Hussein Ibish
RItz Cartlon, Washington DC
ATFP Third Annual Gala: The Courage to Persist, The Will to Build
October 12, 2008 - 12:00am

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Welcome. My name is Hussein Ibish, and I am a Senior Fellow at ATFP. I will be the emcee of tonight’s problem. I am going to be keeping this stopwatch going and so I will be the martinet as well.

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the third annual gala of the American Task Force on Palestine. I look around the room today and I am so proud of what we have been able to achieve in the past five years. I can remember our first fundraiser that we held four years ago, that we held at Busboys and Poets, which many of you may know, and we had slightly over one hundred people in attendance and raised, I believe, something like twenty-eight thousand dollars.

Then three years ago, four hundred people joined us to welcome Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as our keynote speaker.

Last year we had over five hundred people in this very room to again help us honor outstanding Palestinian-Americans and listen to Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns.

Today more than six hundred and fifty of you are here among our many notable and distinguished guests, especially our keynote speaker, Prime Minister Fayyad as well as Administrator Fore, and Under Secretary Glassman, and the many other distinguished and notable guests we welcome here today.

At this point I would like to remind you that the silent auction that we have closes at nine, so please make sure to have your bids in by then. And I would also like to take this opportunity to ask the ATFP board of directors to stand please for a moment. Please stand, ATFP board directors and receive a well-deserved recognition for your service, for your work, for your dedication, because without you, your leadership and your support none of this would have been possible.

And it’s now my privilege to turn the podium over for the formal welcome to this Gala, to a remarkable man that I have worked with in various capacities for more than eight years now, and with his wonderful wife Naila, for exactly ten years this month I started working with her.

Dr. Ziad is a visionary and an outstanding leader who has had the personal and political courage to lead the Palestinian-American and indeed, more broadly, the Arab-American community squarely in the correct direction, not without resistance or opposition or without significant costs of many varieties. But let me put it to you like this. He is the only living, male human being on the planet for whom I would wear a tuxedo. Something I have never done in my entire life. What he has demonstrated through ATFP, through his own actions, through this organizations that he has created with the board of directors and others, beyond any serious refutation, is that, if it is promoted with integrity and honor and consistence and seriousness of purpose, our fellow Americans and our political establishment are ready to engage with a constructive and responsible Palestinian-American prospective. It’s been an honor and a privilege for me to work with him and all my colleagues at ATFP over the years and while there’s a lot of praise for many to share, I think all of us in this room know who bears primary responsibility for successes and achievements that we scarcely dared hoped for five years ago.

Please join me in welcoming ATFP founder and president, Dr. Ziad J. Asali.

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