Ambassador Richard Jones,
Chargé d’Affaires, US Embassy
Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday. It is a time to gather family and close friends to give thanks for all of our blessings. I am thankful this year to have the opportunity to return to Lebanon. Lebanon was my first assignment as Ambassador, and it will forever remain a special place in my heart. I love the warmth and hospitality of the Lebanese people. My recall to government service is not our standard operating procedure but clearly demonstrates Secretary Kerry’s concern and commitment to Lebanon during these rocky times. Have no doubt — America stands with you as Lebanon grapples with its interlocking security, political, humanitarian, and economic crises.
Thanksgiving is not an occasion for me to urge or prod the political class to restore government function, elect a president, or enact urgent economic reforms. Today, I wish to express my appreciation for the Lebanese people. The Herculean challenges facing Lebanon would have overwhelmed many other nations but Lebanon’s strength in the face of adversity defies the rules and constraints of other countries.
I am thankful for the resilience and tolerance of the Lebanese people. The attacks on November 12 in Burj al-Baragheh were acts of cowardice by individuals who have no understanding of Islam and its message. I offer the American people’s deepest condolences to the victims, the injured, and their families. In these attacks, Da’esh intended to sow terror, chaos, and sectarian discord in Lebanon. They failed miserably. The resilient Lebanese will not be cowed so easily, and rather than divide the Lebanese, it united them in unequivocal condemnation of these acts of brutality. The terrorists just don’t understand how exceptional Lebanon is. Here the different confessions have come together to build something that is greater than the sum of its parts. The Lebanese model of democracy and peaceful coexistence cannot be torn down by Da’esh’s bombs, bullets, and hateful propaganda.
I am also thankful for the men and women of the Lebanese Armed Forces and security services. Their duty and dedication to protecting their homeland is admirable, and we are proud to call them partners. One of my government’s top priorities remains helping to build these institutions to protect the Lebanese people. In the aftermath of these barbaric attacks on innocent civilians, the response of the Lebanon security services was truly impressive. They quickly rolled up the terrorist network behind the attacks with world class efficiency, protecting Lebanon from its further violence. Moreover, the terrorists failed in their attempt to provoke the Lebanese into blind vengeance. Instead, the Lebanese government rightly sought justice in the most professional manner.
Resilience, tolerance, and justice unite the Lebanese. These strengths are the reason why Da’esh will never add a Lebanese province to its monstrous enterprise. These strengths have encouraged the United States to seek your partnership and offer assistance. And these strengths are the reason why I love Lebanon and am thankful to return here.
Happy Thanksgiving from the American people.