This coming February 11th offers a chance to reflect on what we hope to see from President Joe Biden’s administration in terms of Middle East policy.
Event host will be Vahid Razavi, a Iranian-American author, activist and entrepreneur and the founder of our nonprofit, Ethics in Technology.
A set of speakers with knowledge of human rights and legal issues in the region will speak, and then comedians who are also cognizant of these issues will inspire us through entertaining reflections that get us laughing and thinking.
The public will also be invited to share thoughts they have and wishes they’d like to convey to the incoming administration.
We’ll kick off the event with a mindful reflection by Rik Center, author of If You Can’t Change Your Mood, Change Your Mind: Mindful Reflections Toward Self-Discovery and cofounder of the Mindfulness Care Center, where he’s developed workshops around mindfulness and the resilience people can gain from unwinding somatic experiential stress anxieties.
Our first speaker will be Norman Solomon, who went to his first antiwar demonstration in 1967 and has been active in peace and social-justice movements since then. His books include The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media and War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. Norman founded the 22-year-old Institute for Public Accuracy, where he’s executive director, and in 2011 co-founded RootsAction.org, where he’s national director.
Next will be Reese Erlich, an adjunct professor of International Studies at the University of San Francisco. As a freelance journalist he files for PRI, CBC (Canada), The Progressive, VICE News, and Foreign Policy, among others. Erlich received a commendation for 50 years of outstanding journalism from the California State Senate in 2018 and another commendation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives, 2018.
Hassan Al-Tayyab, front man of the band American Nomad and an award winning singer/ songwriter, will speak next. Hassan El-Tayyab is the lead lobbyist on Middle East policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
The final two speakers will be Brett Wilkins, Ethics in Tech board member and a San Francisco-based independent writer and activist whose work focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights. His articles have recently appeared in print and online publications including Asia Times, The Jakarta Post, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Antiwar.com, Mondoweiss, Socialist Viewpoint, TeleSur and Venezuela Analysis.
And Nima Rahimi, Commissioner on the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission. Nima has served on the Iranian American Bar Association board for the past seven years and on the board of Pars Equality Center’s Generation Plus for the past four years.
Following the talks will be comedy from Debi Durst. Forged in the crucible of improvisational theater at a young age, Debi has performed with every improv group known to humanity in the Bay Area.
Jeannette Marin, proud stay-at-home Mom and stand-up comedian. In 2019, she was in the S.F. International Comedy Competition and a featured comedian at the Cinequest Film Festival.
Finally, comedienne Aundre the Wonderwoman will perform. By day, she works as an attorney advising lawyers who represent clients on California’s death row. She was a semi-finalist in the San Francisco International Comedy Competition and received the “Stand Up For Justice” award for her work against the death penalty.