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 You are in: Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary > Policy Planning Staff > Secretary's Open Forum > Proceedings > 2001 - 2002

Opening Remarks: Arab American Perspectives on the International War Against Terrorism

Alan Lang, Chairperson, Open Forum
Washington, DC
December 5, 2001

Dr. Zogby, distinguished visitors, colleagues, and friends, good afternoon, I'm Alan Lang, Chairman of the Secretary's Open Forum. On behalf of the Forum's Distinguished Lecture Series, I am very pleased to welcome you to this timely conversation on Arab American Perspectives on the International War Against Terrorism featuring Dr. James J. Zogby, founder and President of the Arab American Institute (AAI).  Today's program is in keeping with the Forum's mandate to explore alternative views on matters of import to U.S. diplomacy and world affairs.  Since its inception 34 years ago, the Forum has explored viewpoints that span the political spectrum.  Our Distinguished Lecture Series honors opinion leaders in government, private industry, academia, the media and the non-governmental organization (NGO) community for outstanding contributions to national and international affairs.  The views expressed today are neither official positions of the Department nor of the Open Forum.

I would like to thank the World Affairs Council of Washington, DC for co-sponsoring this program.  In addition, I want to thank the State Department's Office of Civil Rights for helping to publicize this event. We are especially grateful to Moises Behar for his generous assistance and hard work.  Please give them all a warm round of applause.

Before presenting our featured speaker and honoree, I want to thank the staff of AAI for helping to arrange this dialogue.  As some of you may know, AAI, in conjunction with the United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Ad Council, recently launched a series of public service advertisements (PSAs) following the tragic events of September 11.

One such PSA is on display in front of the podium.  For those of you seated at the rear of the auditorium, and for our colleagues overseas who will receive this transcript via ALDAC cable, the text consists of two columns that have been superimposed on the Manhattan skyline where the World Trade Center stood. 

Quote: Will hate bring it all back? Will it bring back the innocence? The sense of security? Will it bring back the husbands and wives and sons? And daughters? Will hate make us better than those who hate us? Or merely bring us closer to them?  Will hate help us to destroy our enemies? Or will it laugh as we destroy ourselves? There are those who say we don't know who our enemy is but we do.  Our enemy is a neighborhood mosque defaced by vandals. An Arab-American storekeeper in fear of reprisal.  A scared Muslim child bullied because she is different.  Hate is our enemy.  And when we start to hate other Americans, we have lost everything.  Hate has taken enough from us already.  Don't let it take you. End quote.

As America rises to meet the challenge of global terrorism, we must pool resources and expertise from all segments of society, including government, private industry, colleges, universities and think tanks at home and abroad.  That is why we are so pleased to present today's program.  Since 1985, AAI has served as the political and policy research arm of the Arab American community. Under Dr. Zogby's leadership, it has led Arab American efforts to secure political empowerment in the United States. Through voter registration, education and mobilization, AAI has helped to move Arab Americans into the U.S. political mainstream.  For the past two decades, its founder and president has been involved in a full range of Arab American issues.  A lecturer and scholar on Middle East issues, U.S.-Arab relations, and the history of the Arab American community, Dr. Zogby appears frequently on television and radio. After hosting the popular "A Capital View" on the Arab Network of America for several years, he now hosts "Viewpoint with James Zogby" on Abu Dhabi Television, which can be seen Friday afternoons from 3:00-4:00 pm EST.

Since 1992, he has also written a weekly column on U.S. politics for the major newspapers of the Arab world. The column, Washington Watch, is published in 14 Arab countries.  Dr. Zogby has testified before House and Senate committees and addressed the United Nations as well as other international organizations. He is also active professionally beyond his involvement with the Arab American community. He is a board member of the human rights organization Middle East Watch, serves as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and was selected by President Bush to serve as a member of the Central Asian-American Enterprise Fund. He now serves on its Board of Directors. In addition, he serves as Senior Analyst for the polling firm Zogby International.  We are delighted and honored to have Dr. Zogby here with us today.  Please join me in welcoming him.  [Applause]



Released on December 19, 2001

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