American - Lebanese lobbyist (from California) Tony Breidy wrote to Jabalna Magazine:
Since first coming to America in the early 1900s, Lebanese have contributed to the diversity, culture and economic prosperity of all sectors across AMERICA. They have brought their tenacious work ethic and strong family foundations to communities all across the nations. From opening up various businesses in underserved areas to establishing schools, churches, scholarships and community centers, Lebanese have embodied all the attributes of the American dream, and have become one of America’s greatest success stories.
The United States and Lebanon have historically enjoyed a good relationship due in part to cultural and religious ties; the democratic character of the state; a large, Lebanese-American community in the United States; and the pro-western orientation of Lebanon, particularly during the cold war. Current policy priorities of the United States include strengthening the weak democratic institutions of the state, limiting the influence of Iran, Syria, and others in Lebanon’s political process.
Current U.S. policy toward Lebanon centers on containing Iran’s sphere of influence while maintaining security and stability in the Levant. As regional actors like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria continue to compete for influence in the region, Lebanon has become the staging ground for a proxy war that exacerbates historic sectarian tensions and holds hostage the functions of state institutions.
That is why, like many Americans, I am deeply concerned for the vulnerable minorities in the Middle East who continue to face religious persecution for their beliefs. For over 2,000 years, Lebanese have survived various Persian wars, forced conversion attempts, aggression from the Ottoman Empire, and countless ethnic conflicts. Their efforts to preserve their identity and culture have been heroic. It’s become increasingly evident that these indigenous minorities need America to stand with them.
To help the community’s relief efforts, I lead an effort in America to ensure our locally based relief organizations are able to avoid government red tape and be able to deliver their services quicker to those who need it most. With the, bureaucratic slowdowns from Washington only compromise our ability to help as many people as we can.
While the long-term goal should always be a protected, our focus must remain on the relief efforts and showing that America stands with the indigenous people of LEBANON. This effort has been one of my priorities associating with Congress and I remain committed to pressing for solutions that help the Lebanese people.
I have seen firsthand how devastating international inaction can be. The Armenians weren’t just targeted for their ethnicity, but like many of the Christians in Iraq today, they were also targeted for their faith.
It’s crucial that the American people don’t forget the plight, persecution and sacrifice of the Lebanese people.
We must continue to stand with the Lebanese people both here in America and in their indigenous homeland. Our nation and our government cannot let their oppression become unnoticed and forgotten. Like the great Coptic Pope Sphenoid so famously said, we must “remember those who have no one to remember them.”
*Tony Breidy is a Senior Advisor at the US Congress about the Middle East and foreign affairs
**In the picture below: Congressional chief of staff Mrs. Holly Hough handing a congressional recognition certificate from congressman Duncan Hunter To Tony Breidy for his leadership in the community and his valuable congressional services
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