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Seton Hall University

PBS Broadcasts Documentary, ‘The Arab Americans,’ Nationwide  

A documentary on Arab Americans from Alumnus Abe Kasbo '94/M.P.A. '99 and Professor Emeritus Philip Kayal is being shown nationwide by PBS.

Abe Kasbo

Seton Hall University alumnus Abe Kasbo ’94/M.P.A. ’99

The documentary is described by PBS as "the untold story of the contributions immigrants from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula have made to the United States. Placing the Arab American immigrant experience within the context of American history, this show explores the multiple waves of immigration and the tremendous impact of 9/11 on the Arab American community."

Featured in broadcast markets across the country, "The Arab Americans" will debut in the New York metropolitan area on PBS on August 31, 2017.

This will not be the first time the film has been shown in the area, however, as it debuted at the SVA theater in Manhattan to much acclaim in December of 2015. Then entitled "A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans," the film was entered into a number of film festivals and ultimately caught the attention of PBS, for whom the documentary was retitled and specially formatted.

When asked about the documentary when it first premiered in New York, Kasbo said, "It is my hope that viewers will walk away from the film realizing that the foundation of American history includes Arab Americans who have made and continue to make significant contributions to every field that they have gone into. The story of Arab Americans is an extraordinary one that all immigrants can relate to and it is a uniquely American story that must be told."

Dr. Kayal

Seton Hall University Professor Emeritus Philip Kayal

It was also noted at the time that Kasbo credits his Seton Hall education and experience with faculty, including: world religions professor Gisela Webb, sociology professor Philip Kayal and political science professor Jo-Renee Formicola, for inspiring him to make the film. "Seton Hall University provided the fertile ground necessary for me to think independently and critically. I am grateful for the opportunity to share the lessons I learned at the University with viewers."

Professor Kayal, who is featured throughout the documentary, then shared how he connected with Kasbo, a fellow Syrian American, more than 20 years ago. "I taught a course on intergroup relations, which was really a course on ethnicity and assimilation, and Abe wrote a wonderful paper on the problems faced by Syrian immigrants in the U.S. It's from that paper that we discovered we had a common interest," he said. "I don't have enough words to say the satisfaction and joy of doing this. I think it's a necessary project, especially in the contemporary social environment. I think it's going to make a contribution to group understanding."

Given the nationwide audience the project is now enjoying, Professor Kayal may be right.

To learn more about the documentary and to view it, visit the PBS/Channel 13 website devoted to "The Arab Americans."

Categories: Arts and Culture

For more information, please contact:

  • Michael Ricciardelli
  • (973) 378-9845
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