AL JADID was launched in 1995, and since then it has never wavered in its dedication to covering both the cultural and the arts scene in the Arab world and in Arab America. Founded and edited by Elie Chalala, its journalistic mission continues to this day, independent from any political, organizational or corporate affiliation or support, allowing it to remain accountable only to its readers.
In a media review article published in The Nation, novelist and former New Yorker correspondent Amy Wilentz wrote, “So I was led reluctantly to the magazine, but when I looked into its back issues, I discovered that it contains a wealth of opinion and information that no one else is publishing in English.” She adds, “Magazines like AL JADID, which are concerned with niche obsessions or particular groups, also often speak with unintentional authority to the universal, to the general human experience.”
AL JADID continues to distinguish itself by its breadth of coverage, its timely book, film, and art reviews, as well as the originality of its essays and features on diverse topics from music to theater, fiction to fine art, and poetry to translations. AL JADID has consistently offered a lively intellectual discourse ranging from the historic to the contemporary, with post-Arab Spring debate featuring traditional, modernist and progressive voices.
During the past six years, AL JADID has covered many Arab intellectual voices speaking on the Arab Spring, which has gradually descended into an Arab Autumn as one dictatorship after another resorted to bloody crackdowns on peaceful protests. But even before these events and their momentous consequences, AL JADID published scores of articles by Arab intellectuals and dissidents, many addressing Arab authoritarianism and prison literature issues, themes interrelated with the post Arab Spring discourse.
In the wake of the 2011 popular Arab uprisings, AL JADID probed and examined their unexpected consequences, including the refugee crisis, human rights violations, and the rise of Jihadist groups, as well as sectarian cleansings and demographic changes. In the last issue, one author examined how the Arab Spring exposed the structural weakness of Arab satellite media outlets, their unpreparedness and failure to cover the new political changes in the Arab world.
The Books Section has always been a rich component of the magazine. AL JADID regularly publishes scores of reviews of the latest books on the Arab world and Arab America. During the past two decades, editors and contributors have reviewed hundreds of books – across disciplines – concerning the Arab world, accumulating a substantive and rich library of Arab and Mideast book reviews. The archive of the film reviews contains a sizable share of titles about human rights, refugees and migration, gender, environment and other social issues, such as honor crimes. Translations of literary and cultural texts have been a regular feature in AL JADID, growing in quality and quantity, particularly after the Arab Spring.
AL JADID was founded and edited by Elie Chalala, an adjunct associate professor of political science at Santa Monica College, where he teaches politics of the Middle East. He is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (U.C.L.A) where he also taught political science there, among other academic institutions. He has published articles on Middle East issues in books, professional journals, and in national and international publications such as the International Herald Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, the Atlantic Journal– Constitution, the Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Oregonian, In These Times, The Humanist, Free Inquiry, among others.
Covering the rich field of Arab arts and culture, Chalala says, has been challenging on two fronts: “In the U.S. we’ve had the demonizing and marginalizing of Arabs; in the Arab world, we have censorship issues, wars, civil strife, the vestiges of the colonial mentality, and the endless peace process. All of these factors impact and shape culture, and often find their most poignant, elegant expression in the arts.”
Despite the obstacles, Chalala is optimistic: “Our challenge is to increase the awareness that Arab arts and culture continue to flourish, despite the many obstacles in the United States, the Arab world and elsewhere. In the Arab world, literature is flourishing, despite the various restrictions on freedom of expression, from both governments and reactionary elements in Arab societies. AL JADID is committed to bringing state-of-the-art coverage of all these dimensions of the Arab cultural scene, and has distinguished itself with lively debates between secular and religious, traditional and modernist voices.”
“AL JADID is becoming known and respected nationally and internationally,” Chalala said. “This is because of the caliber of our contributors. But we need more people to subscribe, and to help make others aware of AL JADID.”