February 25, 2017
International Festival

Overture Center
State Street, Madison
10 am – 5 pm

Take a trip around the world in a day! Experience all the cultures that Madison has to offer through food, crafts and free performances. And join MRSCP as we once again present Palestinian fair trade products at the International Festival. We’ll be selling a brand new shipment of Palestinian extra-virgin olive oil, olive oil soap, embroidery, wood crafts, earrings, ceramics and kuffiyehs. It’s fun, and it’s free!

Your Passport to the Arts

Enjoy more than 30 FREE performances throughout Overture by artists who call Dane County home celebrating the rich cultural heritage within our community. Indulge in cuisines from around the world, browse stunning arts and crafts available for purchase and learn about the many local businesses with global connections.

International Festival

International Festival is on Saturday, February 25, 2017, 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM



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Palestinian Author Reflects on Life in Gaza

Lupe Salmeron, Madison365, December 5, 2016

An audience of around 30 people gathered to hear from talented blogger and political analyst Laila El-Haddad on Nov. 29 at The Crossing.

Laila El-Haddad is a talented blogger, political analyst, engaging public speaker, and parent-of-three from Gaza City. She is the author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between (2010); the co-editor of the anthology Gaza Unsilenced (2015); and co-author of The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey (2nd Ed. 2016).

The evening started off with a Q & A between UW-Madison professor Nevine El Nossery and El-Haddad about her blog and books inspired by her experiences while living on the border in Gaza. That was followed by a short cooking demonstration and potluck social featuring samples of Palestinian food, including dishes from El-Haddad’s cookbook.

El-Haddad explained that initially, she created her blog to relieve and process some of the emotions and experiences she underwent while living in Gaza, but it then grew to be something much bigger.

“At the time, I had a close friend who I thought was really well informed but just had this kind of naivety about the whole experience. ‘Oh, you must be used to this by now, always being stranded,’ she said. And trying to explain, “Like no, you never get used to this kind of thing.’” El-Haddad said. “Or just being ill-informed in general about the modes and methods of transportation and lack of freedom of movement (in Gaza) that made me realize that there needs to be a better ways to communicate this experience than the traditional, ‘Here are the numbers, here are the facts, here are the maps’ kind of thing. That’s when I began to use the blog as a vehicle and kind of just blogging about everyday mundane experiences, as a vehicle for people to understand the bigger political issues that exist in the background.”

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To her, it was just a way to vent, but also inform her few readers about the events happening in Gaza. She did not realize how important her “everyday mundane experiences” were to others interested in Gazarian affairs.

“I didn’t think much about it at the time, but suddenly there was a lot of interest, including from like Israelis and others who had no other access,” she said. “It was all mediated cover from mainstream channels that were telling the same dismal, dark, anonymous story of Gaza. So that’s how it (her blog) became an effective tool to bypass all that.”

Rabha Elfarra was there to hear from El-Haddad, a neighbor who saw her grow up in Gaza.

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Update November 29, 2016
The Gaza Kitchen with Laila El-Haddad in Madison

The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey is a cookbook and a documentary portrait of the Gaza Strip by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt, published by Just World Books.

The Crossing
1127 University Avenue
Madison [Map]

4:30 pm: Gaza, From Blogging to Cooking and Everything In Between
A Conversation with Laila El-Haddad based on topics raised in her book, Gaza Mom, led by Prof. Nevine El Nossery
6:00 pm: Laila’s Table, A Celebration of Palestinian Food and Culture
Reflections by Laila El-Haddad on her book The Gaza Kitchen, followed by a short cooking demonstration and a potluck social featuring samples of Palestinian food, including dishes inspired by recipes from the book. RSVP’s to dwallbaum at gmail.com by Nov. 22 are encouraged for this part of the evening. Please bring a dish to pass if you can.  If you are interested in trying a recipe from the book, include that in your RSVP; we can either get you a recipe, or we do have books available for advance purchase ($30).

Laila El-Haddad is a talented blogger, political analyst, engaging public speaker, and parent-of-three from Gaza City. She is the author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between (2010); the co-editor of the anthology Gaza Unsilenced (2015); and co-author of The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey (2nd Ed. 2016). All three books will be available for sale and signing at both events. If you want to purchase a book in advance, please contact rafahsistercity at yahoo.com.

Co-sponsored by: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project; Middle East Studies Program; Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison; Students for Justice in Palestine-UW Madison; WUD Cuisine; and WUD Distinguished Lecture Series. Additional support provided by Friends of Sabeel-North America.

  • Laila El-Haddad
  • The Gaza Kitchen, A culinary journey through the Gaza Strip:
  • The Gaza Kitchen is a cookbook which collects recipes from the culinary tradition of the Gaza Strip.  This is a rich cuisine which mixes Levantine and Egyptian influences, and is notably distinct from that of other parts of Palestine, reflecting the tortured political history of the Gaza Strip as well as the migratory patterns it has seen. 

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