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S. Zakhem: Address to World Summit 2013

PhotoI served in the Colorado House of Representatives, I served in the Colorado Senate, and I served as a United States ambassador for two great presidents, but I’m most proud of being an Ambassador for Peace for the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

I am not here to defend the United States of America, but I want to share with you from my heart as an immigrant to this great nation. I was in the Abu Dhabi airport coming to Seoul, Korea, to pay tribute to the departed leader of UPF on September 12, 2012, and looking at the monitor I saw that our ambassador in Libya was killed along with four other colleagues from the State Department. I thought for myself, we just finished paying a heavy price to liberate Libya from a dictator: why would they take on an American ambassador and an American mission? I said to myself, Americans have died so that Muslims, especially in the Arab world, could live free. Americans died so that Kosovo could be a free nation. The Kosovo Prime Minister, who spoke at this summit, would not have been here if it were not for the many men and women from the United States fighting against a Christian nation to bring about a Muslim nation called Kosovo. I thought about the fact that my people are dying in Afghanistan defending Muslims. My people have died in Somalia. My people have defended the Muslims of Chechnya and now are defending the Muslims of northwest China. Why take on the United States mission in Muslim countries instead of taking on those who oppress Muslims?

In their wisdom, the founders of the United States kept religion and politics separate. We respect all religions. We respect people's dignity and integrity. Our nation was conceived in liberty and dedicated to human dignity and honor.

I was not born in the USA. It’s my adopted country. But no nation in the history of mankind has sent its men and women to die so others may live free. Americans nurtured the tree of freedom on shores far away from its land. They nurtured the tree of freedom with their precious blood.

One year after I became a citizen, I got elected to public office. President Assad asked me in 1976, "Did President Nixon appoint you?" I said, "No, Mr. President, they voted for me." He said, "You mean there are lots of Arabs in your area?" I said, "Sir, I know of two families." He said, "You mean the American people voted for you?" I said, "Yes, sir. The American people are the most magnanimous people on the face of this universe. They don’t go to imperialize and they don’t go to colonize. They go to build, to bring freedom, individual dignity and honor because their land was conceived in liberty. The land was dedicated to human dignity and honor."

I served in the Persian Gulf at very tough times. There was the Iran-Iraq war. There was the "tanker war" against the oil tankers passing through the Straits of Hormuz. Americans do not get that much oil from the Middle East. It goes to Japan, Korea, China, and the Philippines. Who protected the freedom of navigation in the Arabian Gulf? It was American men and women who died protecting the freedom of navigation in the Arabian Gulf.

One time a Palestinian looked at me and asked, "How could you represent this terrible country? You were born in an Arab country, and now you represent America." Then he made the cardinal mistake of letting me know that his daughter is an American citizen living in the US. I asked him what his citizenship was. He said, "I don’t have a citizenship." I said, "Why not?" He said, "I lived in Kuwait since 1950, but they don’t give me even a permanent residency."

I looked at him and said, "If I were you, I would kneel down and thank God for the United States. It’s not a Muslim nation and it’s not an Arab nation, yet it honored your daughter and gave her citizenship. Your own Arab Muslim government will not even give you permanent residency."

Let's be fair. I heard my country being criticized on this podium, and some of the criticism is due and just. I, for one, don’t agree with our policy in the Middle East. I love Israel, I love the Palestinians, and I think America should be fairer, more equitable, and more just in the treatment of the Palestinian people. But if you ask a Palestinian and an Israeli who they trust to bring about peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, they tell you, America.

To a land conceived in liberty, a land that has done so much for humankind, a land that rebuilds the countries of its former enemies, I say God bless you. Our best friends were once our worst enemies – Japan and Germany. Now they are our best allies. I say God bless you, and most of all, I also say God bless the United States of America.