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Recommending Jean Marie Offenbacher’s “Tea”

Elaine A__, a students in my Introduction to Arab Culture class summed up the impact of Jean Marie Offenbacher’s documentary, “Tea on the Axis of Evil,” in saying Syria for her has just moved from the blurred realm of fear into a world of shared realities in which we all live.  She knew Syria existed, but before watching the tape its existence remained confined to a distant geography and a trouble region, with different orders of human beings and experiences.
Indeed, the screening of “Tea” last Fall on the campus of Northeastern University on November 8th, 2010, provided students, faculty, staff, and the community beyond a rare opportunity to watch ordinary Syrians from all walks of life talk to them directly. That experience assumed a considerably larger perspective through the audience’s interaction with Jean Marie after the screening. Undoubtedly, several members in the audience were jolted by the Syria they watched and they had many questions. The opportunity they had then for an immediate interaction with Jean Marie did not just address their questions, but it also initiated a warm and personal discussion of a people and a culture away from habitual and clichéd political presentations.
It is indeed a public service to write on behalf of Jean Marie Offenbacher’s “Tea” since facilitating cultural understanding is a matter of communal wellbeing.  It is in our best interests to improve our knowledge of the world that matters most to us. The Middle East has been for decades so vital to world interests, yet simultaneously the most elusive to understand. In this respect, “Tea” is a testimony to overcoming challenges of approaching cultures, specifically cultures said to be incomprehensible or threatening to us.
I have no doubt that Elaine and the rest of Northeastern community that watched and discussed Jean Marie’s film last November gained the deeper understanding of culture that educators aspire for. Helping to make “Tea” accessible to more audiences is a worthwhile investment not just in culture, but in the future of an American generation in need of unmediated images of the world.
Please help bring more viewers to the “Tea on the Axis of Evil”.

Shakir Mustafa
Northeastern University

Bonjour à vous,

D'abord, merci pour ce que vous faites. D'après la présentation de votre démarche, cela semble très intéressant et stimulant intellectuellement. C'est grâce notamment au travail d'intellectuels occidentaux comme vous que notre monde pourra progresser et éviter des tragédies. Étant vous-mêmes occidentale, les publics occidentaux vous écouteraient vous davantage que d'autres venant d'ailleurs. C'est pourquoi vous êtes encore davantage précieuse à mes yeux à moi.

Moi, le politologue marocain spécialiste du Moyen-Orient, j'essaye, à travers mes articles et mes conférences publiques, de faire de même. Vous pourrez trouver une partie de mes publications sur le net, notamment at: J'y ai une chronique sur les affaires moyen-orientales.

Merci encore pour ce que vous faites.

Aziz Enhaili

Dear Jean:


I am writing thank you for visiting our campus in Murray.  We are glad that you accommodated us in your busy schedule.  Your screening your documentary, Tea on the Axis of Evil, and the subsequent discussion with our students, faculty and community members was lively and informative. The feedback I received from fellow faculty and our students regarding your documentary was all positive and appreciative of the your visit. Your documentary is fair and balanced and showed a broad spectrum of life in Syria. I have found it extremely valuable for the students, especially those in International Relations and Middle East politics classes.

Thank you again and we hope to be able to invite you again in the future.

Ihsan Alkhatib, Ph.D. 

Recommendations from Academics