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Thank you. Now I need my glasses. Thank you very much. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I am really overwhelmed and humbled by this recognition. I would like to thank you all for that. But first of all, I would like to thank the Board of Directors of the American Task Force on Palestine, and express to them my deepest appreciation. Apparently this decision was made at a meeting that I missed.

I came to the United States, as my husband mentioned, to get a masters degree in physics, empowered by the encouragement of my father who always emphasized the importance of education. He taught me the value of perseverance, and that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. My intentions were to get a degree and go back home right after that, a maximum stay of two years. Little did I know then that a masters degree would be followed by a PhD and that the two years would become, well, I'm not going to say how many years, but I'm still here.

What was amazing to me during my years at university was how little my colleagues knew about our part of the world -- I'm talking about the time before CNN and the Internet, so maybe now it's a little better -- and how much misconceptions and misinformation there was. I promised myself that once I was done with my degrees, I would dedicate some of my time to communicate the proper information to as many people as I could.

Well, I kept that promise, but with a little modification: I dedicated all my time to it. To me, the Palestinian question was and still is at the center of my universe. All the work I was doing did not satisfy my hunger to achieve results. I wanted to be part of all efforts and engage in all organizations dealing with the conflict, be it the Arab Women's Council, the Union of Palestinian American Women, Roots, the Palestinian American Congress, the Ethnic Outreach Committee of the Democratic Party, the Women's Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee, or the Dialogue Project, to mention but a few.

At this point, I should recognize all my friends and colleagues who have been with me throughout this process, facing the challenges, sharing the heartaches and celebrating the successes. Many of my friends are here tonight, and I thank them, and I share this award with them.

All the work I have done would not have been possible were it not for the help and support of my family: my husband and my two sons. My husband, who took off a few days from his busy schedule and traveled a few thousand miles to be with me tonight, and my two sons, who were always ready to allow me the space to carry on my work even when I had to be away from home for a few days at a time. Sometimes, actually, they didn't mind it because they enjoyed having steaks and french fries for dinner every night, which was the only dish that their dad could prepare.

Receiving a lifetime achievement award does not mean that my work is done. On the contrary. This will strengthen my resolve even more that the modest work we have started needs to continue as the Palestinian question requires our commitment, support and attention. More than ever before, we need to solidify our efforts to bring a just and honorable peace to the Middle East where all people can live side-by-side in peace, dignity and without fear. Thank you very much.

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