By Sarah Bahmani
September 16, 2011 – Fort Lee, NJ – On Friday evening, September 16, 2011, Dr. Akbar Ghahary, a member of the Board of Directors of IAPAC, the connected political action committee of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), generously opened up his home to guests, friends and colleagues for a reception in honor of United States Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Menendez is the junior Senator from New Jersey. In 2006, he was appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jon Corzine, who vacated his seat after being elected Governor of New Jersey. He was elected to his own full six-year term in the 2006 Senate election. Prior to his appointment to the U.S. Senate, Menendez was a member of the United States House of Representatives.
As dusk settled and the New York City skyline visibly lit up across the river, guests gathered around this back-drop to hear Senator Menendez discuss key points of the New Jersey Senator’s re-election campaign. Currently serving as a member of the Senate Committees on Finance; Banking; Housing and Urban Affairs; and Foreign Relations, the prolific Senator discussed a range of topics including the economy, the banking crisis, the US becoming more globally competitive, and the positioning of America in light of recent political developments in the Middle East and North Africa. Senator Menendez also briefly mentioned Iran, asking the rhetorical question “How do we nurture the aspirations of the Iranian people…as we lost the opportunity with the Green movement.”
Robert Menendez, coming from an immigrant family himself, discussed the Iranian American community commenting that “Iranians have done extraordinarily well; being an active, informed, and educated community is a tremendous asset to the United States.” The Senator reminded guests that government is always involved in all aspects of our lives and as citizens we either abdicate allowing the government to dictate or we become a part of it, stating, “Democracy is a process we achieve.”
Also present was professor, sociologist and author, Dr. Maboud Ansari, who took to the floor thanking Senator Menendez for sponsoring the Nowruz Resolution. The resolution recognizes the cultural and historical significance of the Iranian New Year and passed the U.S. Senate in 2010. Dr. Ansari made poignant comments to the Senator including the following, “We, the Iranian American community, have taken root, we have concerns, and politics for us means here and now.”
Senator Menendez concluded the evening by thanking co-hosts Dr. Ghahary, Nazie Eftekhari, and Michael Kempner for their generosity and guests for attending the reception. He acknowledged that the Iranian American community has woven itself into the tapestry of America by it ever-growing presence in civic participation.