Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

ATFL Honors Entrepreneurs, Heroes

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

ATFL Honors Entrepreneurs, Heroes

Article excerpt

LEBANESE-AMERICAN opera singer Cristina Nassif launched the American Task Force for Lebanon's (ATFL) Annual Gala Awards Night at the Fairmont Washington, DC Hotel on March 26 by singing both the American and Lebanese national anthems. Master of ceremonies Jamie Farr, a Lebanese-American celebrity who portrayed Max Klinger on the popular TV series "M*A*S*H," kept the ballroom audience entertained.

Farr introduced ATFL president Peter Tanous, who listed the tasks his organization has worked on in the past year, including trying to pass the $1 billion aid package the administration pledged to Lebanon, which is on the proverbial back burner. "At least 2007 was better than 2006," Tanous quipped, referring to Israel's 34-day bombardment of Lebanon in 2006. [This event occurred before Lebanon's latest sectarian violence commenced.] ATFL has continued working on a petition to ban cluster bombs-Israel dropped hundreds of thousands of cluster munitions which are still killing or maiming Lebanese.

Ambassador of Lebanon Antoine Chehid also spoke about those cluster bombs and the assistance Lebanon needs to rebuild its war-damaged infrastructure. "Lebanon has more than our share of bad news," Ambassador Chehid said. "We have suffered at the hands of others and we've got troubles of our own doing...but we're determined to preserve order and be a free and independent nation."

Returning to the topic of cluster bombs, ATFL chairman Ambassador Thomas Nassif discussed the battle to restrict federal funds for the use, sale or transfer of cluster bombs, and the resolutions which finally passed in 2008. U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) "got it," Nassif said, and he praised the legislation they introduced into the Senate (S. 594), as well as HR 1755, introduced in the House by Lebanese-American Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Betty McCollum (D-MN). To ban cluster bombs completely would have been "unrealistic," Ambassador Nassif acknowledged, but Israel still needs to turn over to the U.N. maps or evidence of where they left lethal munitions in Lebanon. The ambassador also described the ambulances and scholarships ATFL is providing in Lebanon.

The Joseph J. Jacobs Distinguished Achievement award was presented to Sam Moore, the former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, who came to the United States with $600 and a 500-word English vocabulary, sold Bibles door to door, and became the biggest inspirational book publisher in the world. …

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