Brookings Event: "Who We Really Are: A Conversation with Syrian Refugees in America"

By Benjamin Wittes
Saturday, February 20, 2016, 4:40 PM

I haven't yet watched this event, which took place yesterday at Brookings, but I hear it was extremely moving. Brookings described it as follows:

The Syrian crisis has cost the lives of nearly 250,000 people, displaced nearly half of the population, and sent 4.6 million Syrian refugees into neighboring countries. The United States has taken in approximately 2,500 Syrian refugees since 2011, and the Obama administration announced that it plans to admit an additional 10,000 refugees this year. As debates over refugee resettlement facts and figures continue within a polarized election cycle, a real need exists to better understand the lives and experiences of refugees.

On Friday February 19, the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at Brookings hosted a conversation with recent Syrian refugees on their experiences of forced migration, resettlement, and integration in the United States. Robert McKenzie, visiting fellow for the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at Brookings, provided introductory remarks, and Leon Wieseltier, the Isaiah Berlin Senior Fellow in Culture and Policy at Brookings, moderated the conversation.

This event was the latest in a series of Foreign Policy at Brookings events focusing on the Syrian refugee crisis and the U.S. and international community’s response.

Featured speakers included:

  • Kassem Eid, Activist for Syria and Syrian refugees whose hometown is Damascus, Syria.

  • Mariela Shaker, Concert violinist whose hometown is Aleppo, Syria.
  • Qutaiba Idlbi, Activist for Syria, whose hometown is Damascus, Syria.
  • Taha Bali, Assistant in Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, whose hometown is Homs, Syria.