Beyond Peace in the Middle East at CGI



The annual meeting for the Clinton Global Initiative this year was a place where politics converged with philanthropy. Since its inception, this venue has been the change agent for philanthropic work throughout the world. The commitments made have been massive and have provided millions of people worldwide with clean drinking water, mosquito nets, eyeglasses, vaccines, and education — among many others. The foundation can be credited for ushering in new social philanthropic models, involving private industry, the wealthy and government working together with nonprofit organizations.

Remarkably, the topics at the CGI meeting this year spanned Empowering Girls and Women (see the prior post) to market-based solutions, clean tech, jobs, manufacturing and world peace. What an extraordinary venue it was, where the participants could experience a panel with the Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, and the President of Israel discussing rebuilding the region after peace.

Where else – and with whom else other than former President Bill Clinton – could one see and hear such a constellation of world thinkers delving into the issues of our time. Many of us bloggers, writers and journalist bustled through the high security and put up with the fanfare – just to be inspired and sustained for the coming year.

It was a rare gift from the universe to be able to hear the Middle East session up close. It is curious that there was not enormous media coverage of this landmark discussion, because all the bad stuff gets air time. Even CNN’s Fareed Zakaria did not mention it. Rather, he focused on the fabricated photograph of the President of Egypt from the White House for the Arab press. It is perplexing because here sat the leaders of those enmeshed in the real peace talks. In this small room, they and former President Clinton were talking gracefully with one another about rebuilding the region. Only the former President could command such authority and respect.

Remember, it was Bill Clinton that attempted peace between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat so long ago. It was that fateful handshake on the White House lawn that in many ways led to the assassination of Rabin. And now Madame Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is officiating the peace talks. Perhaps this discussion is a good sign for things to come later this year.

If they can talk peaceably in front of Bill Clinton, maybe there is hope for a just and final resolution. Few of us get to see our dreams come to fruition, but it appears that the Clintons both have long reach, big memories and staying power. All this woman can say is: may it be so.

Michelle Kraus
Dr. Michelle Kraus writes on regulatory and political issues concerning the environment, the economy, technology, social networks and the political landscape. After pioneering the use of advanced search and data applications for the 2004 political campaigns, she is often referred to as a "Google Ninja" working behind the scenes to build communities, craft messaging and reach out to voters with new and innovative technologies.

Covering the Clinton Global Initiative in 2007, Dr. Michelle started the "quiet voices" series illuminating the monumental work of many of the participants across the globe who are quietly affecting change in health care and poverty alleviation.

She is also an experienced Internet executive who has built large companies, created profitable divisions within large companies and founded start-up ventures. As the CEO of one of the first open source companies, she helped to establish commercial applications and licensing standards. She has published two books that have received critical acclaim, and has written for many industry publications. She speaks nationally on politics, regulation and technology.
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