Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

AAIF's Kahlil Gibran Gala Celebrates Youths of Arab Spring

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

AAIF's Kahlil Gibran Gala Celebrates Youths of Arab Spring

Article excerpt

The Arab American Institute Foundation (AAIF) held its annual Kahlil Gibran "Spirit of Humanity" Awards Gala on May 4 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. Guests were treated to a beautiful performance by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, made up of young Israeli and Arab musicians, a project of the Barenboim-Said Foundation. (The previous day Daniel Barenboim had entered Gaza Strip through its Rafah border with Egypt to conduct a Mozart concert along with some of Europe's top musicians.)

William Daley, White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama, described the essential role Arab Americans play in strengthening our nation, and highlighted "the challenging but also hopeful" times ahead in the Middle East. As a member of the tense group in the situation room during the raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound, Daley stated, "Today the U.S. and the entire Middle East are safer because of the death of Osama bin Laden." Noting that 9/11 deeply affected Arab Americans, who faced unique hardships in the following years, Daley asked the community to partner with the administration to make the world and our country safer and better.

Vital Voices, an organization that empowers women leaders throughout the world, was recognized and honored with an award for Institutional Excellence.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood presented the Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service to Indiana's Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is of Arab descent. The governor, who may run for president in 2012, said there's nothing remarkable about the Daniels family heritage except that it's duplicated millions of times in America. His paternal grandfather, Elias Eissa (the name Daniels was added at Ellis Island), a Christian from a village near Homs, Syria, arrived in the United States in 1905 penniless and illiterate. …

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