JOHN AKOURI NEWSBLOG

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Location: Birmingham, MI, United States

Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Great Upcoming Holiday Events Featuring Renown International Entertainers

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We Miss You Lebanon - A Patriotic Song for Lebanese Independence by Composer Zaki Nassif

Monday, November 22, 2010

Full Text of Speech Delivered Tonight by John Akouri at the 67th Anniversary of the Republic of Lebanon Independence Day Consulate Celebration

(USA/22NOV, 2010) Good Evening Ladies & Gentlemen. Thank you all for being here this evening inside the magnificent Springwells Ballroom of the luxurious Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The Lebanese reputation for hospitality is known worldwide and I thank you for your kind and warm welcome. It is indeed an honor to have been invited by the Acting Consul General of Lebanon, His Excellency, Bachir Tawk, to serve as your Master of Ceremonies for this evening’s reception and I feel privileged to address this energetic Lebanese audience, on this, the 67th Anniversary of the Independence Day of the Republic of Lebanon! I wish to extend to all of you my sincerest greetings and warmest salutations to you and your families in honor of this celebration.

Many of you know me as Mister Mabsout or Abou-Za'atar, but for those of you who are hearing me for the first time this evening, my name is John Akouri, President & CEO of the national Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce, and a proud American Citizen of Lebanese descent. My family proudly hails from the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon. Anyone here this evening from Trablous? Well, welcome to my fellow Tripolitians, and welcome once again to one and all!

At this time, will you kindly rise for the National Anthems of our United States of America, and the Republic of Lebanon.

Before I begin my remarks, I would like to take a moment to recognize one of my dearest friends and a pillar in our region. I feel honored whenever I have the distinct opportunity to share in his presence and we are forever grateful to him for his continued leadership, business acumen, community pride, and love of his ancestry. I am speaking of none other than Matty Moroun, and what an honor it is for me personally to be with you again, especially at this evening’s banquet. Matty, you are a diamond in a field of zirconium, a patriotic American, and a true Lebanese, and we are all delighted that you are here tonight. Please join me in warmly welcoming a beloved son of Lebanon.

While each and every guest present this evening is special to us all, we are especially honored to have two inspiring Lebanese American Diplomats joining us this evening. As President George W. Bush recognized his talents and contributions to American society, we too recognize and applaud all that he does on both a global and local level. Please welcome the distinguished former United States Ambassador to Slovenia, His Excellency Yousif Ghafari.

Taking into consideration that he may have had to pack an extra sweater or scarf, heading north from the great southern state of North Carolina, our American Lebanese community here in the Great Lakes this evening, has amongst our ranks the Honorary Consul General of Raleigh from the Consulate of Lebanon, the Honorable Mr. Ghassan George Eldiri. Please join me in giving His Excellency a Motor City welcome!

This evening’s gathering is more than just a celebration it is also a tribute. It is a tribute to many people. First and foremost, it is a tribute to the Lebanese Consulate in Detroit and its team of professionals, who work tirelessly in their efforts to service our community, preserve our records, define our ancestral culture, and uphold our heritage. I wish to commend them for their daily presence in our community, which is so duly reflected here this evening.

Additionally, I regard this evening as a tribute to America, and the over 3 million Americans of Middle Eastern descent with the majority being Lebanese. American society today, with its multiculturalism and the American spirit of accepting people of different cultural origins is widely admired. Indeed, in this respect, the United States is a model for other nations. As an American of Lebanese descent, I am inspired and proud that so many Americans of Lebanese ancestry are playing such an active and valuable role in American society today. Lebanese Americans are leaders in virtually every aspect of American life - arts, business, academics, politics, athletics, diplomacy, media and many others.

Finally, I look upon this evening as a tribute to the entire Lebanese American community. As tragic as the last three decades the beloved Lebanon has endured, our determination and perseverance was able to bring about an integration that ultimately strengthened our community here in the United States, unifying Lebanese Americans and ultimately inspirational for other communities across the nation. In meeting and overcoming those challenges, we must be mindful of the lessons of the past, while planning together for our future and the next generation of Lebanese Americans to come.

In reflecting upon the history of the young Lebanese Republic, the political strife, uncertainty, and wars the Lebanon has withstood, stand out as defining moments and events. In that regard, it is sad to recall that this tragic and devastating time caused great suffering and misery to many a people. The Lebanese, and those of us with roots in Lebanon however, are a resilient people, who have overcome much throughout the centuries and continue to do so.

Most of us gathered here this evening know and behold our Lebanese heritage and history and contributions to global society. Sure there are some mammoth challenges today facing such a small nation of only 10, 452 km2, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that’s there’s a great deal of things right with the Lebanon. I can’t help but think what our Lebanese Ambassador to the United States Antoine Chedid shared with us during a recent visit. He reminded us that Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East to have 'living' former Presidents.

And as we do have many new friends also joining us this evening, permit me to share some additional facts about our community. Let me be perfectly clear when I say to those of you who don’t know the Lebanon we know:

*Lebanon is a peaceful nation. And the Lebanese people are peace loving people.

*Lebanon and the Lebanese people desire peace not war.

*Lebanon and the Lebanese people seek calm not turmoil

*Lebanon and the Lebanese people yearn for security not fear.

*Lebanon and the Lebanese people embrace diplomacy not aggression.

*Lebanon and the Lebanese people will always look to the future never to the past.

Lebanon is much more than a tiny nation tucked away in the Middle East along the Mediterranean shoreline. You know Lebanon and the Lebanese well.

Vintage vineyards of Lebanon continue to produce some of the best wines in the world. In fact in highlighting this burgeoning industry, just last week Lebanese in Beirut celebrated the largest Wine Glass ever built, 8 feet high by 6 feet wide, and authenticated by the Guinness Book of World Records.

And I’m sure that this new Wine Glass will pair well with another record breaker unveiled this past Spring in Beirut - the Guinness Book's largest platter of hummus in the world!

As Casey Kasem, one of Lebanon’s most celebrated sons and internationally known radio and television personality quietly moved into retirement, another young and talented daughter of the Lebanon emerged on the scene. Our very own Rima Fakih, the current reigning Miss USA!

And speaking of beauty, let’s not forget Lebanon’s glam girl Haifa Wehbe, who was deservingly named one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People!

And when Hollywood wants to look its best on the red carpet, they call one of many Lebanese Fashion designers from Elie Saab to Abed Mahfouz to Robert Abi Nader to Jean Fares, for all their couture needs.

While banks in the U.S. and Europe have been bailed out or boarded up, a different scenario has played out in Lebanon: banks there are thriving. The man responsible for bucking the banking trend is Riad Salame, the Governor of Banque du Liban. In 2005 he prohibited banks in Lebanon from investing in mortgage-backed securities and today his prudent move has proved to be prophetic. Last year, he rang the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate Lebanon Capital Market Day.

Recently, global celebrations ensued including at Columbia University in New York, where an international concert coupled with the planting of a Cedar Tree in the Big Apple, was organized by the New Pen’s League to celebrate the 125th Anniversary Jubilee of Lebanese American poet, author and artist, Gibran Khalil Gibran.

In January of this year, for the first time since 1952, Lebanon assumed its seat as a non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council, for a two-year term on the critical international body.

As one can see, it is plainly known that the United States and Lebanon have long shared a close relationship on many levels. How inspiring it is when we see sitting US Presidents walk with Lebanese Presidents & Prime Ministers through the Rose Garden to formally meet inside the White House, in our nation’s capital.

Why then, should we not desire the same freedoms for those in Lebanon that we enjoy here in America. Surely like the US, we sadly have enemies both foreign and domestic. But I caution you, my friends, the only weapon we have in our arsenal against these aggressors, the ONLY weapon – is our unity.

So let us then, as Americans of Lebanese origin, unite in strengthening our community at home here in America. But let us also unite in working together to strengthen abroad our country of origin, the Lebanon, for generations to come. Let our voices stand in unison on this never-ending journey of the Phoenix we refer to as the Lebanon. Let us strengthen our might, our will and our determination with clear victories that we can all agree on. While it is evident we have had some minor setbacks, we can also claim many achievements. Together, let us declare right here and now to work for even more victories:

*When we cease to require foreign influence for internal negotiations and all accords, pacts and treaty’s created for the Lebanese, of the Lebanese and by the Lebanese are no longer made in Cairo, Taif, Damascus or Doha but instead are made in Tripoli and Beirut and Aley and Saida, this will be a victory!

* When safe and secure borders with Lebanon's neighbors, are achieved, coupled with respect of Lebanon's sovereignty, an end to foreign interference in Lebanese matters, and Lebanon resumes its rightful place as the Paris of the Middle East, this will be a victory!

* When the current hostile and political occupation on the minds of Lebanese are replaced with occupations for Lebanon and Lebanese students graduating from some of the finest universities in the world - to stop them from leaving Lebanon and creating a brain drain – this will be a victory!

* When Leaders sit together at a table, and stop thinking about their position, their colors, and the sound of their voice, and start thinking about the children of Lebanon, their future and the next generation, this will be a victory!

* When vengeance, hatred, divisions, and revenge are lifted and removed from the hearts and minds of the Lebanese people. When ghosts of the past that linger throughout the streets of Lebanon disappear and the Lebanese return to a time of peaceful co-existence when Christians and Muslims celebrate Christmas and Ramadan together, this will be a victory!

* We will all declare a divine victory when we have sacrificed our last martyr, injustice ends and justice prevails to the treacherous hands responsible for senseless assassinations, kidnappings, tortures, detentions, explosions and the taking from us of our beloved young and promising Lebanese lights of hope.

Tonight as I deliver this message to you, I solemnly salute each and every Lebanese who embraces the sense of Independence as an inherent right and duty AND in the current international climate will - with all his means - advocate for the pursuit of a truly free, sovereign and independent Lebanon.

Again, I wish you all an enjoyable evening as we celebrate this 67th Birthday of the young Republic of Lebanon’s Independence Day. From the north to the south, long live our beloved Land of the Cedars and its people, wherever they may reside.

May God bless our United States of America, the greatest nation on earth, and may she continue to shine as a beacon of hope and democracy for the entire world to see. (Photos courtesy of Nafeh Abunab/American Elite Studios)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Remembering Lebanese President René Moawad: Elected 11/05/89, Assassinated by Enemies of Lebanon Only 17 Days Later on 11/22/89 - Independence Day

“I make a pledge that I won't allow myself a moment of rest until the Lebanese government's security is established in the most remote area of our land, until we successfully assemble all illegal arms from illegal military organizations.” President René Moawad [B: 17APR, 1925 - (Assassinated): 22NOV, 1989]

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Statement by the President for Lebanon's Independence Day on November 22nd

(THE WHITE HOUSE) - On behalf of the American people, I offer my deepest congratulations to President Sleiman, Speaker Berri, Prime Minister Hariri, and all citizens of Lebanon on the occasion of Lebanon's Independence Day. This celebration comes at a particularly opportune time, in light of the challenges Lebanon currently faces. This important day exemplifies Lebanon's sovereignty, independence, and national and cultural identity. The United States is committed to strengthening these characteristics through support of Lebanon's state institutions and voices of peace and moderation.
We are grateful to the Government of Lebanon for its steadfast leadership under difficult circumstances. It has shown vision in its search for peace, stability, and consensus. We continue to support the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which will end the era of political assassinations with impunity in Lebanon. Lebanon and its children need a future where they can fulfill their dreams free of fear and intimidation.
I am committed to doing everything I can to support Lebanon and ensure it remains free from foreign interference, terrorism, and war. Lebanon deserves peace and prosperity, and those who believe otherwise are no friend to Lebanon. I hope you will carry this message to your friends and family. Lebanon has fought enough fights. The only way ahead is for all Lebanese to work together, not against each other, for a sovereign and independent Lebanon that enjoys both justice and stability.
Lebanon's multi-ethnic democratic system ensures representation by all of Lebanon's different religious and ethnic backgrounds. This unique facet sets Lebanon apart and has allowed Lebanese citizens to flourish and build their country and the rich tapestry that is Lebanese society. It is much the same in our own country, where Lebanese-Americans have for generations contributed deeply to the American community, economy, and culture through their leadership in Congress, the business world, the U.S. military, and even in my cabinet. We salute Lebanon today for its greatest resource - its people - and wish all of Lebanon a happy Independence Day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Akouri Lends Support to Those Calling for Boycott of Assi Helani Concert, Joins Many Community Voices Demanding an Immediate Apology From the Singer

(BIRMINGHAM, MI/USA)...John Akouri today lent his strong support to the many community leaders calling for an open explanation along with demands for an immediate apology from Lebanese singer Assi Helani, for his snubbing of Lebanese & Arab Americans in southeast Michigan on Wednesday. The greater Detroit-area Middle Eastern community had a long planned reception honoring the performer earlier this week in downtown Birmingham. There was to be a presentation of an American flag that was officially flown over the United States Capitol in Washington, DC in honor of the performers near month-long USA tour. But at the last minute, Helani canceled without explanation, making appearances elsewhere later that evening. In the wake of Wednesday's snubbing, Akouri pulled his support from Helani's concerts in Cleveland and Detroit this weekend, and an outraged community organized a boycott.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Akouri Announces the 2010 Holiday Party - A Holly Jolly Business & Social Event to Celebrate the Season!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Akouri Leads Academic Delegation of University Presidents to Meet with American University of Beirut President Dr. Peter Dorman in Ann Arbor

(ANN ARBOR)...Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce President John Akouri leads an Academic Delegation of University Presidents to meet with American University of Beirut President Dr. Peter Dorman (l-r): Dr. Edouard Daher, M.D. & Ms. Hamsa Daher, Director at Walsh College, Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, CSSF, President of Madonna University, Dr. Richard (Saliba) Cross, M.D., University of Michigan Fellow, Firas Maksad, Executive Director of Lebanon Renaissance Foundation in Washington, DC, Abe A. Karam, Eastern Michigan University Foundation Trustee, The Honorable Bachir S. Tawk, Consul General of Lebanon, AUB President Dr. Peter Dorman, His Excellency Ambassador Dr. Khalil Makkawi, Councilman John Akouri, Dr. Maria Vaz, Ph.D., Provost of Lawrence Technological University, Dr. Lewis Walker, President of Lawrence Technological University & Mrs. Nancy Walker, Dr. Nadia Shuayto of Lawrence Technological University. (Not pictured): Dr. Susan Work Martin, President of Eastern Michigan University.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2010 Autumn Event - the Business & Social Event of the Year, Scheduled for Wednesday, November 10th at the all-new Zazio's in downtown Birmingham, MI

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

John Akouri Emcees 27th International Institute Foundation Heritage Hall of Fame Honors in the Ambassador Ballroom of the Marriott Renaissance Centre

Monday, November 08, 2010

Wall Street Journal OpEd by Dr. Walid Phares: "Prosecute Hezbollah"

There is no hope for Lebanon unless the UN and the West will enforce the tribunal's findings on the Hariri assassination.
WASHINGTON, DC - In the coming weeks, the United Nations will indict the killers of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in its first-ever tribunal to try terrorists. As the international prosecutors of the Security Council's Special Tribunal for Lebanon prepare to make their case on the February 2005 assassination, in which Hezbollah features prominently, the "Party of God" and its backers in Tehran and Damascus are once again taking off their gloves.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently visited Lebanon to show support for Hezbollah, indicating that Iran, and not only its minions, would act in the event of an adverse ruling. In June, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as well as Iran and Syria threatened the Lebanese government and Prime Minister Saad Hariri—son of the slain head of state—with dire consequences if they support indictments of the organization. Hezbollah threatened to stoke civil unrest and break up the government, which could spark another war with Israel and destabilize the entire region.

In the past five years, Hezbollah has shown that it usually makes good on its threats. Between July and December of 2005, a range of anti-Hezbollah lawmakers and journalists died or suffered grievous injuries in attacks across Lebanon, and bombings hit several anti-Syrian neighborhoods in Beirut.

In the first six months of 2006, Nasrallah claimed he was negotiating with Lebanon's leaders to surrender his weapons, only to trigger a devastating war with Israel. After the war, Hezbollah unleashed more violence at home, killing Lebanese legislators, including the Sunni Walid Eido, the Christian Antoine Ghanem and Minister of Industry Pierre Gemayel, son of former President Amine Gemayel. In May 2008, Hezbollah mounted a full-fledged military invasion of West Beirut and parts of the Druze Mountains, which crumbled Fuad Siniora's pro-Western government and propelled Hezbollah to the fore of Lebanon's national security policy. Since then, no domestic force has been able to confront Hezbollah or pressure it into disarming.

Hezbollah has reason to fear the Special Tribunal, whose mandate covers more than the Hariri murder. It includes prosecuting the assassinations of Cedar Revolution leaders Samir Cassir, George Hawi, and Lebanese parliamentarian Jebran Tueni, as well as the bloody attempts against former Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamade and journalist May Chidiac.

If the U.N. pins Hezbollah down on Hariri, the verdicts won't stop there. It would criminalize Hezbollah's so-called "political" and "military" wings alike, resulting in further investigations for the murders of Lebanese politicians and political dissenters. The organization would be criminalized under international law, and countries like the United Kingdom and France, which have begun to engage it politically, would be forced to desist. Hezbollah could even face international warrants for the arrest of its leaders. The consequences would be cataclysmic for the group, destroying the image it cultivates as a legitimate resistance movement.

The Iranian regime cannot afford to lose so precious an ally in Lebanon, and Syria's Baathist regime knows all too well that if Hezbollah goes under, it will drag many in Damascus down with it. So the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah axis has locked the tribunal in its crosshairs.

The U.N. originally established the tribunal as an international criminal court, comprised of judges from Lebanon and across the world, to prosecute the acts relating to Hariri's assassination under Lebanese law. Under Chapter 7 of its charter, the U.N. is required to provide force to execute its decisions, if necessary, but it cannot do so without the support of the Lebanese government.

At the time, that would have been possible, as many Lebanese politicians publicly accused Syria's Assad regime of the assassination, and observers predicted that the tribunal could even result in the indictment of Syrian officials. The Lebanese government was then headed by a pro-Western, anti-Syrian majority, and was modestly willing to push back against Hezbollah.

When Hezbollah invaded Beirut and toppled then-prime minister Fuad Siniora's cabinet in May 2008, it brought in a new government headed nominally by Saad Hariri, but with a pro-Syrian President, General Michel Suleiman. It had also by then penetrated Lebanon's security apparatus, giving Iran an implicit veto.

That's why when the tribunal issues its verdict, the Lebanese government is unlikely to make any arrests. In preparation for the forthcoming showdown, Hezbollah has been hyperactive in identifying and arresting anyone it believes would support the indictments, branding them as Israeli spies, and agents of a "vast Zionist conspiracy."

Thanks largely to bountiful Iranian aid, Hezbollah is winning its war against international justice. The Turkish government even suggested that the Special Tribunal postpone its decisions. And Lebanese officials, including traditionally anti-Syrian politicians, have been bullied into saying that they would consider any indictment of Hezbollah an act of aggression against the Lebanese Republic.

The message to those in the U.S. and Europe looking for "dialogue partners" should be clear: There are no moderates in Hezbollah. When the Special Tribunal issues its final verdict, let's hope for Lebanon and the region's sake that the U.N. and the West will have the courage to enforce the prosecutors' findings.

Mr. Phares is the director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Fox News contributor, and author of “The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad” (Palgrave MacMillan, 2008).

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Akouri Presents NFL Legend Eddie Murray a Special Tribute Honoring the former Detroit Lion's recent Induction into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame

Friday, November 05, 2010

Will You Stand With Me?

(DETROIT)...As horrific images continue to emerge of the dozens of Christians slaughtered during an evening worship service this past Sunday in Iraq - Christians throughout the Middle East are on high alert after Islamist extremists called them 'legitimate targets.' And al-Qaida posted an Internet statement saying "the killing sword will not be lifted" from the necks of Christians, in Iraq and across the region. Al-Qaida said their group will go after "your children" in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, adding there are hundreds of thousands of Christians and hundreds of churches on what they referred to as Islamic soil. Al-Qaida said they will be targeted if Christians do not submit to their group's demands.
On Monday, November 8th, 2010 at 12:00pm Noon, John Akouri will speak at a rally set to take place at the McNamara Federal Building in Downtown Detroit, in support of the safety and security of Christians in the Middle East and denouncing the 'Black Sunday' church atrocities.
Around the world, rallies, protests and demonstrations will take place at the same time in major cities across the globe. Will you pledge to stand up to these cowardly terrorists, sending them a message that there heinous actions will not be tolerated. And at the same time, pressing the international community to step up and act now, for the protection and security of Christians in the Middle East.
Now more than ever, the words of late Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel ring even truer today when he declared: "In the name of all Christians of the Middle East, and as Lebanese Christians, let us proclaim that if Lebanon is not to be a Christian national homeland, it will nonetheless remain a homeland for Christians. Henceforth, we refuse to live in any dhimmitude. Our desire is to remain in the Middle East so that our church bells may ring out our joys and sorrow whenever we wish! We want to continue to christen, to celebrate our rites and traditions, our faith and our creed whenever we wish! We want to be able to assume and testify to our Christianity in the Middle East! And whatever may be the difficulty in offering this testimony, we will never renounce it. We will testify to our Christianity in Lebanon. We will testify to our Christianity in the Middle East!"

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Marcel Ghanem: 'Waynoun' Lebanese Detainees in Syrian Prisons

Monday, November 01, 2010

A Day of Faith & Remembrance

JOHN AKOURI ONLINE NEWSROOM 'We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.' -- PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH Add to end of above"line without paranthesis when wanting to loop sound (( loop="-1">