Clinton: Rekindle the Peace Process
Photogallery Clinton:Rekindle the Peace Process Mediaflurry surrounds Clinton's visit Bacowremarks Fawazremarks Faresremarks ClintonQ & A Excerptsfrom Sen. Clinton's address Clinton:Rekindlethe Peace Process At a crossroads of current events – withpost-election buzz lingering and rumors about Yasser Arafat’shealth circulating – Hillary Clinton came to deliver theannual Fares Lecture at Tufts.Medford/Somerville,Mass.
Medford/Somerville, Mass. [11.12.04] In the wake of a close presidentialelection, with talk of both Yasser Arafat’s declining healthand her own political aspirations thick in the air, U.S. SenatorHillary Clinton spoke about the need for the U.S. reengagementin the Middle East at Tufts on Wednesday.
“We may be ata unique historical moment in the Middle East,” Clintontold a crowd of 5,100 gathered at the Gantcher Center, who oftenpunctuated her address with bursts of applause.
Clinton, deliveringthe annual Fares Lecture, acknowledged the region has been the“crucible of great conflicts of our time,” but saidthat working toward peace was a necessity.
“What happensin the Middle East has profound and direct implications for globalpeace and security.”
A throng of reporters,photographers and television crews from several local, nationaland international media outlets gathered to cover the Clinton’sappearance on campus.
The gravity of currentevents was woven throughout the senator’s address.
Clinton expressed herhopes that the Bush administration would take the death of YasserArafat as an opportunity to restart efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestiniancrisis.
“I would hopethat our president and his administration will put the Israeli-Palestinianissue on the front burner of American foreign policy again,”she said.
Arafat’s leadership,Clinton explained, was ineffectual.
“Yasser Arafatcould not make the transition from guerrilla leader to nationalleader,” Clinton said, referring to the ultimate failureof the Oslo peace accords.
Arafat’s deathwas announced that evening after the lecture had concluded.
Securing Iraq shouldalso be a top priority, Clinton said, stating “no nationis safe if Iraq descends into chaos.” But the U.S., Clintonsuggested, should also focus more on pressing international threatsfrom Iran and North Korea.
“Iran resemblesthe place that many in the administration believed Iraq was,”she said. “This time, the weapons of mass destruction andthe threats they pose are very real.”
While reiterating theUnited States’ longtime support of Israel and praising itsshared democratic values, Clinton asserted that those values arenot exclusive.
“The dream ofdemocracy and human rights is one that belongs to all in the MiddleEast,” Clinton said, adding that “borders may separatethe lands of the Middle East but their futures are intertwined.”
But the fate of theregion, Clinton said, is not the sole concern of Middle Easternpeoples.
“We all havea stake in the outcome of the great conflicts occurring,”she said. “Our fates are inextricably bound together.”
In the wake of PresidentBush’s reelection, Clinton made a point to emphasize herdifferences with his administration and her hopes that he willengage the Middle East peace process once again.
“I wish I werehere speaking to you about the prospects for President Kerry’sinvolvement in the Eastern Mediterranean,” she said.
The issue of womenin politics was also highlighted in her address.
“Women’srights are human rights,” she said, a statement receivedwith a jolt of applause.
“It is hard toimagine that progress can be either made or sustained if thereis an unwillingness or resistance to including half the populationin the future of these countries,” Clinton added.
The lecture, whichis sponsored by an endowment from the Fares Foundation, is administratedby the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies. In heropening remarks, Fares Center director Leila Fawaz emphasizedthe collaborative nature of the dialogue that occurs there.
“Others learnfrom us, but also we learn from others,” she said. A two-dayconference entitled “Engaging in Dialogue on US ForeignPolicy in the Middle East,” which drew experts from aroundthe world, preceded Clinton’s delivery of the annual lecture.
In introducing Clinton,former Tufts trustee and current deputy prime minister of LebanonIssam M. Fares urged the U.S. to mend its relations with easternMediterranean nations.
“Ties that oncewere strong between the United States and some Arab countriesare now very much in doubt,” he said.
Despite the seriousnature of the topics at hand, there were occasional moments oflevity – especially at the beginning of the lecture, whenPresident Lawrence S. Bacow noted that the crowd present was largerthan the audience her husband, former president Bill Clinton,enjoyed two years prior.
Also, her observationthat the recent inclusion of a female candidate for presidentin Afghanistan “puts Afghanistan’s women ahead ofAmerica’s women” was met with laughter and applausefrom the crowd, even though the senator belied no indication thatshe sought to even the score.
TheFares Lecture Series was established in 1992 to fostergreater understanding of issues concerning the Middle East. Itis supported by an endowment from the Fares Foundation. Previousspeakers include Colin Powell, former Presidents William JeffersonClinton and George H.W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, James Baker,George Mitchell and former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.