Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

At Passing of Shimon Peres, Reflecting on Passed Over Opportunity for Israel-Palestine Peace

Israel President Shimon Peres greets Palestine National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at 2010 Clinton Global Initiative. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Israel President Shimon Peres greets Palestine National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at 2010 Clinton Global Initiative. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

 As we mark the passing of Shimon Peres, the former President of Israel, who New York Times in its obituary called  A Pillar of Israel, From Its Founding to the Oslo Accords, I reflect back on what was very possibly the closest Israel and Palestine ever came to forging a true peace, and it came during the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative, when Peres sat next to Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, on a panel with President Bill Clinton and Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa and provided a roadmap to cooperation. Here’s my column from that panel, on September 21, 2010:

 Israel, Palestine Leaders Offer Vision of Peace – and It Looks Real

Prayers for peace in the Middle East are a ritual in Great Neck, and for one hour last week at the Clinton Global Initiative, a vision for peace seemed less than a perennial dream, and took the shape of a real prospect.

During a special session at the Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together world leaders, business moguls, philanthropists and do-gooders who labor at nongovernmental organizations, the President of Israel and the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority painted their vision of what peace would look like: a vast economic region with joint projects including a water pipeline crossing the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, modern irrigation techniques that could make the Palestinian desert bloom as it does in Israel, even a regional electric grid, and an economic boom that could snuff out the anger that fuels terrorism. There would even be equality for women.

President Bill Clinton, Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Palestine National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and Israel President Shimon Peres give vision of peace at 2010 Clinton Global Initiative. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Bill Clinton, Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Palestine National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and Israel President Shimon Peres give vision of peace at 2010 Clinton Global Initiative. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And for that hour, it all seemed within grasp, with the Bahrainian Crown Prince giving his imprimatur to how the whole region would benefit from a peace “dividend.”

But just days after, the expiration of Israel’s 10-month moratorium on settlement building in the disputed territory of the West Bank which brought out jubilant and triumphant settlers who released white-and-blue balloons, has burst that bubble of optimism over whether the Palestinian Authority will follow through on its threat to pull out of this latest effort at peace negotiations.

Still, the Palestinians seemed to hang in there as the Obama Administration – Sec. Hillary Clinton and special envoy George Mitchell – were frantically trying to keep things together.

Here’s why this time might be different: the leaders were able to specify the economic and social benefits.

What is more, the body language looked good.

Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority and Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel shook hands, genuinely, then took seats next to each other, rather than bookending President Bill Clinton and HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Seated elbow to elbow, Fayad and Peres looked straight into each other’s faces when the other was speaking. Mostly.

President Clinton posed the question to the Prime Minister first: “Assume that the parties come together, and don’t want to wait another decade, what would peace look like?”

Fayyad, offered his vision of what peace would look like in the state of Palestine, but when I heard him say “Jerusalem as its capital” I thought the session would end as quickly as it began, or veer off. But Peres never addressed the remark; his body language did not change.

But Fayyad continued: “What the region might look like minus the conflict? The vast economic potential – the region looks like a single economic space. ..vast growth potential, that can be exploited by dealing with elements that impeded commerce across state lines…That’s the kind of region that I believe can emerge after so many decades of conflict, with obvious benefits – for Arabs, Israelis and the rest of the Arab world.

“Amongst the possibilities: infrastructure improvements that cut across borders. Several have been on the drawing board – one is [close to] the heart of Shimon Peres – a project intended to link the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, to deal with ever shrinking [water supplies] that threatens to make it even more dead than it is. That’s one project that could happen..even before the conflict over. Something that could prepare for a better future. There are a lot of projects of direct benefit, cutting across boundaries in the region – in the area of energy, electricity, regional power grid….

“We could devote more energy, time and resources to bring about development –economic, socially, culturally. [Peace] would remove all the obstacles to interact with the rest of humanity on the basis of shared values, equal opportunity, no discrimination against women… ”

Women’s rights, Fayyad said “is something that unfortunately has caused us a lot of problems in region and around the world. The problem has to be addressed not only because of vast potential if women are afforded opportunity, but because it’s the right thing to do… ”

Then to Peres, Clinton said, “Suppose peace was made 3 or 4 days ago. What does Israel want out of it, what can Israel do to make sure it takes hold In order to make sustainable peace? [Particularly in the area of food production]… Today you can produce food not by size or land but science and technology. There is almost no water, yet [Israel’s] agriculture produces eight times more from same acre than 50 years ago.”

Technology has unleashed economic development throughout the developing world, and can do its magic in the Middle East, as well. Sharing Israel’s innovations with the Palestinian state would be a key benefit of the peace dividend, Peres offered.

"One thing both of us agree –  not just governmental intervention but private initiative…we all are ready to accept high tech in their countries- that has nothing to do with territory… it's global," Israel President Shimon Peres tells Palestine National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at 2010 Clinton Global Initiative. "We are ready in Israel to share what we have.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“One thing both of us agree – not just governmental intervention but private initiative…we all are ready to accept high tech in their countries- that has nothing to do with territory… it’s global,” Israel President Shimon Peres tells Palestine National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at 2010 Clinton Global Initiative. “We are ready in Israel to share what we have.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“One thing both of us agree –  not just governmental intervention but private initiative…we all are ready to accept high tech in their countries- that has nothing to do with territory… it’s global,” Peres said. “The two young boys that created Google didn’t hurt anyone…[technology] can build an economy, and I think that should be the first…. We are ready in Israel to share what we have. Our high tech started with agriculture. You can have it the next morning, and provide food to the children. That’s number one, after peace. Number two is health. ..There is no hospital in Israel where you don’t have Arab doctors and Arab patients….   If we can live in peace in hospital, why can’t we live in peace out of hospital?

“Next: Education. The moment we have peace is the moment we can provide for education.

“Other things: Tourism. Tourism accounts for 17% of world economy, and we have everything to attract the largest amount of tourists but peace.  If we shall make peace – with the Palestinians and the Jordanians, have enough points of attraction to promote ..

“Water. We are saving half of the water that is being used elsewhere. By irrigation, by recycling, by introducing vegetation that don’t drink so much water, using electronic controls. All of this is available.

“Now when it comes to electricity – the choice is that everyone will build a nuclear reactor for electricity… The greatest nuclear reactor in the world is the sun. The sun is democratic, open to everyone. We know already how to produce solar energy, but not to produce it in a competitive way. We believe by [marshalling] solar energy…. it  would enable us to be natural, would be cheaper…and  give the people water and electricity..

“We introduced ‘drip irrigation,’ now we have ‘drip electricity’ – we can move electricity from one place to another without physical connection.” [Israeli companies have developed a technology that transmits electricity the same way, over the same architecture, as wireless voice communications.]

“We can send electricity 2-4 miles away, and it can reach the target. It is quite revolutionary,” he said.

“I believe that the future, that the most sensational 10 years in human life will occur because of the level of computerization.”

President Clinton noted that even in this economic downturn, Israel has done well, “and  most certainly will be the first to have 100,000 electric cars on the road.”

Israel and Palestine have a lot to gain from a peace dividend, but how might countries in the region like Bahrain benefit? Will there be a regional economy, and what does that mean for you? President Clinton posed to Prince Salman.

“Our region is caught between the rule of the gun and the rule of Koran, captive market and capitalist markets, pluralism and plutocrats,” Prince Salman said. “The region has been held back by the negative. In every choice, people have singled out their fear, mistrust, disappointment, in the ability of governments to achieve the dignity they [deserve]. We must achieve this peace – because the future is very bright.”

He said that the region represents a $1 trillion market, and by 2020 will be a $2 trillion market…”It grew at 70% in the last 8 years, 40% [of exports] go to the region, so you can start to see that regional economic cooperation is a reality… and if we can build on what President Peres said about science… that the world in 15-20 years will be fundamentally different, then the future will be bright, whether agriculture, medicine, productivity. I am very optimistic…. the ease by which we can communicate, the productivity we have gained… in the development of human history, this is a flash, a spike.

“We will be cooperating, the dislocations that shake us, to our core, will be absent. ….It is a future I see very much in a positive way…. That I will dedicate myself to, to come true, and one in which all of us have a role to play.

“The private sector in US., government in Middle East. We must all believe in this process, make the hard choices that need to be made, and when the process looks shaky, that we are there to support it. Thank you Mr. President, for getting us here today, and even though I am on the periphery and not a direct negotiator, my life, my children’s lives will be immeasurably better.”

Giving a vision of hope, Peres suggested it might finally be time. “In Europe, if someone would have stood up in 1943 that in 30-40 years, Europe would be united, people would laugh. It took generations for French, Germans, British to come together. The young people, anyway, live in a different world. They are connected personally. The world is more connected, and the younger you are, the more connected.

“Today the greatest choice before the Middle East is either to be a Middle East of independent states or fall under the spell of Iranians,” Peres said. “This is the greatest danger. Under the spell of Iranians is also terror. We have a common menace, if not a common enemy, so we have a common purpose.

But Clinton noted, “If the vision [for peace and regional cooperation] you are sketching out takes hold, the Iranians would have a very different choice than they do today. It would maximize that the current fears we have can be resolved in a peaceful way, and maximize the risk if they choose not to do that.”

"I think peace would be better for everyone," Palestine National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad tells Israel President Shimon Peres at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative. "People throughout the region could interact more freely – in peace, security.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“I think peace would be better for everyone,” Palestine National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad tells Israel President Shimon Peres at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative. “People throughout the region could interact more freely – in peace, security.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I think [peace] would be better for everyone,” said Fayyad. “People throughout the region could interact more freely – in peace, security. We could focus on doing things better, governing better, providing services more effectively. Our economy is only 4% the size of the Israeli economy – that alone, even if you don’t factor in what this means in regional cooperation, and better access to rest of region — simply by virtue of sitting alongside such a huge economy, that is Israel. When you begin to factor in other benefits – tranquility, civility in the region, you can see how the benefits would begin to spread. That would happen on the strength of having some serious partnerships here.”

Halevay  (It should only happen).

–Karen Rubin, Columnist

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Day 3 of DNC to Focus on Hillary Clinton’s Credentials to be Commander in Chief

President Bill Clinton, in the novel role of candidate’s spouse, tells those private stories about their life together and Hillary Clinton’s fights of her life and abilities as a change-maker © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Bill Clinton, in the novel role of candidate’s spouse, tells those private stories about their life together and Hillary Clinton’s fights of her life and abilities as a change-maker © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia will focus on the now historic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton  as Commander in Chief.

Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention culminated with the history-making nomination of the first woman for president by a major party. It built to an amazing crescendo, with the vigorous roll call vote brought to dramatic conclusion when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders moved to suspend the rules and declare Hillary Clinton the nominee by acclamation, and with overall, the party projecting all-important unity. It climaxed with a display of all 44 presidents to date, culminating in a virtual shattering of a glass ceiling and a live video appearance of Hillary Clinton in Chappaqua, NY, surrounded by friends and families, expressing her gratitude for the high honor and historic milestone.

The evening was devoted to showcasing fights Hillary Clinton has waged her entire life – for families and children, civil rights, health care, for gun violence prevention, for 9/11 responders and victims, and finally, for national security. Her life was best encapsulated by President Clinton, who spoke, not as a former President, but as the candidate’s spouse, giving a tour de force in recounting their personal story and how she has been a true change-maker. And in each instance, the stark contrast with the experience, values, character, temperament were drawn between what Hillary Clinton has done and accomplished and  the Republican candidate, Donald Trump.

The third day of the convention will focus even more intently on national security.

“Tonight will focus and spotlight the Secretary’s strength and qualifications to be Commander in Chief, versus Donald Trump’s reckless, dangerous approach to national security,” said John Podesta, chair of Hillary for America.

The message will be presented by people who know her well: John Hutson, a retired rear admiral who switched party affiliation from Republican to Democrat;  Gold Star wife, Jamie Dorff; combat veteran Kristen Kavanaugh; and Leon Panetta, former CIA director and Secretary of Defense.

“Their perspective will show the temperment, judgment, experience needed in a Commander in Chief, the kind of person they would want leading the armed forces and why Hillary Clinton has that unique combination of attributes to successfully carry the mantle of the job,” said Jake Sullivan, foreign policy advisor, Hillary for America.

The variety of perspectives will underscore “why Trump is simply temperamentally unfit and unqualified to be commander in chief – his strange policy ideas like more countries getting nuclear weapons, or his rebuke to our core allies, the way he denigrates our armed forces, calling our military ‘a disaster’, saying ‘I know more about defeating ISIS, believe me,’ saying the military would commit war crimes if he orders them to. He has disrespected the military and that will shine through tonight. He also shows a fascination with dictators and strongmen, such as Saddam Hussein, Kim Jung Il, and Vladimir Putin,” Sullivan said.

“The simple proposition: this person should not be given command of the armed forces, the nuclear codes, or the title commander in chief.”

Trump’s coziness with Putin is of concern in light of the growing certainty that Russia state actors were behind the leak of DNC emails.

“She, like any Republican, Democrat, Independent who cares about national security is alarmed by the prospect and proposition that Russia is interfering in the American election – that’s not political, it’s a national security issue. She believes it is obviously new to see them interfering in an American election, but it is part of a pattern of Russia interfering in domestic affairs of other countries. Over past few years, Putin has increasingly taken positions at odds with the interests of the US. Unlike Trump who praises Putin, adopts pro-Putin positions and inserts them into his platform, she has taken a firm, tough, ultimately smart position on dealing with Russia going forward.”

“Secretary Clinton believes the Number One priority of a president and commander-in-chief is keep American people safe, and no more important is that the threat of radical jihadist terrorism is stopped, pushed back and ultimately defeated,” Sullivan said. “We will hear about that and the combination of strength and smarts it takes to execute a strategy to achieve that. Her history and experience working on this set of issues, and the broader story. To defeat a threat that is now in dozens of countries around world will take global coalition, using intelligence, pushing back in the US, Europe, everywhere, disrupting flows of men, money, propaganda and fighters moving across country. All that will require a president who can forge relationships, has relationships and has the temperment. Over the course of the next two days, you will see our conviction that Trump doesn’t.”

The evening will also focus on keeping the nation safe, spotlighting Clinton’s commitment to reduce gun violence, with families of victims of Orlando, Charleston and Sandy Hook, and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords with her husband Mark Kelly.

Also, “making the case for the unique post-partisan nature of this election” will be former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who won his elections as a Republican and as an independent.

Mayor Bloomberg will talk about the reason he has come to the conclusion that Hillary is right choice to be a stable leader on economic matters and why Donald Trump through his life in business is incapable of managing the economy, let alone managing his own affairs without creating disaster for his workers, investors, contractors – focus will be on economic choice facing the American people.”

The evening will be topped off with speeches from Vice President Joe Biden, VP designate Tim Kaine and  President Barack Obama.

All the speakers will talk about what’s at stake in this election – the loss of loved ones and personal experiences and the President and Vice President will talk about working directly with Hillary as senator and Secretary of State.

Tim Kaine will have chance to let American people know what he’s been involved with his entire career –interestingly, in parallel fashion to Hillary, his decision in law school to work in a missionary school in Honduras – serving in local government  as mayor of Richmond, bringing people together, being the Lt. Governor and Governor and then US Senator from Virginia – his life and story will be told.

“Tim Kaine has a long history,” Podesta said. “What got him into politics was fight for social justice, fight that everyone could get education to live up to their God-given potential –  whether fighting for immigration reform, standing up to gun lobby in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, creating economic conditions to create jobs in Virginia, he brings strong credentials, deep conviction. He’s been on the city council, mayor, governor, senator. He is well qualified for this job and four-square with Hillary Clinton in pushing forward a very progressive agenda and we look forward to him making that case and talking about his life story, talking about people left out and left behind.:

President Bill Clinton speaks to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia© 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Bill Clinton speaks to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia© 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With Secretary Clinton about to give one of the biggest speeches of her life, Sullivan said, “I can faithfully report she is in a positive frame of mine,” having made history as the first woman to be nominated for president from a major party. “She is in an even more positive frame of mind, because she views Thursday as an opportunity to speak directly to the American people about her ideas, her vision, what motivates her. She cares deeply [about this country and people] and wants to communicate that.”

Asked whether Clinton is linked to closely with President Obama, Podesta said, “From the beginning of this campaign, she celebrated the success of the Obama presidency but also said there are new challenges that need to be taken on going forward – how to make the economy work better for working people. This president inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression and kept us from falling into a second Great Depression –that is a tremendous accomplishment. His job approval is more than 50%. She believes he has done a terrific job for the American people, but she is not running for his third term. She has her own ideas, and will lay them out for the American people, where she wants to go and take the country.”

One of these areas is breaking with Obama on TPP which Clinton has said she would oppose, not renegotiate.

“She is against TPP before the election and after the election,” Podesta said. “She has a long economic agenda that includes investing in infrastructure, enforcing trade laws, raising the minimum wage, fighting for the right to organize, making sure college is affordable.  She is not interested in renegotiating the TPP.”

The convention will “take a moment to celebrate the success of Barack and Michelle Obama  and the Bidens – the role models, the kind of leadership they have offered.

“President Obama will talk about the Hillary Clinton he knows – the Hillary he competed against in the 2008 primaries but who he found to be the right person to be his partner in carrying out foreign policy for the country, to reset America’s position in the world, the bond they built, the friendship they built, and why she is the right choice for the American people.

“It will be a chance to celebrate Obama’s accomplishments, talk about the future, and  speak directly to the American people about the kind of leader she was working for him as part of his administration. It is a unique moment in that sense. We are looking forward to it, and looking forward to him being out on campaign trail in the fall – we will use him as much as we can. He is a great and effective person to inform the American people, frame the choice and talk about what the stakes are, what the job is like, sitting behind the desk making the life/death decisions a president has to make and why she is the right choice and Donald Trump is not.”