Last week I attended my first annual ACT! for America National Conference in DC. I had only recently joined my local chapter and found the conference to be a real eye opener on just how effective a lobbying organization it is. For instance, they have been very instrumental in helping the states in their battles to pass American Laws for American Courts (ALAC).
ACT! for America is the nation’s largest and fastest growing grassroots organization dedicated to national security issues and, specifically, to a defense against political Islam. Since its inception in 2007, ACT! has grown from a small organized resistance group to a unified force of almost 200,000 members and 700 local chapters nationwide with a growing presence internationally. Brigitte’s goal is for ACT! to grow to become as large and powerful as the NRA. As AFA Executive Director, Guy Rodgers, likes to say, “it’s all about the Power of the Gavel”.
For those of you who are not familiar with Brigitte Gabriel here is the biography published at the Intelligence Summit website:
Speaking as a native Arab and a professional journalist, Brigitte Gabriel offers a first hand account of her personal experiences in the opening salvos of Islamic Jihad towards the Western world in the Middle East. Ms. Gabriel grew up in South Lebanon as the only child of a retired Christian governing administrator of the region and a successful businessman. Her Arabic society, culture and media taught her that Israel and Jews were the devil. As she turned 10, war broke out pitting the combined forces of militant Moslems and Palestinians against the Christian Lebanese.
In the Lebanese civil war, Ms. Gabriel found herself in the first attack, beyond the Arab/Israel conflict, of Islamic Jihad against non-Moslems and the West. A barrage of Moslem rockets exploded in her house leaving her wounded and buried under the rubble. Her family lost everything and was forced to live the next seven years in an underground bomb shelter with little food, water or electricity.
In 1982 Ms. Gabriel’s mother became seriously wounded, Israel was the only place to go for medical attention. For her mother, the trip to a hospital in Israel was a life-saving experience. For Brigitte it was a life changing experience. She saw the Israelis demonstrate respect, humanity, compassion and generosity that she didn’t know existed beyond her immediate family. She realized she was fed nothing but a fabricated lie by her government about the Jews and the Israeli people. She had to return to Lebanon to take care of her elderly parents but vowed that one day she would return to Israel. Brigitte kept that promise and more. She returned to Israel two years later and started working in Jerusalem as a journalist.
A Journalist in Israel & America
Rising quickly to the position of news anchor for “World News” an evening Arabic news broadcast for Middle East Television seen throughout Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Cyprus and Lebanon, she covered the Israeli security zone in Lebanon and the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank. Her work is of international scope having brought her in contact with world figures such as Margaret Thatcher, George H. Bush, Queen Nour El Hussein, Itzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.
After marrying an American war correspondent in Jerusalem, Ms. Gabriel relocated to the United States and started a television production and advertising company. Her clients include ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN, Discovery, TLC, History Channel, “Oprah Winfrey Show,” “20/20,” “World News Tonight” and “Good Morning America” to name a few.
An Urgent Warning to the West
Following the September 11th attack Ms. Gabriel founded American Congress for Truth, a non-profit organization dedicated to inform, inspire and motivate Americans to take action against terrorism and the threat radical Islamic fundamentalists pose to America, Israel and Western civilization. Her inside information is enlightening for unsuspecting Western-thinking audiences. Her lectures inspire and empower audiences into taking action in order to protect America and support Israel. She has appeared on news and information TV and radio shows and has given hundreds of lectures nationally and internationally. Her views are seen as a pertinent warning to the West. She speaks Arabic, French, English and Hebrew.
Brigitte is also the author of two New York Times Best Sellers, BECAUSE THEY HATE: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America. And THEY MUST BE STOPPED: Why we must defeat radical Islam and how we can do it.
As explained on the FAQ page at ACT’s website, there are actually two organizations created to perform the two tasks of 1.Educaton and 2. Lobbying:
ACT! for America Education (formerly known as American Congress for Truth), the first organization Brigitte Gabriel founded and a “sister” organization to ACT! for America, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its primary mission is conducting research and providing educational and informational materials to the public. Contributions to ACT! for America Education are tax-deductible. Under tax law, ACT! for America Education can only devote an “insubstantial” amount of time and revenue to activities such as lobbying. Therefore, it was deemed necessary that ACT! for America, a 501(c)(4) be founded in order to accomplish the goal of having a grassroots citizen organization that would engage in activities such as lobbying and issues advocacy.
Realizing the need for a full-time presence on Capitol Hill, Brigitte hired Lisa Piraneo in 2009 as a full-time lobbyist. Lisa’s official title is “Director of Government Relations.” Lisa has over 15 years of experience on Capitol Hill, including stints in four congressional offices and nearly seven years of experience as a lobbyist for a national organization. She has also worked for a Homeland Security consulting firm. Ms. Piraneo works with members of Congress and their staffs, educating them on issues ACT! is concerned about and seeking their support for “High Priority Legislation”.
Lisa Piraneo and National Field Director, Kelly Cook, also work with ACT! chapter leaders and members on such tasks as providing education on how to effectively persuade our elected representatives as well as coordinating grassroots contacts with members of Congress. Lisa and Kelly also conduct Citizens in Action Training Conferences. The next one is in Northern Virginia at the Dulles Marriott on Saturday, August 18. There will be a Friday night session for prospective Chapter Leaders. You can register here.
As membership grows, so will the clout of ACT! Congress is taking note. Locate a chapter near you and sign up for their newsletters to stay up to date with concrete actions you can take to help protect our nation from the threat posed by political Islam.