Your bi-monthly update from the American Task Force for Lebanon
August 2016

Executive Director's Update

Dear Friends,

If there is one word I would use to best describe the work of the ATFL in 2016, it’s engagement.  This year, we have worked to make the ATFL’s engagement broader and deeper.
Since April alone, our engagement with Congress, the  Executive branch, prestigious U.S. think tanks and the DC diplomatic corps has grown tremendously. Nationally, we are connecting with major Lebanese-American communities. Internationally, we are interacting with the political and business communities in Lebanon, including an upcoming business-investor trip this November.
Additionally, our social media presence has exploded, increasing ten-fold since January. And since June alone, ATFL’s Facebook page has received an additional 1,500 new “likes,” reaching nearly 3,000!

We could not accomplish our national dialogue without the help and support of our fully engaged board memberswho continue to support our efforts by hosting regional ATFL events in their home cities.  We’re grateful to ATFL Vice Chairman Nijad Fares for hosting the first event, a very successful forum in Houston, and to ATFL Board Member Ghassan Saab and new ATFL Member Salim Sessine for hosting our second regional event in Michigan. We also having upcoming events planned for New York (September) and, thanks to our Executive Committee member and Treasurer Mike Ahmar, we will also host a briefing in California this October.
Our recruitment committee has been very busy and we are thrilled to welcome 10 phenomenal new members to the ATFL! Special thanks to our Board and members for their excellent recommendations.

Finally, we’re proud to have a working plan in place to start 2017 in a stronger financial position and will be contacting all board members to ensure that we end 2016 in a similarly successful manner.

Thanks for taking a moment to read this short brief on all of the great things happening at the ATFL.

Lebanon Briefings Across the U.S.
A Special Thanks to Our Board Members

ATFL Members are committed to engaging the Lebanese-American community nationwide through regional briefings. These special meetings are taking place with the help and support of our committed ATFL Board. We are especially grateful to those who have hosted successful events this year. Nijad Fares, ATFL Vice Chairman, hosted our first regional event in Houston. It was a great success with over 60 attendees and an informative presentation by Mona Yacoubian, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East. We are looking forward to two additional regional briefings planned for this year. Our second event will be hosted by ATFL Board Member Ghassan Saab and new ATFL Member Salim Sessine in Michigan this September. This event will be followed by a third event in California, hosted by ATFL Executive Committee Member and Treasurer, Mike Ahmar, in October. ATFL extends a special thanks to these committed members!

ATFL Vice Chairman of the Board, Nijad Fares (and first President of the ATFL) and wife Zeina hosted an ATFL special briefing on Lebanon with Mona Yacoubian, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East in Houston, Texas.

(Pictured from left to right): Mona Yacoubian; Dr. William Zoghbi, cardiologist (and husband of Dr. Huda Y. Zoghbi, Founding Director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute and 2015 ATFL Honoree of Ray Irani Lifetime Achievement Award); and ATFL Executive Director Leslie Touma.

Wishing Our New Ambassador Well

ATFL was honored to host a reception on Capitol Hill congratulating our new U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth H. Richard, as she departed for her new post at the helm of U.S. Embassy in Beirut.  In attendance were Congressmen Darrell Issa, Charles Boustany, Ralph Abraham, David Price, Mike Turner, and Ms. Carla Jazzar, Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, D.C.  

Ambassador Richard recently posted an introductory address on U.S. Embassy Beirut's Facebook page. We think it's worth the watch (you don’t need to be on Facebook to view.) Visit to see pictures from the event and don't forget to 'Like' our page while you're there!

Congressional Briefings 

During the month of August, ATFL is holding a series of briefings in Congress featuring experts from the Middle East Institute, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who will speak about critical issues affecting Lebanon. The series provides a tremendous opportunity for key congressional staff, who advise on issues such as security assistance and the refugee crisis, to learn more about Lebanon and how support from the U.S. government can make a difference at this critical time. We encourage all to visit, enter a zip code to confirm the appropriate representative in Congress, and then call or email to let them know you'd like their staff to join us in August. Don't forget to let us know so we can follow up! 
ATFL’S first in a series of congressional briefings was held August 3, 2016, featuring Dr. Paul Salem, Vice President of Policy and Research, Middle East Institute. Photo (L-R): Leslie Touma, ATFL Executive Director; Dr. Paul Salem; Matt Goulding, ATFL Director of Policy/Govt. Affairs.

ATFL Strategic Partnerships

In September, ATFL will host policy roundtables with administration and think tank experts on key issues affecting Lebanon in cooperation with the Middle East Institute and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. This follows up on an impressive and informative briefing — "Responding to Lebanon's Syrian Refugee Crisis,” given by Deputy United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Philippe Lazzarini — hosted by to the Middle East Institute and Johns Hopkins SAIS.

We will also be engaging with the Lebanese-American community in NYC by partnering with the Near East Foundation (NEF) and long-time ATFL supporter and member Dr. Linda Jacobs by
 hosting a symposium on better ways to bring economic empowerment to Syrian refugee, Lebanese and Jordanian women. While in NYC, ATFL will also be holding private briefings with Lebanon’s Prime Minister and Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Education.

And in conjunction with the Aspen Institute, ATFL will co-host a unique investor trip to Lebanon in November.

Congressional Caucus on U.S.- Lebanon Relations

Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Gwen Graham (D-FL) co-chair the Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Lebanon Relations, which seeks to bring together members of Congress who share an interest in a stable and secure Lebanon. It has hosted numerous executive officials, legislators, and subject matter experts to learn more about what the United States can do to promote stability in Lebanon. The caucus is currently comprised of 13 Congressional Members including Charles Boustany (R-LA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Ralph Abraham (R-LA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Steve Womack (R-AR), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Garret Graves (R-LA), and Mike Turner (R-OH).
The work of this caucus affects constituents across the U.S. That is why we need your help to raise awareness and build membership. Please call or write your Representatives and Senators to let them know you would like them to join the caucus. If you need help finding out who represents you in Congress, you can visit and enter your zip code. Lebanon needs your support now more than ever.

Growing Membership

Richard Abdoo
President, R. A. Abdoo and Company, LLC(Wisconsin; past president, ATFL)

Leila Aridi Afas
Director, International Public Policy
Toyota Motor North America, Inc. 
(Washington DC)

Fadi Dimassi
CEO, Chef, and Entrepreneur
Fadi's Mediterranean Grill (Texas)

Nasr El Hage Jr.
Co-Founder and Managing Director of Ritz Banc Group (Washington DC)

Dr. Ned (Nassib) Fawaz
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Energy International Corporation (Michigan)

Dr. Charbel Haber
Head of Global Regulatory Affairs-Immunology at Serono, Inc. (Maryland)

Dr. Hani Jneid
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of Interventional Cardiology Research, Baylor College of Medicine, and Director of Interventional Cardiology,The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (Texas)

Dr. Pierre Khoury
Senior Partner, The Millennium Oncology (Texas)

Salim Sessine, P.E.
President, MA Engineering (Michigan)

Dr. Paul E. Wakim
Orthopedic Surgeon, Pacifica Orthopedics Medical & Surgical Center (California)
Lebanon Factors in U.S. Election

For the first time in 28 years, both the Republican and Democratic party platforms include a focus on issues facing the sovereign state of Lebanon. We are pleased to see both parties include Lebanon in their public platforms and look forward to working with the future administration toward the accomplishment of these goals.

Congressman Issa recently authored a new book: “Watchdog: The Real Stories Behind the Headlines from the Congressman Who Exposed Washington's Biggest Scandals.” In it, Rep. Issa discusses his time as chairman of the Oversight & Government Reform Committee and key congressional investigations before the committee.  ATFL will host two book signing receptions with Congressman Issa. Details to follow. Here he is discussing his book with former Congressman Tom Davis.  
Dr. Paul Wakim, a new member of ATFL and president of the Lebanese American Foundation, recently interviewed Salma Hayek, actress and producer of Kahlil Gibran's - THE PROPHET.  Watch his interview as he asks Ms. Hayek about her Lebanese heritage.
"Little Syria, NY: An Immigrant Community’s Life and Legacy," hosted by the Arab American National Museum, tells the story of Manhattan’s lower west side, which was home to one of the largest and earliest communities of Arab Americans in the nation from its beginnings in the late 1800s to its legacy in Brooklyn and beyond. 

For an even deeper look, get a copy of ATFL member Dr. Linda K. Jacobs' book "Strangers in the West" from Kalimah Press. It is available
here and here.


الحفاظ على حقوق الآخرين هو نهاية أنبل وجميلة للإنسان .

Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being. 
Khalil Gibran
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