KIGALI - Former United States President, Bill Clinton has suggested that Israel and Palestine should learn from the post-genocide reconciliation model Rwanda has used to end centuries of conflict between the two Middle East states.
Despite years of fighting between the two states, Clinton believes the two sides can live together-just like Rwanda has managed to reconcile the sides involved in the genocide.
Speaking during a major annual conference of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Clinton suggested that if the two sides adopted reconciliation, not vengeance – there would be some hope for peace.
Without explicitly connecting the Rwandan and Israeli-Palestinian issues, he left his audience of some 750 with the distinct impression that Israel and the Palestinians could learn from the Rwandan experience.
He told emotional stories of Rwandans who lost most of their families in 1994, when the Hutu majority perpetrated Genocide against the Tutsi minority and in the end, over one million people had died.
The survivors, he said, sought reconciliation, not vengeance. They do this work of reconciliation “with people who killed them and their loved ones because they couldn’t get away from each other; it’s a little place, and they decided to begin again.”
Clinton spoke of the importance of volunteerism and his own endeavours through his William J. Clinton Foundation to address a multitude of global issues, from expanding the delivery of AIDS drugs to helping coffee growers in Africa.
He cited the relatively recent explosion of non-governmental organizations around the world as “one of the most hopeful developments of the early 21st century.”
As the non-profit world increasingly works to address difficult issues, the central question that Clinton said must always be considered is this: “How do you propose to turn your good intentions into real changes in other peoples’ lives?”
In assessing a particular project or initiative, he said that he always asks himself: “Will this contribute to building up the positive forces or reducing the negative forces of our interdependence? If it will, I’m for it; if it won’t, I’m against it.”