American University of Beirut

Mr. Said Khoury's Acceptance Speech

​Co-founder, Consolidated Contractors Company 
June 24, 2006

President Waterbury
Distinguished guests
Fellow Honorees
Trustees and Faculty members
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am moved and honored to be part of this unforgettable gathering. How humbled I feel to be associated with a group of distinguished people who have achieved prominence in their respective fields. AUB has always been a beacon of enlightenment enshrining the values of integrity, honesty, courage, tolerance and perseverance; and today's event is simply a manifestation of the mission which AUB has for long been carrying with vision, determination and dedication. Needless to say, AUB could not have been what it is, had it not been operating from the land of the Lebanon to whom we are all indebted.

I know I am not here because of my oratory skills. Therefore, let me talk to you briefly about my experience in CCC. A few years ago we invited Hay Associates, famous for their expertise in management and succession to give us their views about things in our company. After weeks of thorough examination, they informed me that I personally was a problem among other problems. According to Hay Associates, my problem rotated around my unwillingness to believe that my children were grown enough to manage and succeed. I accepted their recommendation in good spirits and immediately started delegating my powers.

Deep at heart I was more than satisfied because I felt that my children who I strove over the years to imbue with my own values, were now, in experts' eyes, fit to take over.

Later on, we in CCC commissioned a university lecturer specialized in organizational development to write a book on CCC past and present. In her voluminous work which she called the CCC family she wrote that her research results suggested that the CCC's founders' personal values, clearly recognizable in a humanistic approach to managing relations with staff, partners and clients, constitute the predominant value in CCC's distinct corporate culture.

The question of values as we may all realize is indivisible be they family, corporate, social, or national values. In their purest form, values represent a commitment to the supreme ideals of life. Today, as I look towards my occupied Palestinian homeland I cannot but feel both sad and bitter because many basic values have been trespassed. I feel sad because the occupation has been allowed and even encouraged to continue despite UN resolutions and the international community's outcry. I feel bitter, because the whole Palestinian people are today being punished to starvation (and I literally mean starvation) because they opted in democratic and transparent elections, which the U.S. promotes and advocates, for a different political setting.

Are these the values we really seek? Are these the freedoms that the founding fathers laid down in the U.S. constitution? Are U.S. policies in line with Thomas Jefferson when he called all in America to pay decent respect to the opinions of mankind because thus America also pays respect to what it is in its better self?

America has always been full of great men and great sayings. As early as 1854, Abraham Lincoln declared (and I quote):
No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent (unquote)
Another American politician eloquently said in recent years (and I quote):
When the people of the world look to us, they should see not just our money and our arsenal, but also our vast capacity as a force for good. (unquote)

The U.S. must return to the values of the founding fathers. The U.S. must lead. The U.S. must meet it's world responsibilities. What we urgently need in Palestine and other parts of the world is a peace process initiated by the U.S. that is real and not fake; a process that negates segregation in favour of integration; a process that insists on inclusion instead of exclusion; a process that creates mutual confidence instead of fear; a process that is based on emancipation rather than oppression; a process that never stops until peace with justice are achieved. This doctorate bestowed on me is a great honour. I will cherish it.

Thank you. 

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