Event Draws Nearly 150 Members of Congress, Congressional Staff, Members of the Lebanese-American Community and Others to Address Looming Refugee Crisis, ISIS Threat
March 10, 2015 (Washington, DC) – On Wednesday, March 4, the American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL) hosted a reception for the newly re-registered Congressional Caucus on US-Lebanon Relations. Held in the Rayburn House Office Building, the event drew nearly 150 people, including members of Congress, Congressional staff, the Lebanese-American community, and friends of Lebanon.
Dignitaries in attendance included Caucus co-chair Representative Gwen Graham (D-FL); Caucus members Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI); Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN); Ambassador of Lebanon to the US Antoine Chedid,; Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Silverman; and American University of Beirut President Peter Dorman.
Other Caucus members include co-chair Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Representatives Ralph Abraham (R-LA), Charles Boustany (R-LA), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Richard Hanna (R-NY), and Betty McCollum (D-MN).
In remarks at the event, Representative Graham spoke of her Lebanese heritage, recalling when she and her three sisters accompanied their father, former Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), and her mother, the former Adele Khoury, to Lebanon in 2010. Representative Kaptur proudly recalled that her hometown of Toledo was the hometown of famed Lebanese-American comedian Danny Thomas. And Representative Dingell emphasized that Dearborn, Michigan—in her district—is home to one of the largest Lebanese-American communities in the nation.
H.E. Ambassador Antoine Chedid spoke about the valor of the Lebanese Armed Forces in their ongoing battle with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, remembering the 26 Lebanese soldiers and police still held captive by the two groups, and the four Lebanese security personnel that were recently beheaded or shot.
Acting as moderator, ATFL President and former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel emphasized the enormity of Lebanon’s looming refugee crisis: there are upwards of 1.5 million Syrians, the vast majority of them refugees, living among 4.2 million Lebanese. Meanwhile, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al Qaeda-affiliate in Syria, threaten to destabilize the country. The two groups occupied the Lebanese border town of Arsal for six days in August.
“We are grateful for the tireless efforts of the members of this Caucus to support Lebanon at this critical time,” said Ambassador Gabriel. “ATFL looks forward to working with Co-Chairs Representative Issa and Representative Graham to ensure that Lebanon remains a stable and sovereign ally to the US in a troubled region.”