undergo secondary checks and questioning every time he tries to fly.

“We’re just fighting for our God-given rights that the constitution guarantees us … and to make sure government doesn’t become obtrusive and denies the rights of people without giving them the due process,” said Nasser Beydoun, a Muslim and former chairman and director of Arab American Chamber of Commerce.

Beydoun says his status doesn’t allow him to check in online for flights, his bags get screened, and TSA agents have to call the Terrorist Screening Center before Beydoun boards a plane.

“This happens every single time,” Beydoun said.

Beydoun says he’s never been told why he’s on a watch list, but that he’s being unfairly targeted because he’s Arab American.

“I don’t have any connections to known terrorists or associate with terrorists or support terrorists or sympathize with terrorists,” he said.

Efforts to clear his name with the Department of Homeland Security have gone nowhere, according to Beydoun.

That’s why he wants to take the government to court.

The class action lawsuit filed on Friday names U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the heads of the FBI and Terrorist Screening Center.

“People might say, ‘Hey, look. He’s an Arab. Maybe he’s a terrorist.’ We’re not gonna fall for that. We’re gonna basically fight for our rights because when we fight for our rights were fighting for everybody else’s rights,” Beydoun said.

Beydoun says he’s willing to represent thousands of other Arab Americans in metro Detroit and across the country in his fight for due process and transparency from the government.

PHOTOS: St. Laba Hasroun Society celebrates 90 years

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(Left to Right) St. Laba Hasroun Society Treasurer Mikhael Farah, Secretary Judith Farah, President Maurice Farah, Vice President Genie Abboud, and Social Coordinator Paul Mordovanaki.

(WARREN, MI) — The St. Laba Hasroun Society celebrated their 90th anniversary during an annual brunch at St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church in Warren, Michigan on Sunday.

Founded in 1924, the society was created to “connect local Detroit Maronites from Hasroun who share a common love for their village,” says Maurice Farah, president of the group.

Hasroun is located in the Bsharri District of northern Lebanon. It overlooks the southern branch of the Qaddisha valley.

“Hasroun has long been the gateway of charm and glory of Lebanon’s scenic villages,” Farah said. “With God’s blessings, Hasroun will continue to rise through thick and thin and prosper as one of Lebanon’s most beautiful places.”

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(Left to Right) St. Laba Hasroun Society Vice President Genie Abboud and Treasurer Mikhael Farah.

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(Left to Right) St. Laba Hasroun Society President Maurice Farah, Vice President Genie Abboud, and Social Coordinator Paul Mordovanaki.

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PHOTOS: Lebanese American University leaders visit Detroit

(DETROIT, MI) — Lebanese American University (LAU) officials visited Detroit this week to network with local Lebanese-Americans and potential scholarship donors during planned banquets and private gatherings.

LAU Vice President for University Advancement Marla Rice-Evans and LAU Assistant Vice President of Development Robert Hollback visited St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church on Friday, touring the church and joining potential donors for a dinner at La Saj Lebanese Bistro.

LAU operates a $20 million scholarship budget, which requires corporate and individual financial contributions and grants.

“Any student who has the credentials should be able to come to the university regardless of their income,” said Robert Hollback, LAU Assistant Vice President of Development.

The Lebanese American University is a private American university and research institution located in Lebanon. The university is chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York.

The university receives financial assistance from the United States government and other educational aid organizations.

In a past news release, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut said LAU gives students a chance “to pursue American-style education that promotes tolerance, gender and social equality and challenges students to develop leadership skills, critical thinking, and initiative.”

According to Rice-Evans, LAU has over 8,200 students in their Beirut and Byblos campuses and around 2,300 graduating students each year.

IMG_2093(Left to Right) Prominent Lebanese-American Attorney Joumana Kayrouz, LAU Vice President for University Advancement Marla Rice-Evans, and Chorbishop Alfred Badawi of Saint Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church.

IMG_2087(Left to Right) Dr. Wissam Shaya, LAU Vice President for University Advancement Marla Rice-Evans, and Chorbishop Alfred Badawi.

IMG_2112(Left to Right) Local businessman George Habbouche, LAU Vice President for University Advancement Marla Rice-Evans, and pharmacist Pierre Boutros.

IMG_2105(Left to Right) LAU Vice President for University Advancement Marla Rice-Evans, La Saj Lebanese Bistro owner Alex Awada, and LAU Assistant Vice President of Development Robert Hollback.

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Dearborn music video sparks controversy

(DEARBORN, MI) — When local rapper Basel “Baze” Hachem uploaded a music video on YouTube this week, it resulted in a social media firestorm for its depiction of young local Arab Americans partying at a hookah lounge.

Baze uploaded the video, titled “Can’t Let Go Remix”, on September 14. Within hours, it captivated the attention of the local community as it was shared across social media

The Arab American News posted the music video on its Facebook page and within 48 hours it had reached more than 20,000 Facebook users and sparked hundreds of mixed comments.

The plot of the video involves Baze serenading a woman in front of local hookah bar Blue Cafe, located on Schaefer Road. in east Dearborn. Inside the hookah lounge, dozens of college-aged locals are seen dancing, smoking hookah and lip syncing the song’s lyrics.

Baze’s clip did seem to generate strong backing by many, who expressed the importance of supporting locals who are trying to break into the entertainment industry. But many of those supporters were drowned out by the most controversial aspect of the video:

It captures two local young women— both of whom wear the headscarf— dancing and lip syncing along with dozens of other men and women. It ignited a range of debates on the hijab in Islam, and the “expected” behavior that comes with the territory.

“The two girls in the headscarves, one is my sister and the other is my cousin,” Baze told The Arab American News. “What people were saying about them was a disgrace. They are grown women, adults supporting their family.”

Baze said he was prepared for the backlash when he decided to let his sister and cousin appear in the video. His wife is also in the video, playing the woman he serenades. They, along with hundreds of other local young adults, showed up at Blue Cafe in August when he distributed flyers asking supporters to join him for the video shoot. It was shot by New Age Media, a local up-and-coming production company.

Since the release of the video, many commentators were also appalled at the “questionable” image the video may be setting for the community. But Baze said it’s the reality of a modern day Dearborn.

“The atmosphere of that video is what happens every weekend at all the cafes in Dearborn,” he said. “My video is innocent. When they have entertainment nights at hookah bars, don’t you see hijabi’s dancing and doing the dabke? When you go to a wedding, don’t you see the proud mother dancing in front of everyone? They were doing normal stuff, but people blew it out of proportion.”

Baze said criticism comes with the territory of his career choice. He was born in Saudi Arabia and moved to Detroit with his family when he was 4-years-old. He soon developed a passion for music, listening to late rapper Tupac Shakur while growing up.

Despite challenges from his father, Baze said he moved out of his home when he was 18 to pursue a career as a rapper. He began writing his own music, releasing free-style mix tapes and distributing them for free. His musical style is versatile, tackling life themes and infusing it with street and club vibes.

“I started off in my own community, they were in my mind first before I went to any other city,” Baze said. “I was on my own. The family wasn’t supporting me and I was giving CDs away for free, thousands of them.”

Due to word of mouth, he would soon earn a positive reputation in the local hip hop scene and would begin charging for shows and mix tapes, making a steady income. He said his family eventually came around to the idea of accepting his career choice.

His music has made it as far as Chicago and Miami and he has also developed a large following in such local cities as Sterling Heights and Novi.

He plans to stay in Dearborn with his wife and two children and hopes his music will eventually reach music executives in Hollywood. He said social media has become his strongest marketing tool.

Baze is aware that it’s not all too common for Arab Americans to pursue careers in the entertainment industry, but referenced former Dearborn resident Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010, as a good example of someone who pursued her dreams while facing community backlash.

“It’s challenging knowing you are going to get hated on in your own community, but it helps you build up and move on from it,” he said. “If you don’t have haters, you aren’t doing anything right. The people who have been supporting me, without them, my music wouldn’t go anywhere and I thank them.”

Source: New America Media via Arab American News, Samer Hijazi, September 27, 2014
See original report here or here.

Lebanese American Club of Michigan announces new scholarship opportunity

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(DETROIT, MI) – The Lebanese American Club of Michigan (LACOM) announced a new scholarship opportunity for students of Lebanese descent on Monday.

The $1,000 scholarship aims to financially assist one Lebanese-American student with tuition, books, and other educational expenses.

Students are required to have at least a 3.5 grade point average and write a 500-word essay about what their Lebanese heritage means to them.

The essay question asks, “What does your Lebanese-American heritage mean to you, and how will you help preserve its rich culture and history?”

To apply for the scholarship, see the information below. For more information, call Charlie Kadado at (248) 924-4854.

LACOM Scholarship Opportunity

Gebran Bassil meets with Armenians in CA, NV

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(LOS ANGELES, CA) — The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee led a delegation, headed by its chairman Dr. Viken Hovsepian, to welcome Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil who was visiting Los Angeles over the weekend.

During a reception on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel, hosted by the Lebanese Consulate General to Los Angeles, members of the delegation had the opportunity to welcome Bassil.

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Pictured from left: Ghazaros Ghazarossian, Harry Nadjarian, Maya Ibrahim and Consul General Johnny Ibrahim, Chantal Aoun-Bassil, Toros Kechejian, Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, Harout Madenlian, ARF Western US Central Committee chairman Chair Dr Viken Hovsepian, Karo Khanjian, Varouj Ourfalian, Hovig Bedevian. Photo courtesy Asbarez Armenian Daily News.

Bassil also visited the Saint Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. See photos below:

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Bassil encourages Lebanese-Americans to invest in Lebanon

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bassil(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — During a trip to Los Angeles, California, Gebran Bassil spoke to a group of Lebanese citizens and Americans of Lebanese descent, saying it was their duty to purchase investments and Lebanese goods.

“We encourage you to invest overseas but to also dedicate some profits to investing in Lebanon through the ‘We Invest to Stay’ project,” he said.

The project intends to financially support Lebanese expatriates who invest in their countries of residence, on the condition of moving 20 percent of their investment onto Lebanon’s economy.

He also called on them to encourage their families in Lebanon to insist on staying in their homeland, “so that we do not become all emigrants without any land.”

Underlining the importance of preserving cultural heritage, Bassil called on the expatriates to stick to their native language, and disclosed a plan to draft a “Lebanese expatriate school” model, in collaboration with the Education Ministry.

See photos of his Los Angeles visit below:

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Agent: Farid Fata planned to buy $3M castle in Adma, Lebanon

(DETROIT, MI) — A 15-page FBI search and seizure warrant claims Lebanese-American Dr. Farid Fata performed medically unnecessary cancer treatments and directed his staff to lie to patients and insurance companies to justify spending.

On September 17, Fata pleaded guilty to 13 counts of health care fraud, two counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks. He faces sentencing in February before U.S. District Judge Paul Borman.

The FBI believes emails to workers, drug companies, and financial advisors will prove how Dr. Fata committed health care fraud. The 19-page affidavit included several emails.

In one email from July 2012, Dr. Fata wrote to a drug manufacturer after they denied a grant to his charity, “Swan for Life.” The FBI says the drug manufacturer was told to donate $10,000 to the charity or Dr. Fata would stop ordering the drug.

He writes, in part:

PHOTO: Fata speaking at a "Swan for Life" fundraising event.
PHOTO: Fata speaking at a “Swan for Life” fundraising event.

“I expect further support form AMAG, Please proceed ASAP. I will be happy to talk to Dr. XXXXXX to reconsider IF ANYBODY DESERVES SUPPORT IT IS US! i.e. SFLCF Please advise, Dr. Fata.”

Reports also say Fata was looking at investment opportunities in Lebanon, particularly in luxury properties in the Jounieh coastal area.

FBI Special Agent Bryan Drake focused on an August 2010 email exchange between Fata and his financial advisor. The subject line read “URGENT!!!!!”

Dr. Fata wrote:

“I need a favor from you. My dad has a great deal on a castle all furnished in Adma/Lebanon! … Can you pls get in contact with my dad and go see the house! It is for $3,000000…Let me know if you can see the house. What is the economic benefit and the housing market in Adma? Is there an economical value in investing in such house?”

Fata asked if he could tap one of his numerous trusts to pay for the castle.

PHOTO: Emails released by the FBI say Fata wanted to use money from the foundation he used to donate to church, to buy a $3M property in Lebanon.
PHOTO: Emails released by the FBI says Fata wanted to use money from the foundation he used to donate to church, to buy a $3M property in Lebanon.

“Can this be funded from the Fata Foundation?” he wrote, according to the search warrant.

The “Fata Family Foundation” was also used to make contributions to a Melkite Catholic church in Warren, according to public 990 forms.

It is unclear if Fata ever invested in the castle.

PHOTO: Dr. Farid Fata's wife has fled to Lebanon with her three children.
PHOTO: Sources say Fata’s wife has fled to Lebanon with her three children. (Hour Detroit)

Meanwhile, Samar Fata, the wife of Dr. Farid Fata and the CFO of Michigan Hematology Oncology, P.C., has fled the country to Lebanon with the couple’s three children, sources said.

Federal investigators alleged that from August 2007 to July 2013 Fata’s health maintenance organization practice billed Medicare for around $225 million, of which $109 million was for chemotherapy or other cancer treatments.

Of the approximately $225 million, Medicare paid more than $91 million to Fata’s medical practice. Many of the treatments, government attorneys charge, were administered to patients who did not even have cancer.

The FBI wanted to search the doctor’s Hotmail account to trace tens of millions of dollars that flowed through various Fata-related entities, according to the search warrant.

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