Naya Salah will be Singing “America the Beautiful” at Gibran 2014

Posted by on April 07, 2014 in Blog
When the Coca-Cola Company launched an ad campaign in 8 different languages, some saw controversy. When we saw the video of the young lady singing “America the Beautiful” in Arabic, our hearts melted. We are very excited to announce that Naya Salah, will be joining us to perform “America the Beautiful” in Arabic at this year’s Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala.
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Senator George J. Mitchell to Accept the Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service at 2014 Gibran Gala

Posted by on April 07, 2014 in Blog

The 2014 Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service will be presented to Senator George J. Mitchell at this year’s annual Gibran Gala on Friday, April 25.

Whether Senator Mitchell is known for being one of the most respected figures in Congress, or more recently as Middle East peace envoy and author of the “Mitchell Report,” we take much pride in such an extraordinary Arab American public servant. In his long and distinguished career, Senator Mitchell has continually demonstrated his beliefs of inclusion, cooperation and an unwavering commitment to peace.

In his fifteen years in...

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Participant Media to Receive the Award for Corporate Citizenship at 2014 Gibran Gala

Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Blog
The Arab American Institute Foundation is pleased to announce that the Award for Corporate Citizenship will be presented to Participant Media at the 2014 Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala on April 25 in Washington, DC.
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2014 Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala

Posted on March 03, 2014 in Arab American Institute

 On April 25, 2014 the Arab American Institute Foundation hosted leaders in the Arab American community along with prominent members of the media, civil society organizations and government officials for the sixteenth annual Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala.

The night began with a special performance of “America the Beautiful” in Arabic by 11-year-old Ms. Naya Salah. Naya’s Arabic rendition of the national hymn was featured in a SuperBowl commercial along with six other languages. Ms. Salah’s performance was a special moment to celebrate her achievements and recognize the significance of the Arab American community being featured in such a moving and visible manner.

Following Naya’s performance, AAI’s Chairman George Salem took the stage to recognize the many leaders who were present and to read a letter from President Barak Obama. Unable to attend in person, the President expressed his admiration for the work of AAI and praised the important and vital role Arab Americans play in civil society. The President captured the significance of the evening, saying “occasions like the ‘Spirit of Humanity’ Awards reaffirm our belief that those forces uniting us are far more powerful than those that divide us.” Secretary of State John Kerry also sent a video message to greet the audience. In it, he thanked the Arab American Institute for "bringing the diverse voices of Arab Americans to the center of the American conversation." Kerry congratulated the 2014 awardees especially focusing on his former Senate colleague George Mitchell. Kerry and also shared his vision for and commitment to peace in the Middle East.

The first award of the evening was introduced by former Secretary of Transportation, the Honorable Ray LaHood. Secretary LaHood presented Senator George J. Mitchell with the Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service in recognition of the many accomplishment of Mitchell’s tenure in the Senate and in international peace negotiations. Senator Mitchell gave a moving speech about his upbringing as the son of a Lebanese immigrant – whose family inculcated in him the richness of American freedoms and the strength of their cultural values. Mitchell reflected on his mother’s impact on his life, saying “My parents knew little of history or political science, but they understood the meaning of America….Their values were simple but universal in reach: faith, family, country, and work.” Senator Mitchell praised the hard work and sacrifice of his parents, saying that because of their efforts he was able to get a quality education, launching him on a path that would lead him to the position of Senate Majority Leader.

Playright, lawyer and Al Jazeera contributor Wajahat Ali took the stage to present the Award for Corporate Citizenship to Participant Media. Jim Berk, Particpant Media’s CEO, was on hand to accept the award. Prior to his acceptance speech, the audience viewed a short film that featured many of the Academy Award-winning films Participant Media has produced; the clip also previewed their forthcoming animated film, “Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet,” which is adapted from Kahlil Gibran’s famous book. In his remarks, Mr. Berk shared his vision of how Participant Media will continue to use media and digital content to inspire social change. Participant Media has pioneered innovative strategies to translate their films into action campaigns that address many of society’s most pressing issues of justice. He remarked, “if we can break down these issues to personal stories, we have the ability for people to drop their guard, for people to really look at somebody else as a human being – not as somebody in opposition.”

The Arab American Institute’s Executive Director Maya Berry took the stage next to recognize and honor the achievements of Arab Americans in public service over the past year. She noted presence of Anthony Shadid’s family at the gala – and reflected on how his legacy and outstanding journalism have impacted American society. She spoke of how the Institute’s work has paved the way for Naya, Anthony’s children, and all young Arab Americans to be leaders in defining a brighter future for our community.

This year’s gala celebrated the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act. In recognition of this milestone, the last award of the evening was presented to Martin Luther King, III by Andy Shallal, a noted Washington area restaurateur and former mayoral candidate. Mr. Shallal  expressed what a great honor it was to present the Special Recognition Award to Martin Luther King III for the impact the entire King family had on advancing civil rights in America. Martin Luther King III accepted the award on behalf of his family and in honor of the work he continues to do in the U.S. and around the world. Mr. King’s message was loud and clear: The work of his father is not done, and we must continue to fight for equality and justice in America. In a touching tribute video, the audience was reminded of what Dr. King, Jr. had faced and triumphed over, and was also reminded of the hope we have for positive change in our time.

Dr. James Zogby, the President of the Arab American Institute, took the stage to thank everyone for being there and to recognize the great work of AAI staff and volunteers. Dr. Zogby reflected on the gala and this year’s recipients, saying “when we choose people to honor, we are making a statement about the people we want to be, about the values we want to embrace, about the lives we want to live, about the contributions that we want to make… [because] it doesn’t matter how much we’ve succeeded, it’s what we do with that success for others. Do we make the world a better place, do we leave a mark?” The night’s honorees have left an incredible mark and serve as inspiration in our forward march towards the common good.


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Clarence Page Addresses Racial Profiling of Arabs

Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Blog
By Jennine Vari Clarence Page has written a column addressing the unfounded accusations and racial profiling faced by Arabs and Muslims in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.
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When profiling becomes a real menace to society

Posted by Chicago Tribune on April 24, 2013 in News Clips

Some media found the possibility that foreign terrorists bombed the Boston Marathon to be too tantalizing of an explanation to pass up, even when it snares the wrong suspects.

On the day of the Boston Marathon bombings, for example, the New York Post proudly presented a scoop that misidentified an injured "Saudi national" as a terror suspect. By the next day, authorities confirmed that the badly burned man actually was a witness, not a suspect. Sorry about that.

Online vigilantism ran so wild on the Reddit online link-sharing community that its general manager Erik Martin issued...

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Understandable for Muslims to “Hope Beyond Hope That This Doesn’t Turn out to Be What It Might Be.”

Posted by Slate on April 17, 2013 in News Clips

Last night I was invited to spend some time and meet some good people at the Arab American Institute Foundation's annual dinner—the Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards. The invite came, I think, because I spent so much time covering Chuck Hagel's confirmation to Defense, and wasn't sure why every association Hagel might have had with an "Arab" group became a cause for red-alert panic. Michigan Rep. Justin Amash was there, as was outgoing Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, as were Congress's only two Muslim members, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison and Indiana Rep. André Carson. (Both are African-American, not...

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Arab American on Boston Marathon: “Everyone in This Room Is Holding Their Breath”

Posted by Mother Jones on April 17, 2013 in News Clips

From House oversight committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to Sara El-Amine, the national director of President Obama's political nonprofit, Organizing for Action, the Arab American community can count the Obama administration's closest political allies and enemies among their number. Both were present Tuesday night as the Arab American elite gathered to celebrate their accomplishments at a black-tie event hosted by the Arab-American Institute in Washington, DC. Yet through the revelry and clinking of glasses, and the cheerful chitchat in English and Arabic, the terrifying attack in Boston cast a shadow over the evening.  

Veteran CNN and ABC News journalist Christiane Amanpour was there to...

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Christiane Amanpour to receive first-ever Anthony Shadid award

Posted by Politico on April 15, 2013 in News Clips

CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour will be honored this week with the Arab American Institute Foundation's first-ever Anthony Shadid Award for Excellence in Journalism, named for The New York Times correspondent who lost his life last year in Syria.

"I'm incredibly thrilled and honored to be given this award, most importantly because of whose name it's in," Amanpour, who also hosts a program on CNN International, told POLITICO this afternoon. "Anthony was a great voice, a great reporter."

Shadid was a member of Amanpour's roundtable while she was host of ABC's "This Week," and the two often corresponded during the Arab...

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Amanpour to Receive Inaugural AAIF Anthony Shadid Award for Excellence in Journalism

Posted on April 15, 2013 in Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact: Omar Tewfik, 202-652-4988

Amanpour to Receive Inaugural AAIF Anthony Shadid Award for Excellence in Journalism

Washington, DC – April 11, 2013 – The Arab American Institute Foundation (AAIF) will honor Christiane Amanpour with the inaugural Anthony Shadid Award for Excellence in Journalism next Tuesday, April 16th at the fifteenth annual Kahlil Gibran “Sprit of Humanity” Awards Gala in Washington, DC. The Anthony Shadid Award for Excellence in Journalism isnamed for the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Shadid who tragically passed away last year. The Anthony Shadid award honors those whose coverage of the Arab world or the...

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