Sarkis Karam’s “Wings of Life” Evokes Faith and Hope


By Marcelle Mansour OAM

Sarkis Karam, Bilingual Writer and Editor of the Australian Affairs in AnNahar Arabic newspaper launched his new English book “Wings of Life” on Sunday 25th February at the Seniors’ Room, Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Sydney. The book launch event was successful with great speakers as follows: His Excellency Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay. Poet Badawi El Hage, Mr. Anwar Harb AM, Mr. Joe Baini, Dr. Emad Berro and Dr. Anthony Hasham.

Wings of Life is a book of literary collection of poetry and prose of the author who was born in Lebanon and immigrated to Australia where he lives and adopts the new country as his wonderful home. It is a book of a collection of reflections that moves through the pages. Each page contains a reflection on wisdom where the author speaks for himself, from his heart, from his thoughts, from his memories and from his own assimilated experiences in solemnity. The collection contains pieces of work describes the author’s memories, contradictions, discoveries and life lessons one experiences when one is neither seen as fully Australian nor fully foreign.

In his fifth book, Sarkis reflects on his life journey exploring various topics where he was able to articulate his thoughts and ideas in a creative way. It is interesting to see how he starts his poetry reflections with the poem of Memory that reflects hope. To my surprise, this title of his poem is the same title of one of my latest artworks that were exhibited at the Corner Gallery Stanmore in October last year. Sarkis is a good friend of mine and I was grateful that he attended my art exhibition with other friends, and it is pleasant to see him giving his poem the same title of my artwork. The significance of this particular work is actually important to me for I believe that Memories living inside us are the foundation of who we are and the source of our roots and moral conscience that keeps our minds revived in all matters. The author seems optimistic by showing the link between memory and hope when he says:

Revived by fragrance

Of a pine tree… a rock …. A grain…

A flower… a soil…

It is carried away on wings of hope.

And in the poem of Wings of Life he writes:

Suddenly, memories entrenched

in our dreams,

long ago, tend to reappear,

for they have dwelled in our minds….

In the same poem, Sarkis describes his tireless journey of discovery which in fact applies to every one of us as immigrants where “our memories never left.” “From the innocence of “childhood” to the adventures of “youthfulness” through different stages of our ages, our trips are carried “on the “wings of love”’ and ‘on an endless flight.”’

Sarkis Karam’s poems are flame with a passion for life’s love, faith, and hope. His words explore the meaning of those conceptions and the bliss he has from “family” love and lasting “friendship.”  His poetry in general offer rich study of the meaning of various topics that he encounters in his life experiences as immigrant who is torn between two countries, that is his motherland “Lebanon” and his new adopted home “Australia,” This definitely applies to every one of us as immigrants. He Explores the connection between his beloved old village in Lebanon and his adopted home Australia. He is in deep love with his old village that he departed, in his piece of prose of Lebanon, his heart is still in Lebanon saying “How can we desert our hearts.”

Sarkis reveals his real self, his inner self through the” sighs of nostalgia flying.”  In Motherland, through the “magic of her tenderness”, he draws a ‘sketch of pictures of his dreams’ a visual‘ ”image” that ‘’would not shine without the colors of his motherland.”

And in his piece of prose Australia: “A shelter for humanity, a home of comfort, peace, and justice…A refuge for liberty and freedom for the expression” this great Aussie land we call home.

Then in Strength, he proclaims “no strength without faith, no strength without the Lord.” For only in the Lord he finds strength as well as in the Light of Life he finds peace. To him, Ehden, in fact, is ‘EDEN’! and Youssef Bey Karam “lives on as my inspiration.”  Sarkis also honors both his country of birth and Virgin Mary by saying O Mary, “Lebanon dwells on your heart.” for they both unite together.  His other poems are also glorious and provocative.

As an author, Sarkis has been known for his nice technique and style of writing and the power he evokes from his ideas in his literary pieces that refer to content. In other words, his poetry involves the method which a poet uses to convey meaning and feelings. The themes of his poetry tend to be of positive nature with wisdom, faith, and hope.

His poetic voice is direct and honest, where he expresses his thoughts, feelings, and memories in easy language, in a way that builds a sense of connection between himself and his readers.

This book is worth reading. Congratulations once again to Sarkis Karam on his new achievement and best wishes for his future success.

The Grand Opening of “Two Brothers Mediterranean” Restaurant at Castle Hills




By Marcelle Mansour OAM

It is with great pride and pleasure that The “Two Brothers Mediterranean” restaurant was newly opened in the Castle Hill area on Wednesday evening, December 20, 2017. With the advent of Christmas on the doors, the place was decorated with the flavor and colors of Christmas’ lights.

The nun Irene Bou Ghosn gave the spiritual word to bless the food, calling for the audience to be blessed with a delicious meal. The young man Louis (older of “Two Brothers Mediterranean”) delivered a brief speech in which he welcomed everyone and thanked all those who provided support, whether in their presence or giving of gifts or a bouquet of flowers.

The place was filled with a lot of friends and loved ones from Lebanese and Mediterranean communities who enjoyed the quality of authentic Lebanese food of delicious quality alongside the music of the musician Alex Hadchiti and singer John Khalil in a charming atmosphere.

As we saw yesterday night, the restaurant was characterized by a beautiful atmosphere and simple decorations in a mixture of modern and traditional touch with the addition of some warm touches of elegant taste that gave the calm and comfort to enjoy.

This restaurant has luxurious style, offering fine quality food prepared by professional experienced Lebanese chefs who perfect authentic traditional recipes. It appears that the El-Khoury family will be one of the pioneers of the excellent service that offers elegant Lebanese traditional cuisine in a relaxing atmosphere characterized by sophistication and originality.

The grand opening of the new restaurant was a great success, as it was a delicious dining experience with a group of friends of the community that was filled with a friendly and loving atmosphere.

Congratulations to the brothers Louise and Savoi, and to their friendly parents, Yves and Leila, and their beautiful sisters, Monay and Shiraz, for this family is characterized by generosity, hospitality, and dynamic activity. All guests were thankful for the invitation and expressed their commendation on the grand opening of the new restaurant with sincere wishes to a prosperous business venture to continue the journey for many years to come.

For the lovers of the most delicious classic Lebanese cuisine and fresh healthy Mediterranean, may explore the (Tow Brothers Mediterranean) restaurant at the following address:

Garden Plaza, 3-9 Terminus Street, Castle Hill NSW 2154 Tel: 0433 662 232

The Celebration of the Australian Palestinian Day at NSW Parliament with Palestine Roving Ambassador H. E. Afif Safieh




By Marcelle Mansour OAM

“Palestinians are the global tribes. It is the symbol of our tragedy but at the same time becomes the future of constructive empowerment.”

H.E.Afif Safieh

The Australian Palestinian Day was widely celebrated by Australian Palestinian Community, including Australian Palestinian Club, Council of Australian Palestinians, Fatah Australia and General Union of Palestinian Workers, at the NSW Parliament Sydney on Tuesday 21st of November 2017, in the Presence of Head of General Palestinian Delegation to Australia, Ambassador H. E. Izzat. Abdul Hadi, Former Foreign Minister Hon Prof Bob Carr and Palestinian Roving Ambassador for Special Missions, London H. E. Afif Safieh Who is currently visiting Australia.

The 19th annual function had the biggest attendance at Palestine National Day gathering, it was widely attended by Fedral, State and Local Members of Parliament, including Hon Shayne Mallard MLC representing the Premier Hon Gladys Berijiklian, and Minister for Multiculturism the Hon Ray Williams, The Hon Victor Dominello MP Minister for Finance Member of the Liberal Party, Senator Lee Rihannon Senator for NSW Greens, Hon Bob Carr Former Senator and Premier, Mr jihad Dib MP Representing Leader of the Opposition Luke Foley, Senator Shawquet Moslemani MP of the Legislative Assembly, Members of Parliamentary Friends of Palestine. H. E. Mr Youssef Shawki,Consul-General of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mayor of Bankstown Khal Asfour, Mr Albert Jubian President of the Council of Australian Palestinians, Mr Eddie Zananiri, spokesman of the Australian Palestinians and a strong advocate for Palestinian rights, leaders of the Aboriginal community including Ms Daphne Simmons, leaders of various faith including Fr Aziz Abwe from the Antiochian Orthodox Church, community organizations, community activists, media representatives and friends.

Mr. Jubian MCed the event and the ceremony began by playing the two national anthems of Australia and Palestine, followed by a number of eminent guest speakers, highlighted by the powerful speech of Palestine Roving Ambassador, London H. E. Afif Safieh Who is currently visiting Australia.

Ms. Daphne Simmons was the first speaker, an Aboriginal woman activist who said: The British declared in 1962 that Aboriginal people were not allowed to vote, they lost their culture and language and were victims of massacre, dispossession, and displacement just like Palestinians.

Mr. Albert Jubian said it has been 100 years since the Balfour Declaration when a public statement was issued by the British government that established a “national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.” It is the time to stop history repeating itself and to enter into real just peace negotiations. It is the time to put an end to the Palestinian plight and to return Palestinians to their homeland.

Mr Jihad Dib made a speech on behalf of the Leader of the opposition Luke Foley MP. Jihad regrets the fact that Australian government does not recognise Palestine and said that he wants to make sure as a part of motion that the NSW government will Join other countries in the world to recognize Palestine and to support two-state solution that will bring goodness to the world.

Mr. Eddie Zananiri: This year, according to Royal Institute, 80 percent of Australian public supported the establishment of the state of Palestine, with failure to translate the Australian public into government policy. Since the peace process is not working, the only thing left for a peaceful transition to a just peace between Israel and Palestine is for people of the world to put pressure on their government so their governments, in turn, will put pressure on Israel. Palestinians will continue the struggle for justice and we wish the labor party during the national conference next year to adopt a resolutions reflecting of the various state conferences, hoping they will come before too long when we can all celebrate a just solution for the Palestinian question.

Senator Lee Rhiannon asserted her commitment to justice for Palestine and urged the audience to raise their voice louder, for there is so much can be done in this country to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Hon Bob Carr focused in his speech on important three words; Believing in the two-state solution is about three words, these are occupation, settlements, and cruelty. Firstly; an occupation and the human’s attitude towards it, secondly; it is about the spread of settlements that is making the two-state solution impossible, and thirdly: it is about the cruelty with which that occupation has been brought. These emphasised three words are expressing our solidarity with Palestine.

H.E.Afif Safieh gave a highly effective speech; In his own words: “Palestinians are the global tribes. It is the symbol of our tragedy but at the same time becomes the future of constructive empowerment.”

H. E. Afif spoke about success stories in Chile where there are more than a dozen members of parliament and at least three Cabinet Ministers are of Palestinian origin. Here is some quotes of an extract of his speech: “We Palestinians are the victims of the victims of European history where our tragedy of Nakba that occurred in the Western world’s approval….today we have a comfortable majority within western public opinion and our challenge is how to translate this sociological majority of public opinion in the political sphere….therefore we Palestinians should show more cohesion in the battles to come and we are proud to have such quality supporters in our oz country and within the concept of multiculturalism, for it is possible today to cultivate and preserve one’s identity and to further our integration at the same time, for we love our country of adoption as much as we love our country of origin.”Afif invited the audience for the political struggles to come, for the history is undecided, and therefore to help history to make the right choice, in his opinion the optimist makes history, unlike the pessimist. He believes that International ‘will’ has to prevail on the national ‘will’ and Palestinians have an enormous reservoir of’ will’. Palestinians have been unreasonably reasonable in accepting with a great difficulty a state on just 22% of Palestine, to accept a solution of 22% which is considered their right and totally within the international law, even that seems to be unachievable, why? Therefore Afif is hoping that he can be an incentive and an encouragement for Australia to play that role. “In our interdependent globalised world we should know how to play political power on the diplomatic sphere, we should help history make the right choice collectively and individually and should learn how to exercise influence and power on the political sphere.”

Hon. Shayne Mallard MLC said that he is a supporter of the two-state solution and stated that; one of the greatest values that we all appreciate in Australia is the way our multicultural nation provides for individual freedoms for culture, languages, and religions to flourish. In New South Wales at the last Census, there were 8,259 residents who claimed Palestinian descent, and 1,600 people who were born in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. It is delightful that Australia can provide a safe haven for those who have been stateless for decades, and Palestinian Australians have made many contributions to our lives here in New South Wales and have worked hard to preserve traditional culture, heritage, and traditions.

H.E.Izzat Abdulhadi spoke of his trip to Palestine led by Bill Shorten, meeting with the Prime Minister and labor party in regards of two-state-solution and recognising Palestine, and then he urged everyone to be optimistic and to put the issue of Palestine in the center of the agenda. This determination of Palestinian people in the establishment of a Palestinian state is not subjected to negotiation for it is the right by international law. It is time now for Australia to recognise Palestine and to provide hope for Palestinian people. According to 2016 census we have in Sydney twelve thousand Palestinians. Therefore it is time now to establish a Palestinian community that can be efficient to share the policy of the Australian Government. Through democracy, unity, education, and achievements we have qualified people who can talk to Parliamentarians about our own thoughts. The ambassador ended his talk by saying: “I have started already a process in establishing a board focusing on youth and women, our own women are very clever and smart and deserve to be in leadership.”

The ceremony ended with the presentation of refreshments, and on behalf of the Premier, the Palestinian toast was presented by the Hon Shane Mallard MP MLC, and the Australian toast by the ambassador of Palestine H. E. Dr. Izzet Abdel Hadi, wishing all a very happy Palestinian National Day.


Launch of Gaza Surf Project Fundraising Dinner by Northern Beaches Committee


By Marcelle Mansour OAM

In the presence of the Palestinian Ambassador H. E. Izzat Abdulhadi, Northern Beaches Committee for Palestine held its first Inaugural Fundraising Dinner for the Gaza Surf Project, on Monday 14 August 2017 at Old City Kitchen & Bar Newtown, and was organised with affiliation with the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP), other advocacy groups and members of the Australian Palestinian Community.

The event was attended by members and groups of Palestine supporters; included The Hon Lynda  Voltz MLC- Shadow Minister for Sport and Veterans Affairs,  Associate Professor Jake Lynch from Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies the University of Sydney, Jennifer Killen – Coordinator of Friends of Hebron, Cathy Peters from Sydney University and Sonja Sedmak- Coordinator of the Coalition for Justice and Peace, Dr Jamal Rifi AM, Eddie Zananiri -. Spokesperson of  The Australian Palestinian Community and a strong advocate for Palestinian rights, Abdul Kader Karanouh – Secretary General of Fatah in Australia, Jamil Batshoun- President of the Australian Palestinian Club together with Michael Barjel and Henry Wahhab,  Hilmi Dabbagh, President of Australian Palestinian Professionals Association, Marwan Akramawi from The General Union of Palestinian Workers, Issa Shaweesh – Treasurer of Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN), Dr Emad Berro and Shawki Moslemani from the Australian Arabic Cultural Centre, Shamikh Badra. Amir Salim from Australia Arab Council, Dr. George Hatoum, Derek Halawa, Hassan Mourtada, Abdul Majeed Hijazi, Farouk and Nisreen Motawi, Rezik and Salwa Husary.

Ms. Sonja Sedmak MCed the event, speakers were H. E. Izzat Abdulhadi, the Ambassador of Palestine, Mr. Shamikh Badra, and  Mr. Hilmi Dabbagh.

In his speech H. E. Izzat Abdulhadi, the ambassador highlighted the importance of Gaza Surf Project as a community development project, for it aims to send life-saving equipment including surfboards to Gaza, and to bring out two young people from Gaza to learn surfing and then set up a Nippers programme in Gaza based on the Australian Surf Life Saving. the ambassador spoke about the unjust Israeli occupation in Palestine the necessity of urgent reconciliation in achieving the conflict resolution.

Shamikh Badra said he was aware of the miserable situation in Gaza for he was born and lived there most of his life, he spoke of the Israeli blockade in Gaza Strip for more than 10 years including offensives and aggressions since 2006 where civilians were killed. The United Nations report shows that Gaza may already be unlivable with the weak infrastructure has contributed to the current humanitarian crisis with mass poverty, high unemployment, shortage of electricity and water, inadequate health care. Gaza has very little entertainment facilities such as cinema, theatre, or sports and therefore “Gaza Surfing Project” is a significant initiative.  Samikh added that Gaza will remain steadfast and will live and will not die despite Rabin’s wishes to see her sunk in the sea in 1992.

Hilmi Dabbagh stated that it was in June 2016, when the former Premier Mike Baird agreed to support an initiative of the Northern Beaches Committee for Palestine, to send surfboards to war-torn Gaza, and to develop a Nippers program for the children of Gaza. History proves that Surfing in Gaza is not new occurrence; for there is, in reality, a 75-year-old connection between Sydney’s northern beaches and Gaza’s Mediterranean coastline that goes back to early 1940s when the Australian members of 6th Division were stationed in Gaza, under General Thomas Blamey’s command who were component to the Allied Defence against Nazi Germany’s push from North Africa. At that time hundreds of Anzacs were encamped near Gaza beach for training where they demonstrated the art of body surfing to local Palestinians and held a big surf carnival with General and Lady Blamey as guests of honour.

Today there is very little entertainment in Gaza –.remembering the Australian connection – young Gazans have asked to benefit from the experience of the Australian popular sport of life-saving, This initiative will send a message of hope for people who live in despair. It is in this spirit that Premier Baird agreed with a delegation from the Northern Beaches Committee for Palestine that sending surfboards to the people of Gaza, and developing a Nippers program there, would be a welcome gesture for hope and peace.

Then Jamil Batshoun gave an enthusiastic ward to encourage the audience to be generous in raising funds. The event concluded successfully with the ambassador thanked the advocacy groups organizers for their solidarity and steady support to the Palestinian cause and he also thanked the Husary family for providing a great dinner that was inspired by the tastes of Jerusalem.

The National Conference of the Palestinian Campaign for the Boycott of Israel at the University of Sydney




By Marcelle Mansour

The Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney and Sydney University Staff for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)  held a National Conference titled “Driving Global Justice for Palestine”) on Friday and Saturday 28-29 July 2017 at the University of Sydney Australia. The conference was supported by a number of associations: The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network; the Palestine Support Network Australia; Friends of Palestine WA; Justice for Palestine Brisbane; the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (SA), Australian Palestinian Professionals Association; The General Union of Palestinian Workers, the Australian Palestinian Club; the Coalition against Israel Apartheid Melbourne; the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine; the Palestine Action Group Sydney;

A large number of active academics and researchers participated in the two-day conference, in which 32 research papers were presented, along with discussions and follow-up, all aimed at urging driving international attention towards achieving a just peace in Palestine.

Some of the local Australian academic speakers were Emirates Professor Stuart Rees AM, Dr. Ahmad Shboul Am, Professor Bassam Dally, Dr. Peter Slezak, Dr. Nick Riemer, Dr. Marcello Svirsky, Dr. Jake Lynch, Dr. Nigel Parsons, Jessica Morrison, Cathy Peters, Vivienne Prozsolt.

The Australian keynote speakers were Dr. Yousef Munayyer- Executive Director US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Samah Sabawi – author, playwright and political commentator and Professor Ghassan Hage -Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory, University of Melbourne. Various Sessions covered important topics such as freedom of speech. Zionism, Anti-Semitism, Justice, Palestine, Unions and Politics and others

According to the Guardian newspaper: “On the following day, Sunday the 30th of July, former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr delivered a speech to the NSW state Labor conference, calling on the party to recognise Palestine. The motion carried by delegates in Sydney on Sunday night affirmed the two-state solution, and it recognised Israel and Palestine’s right to exist “within secure and recognised borders” before urging the next Labor government to recognise Palestine. The references to the two-state solution and the right to exist secure state borders were added during backroom negotiations in the lead-up to the vote.”

Peter Manning’s book of Janet Venn-Brown, a Life in Art; Hosted by Arab Council Australia



By Marcelle Mansour OAM

Janet Venn-Brown -A Life in Art; 2016, Dr. Peter Manning’s lavishly illustrated book in English edition, celebrated and honours her extraordinary life as an Australian remarkable painter and determined campaigner for Palestinian statehood. It captures her artistic work of painted radiant interiors during her 40 years in Rome, where she fell in love with Palestinian activist Wael Zuaiter and depicts her political engagement in the Middle East after Wael was murdered.

Dinner with Janet Brown-Venn & Peter Manning, as a night of art, was hosted by Arab Council Australia at Summerland Restaurant on Wednesday 26th of July 2017. The event was attended by Senator Shawquet Muslemani, MP of the Legislative Council of the Australian Parliament, Ms. Julia Finn MP Australian Labor Party for Granville NSW, Mr. Lauri Ferguson former MP, Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific. HE Izzat Abdulhadi, and First Secretary Ms Noura Saleh from the Palestinian Embassy in Canberra, Mr Ali Kazak, senior Palestinian Diplomat, and former Ambassador of Palestine, Painter and Campaigner Janet Venn-Brown, Dr Peter Manning, Author of Janet Venn Brown A Life in Art, heads of associations, Ms Randa Kattan- CEO of Arab Council Australia, community leaders and a crowd of Australian Arab and Palestinians.

Ms. Zahia Shriedy MCed the event, Ms. Randa Kattan hosted the night, speakers were H.E. Izzat Abdulhadi, the Ambassador of State of Palestine, Dr. Peter Manning, Australian distinguished journalist and Author of Janet Venn Brown: A Life in Art, followed by Q & A Session conducted by Peter along with book signing.

The speakers took the audience to a tour of history about Janet Venn – Brown’s life, the 92 years old Australian artist who created interior paintings for 40 years during her life in Italy while she was based in Rome after she studied art at her Italian school.

It was in Rome where she met Wael Zu’aiter (2 January 1934–16 October 1972) the Palestinian intellectual Writer, Translator and the Fatah Representative and Spokesman in Rome at that time. Zu’aiter was born in Nablus in 1934, the son of Adel Zu’aiter who was one of the notable families of the city and worked as a lawyer and university lecturer and translator. In Italy, Wael went to university for foreigners and took lessons in singing for he was fascinated by music, and had a perfect ear for sound. Janet and Wael fall in love with each other when he sang to her beautifully the song of It was a lover and his lass while they were walking the banks of the Tiber. Since then Janet became Zu’aiter’s partner for eight years and she was one of the last people to see him before his assassination happened on 16 October 1972. It was reported that Wael Zuaiter was murdered not because he was a terrorist, rather because he was a passionate intellectual Palestinian political activist. Before he was killed, Zu’aiter was in the process of translating One Thousand and One Nights to the Italian language which was left uncompleted.

Janet traveled to Europe before settled in Rome, where she hosted her friends of Australian well-known painters such as Justin O’Brien, Martin Sharpe, Arthur Boyd Donald, Margaret Olley, Jeffrey Smart and the renowned Writer David Malouf. She also traveled to Middle Eastern countries and painted various interiors over there and she is still constantly painting.

 Janet Venn-Brown: A Life in Art’s book of 180 pages has color illustrations and contains the Australian artist’s biography that was born in 1924 and left Australia for Rome in the 1960s, capturing the streets and architectural buildings of the towns, and narrating the story of her life during her 40 years in Rome until her return to Australia in 2011. The book shows her relationship with the Palestinian political activist Weal Zu’aiter and her engaging in political activity regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In a lifetime devoted to art-making Janet Venn- Brown was celebrated with a beautiful art display hung on the wall, featured a selection of her real interior artwork that has a soft touch and a delicate color along with a great book published about her life and wonderful work as a retrospective exhibition. The book is a wonderful celebration of not just Janet Venn- Brown’s work, but her life and dedication to ceaseless work for the Palestinian cause, human rights, and social justice.

This book is certainly of great value and must be read, as it moves the reader to a real world to live an artistic, intellectual, social and political experience in our current reality. Congratulations to the journalist Dr. Peter Manning, and thanks for writing this amazing book. Extended thanks go to Ms. Randa Kattan, the staff of the Arab Council of Australia and all those who participated in the event.