International Advocate for Peace Award 2001

President William Jefferson Clinton, Melissa Stewart, Peg Sweeney and Dean Paul Verkuil at the 2001 IAP Award Ceremony

Opening Remarks

Peggy Sweeney:

Thank you Dean Verkuil. These statesmen honor Cardozo in their acceptances every bit as much as Cardozo honors them in giving the award. Gentlemen, thank you.

I will share a short, yet purposeful story. It s early Fall ’99. Picture, if you will, the International Law Students Board gathered around a table, right next door here on 12th Street at the Marquet Patisserie, trying to come up with a name for this peace award we ve decided to offer. Now, I couldn t understand why no one liked The Sweeney Memorial that is until they convinced me I d have to die first, so I decided to move on. Well, as is prone to happen with a gathering of law students, everyone had his own opinion, not many of which coincided. Yet, one thing that we did all seem to agree on was the fact that we wanted to make sure it was understood that this award was going to be meant for people who worked towards peace of any nature. We kept coming back to the word advocate. And here we are now, with the 2nd Annual International Advocate for Peace Award. I’m not sure I realized then how appropriate the title of this award would be to today’s recipient. The word advocate comes from the latin ad vocare, to be called an intercessor, one who is called to intercede on others’ behalves.

As for the word peace , please listen, if you will, to this poem I found by someone known only to me as David. David is a student in Mrs. Funk’s 3rd grade class in Spruce Grove, Alberta. He writes:

“Peace is a strong word.

We may have some peace, but not every day.

It’s not likely to come out of the blue.

We ll have world peace by working together.”

It’s not likely to come out of the blue. It’s not likely to come out of the blue, we have to work together.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are here today with a man who has heard and heeded the call to intercede on behalf of peace and democracy on numerous occasions and in varied locales throughout the world. We have here a man who knows peace isn t going to come out of the blue, a man who has worked tirelessly and compassionately to create conditions in which dispute resolution might be facilitated in conflicts from Korea to Kosovo, from Ireland to the Middle East.

President Clinton brought to the White House not only great communication skills and a brilliant mind, but a philosophy of dispute resolution which accentuated the importance of getting the leaders of disputing groups together, under the same roof, for the purpose of talking. As the leader of a mediating nation, he worked hard to get opposing factions to recognize each other, rather than deny each other’s humanity.

It s not likely to come out of the blue.

I think it fair to say that anyone familiar with the ‘Troubles’ in the North of Ireland would acknowledge peace has certainly not come out of the blue. Yet, Mr. Clinton accomplished the unthinkable; he helped facilitate that which many thought impossible. He encouraged Gerry Adams and David Trimble to sit and work with each other and to see each other as humans acting in good faith. In other words, he got them to ‘work together.’ President Clinton appointed Senator George Mitchell as mediator of the peace talks which culminated in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement; an agreement which resulted in the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to David Trimble and John Hume.

In December of 2000, wearing his cheerleader-in-chief hat, a name I borrow from him, President Clinton visited Belfast and spoke to a crowd of thousands, Catholic and Protestant alike, sitting together comfortably, a feat impossible just 5 years ago. As any controversy fraught with the centuries of tension central to the Northern Ireland conflict, the Good Friday Agreement has not marked an end to the ‘Troubles’, but it has encouraged people to work together. It is a beginning which Clinton’s advocacy helped make possible.

Melissa Stewart:

It s not likely to come out of the blue.

Few can forget the momentous handshake on the Whitehouse lawn on September 13, 1993 between former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat. That handshake represents a historic moment in which Palestinians and Israelis began to recognize each other and to accept the thought that Jews and Arabs could one day live together in peace.

President Clinton’s efforts in the Middle East Peace process have also included overseeing or initiating: a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in July 1994, peace talks between Syria and Israel in 1993, and the Wye Plantation interim accord in 1998. Finally, he held a summit in Geneva in March, 2000 and opened the Camp David summit talks in July of 2000 with Arafat and Barak, urging the parties to negotiate a final resolution to the Peace Process.

Although not all Jews and Arabs in the Middle East live together in peace, many steps have been taken that bear mention. The steps that were taken and the distance that was traveled show how much one person can do with a commitment to resolving a conflict. Because of President Clinton s efforts, it has become normal to see Palestinians and Israelis talk to each other across the table, to eat and even to joke with each other. This kind of breakdown of the psychological barrier is indeed something in which the Clinton Administration should take pride.

In both the Middle East and Northern Ireland, President Clinton facilitated his mediating role through a limited disengagement from traditional American close allies – the UK and Israel. This move opened space for the IRA and the PLO to move into neutral negotiations without losing the confidence of Israel and the UK. President Clinton s courage and creativity moved the peace processes forward and today we commend that courage and creativity.

It s not likely to come out of the blue.

In March 2000, President Clinton visited India and Pakistan. This was the first visit by an American President to India in 22 years, and to Pakistan in more than 30 years. During his visit, he made an impassioned plea for both countries to reach out to each other to initiate talks regarding the disputed territories of Jammu and Kashmir, a plea made ever more important because both countries now possess nuclear weapons. Mr. Clinton plans to visit India in April of this year to hand over funds for victims of the recent devastating earthquake and to seek out a mediating role in the historic conflict over Kashmir. We wish him the best.

It s not likely to come out of the blue.

President Clinton has contributed to peace in many other areas throughout the world through both intervention and prevention. He helped bring democracy to Haiti, an end to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo, and supported the development of new partnerships with nations in Africa and Latin America. He re-established diplomatic relations with Vietnam, encouraged talks with North Korea and urged China to take steps toward opening a dialogue with the Dalai Lama over the territories of Tibet.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.” We believe this describes Mr. Clinton s approach to conflict resolution within the international arena. He brings people together. He puts people first.

The students of the Cardozo Online Journal of Conflict Resolution and the International Law Students Association, by presenting Mr. Clinton with this award, acknowledge his tireless and passionate efforts in advocating peace and democracy from Korea to Kosovo, from Ireland to the Middle East. We encourage him to continue promoting peaceful solutions to conflict around the world. Peace mediators must understand the issues involved in conflict, provide creative options, and persuade participants to accept difficult solutions. Because peace does not come out of the blue, we thank him.

Ladies and gentleman, it is an honor to present the second annual recipient of the International Advocate for Peace Award to the 42nd President of the United States of America, William Jefferson Clinton.

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President William J. Clinton Acceptance Speech

Thank you very much. Thank you Peggy, Melissa, Deans, ladies and gentlemen.

I am delighted to be here today and especially delighted that my friend Dick Holbrooke has joined us. I thank him for his work at the United Nations, in Germany, in the State Department and especially as our Special Envoy to Bosnia where we worked so hard to make peace there.

I was thinking today, when you were mentioning all the places I have worked for peace, I may have made more progress in all those places than I did with the Republican Right, here at home. I saw from their faces outside they are still unreconciled!

I would like to accept this award today on behalf of the hundreds of people in our Administration who worked for peace over the eight years I served as President. So many of them left their families for long stretches to work, even to live, in distant lands. Often they were in danger, and regrettably some of them even lost their lives in the quest for peace. Most of their names are not known, but anything that I did was made possible because of them.

In the case of Baldwin v. Seelig, Justice Cardozo wrote, the United States Constitution “was framed upon the theory that people of the separate states must sink or swim together, that in the long run, prosperity and salvation are in unity and not in [sic] division.” I think you could make a compelling case that the entire history of the United States can be seen largely in terms of our struggle to define the union and to defeat in successive generations the forces of division. Indeed much of my service as President was an attempt to define American unity for the 21st century, for a whole new era of living and working together, of relating to each other and the rest of the world. The belief that prosperity and salvation are to be found in union and not in division is also at the core of what peacemaking is all about. The basis of every conflict is difference; difference over religion or race, ethnicity or tribe, nationalist impulse or other convictions. Perhaps the oldest demon in human society is the fear of the other.

I have no doubt that when people first came out of caves and began to gather in lonely clans and came in contact with one another, when food and shelter were scarce, there was some rational basis to the fear of the other. But that old fear is surely at the root of every conflict in the modern world.

Over the past eight years, the belief that prosperity and salvation are to be found in union and not in division drove our efforts to make peace in the Middle East and in the Balkansand Northern Ireland; to heal the breach between North and South Korea and end North Korea s dangerous missile and nuclear programs; to solve the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia; and the tribal conflicts in Burundi; to heal the wounds of Rwanda; to deal with the border dispute between Peru and Ecuador and the terrible conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir; to respond to the problems of East Timor and Indonesia; to preserve Colombia s old but fragile democracy; and to ease the continuing and maddening conflict between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus.

In all these endeavors I acted on some basic, very simple beliefs. I say this at the risk of being viewed as na ve, because the older I get the more I become convinced that how your life and your efforts turn out largely depends upon what is important to you. I believe that we are all children of God, created equal. I believe everybody counts, everyone has a role to play, and we re better off when we help each other. I believe the world has grown increasingly interdependent and that isolation is no longer an option. Therefore, we need each other more than ever. I believe that no one has a monopoly on truth. I believe that peace among friends and families and communities and nations requires that someone, and usually all parties, let go of old hopes and hatreds, and recognize that in this life no one ever gets even. And I believe, most important of all, that peace requires the capacity to visualize a future different from the past. I spent most of my time during these last eight years trying to apply these basic principles to the facts of the case, wherever there was a conflict. We succeeded in some places better than others.

We just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day so I should probably start with Ireland. My mother’s people came from a village in Fermanagh, which is in Northern Ireland right on the border of the Irish Republic. My Cassidy relatives, Scots-Irish Protestants, on occasion strayed and intermarried with Catholics. I suppose, therefore, I was genetically prepared for what I did in Ireland.

Not every issue has been resolved in the Irish peace process. Indeed there are some pretty thorny ones outstanding. Will the British presence be reduced, and if so, how? What will the nature of the police force be and how can both Protestants and Catholics be induced to participate in the police force? These are just two of the issues that are unresolved and, believe me, they are very hard. And then there is of course the politics. How far can the Unionists go without losing their moderate leadership? But because the leaders chose peace and because the people overwhelmingly voted for peace, the Irish Republic is the fastest growing economy in Europe and Northern Ireland is the fastest growing part of Great Britain. That is in no small measure why I could go back to Ireland one last time to say thank you. And go to Dundalk, once a haven for the Irish Republican Army, where tens of thousands of people joined me to stand for peace. And then to Belfast, where in the hockey arena, 8,000 or more people, more or less equally divided between Protestants and Catholics, came together to support peace in a way which could not have happened five years before when I first went to Northern Ireland.

What does all that mean? Peace is possible because people are reaping its benefits daily and building a future different from the past. I believe we will keep the process going unless the politicians themselves derail it. This is in marked contrast to the Middle East, where the per capita income of the Palestinians is the same or lower today than it was eight years ago in real dollar terms, largely because every time the economy began to make significant progress someone set off a bomb, which provoked Israel to close the borders, which crushed the Palestinian economy.

Today I would like to talk a little bit about the leaders and the ordinary people I saw and worked with who longed for and labored for peace, and about some of the things I have learned that may be relevant for all of you as you take your place in the 21st century. You now know your future may be full of prosperity but certainly will not be free of conflict.

Throughout human history, tragically we have seen more advances in tools for waging war than in the art of making peace. The end of the Cold War has given rise to new and old claims of nationalist integrity or ethnic, religious or tribal rights. Sometimes these claims have resulted in conflicts with ever more sophisticated weapons. And sometimes they have masked old-fashioned criminality, like narco-trafficking or organized crime. It is altogether clear, however, that the same process of technological modernization which gives you computers that operate more and more rapidly, more and more Internet sites and cell phones so small that people like me with big awkward fingers can t even push the numbers in right, is fueling the development of smaller, more powerful weapons. Your generation will face the very real prospect, although I worked as hard as I could to give you the tools to protect against it, of ever more sophisticated conventional weapons that are harder and harder to detect and perhaps small scale but lethal biological and chemical or, God forbid, nuclear weapons. It is therefore all the more important that you engage in activities like conflict resolution. And that you understand that it is work like everything else that requires discipline and process as well as good intentions and vision.

America of course has a special responsibility and a lot of difficult choices to make because of our place at this moment in history. Sometimes the search for peace is impossible without the use of force. Sometimes good and evil collide and peace and justice cannot prevail without it. I regret that, and I did my best to avoid it. We faced such a moment two years ago when Mr. Milosevic attempted to close the bloodiest century in human history with a final chapter of ethnic cleansing and slaughter in Kosovo. Many doubted if the West could or would respond. Some said we should not respond. After all, it was a small place a long way from home where we had no vital national interests. But NATO s democracies came together and stayed together to stop the ethnic slaughter in Kosovo. I will never forget, in the midst of the action, the words of Elie Wiesel who said, This time, the world was not silent. Because of that vision, today more than a million Kosovars have returned to their homes. Soldiers serving from almost every European country, including bitter former adversaries, are keeping the peace together in Kosovo as they have in Bosnia. And Milosevic has fallen like one of those old Socialist realism statues of Stalin. Democracy has claimed every inch of the former Yugoslavia for the first time. Southeastern Europe is doing its part now to create a Europe that for the first time in history is peaceful, united, and democratic.

The Europe I visited last week was very different than the one I visited on my first trip there as President in January of 1994. Then, there were doubts about NATO’s future. There were concerns that Central Europe would become some sort of gray zone of conflict and insecurity. Today, borders built to stop tanks now manage tourists. Nations in Central and Eastern Europe hold the realistic dream of membership in the EU and NATO. There has been a resolution of almost every single outstanding ethnic and border dispute. And finally, my friend, V clav Havel, has spent more years as president of his nation than he did in prison. Today, Europeans argue about disputes in Brussels in the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. So we have come a long way.

But we have to have patience because Southeastern Europe is also the poorest part of Europe. Albania is one of the poorest countries on earth; Macedonia is quite poor, as is Kosovo. Bosnia remains devastated by war. Now we have the very difficult problem in Macedonia, where the Albanian minority has taken what should be a political campaign into the field of battle. So the very ethnic group we set out to protect in Kosovo is promoting conflict in Macedonia, leaving very difficult questions for the present administration and NATO to address.

But the central lesson remains: What we did for the last eight years worked because we gave people in southeastern Europe a chance to have peace and a chance to make a different future. It is clearly working in Croatia and moving forward in Bosnia and if we will stay the course it will work in Kosovo. And I certainly hope the freedom and democracy of the people of Macedonia can be preserved. During the conflict in Kosovo, they were under great stress because of tensions between their Albanian minority and the Macedonian majority. Yet they still helped us to deal with the refugee problem. I hope Macedonian democracy can be preserved and the problems of the Albanian minority successfully resolved. I believe that we have an interest in helping them do that.

The second point I want to make involves how opposing parties deal with each other if they really want peace. Three years ago, Nelson Mandela took me to see his old cell on RobbenIsland. A tiny room with barely enough space for a big man like him to lie down on the floor. The floor he slept on for 14 years without a bed. No heat, no fan, no faucet, no toilet. We talked about the day he got out of prison. I asked Mandela, “Now weren’t you bitter and angry again when you were taking the last walk?” He said, “Yes I was. I felt anger rising up. And I was also afraid because I hadn’t been free in such a long time. But then I said to myself, Mandela, they had you for 27 years. If you are still angry with them when you get out the gate, they will still have you. But I wanted to be free, and so I let it go.” That s the second point I want to make; nobody ever gets even. Somebody has to stand up and say, “We are going to let this go.”

I will give you another example. We were at the Wye River Plantation three years ago in Maryland and we knew that the Oslo Talks had come to the end of their tether, and unless we could make some other agreement the whole Middle East process would fall apart. We were there for nine days and, just when we thought we were getting somewhere, things would fall apart. King Hussein called me and said he would be willing to come and stay at the Wye Plantation and help if he could. He just had a very few months to live. He was very weak, and looked it. But I went to see him and said, Your Majesty, I am afraid we are not going to make it. You have to come talk to them one more time. He had this very eloquent and incredibly polite but powerful voice. Every time Hussein talked to me, I always thought, if God speaks English this is what he sounds like. This is a man who survived countless assassination attacks. And he himself, as he would be the first to admit, went through a number of transformations in his whole attitude about Israel and peace. He told both delegations: There has been enough death and destruction. We have no right by our irresponsible actions to ruin the lives of our children and our children s children. Then the parties, properly chastised, went back to work for 24 hours straight and they made an agreement.

Sometimes getting the atmosphere right is the most important thing. When we signed the Israel-PLO agreement in 1993 on the White House lawn, I had a tough time. First Arafat wanted to bring his gun he said he didn t go anywhere without his gun. Well I said, “This isn’t about guns. If you want to walk away from a televised audience of a billion people because you won’t leave your six shooter at the door, I ll be happy to tell them that.” So he left his gun.

Then I said to Rabin, “He left his gun. You’ve got to shake hands with him.” He said, “I am signing the agreement, I have to shake his hand?” We are laughing today, but this was a tough thing for him. These guys had fought for decades. How many young Israelis had Rabin put in body bags? He lived and they died. One of the things that will mark your lives as you grow older is, you ll know more and more people you care about who aren t around anymore. You’ll miss your family and your friends. And if you are lucky enough to have a long life you will wonder why you are still around and they are not. He was considering all that. Finally I said to him, “Yitzhak you have made all these steps and you have taken all these risks and the whole world will be looking at you. And I have to shake hands with Arafat; so you do too.” And he looked at me and he said, “Well I suppose you do not make peace with your friends.” And then he smiled at me and said, “but no kissing.”

Letting go is essential if you want to make peace and resolve disputes. Even if it is in a small claims court you have to figure out how to get people to let go. Mandela, Hussein, Rabin, Kim Dae-Jung, they understood the truths that Gandhi and King taught. They had lived enough with their own anger, their own hatred, and their own suffering to find the strength to let go.

This historic drama continues to play out in the Holy Land and remains the biggest challenge to peacemaking in the world. Perhaps more than any other place, it is defined by its past; people cling to their history, their land, their positions, their stories of suffering and exile and strife. Two sides have competing claims. Yet if they only focus on their own claims they will never get there.

That brings me to the third point I want to make. In an interdependent world there is far more to gain by working together than by being divided.

In 1993, on the day after we signed the Israel-PLO Accord, I had a meeting in the Old Executive Building next door to the White House with 600 Arab-American and Jewish-American businessmen and women. All of them were committed to invest major amounts of money in building the Middle East to help the peace take hold. It never happened because somebody set off a bomb every time we got ready to make a little progress. Then the Israelis would close their borders and the Palestinian economy would go downhill. So people have to actually believe that they have more to gain by getting along with their neighbors and resolving old conflicts. In order to do that, they have to be able to imagine a future that is different from the past.

That’s the fourth point I want to emphasize. It is harder and harder to have a different, peaceful vision take hold in places where the population grows younger and ever more vulnerable to extremist claims. But it has to be done.

I remember once when I was trying to get Arafat to take another limited, but big forward step, in the Middle East peace process when it looked like we couldn t get everything done at Camp David. He said he had to be careful about limited agreements. When I asked why, he said in 1948 the agreement over Kashmir was supposed to last six months and they are still living with it. He knew history but had a hard time moving to a different future.

He was certainly right that Indians and Pakistanis are trapped in the longstanding conflict over Kashmir. There are nearly 200 ethnic groups in America. Indian-Americans and Pakistani-Americans are both in the top ten in per capita educations and income. Seven hundred companies in Silicon Valley are headed by Indian-Americans. India in 30 years will have more people than China. The Indian sub-continent already has more people than China. If they could resolve these difficulties over yesterday s problems, India might be the most dynamic place in the world fifty years from now, and Pakistan and Bangladesh, could also do very well. Today, all three nations have very low per capita incomes. Yet ironically it is the very difficulties with which they labor that keep them chained to the past.

It is not a very compelling argument to people, although it actually should be, to say, “Look how miserable you are, don’t you want to do something different?” Sometimes people’s very misery blurs their field of vision so they are not capable of imagining they can do better. They think if they can just keep fighting maybe they can at least crack the other guys a little harder and gain a marginal advantage.

That is what we have seen for the last six months in the Holy Land, in the latest cycle of violence. It has shattered confidence in the Peace Process and has raised questions in some minds about whether Palestinians and Israelis are actually capable of being partners and living together. It has been a heartbreaking time for people who have labored for so many years in the vineyards of peace.

But here too there have been some lessons. We have been reminded all over again that this is not just a morality play between good and evil. It is a conflict with a complex history whose resolution requires balancing the needs of both sides, including the respect for national identities and religious beliefs, and where things that may seem small to us may trigger enormous emotional reactions. We have also been reminded again that bombs and military solutions are not options in this conflict. There will be no lasting peace or reasonable stability unless there is a negotiation which leaves Israel secure enough to make peace, strong enough to deter adversaries that will still be there even if there is a peace in good faith.

In Ireland there is one off-shoot group of the IRA. At any time they have somewhere between 50 and 200 members. On a little island like that they can do a lot of damage. But there is just one, and they can largely be contained as long as the IRA faithfully observes its commitment and the Protestant paramilitary groups are similarly contained. In contrast, while the PNC has the support of the majority of the Palestinians, it has a lot of competitors: Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, all of whom have their own access to weaponry, their own capacity to wreck the peace and take the lives of innocent people. So, it is a difficult situation.

I tried to convince the parties, without success, when we were very, very close to an agreement, that no matter how difficult their remaining differences, resolving them, whether this year or next year, or ten years from now, will entail the same choices that were before the parties last year. They will still face the same history, the same geography, the same neighbors, the same passions and hatreds, and the same necessity to visualize a different future and let go of old hurts. We can wait until you are my age and your children are students here. What will happen? More funerals, more bodies, more crime, and more instability, because their people are growing younger and poorer.

So, while I am profoundly concerned about the ongoing violence and deeply disappointed that the agreements were not reached, I think there are some lessons that we have to draw about the Middle East peace process. First, the violence has not demonstrated, in my view, that the peace process has gone too fast. It demonstrates what happens when you have a problem that is really difficult and you don’t take it over the last hump. There doesn’t seem to be any place to gain traction. You can’t go back. You can t stand still. The only option is to go forward.

I have told a lot of people that the Middle East and Northern Ireland, to me, represent two kinds of types of conflicts around the world. Both are still unresolved. There are still difficult decisions in Northern Ireland. But in Northern Ireland, I really believe if the politicians don t mess it up, the people will just go on making progress with one another until finally the solutions will fall into place or their differences won t seem as consequential. Why? Because underneath the politics, life is getting better and more integrated.

In the Middle East, the reverse is the case. Underneath, life is not getting better for the Palestinians, although to be sure it is getting better if not more secure for the Israelis. Israel is the number one recipient of high tech investment out of Silicon Alley in New York. It is growing like crazy and needs more people to come in to work. But Israel too will suffer without progress in peace and security. Now that doesn t mean there has to be a comprehensive peace agreement with the resolution of all issues, but we have to keep going forward. That means, among other things, that whatever the short-term resolution is, there must be some basic recognition on the part of the Palestinians that they have to end the culture of violence and incitement. Young children are still being educated with textbooks that preach confrontation with Israel. Multiple militia-like groups carry and use weapons with impunity. This sends the wrong message to the people of Israel and does not inspire the confidence necessary to get them to make the concessions required for peace. On the other hand, Israeli settlements and bypass roads in the heart of what they already know will be part of a new Palestinian state if there ever is a peace, can only aggravate the situation as well. And Palestinians who desperately would like a normal existence, and that is most of them, are still subject to daily and often humiliating border checks and other practices that remind them that they do not have a normal life.

I say this out of a lifetime commitment to the security and prosperity of the state of Israel and out of the conviction that the Palestinians have been ignored or used as a political football by others, seeking to exploit differences in the Middle East. They too are entitled to raise their children and build their future in the land of their ancestors.

Somehow we have got to find a way to convince the parties that they are not involved in a zero-sum game. I don t know how many of you have read Robert Wright’s book, NonZero, but I highly recommend it. Probably because I agree with him. Essentially he argues that throughout human history societies have become more and more complex and therefore, by definition, more and more interdependent. And the more complex and interdependent societies and problems are, the more it is necessary to find non-zero-sum solutions. Trying to solve problems by having all winners and all losers winds up making them worse. And that the process by which people work to find the non-zero-sum solutions will become more and more important as we go forward into the future. It is certainly true in the Middle East and it will be more true in your lives wherever you live and under whatever circumstances.

The last time we met at Camp David, I saw Israelis and Palestinians who had been working with each other for years like old friends. It was amazing. They knew how they had met their spouses; they knew how many kids and grandchildren each other had. Israelis told jokes about Israeli political leaders and Palestinians told jokes about Arafat to each other. A few weeks later all hell breaks loose and people are killing each other. It shows you what a narrow edge we walk on. And how easy it is for people to fall back into old patterns. It should also give you some hope that these things can be resolved.

If the world is ever to replace the expectation of conflict with the expectation of peace, we have to resolve the issues in the Middle East. The Middle East is the birthplace of the world s three great monotheistic religions. When Christ was asked what is the greatest commandment he said to love God with all your heart, and the second is like it, to love you neighbor as yourself. The Koran says that Allah put on earth different peoples not that they might despise each other but that they might come to know each other and work together and live together. And the Torah says that he who turns aside from a stranger might as well turn aside from God. In the name of these faiths, people have fought each other over that tiny sanctified and sullied piece of land.

But again, I say: What they now have to do there is comparable to what has to be done in Cyprus, in Kashmir, in the Balkans, or what you might face yourself in any business conflict, family conflict or community conflict. People still have to ask themselves: Am I willing to pay the price of working for peace knowing that it may not happen? If the answer is yes, what core principles do you believe? Do you believe we are all children of God, created equal? If so, it necessarily follows that everyone counts and everyone has a role to play and we will all be better when we help each other. Do you believe the world is growing more interdependent and therefore it is more important than ever to find non-zero-sum solutions? Do you believe that no one, even you, has the monopoly on truth? Do you have the strength of character, the wisdom, to let go? To realize that you are never going to get even and that every day you remain in the grip of a hatred is a day that you give up to your demons; giving them permission to steal your life away from you day-by-day-by-day? Can you imagine that tomorrow could be different?

The degree to which young people like you blessed with good minds, good fortunes and good education believe those things will determine the shape of the world we live in.

Thank you very much.

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President William J. Clinton Biography

The Cardozo Online Journal of Conflict Resolution (COJCR) and the International Law Students Association (ILSA) proudly announce the recipient of the 2001 International Advocate for Peace award, William Jefferson Clinton.

William Jefferson Clinton was elected President of the United States in 1992, and again in 1996 – the first Democratic president to be awarded a second term in six decades. Under his leadership, the United States has enjoyed the strongest economy in a generation and the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. President Clinton’s core values of building community, creating opportunity, and demanding responsibility have resulted in unprecedented progress for America, including moving the nation from record deficits to record surpluses; the creation of over 22 million jobs – more than any other administration; low levels of unemployment, poverty, and crime; and the highest homeownership rate in history.

His accomplishments as president include increasing critical investments in education, providing tax relief for working families, helping millions of Americans move from welfare to work, expanding access to technology, encouraging investment in underserved communities, and promoting peace and strengthening democracy around the world. President Clinton previously served as the Governor of Arkansas, chairman of the National Governors’ Association, and Attorney General of Arkansas. As former chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, he is one of the original architects and leading advocates for the Third Way movement.†

†Clinton Presidential Center, Biography (visited April 1, 2001) .