Middle East

Bonnie Bolling remembers when she first stepped on Middle Eastern soil. A writer, Bolling was in an airport in Dubai and the call to prayer came over the loudspeakers.

She’d never heard the call, and while she definitely felt reverence, she also panicked because she didn’t know what to expect or what her own response should be. Her heart beat hard as she stopped and awaited the reactions of her fellow travelers.

“I realized I was going to experience it in a way I was going to need to write about,” Bolling says of the Middle East.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For centuries, refugees from all over the world have taken to the seas to escape violence and persecution in their homelands. Today, the author of a children's book published this year recounts just a few of their stories. Then, we speak to the director and producer of a new film about Gertrude Bell, who's been called the most powerful woman in the British Empire during World War I.

The similarities between Native American and Middle Eastern cultures, as told by poets in a new anthology that was published here. Then, two of the musicians from the local band Making Movies; their new album, I Am Another You, just made it onto the Billboard and Billboard Latin Charts.

Guests:

Lara604 / Flickr -- CC

In this encore presentation: A visit to Nazareth Sweets, which is in a part of Lenexa that's becoming a "Middle Eastern strip," and a culinary instructor talks about a beloved Syrian dish that she grew up eating.

Then, the Food Critics search out the best Middle Eastern food in and around KC.

Guests:

Blake Stoppel

Kansas City’s BkMk Press has a new collection of poetry by Native American writers about the Middle East.

The book's title — The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East — was inspired by advice given to BkMk managing editor Ben Furnish by a teacher years ago.

Courtesy of Nabil Haddad

"'In America,' he told me, 'In America, we sell hamburgers.'"

But Nabil Haddad didn't have a clue what a hamburger was. It was 1958, and Haddad was looking for a job. 

Earlier that year, tensions started escalating between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon. Haddad's father sent him to Baghdad, Iraq, for refuge. Seven days after Haddad arrived, the Iraqi Revolution broke out.

"There was a lot of killing, dragging colonels and generals in the streets naked ... It was atrocious," Haddad says.

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A visit to Nazareth Sweets, which is in a part of Lenexa that's becoming a "Middle Eastern strip," and a culinary instructor talks about a beloved Syrian dish that she grew up eating.

Then, the Food Critics search out the best Middle Eastern food in and around KC.

Guests:

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has endured for decades, but former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell believes a nonviolent resolution is still possible. Then, one data scientist says expanding misuse of algorithms and mathematical modeling is creating Weapons of Math Destruction.

David Greene has reported on everything from the White House to the Arab Spring to post-Soviet Russia. It all started with his high school newspaper and a lot of help along the way. Even his wife made sacrifices for his career, but Greene says it’s paid off. Now he's co-host of NPR’s Morning Edition.

David Greene is in town for KCUR’s benefit event 'RadioActive' on June 10. Tickets are no longer available.

There is more to the relationship between the U.S. and Israel than just political gesturing. American diplomat and author Dennis Ross explains how international obligation, political tradition, and emotional attachment all enter into the equation when taking on long-standing problems in the Middle East.

Examining Religion In The News For 2015

Jan 8, 2016

Legalization of same-sex marriage, streams of migrants flowing into Europe from war-torn Syria and the expansion of ISIS all top the list of important religion news stories this year. We look at which stories will continue to impact us in 2016 on this edition of Up to Date.

Guests:

A majority of American veterans, both able-bodied and wounded, say they want to continue to serve after fighting overseas. TIME Magazine’s Joe Klein details the story behind two soldiers who show fellow veterans how to use their war skills to rebuild communities here and abroad in his new book, Charlie Mike.

Finding The Funny In Being Iranian

May 13, 2015

Maz Jobrani has used his Iranian heritage to shape his comedy, and he laughs in the face of the stereotypes he sees of Middle Eastern people.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk with him about when he was asked to wear a turban on stage, what it's like to be a panelist on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and his Axis of Evil comedy tour.

Guest:

Ashley Gilbertson

When heading into a war zone, not many choose a camera over a rifle. This edition of Up To Date explores the lives of two war photographers who covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the States. 

Guests: 

Wiley Rein LLP

Former Kansas congressman Jim Slattery believes that a nuclear deal with Iran is possible after speaking with officials during a visit to Tehran December.

He says he was told by Iranians that it was the first time a current or former United States elected official has been invited to speak in the country since 1979.

Slattery had the opportunity to speak with Iranian officials during the International Conference on World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) in December. It was his first trip to the country.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

For the last few weeks the American public has been inundated with news about Ebola, leaving other news — like the ongoing crisis in Syria and the Middle East — in the background. But for many Middle Easterners in Kansas City, news from home remains important, and they often struggle to find information.

As a result, many Kansas Citians who have family afar have turned to each other for support, crossing  religious and political boundaries that may have divided them at home.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Syria, Liberia and Ukraine are places most Kansas Citians know through news reports. But for immigrants from these countries, headlines aren't the half of it; friends, relatives and even memories remain in places left behind. Sound and stories take us around Kansas City, and around the world, as experts on the transnational experience add perspective. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

As the crisis in Syria and the Middle East persists, local grocer Ahmad Alhabashi works to make his store a place where the local Arab community can feel closer to home, despite being thousands of miles away.

Upon entering the Al-Habashi Mart in the River Market in Kansas City, Mo., guests are greeted with Arabic music playing over the radio, sharp smells of curry and cayenne waft through the air as they weave through rows and rows of the vibrant spices. Brightly colored products line the walls, many of the labels in Arabic.

While armed conflicts are ongoing, media coverage brings images and sounds from the center of war zones to the world. But what happens when the guns go silent and the combatants and media go home?

J. Malcolm Garcia looks at the people left to survive in the aftermath in his book, What Wars Leave Behind: The Faceless and the Forgotten. On Wednesday's Up to Date, the author talks with Steve Kraske about "the endless messiness of war and the failings of good intentions."

Guest:

U.S. Department of State / Bureau of Consular Affairs

Many college students often spend a summer abroad for additional course credit or just to see a bit of the world. In the second portion of Friday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with a member of the State Department for some advice that could make their, or anyone's, time away from home as safe as possible.

Guest:

  • Viktoria Lopatkiewicz is a Division Chief in the Office of American Citizen Services for the U.S. Department of State.

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Two museum exhibitions currently in Kansas City are using tomb relics to bring ancient times and faraway places to life.  These artifacts have survived journeys of thousands of miles and thousands of years.

Behind The Lens In The Middle East

Feb 4, 2013
Gil Cohen-Magen

It’s one thing to open up Time magazine and flip through the pages, briefly noticing the images from the latest Middle East conflict. It’s quite another to stand behind the camera.

Adania Shibli: Growing Up In Palestine

Oct 17, 2012
Stavros Petropoulos

Adania Shibli grew up in Palestine which became a source of inspiration for her writing. 

It's easy to vilify an entire country because of its political leadership. But don't you think it'd be interesting to explore the Middle Eastern treasures of Iran or visit the southeast Asian jewel of Vietnam?