Clinton calls for 'new vision' in Middle East


Speaking in Richardson Auditorium, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton discussed a wide range of Middle East issues, from sanctions against Iran to upcoming elections by Israelis and Palestinians.

At left: Before the speech, Clinton greeted Daniel C. Kurtzer (left), the former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt who is the first holder of Princeton's S. Daniel Abraham Visiting Professorship in Middle East Policy Studies, and Abraham (right), the noted philanthropist and Middle East peace advocate who created the position in the Woodrow Wilson School.

Photos: Denise Applewhite

A Webcast of the event is available on the Webmedia site.

U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, delivering a speech at Princeton University on Middle East issues, called for the United Nations to sanction Iran for pursuing nuclear weapons.

In an appearance Wednesday, Jan. 18, to celebrate a new professorship in Middle East policy studies at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Clinton warned that "a nuclear Iran is a danger to Israel, to its neighbors and beyond." She urged the United States to "move as quickly as feasible for sanctions in the United Nations."

In addition to discussing the situation in Iran, Clinton (D-N.Y.) spoke of the need for "new vision and leadership" by the United States in the fight against terrorism and for peace in the Middle East.


The visit to the Princeton campus was part of events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Wilson School as well as an opportunity to recognize the creation of the S. Daniel Abraham Visiting Professorship in Middle East Policy Studies and its first holder, Daniel C. Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt.

"I am a great fan of the Woodrow Wilson School and all that it does to challenge, train and inspire a new generation of leaders and public servants," Clinton said. She saluted Abraham, a noted philanthropist, and Kurtzer for their years of work seeking to achieve peace in the Middle East. Both were present for the address in Richardson Auditorium.

The upcoming elections by the Israelis and the Palestinians are turning points in the ongoing struggle for Middle East peace, Clinton said. "No more excuses for the Palestinians. They have to demonstrate clearly and unequivocally their commitment to a peaceful future, and they have to also demonstrate their ability to deliver services to their people. Now the rest of the world stands ready to help. ...

"The current leadership of the Palestinians has been rhetorically quite supportive of the relationship with Israel and the hope that there could be a renewed peace process," she said. "But words alone are insufficient."

Clinton spoke of a book that Abraham had just completed about the Middle East, titled "Peace Is Possible," that takes an optimistic viewpoint about the future of the region.

"Optimism, some believe, is a peculiarly American virtue," she said. She joked about the complaint that Americans know little about their country's history: "Yes, of course we're doomed to re-create it, but it also gives grounds for optimism if you have no idea what happened before."

She went on to reminisce about her days as first lady, when she would sit down to "the obligatory first lady tea with the spouse of leaders" from other countries. "I would say just to make conversation, 'Well, how are things in fill-in-the-blank,' the country of the woman I was with, and I sometimes got a conversation that began in the 10th century. 'Ever since the Crusades it's never been the same.'

"History can be like a yoke around a people's neck," she said. "History can blind you to the possibilities that lie ahead if you're just able to break free and take that step. History has weighed heavily on the Middle East. What we have tried to do over the last 30 years, starting with President Carter, moving through other presidents, including my husband, now this president, is to send a uniquely American message: It can get better, just get over it. Make a decision for hope. Make a decision for peace."