Bill Clinton on Palestinian Culture

The former president praised Palestinian industriousness during a visit a Riyadh, saying, "I have never met a poor Palestinian in the United States."

Former president Bill Clinton had a very, very different take from Mitt Romney on Palestinian culture and its impact on Palestinian economic success when he visited Saudi Arabia in the winter of 2011. According to a report in the Arab News:

"Ever since I left office I have tried to stay in touch with my friends in the Palestinian community and continue to press my friends in Israel on the case for peace," Clinton said. "It is a different world than it was 10 years ago when we brought the Palestinians and the Israelis together to strike a peace agreement, but then the underlining realities have not changed; political realities have not changed."

He said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have done a remarkable job in the West Bank. "It is just an example of what would happen for the Palestinian people if they are given a chance to govern," Clinton said. "Palestinians are a hard-working and an incredible community. They have done remarkably well outside their country. I have never met a poor Palestinian in the United States; every Palestinian I know is a college professor or a doctor."

The problem in Israel, he said, is what happens in multiparty democracies around the world. "If you take a poll today, two-thirds of Israelis will support peace and a peace agreement," Clinton said. "However, it is hard to get an Israeli Parliament that reflects the people's views on this one issue. But we all have to keep pushing."

Clinton's diplomatic skills are not only demonstrably superior to Romney's here, Clinton appears to be using a more up to date understanding of the facts on the ground in the Middle East. Romney's original comments, as he's described them, appear to reflect an analysis of the situation formed during his years as a businessman in the 1980s and 1990s.

(Via National Journal's @mattizcoop.)

Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Politics

Just In