To keep its members and subscribers up to date on ATFL activities and highlights featuring past honorees, ATFL regularly publishes a newsletter loaded with information on what ATFL has been doing and news about our members and honorees.
No one expected the coronavirus to hit the United States as fast or as fearsomely as it did. But it is amazing how quickly we have all adapted to the need to protect our health and safety, and the health and safety of others. ATFL has been able to adjust as well with the help and participation of our board and members. We are so fortunate that you are responding to this challenge with enthusiasm, encouragement, and even greater engagement.
When we started working virtually, ATFL leadership wanted to ensure that we were able to continue at full capacity. Ours is an important mission: to support a strong bilateral relationship between the US and Lebanon. Lebanon is at a critical point in its history, with a new government that must address financial, economic, and health crises in the country, in addition to political reforms. At the same time, the US is increasing pressure on Iran and its allies, including Hezbollah. We must make sure that US support for Lebanon and the LAF does not become a casualty of these enhanced policies.
Thankfully, you - our board and members - are as enthusiastic about our mission and just as eager to make sure we succeed!
ATFL held two important virtual sessions recently. We spoke with the new US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, and with the new Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassan Diab. Holding virtual sessions meant that so many more of you were able to join in! These were informative, meaningful discussions. They created an important bridge between ATFL and these new officials. With your help and involvement, ATFL will maintain these close and valuable relationships. ATFL was able to show that it is a crucial resource with a membership - you! - of highly skilled and deeply knowledgeable individuals. Thank you.
ATFL will continue to engage with both sides on matters of importance to the bilateral relationship. We are in regular communication with Congress and the Administration. We are also arranging additional virtual sessions to take place over the next few months. As board and members, you will have the opportunity to meet (virtually) with key individuals on US-Lebanon issues. You will also be invited to join us for the rollout of a policy paper on US-Lebanon relations, authored by ATFL in partnership with the Middle East Institute, with economic analysis by Lebanese International Finance Executives (LIFE). Please keep an eye out for event invitations and save the dates!
I hope you enjoy our May 2020 Newsletter. You'll also find updates from our remarkable Honorees and from organizations that are assisting Lebanon at this critical time. Some highlights are included below.
My best wishes for your health and safety go out to all of you, your family, and your friends. We look forward to staying connected with you.
ATFL Discussion with US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea
On April 22, ATFL hosted a virtual discussion with the new US Ambassador to Lebanon, The Hon. Dorothy Shea. Amb. Shea arrived to her post in Beirut just before travel was restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the discussion with ATFL, Ambassador Shea was at the American University of Beirut to announce $13.3 million in new US assistance to Lebanon. The funds are intended to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
USAID International Disaster Assistance
for response activities focusing on the most vulnerable Lebanese, and
State Department’s Migration and Refugee Assistance funding for UNHCR
to support COVID-19 response efforts to help refugees and Lebanese host communities in need.
US Embassy Statement
On May 3, ATFL was honored to host a virtual discussion with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab. It was the Prime Minister’s first discussion with a group outside of Lebanon.
Click to watch ATFL President Ambassador Gabriel participate in the Council of American Ambassadors event: The Evolving Role of the US Ambassador.
Click to watch ATFL President Ambassador Gabriel participate in the Council of American Ambassadors event: The Evolving Role of the US Ambassador.
ATFL Executive Director Leslie Touma (second from right) and ATFL Member Karen Kassouf (right), with co-hosts of the SFSLAC Conference.
ATFL Executive Director Leslie Touma was invited to speak at the Southern Federation of Syrian Lebanese American Clubs 2020 Mid-Winter Conference in Atlanta, GA, by ATFL Member Karen Kassouf, who co-hosted the conference. Ms. Touma discussed the US and international response to Lebanon’s political and economic challenges.
Click here to view Ms. Touma’s powerpoint presentation.
Ms. Touma also enjoyed taking part in a lunch in Atlanta hosted by Jocelyne and Kamal Zakka.
We are looking forward to being able to be with you at our Gala on our new date!
December 10, 2020
In the meantime, check out these updates from some of our Honorees!
IN RESPONSE to the humanitarian and existential crisis brought about by deep-rooted economic and financial fallout and the Coronavirus lockdown in Lebanon, The Rene Moawad Foundation has launched an all-out campaign:
to provide relief to the most vulnerable Lebanese in TWO WAYS
Thank you to DAOU Family Estates who will provide wine for this year’s Gala!
Brothers Georges and Daniel Daou
Learn more about Daou Family Estates by clicking here
Check out this video from Daou Family Estates about their wine: Soul of a Lion, and how the name was inspired by their father and their family’s journey from Beirut to America.
In mid-February, ATFL issued a report on the international response to Lebanon’s fiscal and economic crisis. No one expected that a pandemic would soon follow.
Below are updates on how some of these same organizations are helping Lebanon’s response to COVID-19, as well as updates on ATFL’s efforts.
Thank you to everyone who donated to our #GivingTuesdayNow campaign in support of Let Lebanon Live!
ATFL is contributing all funds raised to the Lebanon Food Bank through our partnership with the international Rotary Foundation.
The Lebanese Food Bank and Rotary Clubs across Lebanon are making a tremendous effort to support communities across the country in the midst of the financial crisis and coronavirus pandemic.
Over 1,000 boxes have already been delivered with the funds ATFL has raised through this campaign.
Thanks to your donations to our #GivingTuesdayNow campaign, more boxes will soon be on the way!
If you want to help, you can still donate!
It’s a great way to show you care and help alleviate the suffering of Lebanese families in these difficult times.
Please let us know if you would like to make a contribution in memory of a loved one or in honor of another individual.
All contributors will be acknowledged on ATFL’s homepage.
UNICEF Lebanon has adjusted its strategies to support the COVID-19 response by scaling-up its programs in a wide-scale coordinated effort.
They are targeting up to 5.8 million people in Lebanon of which 37% are children. The focus is on three Strategic
Technical support to public health responses
Support to specific COVID-19 services and continuity of other social services
Expansion support to vulnerable population groups in need of urgent social assistance
For a brief overview of their program in support of the most vulnerable, please click here.
Please also see their latest press release on how UNICEF is providing supplies and technical support to fight COVID-19 in Lebanon.
From the start of the outbreak, UNHCR has been supporting Lebanon’s national response and public health efforts. UNHCR has been hard at work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the population. This includes the refugees, who live in overcrowded shelters, and vulnerable Lebanese communities, many of whom were already affected by the deep economic crisis.
Full reports and infographics on UNHCR’s response can be viewed below.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is also adjusting its projects in Lebanon to respond to COVID-19.
A large part of their efforts in Lebanon focus on fighting COVID-19 inside prisons. They are also working with the Rafic Hariri University Hospital to optimize its response to the crisis.
Click here to read an update sent to ATFL from ICRC’s spokesperson in Lebanon.
According to an estimate by the LAF, the work of MDD Atos and MDD Zaatar benefited 2,275 people in 2019 alone.
ATFL is proud to have sponsored these life-saving canines!
In Lebanon, weather conditions in the first quarter of 2020 prohibited demining tasks. The Coronavirus pandemic has also limited movement of all military personnel, and so the MDD teams are restricted to training spots. LAF teams are implementing measures to ensure the health of the dogs during the pandemic.
Demining tasks in Chouf and Aley provinces will be implemented once the Coronavirus circumstances pass.
MDD ATOS (Right)
From 2014 until his retirement in November 2019, MDD Atos helped to search 268,230 square meters of land, an area twice the size of the Pentagon!
We would like to offer a tremendous THANK YOU to ATFL Board Member James Kassouf and Catherine Kassouf for adopting MDD Atos and giving him a wonderful home for his life in retirement!
MDD ZAATAR (Left)
MDD Zaatar was officially certified in March 2019. Since then, he shared the same missions as Atos in southern and eastern parts of Lebanon. He also provided quality control to a manual demining team in the coastal city of Batroun. The released land will be returned to the people for use in agriculture.
Click for the full update on Atos and Zaatar from the Marshall Legacy Institute
Dr. Charles Elachi Honored by National Air and Space Museum
Former NASA scientist and ATFL Past Honoree Charles Elachi is set to receive the National Air and Space Museum’s 2020 Michael Collins Trophy, which “celebrates the men and women on the leading edge of discovery and exploration.”
Dr. Elachi will receive the trophy for Lifetime Achievement “in honor of his distinguished career in the fields of remote sensing, planetary science, and spaceflight-program management.”
ATFL mourns the passing of Ms. Rosalind Elias on Sunday, May 3, at the age of 90. Ms. Elias started performing as an opera singer in 1954 at the age of 23, and in the course of her career won praise and renown in the United States and internationally as an “artist of rare talent and formidable purpose.”
ATFL was proud to honor her in 2013 with the Ray R. Irani Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her artistry, talent, and success.
We send our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Ms. Elias.
Gloria and Emilio Estefan donate 500 meals per day during coronavirus pandemic
ATFL Past Honoree Emilio Estefan and his wife Gloria Estefan are giving back to Miami by providing 500 free meals per day from their restaurant, Estefan Kitchen.
Their mid-April announcement noted they would donate these meals for at least 30 days to healthcare workers and first responders in the Miami area.
ATFL Past Honoree Paula Faris released a new book on April 21: “Called Out: Why I Traded Two Dream Jobs for a Life of True Calling.” (Read a review of the book by ATFL Executive Director Leslie Touma here!)
In an interview with CBN News, Ms. Faris remarked about a series of life events that prompted her to leave her posts with Good Morning America and The View, and discusses how her book explores “this misplaced significance in finding our worth and our identity and our purpose in things that move and shift, like vocation.”
ATFL Past Honoree Sara Ganim just premiered a new documentary, “No Defense,” in February at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.
The film is about the military’s use of a harmful “forever” chemical at sites across the country, with no plan in place to clean up the toxins or to help veterans and civilians who are suffering the health effects of the contamination.
Sara Ganim (center) with Congressman Dan Kildee (left) and actor Tony Spaniola.
ATFL Past Honoree Rep. Darin LaHood of Illinois was recently named to the Republican China Task Force by Leader Kevin McCarthy. He was included as one of the leading members, building off his current role as Co-Chair of the only bi-partisan Congressional organization on China, the US-China Working Group.
ATFL Past Honoree Ralph Nader recently spoke with NPR on his new book of family recipes: “The Ralph Nader and Family Cookbook: Classic Recipes from Lebanon and Beyond.”
In the interview, which took place this past Mother’s Day, he talks about the influence of his mother and how her ideas about food and cooking shaped his childhood and his thinking.
Legendary driver turned Team Owner and ATFL Past Honoree Bobby Rahal has embraced iRacing, a racing simulation online video game.
This is in step with major racing organizations who are turning to iRacing as a way to continue competitions and engage with fans in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Check it out!
Check out this recent profile in Forbes Magazine of ATFL Past Honoree Rony Seikaly.
Seikaly has transitioned from an NBA star to a widely-renowned electronic dance DJ with an eclectic style.
Congresswoman Donna Shalala is a Lebanese-American and the former Health and Human Services Secretary who currently represents Florida’s 27th district.
She was appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the five-member congressional commission overseeing the implementation of Congress’s $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package.
Rep. Shalala is a member of the US-Lebanon Friendship Caucus and an ATFL Past Honoree.
Statement at the University of Miami Herbert Business School
Watch Tony Shalhoub’s acceptance speech at the 2020 SAG Awards
ATFL Past Honoree Tony Shalhoub won the 2020 SAG Award for Outstanding Male Actor in a Comedy Series for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Mr. Shalhoub was also honored in 2019 with the SAG award in this same category.
Also – don’t miss this!
Tony Shalhoub recently reprised his role as germophobic detective Adrian Monk (a role that won him 3 Emmys and a Golden Globe!) for the first episode of a new series by Peacock called “The At-Home Variety Show.”
The comedy skit takes a look at how Monk would be handling life in quarantine due to COVID-19.
You may have noticed that many news reports on the coronavirus pandemic are referring to it as a “black swan,” a term for an unpredictable, rare, catastrophic event that was coined by ATFL Past Honoree Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2007 book, “The Black Swan.”
In an interview with The New Yorker, Mr. Taleb explains why he is “irritated” by this reference, and notes how living through Lebanon’s civil war informed his fascination and exploration into probabilities and risk.
ATFL Founding Chairman Peter Tanous spoke at the 2019 graduation ceremonies of the Lebanese American University in Beirut in his capacity as Chairman of the LAU Board of Trustees.
Tanous wrote to us that it was “a wonderful occasion, and a graduation that won’t reoccur in 2020. Lebanon is in the worst condition in its history, given the popular revolution, the resignation of the government, the collapse of the economy, and then COVID-19.”
See how LAU is adapting to the changes made necessary by the pandemic, here.
ATFL Past Honoree Dr. Huda Zoghbi was one of two researchers who were awarded the world’s largest brain research prize, given annually by the Lundbeck Foundation.
The award recognized Dr. Zoghbi’s “fundamental, pioneering work” on a disorder affecting children called Rett Syndrome.
The prize announcement noted: “Due to their research, we’re…closer to a treatment breakthrough and we’ve come to understand that neurological developmental disorders are not necessarily irreversible.”
Click here for the video announcement of the 2020 Brain Prize and an overview of how Dr. Zoghbi’s contributions have been so significant to brain research.
Linda Jacobs Article in Jerusalem Quarterly
Check out Linda Jacobs’s recent article in the Jerusalem Quarterly, “Palestine at the Centennial Fair of 1876.”
As Jacobs writes, the Centennial Fair was the first to invite “native” Middle Eastern merchants to display and introduce their goods to an American public “in thrall to the ‘mystic East’ and the Holy Land.”
Jacobs notes that Syrian Arabs participated in almost every national fair following the 1876 Centennial Fair.
On February 4, a replica Phoenician ship made landfall in Florida after a voyage of over 6,000 miles lasting 5 months.
The voyage is part of the Phoenicians Before Columbus Expedition to show that Phoenician ships could have crossed the Atlantic over 2,000 years before Christopher Columbus “discovered” the American continent.
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