Ziad Asali
ATFP Inaugural Gala 2006
Towards Peace and Prosperity
October 11, 2006 - 12:00am

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Tonight's speaker is a woman of substance. Her accomplishments and interests straddle the worlds of diplomacy, academia, classical music, sports and corporate stewardship. She has brought focus and a global vision to all her endeavors. Her association with Stanford University
earned her both teaching and administrative commendations culminating in her tenure as Provost for that fine institution for six years until 1999. In January 2001 she became the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and was subsequently appointed Secretary of State in January 2005.

At a time of unparalled uncertainty, with conflicts spread across the continents, this Secretary of State found time to visit Palestine/Israel 5 times since she took office twenty one months ago. She has just returned from her 6th trip earlier this week. The world cannot wait for her announcement, before she leaves office, that peace and justice have at last been served, and Palestine will live at peace with Israel.

With your indulgence, I would like to say a few simple words about faith this evening. So much of the language of conflict is entwined with the issue of faith. I'll leave it to theologians to indulge in the semantics of religious discourse. The faith I wish to mention is of a more humble nature. It is the belief that what has not yet occurred may yet be molded. It is more than hope but less than knowledge. It is the belief that something not imminent or visible or tangible is yet approaching.

We have faith in the mission of ATFP to work through the channels available to us as American citizens to help bring about peace and prosperity to Palestine and to the Middle East. Your being here tonight indicates your faith in the possibility of peace with justice between Israel and Palestine. Moreover, the presence of tonight's distinguished speaker here is an act of faith. The Secretary of State of the United States can choose to lend her status to any number of causes and tonight she has elected to be here.

And herein lies the virtue of faith. Faith extends itself without assurance. Faith relies on the courage of the bearer that the pursuit of a resolution of an issue is worthy of the risk of disappointment. Faith is the culmination of the human spirit's desire for a better world. And yet everyday, in every corner of the world what has been called faith has been twisted into both violence and oppression. We, in the name of faith, have to reject both. The essence of true faith is in its universality. It is that fairness, freedom, compassion, dignity, and wisdom can come into being even where there is now injustice, occupation, imprisonment,impoveri-shment, humiliation and extremism. I welcome you all to search for such faith, a simple request in difficult times.

Now, without further delay, it is my pleasure and privilege tonight to introduce to you Secretary of State Doctor Condoleezza Rice.

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