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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Al Franken Praises Obama's Israel Speech

Paresh Dave |
April 4, 2013 | 1:21 a.m. PDT

Executive Director

Sen. Al Franken chats with a guest after lecturing at USC on Wednesday night. (Paresh Dave/Neon Tommy)
Sen. Al Franken chats with a guest after lecturing at USC on Wednesday night. (Paresh Dave/Neon Tommy)
At an event Wednesday night, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) praised President Barack Obama's recent speech on the Middle East peace process, calling it a "moving" tribute to America's stronger-than-ever bond with Israel.

"The aspirations of the Palestinian people are just as great as the aspirations of the Israelis," Franken said. "That's what the president said, and he got a standing ovation for it from Israelis."

Franken's remarks came during an address at the University of Southern California in which he traced how his Jewish upbringing led to his intolerance for inequality and injustice.

The first-term senator has primarily focused on issues related energy, technology, privacy, education and social welfare.

But answering a question about Middle East foreign policy, Franken said all the parties involved have accepted that the peace process is stalled. Still, Franken recalled a story of hope he witnessed during his trip last March to Israel and the West Bank.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has sought to build up Palestine and its civic institutions, so that the territory will be ready to be a state at the moment peace is achieved. Fayyad took Franken to a suburban development just north of Ramallah, the capital of the West Bank. There, Franken said he marveled at a model showing all the complexes about to sprout out of the ground.

Palestinian-American Bashar Masri, a controversial tycoon with a hand in nearly every industry, is helping finance the project along with the U.S. government and others.

"It looks like West Virginia," Franken said.

SEE ALSO: American Jewish Leaders Urge Netanyahu To Work With Kerry On Peace Deal

The former Saturday Night Live writer couldn't leave the site without making a joke though. He asked the young Palestinian engineer involved in the project to show him where the comedy club was located in the plan.

She offered him a puzzled look. But Masri was amused. Franken insisted that a comedy club be included and that they come up with a name for it. He suggested "Punchline."

Masri said there's no word for punchline in Arabic.

"Well, that's your problem!" Franken joked.

SEE ALSO: Al Franken Renews Defense Of Protect IP Act

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