This day in Commonwealth Club history: Comedian Tom Smothers discussed "Censorship and New Freedoms" in his August 22, 1969, program at The Commonwealth Club of California. His speech came just four months after the Emmy Award-winning "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" was abruptly cancelled by CBS, a cancellation that is usually attributed to the show's outspoken political content.
This day in Commonwealth Club history: 99 years ago, future University of California president David P. Barrows discussed "The Mexican Crisis and General Villa" in his August 19, 1915, address to the Club. José Doroteo Arango Arámbula — aka Francisco Villa or Pancho Villa — was one of the most famous generals in the Mexican civil war.
By Hillary Straba
Almost exactly 40 years ago, on Aug. 16, 1974, when Ibrahim Shebat delivered his speech “The Middle East — Peace or War?” to The Commonwealth Club, peace between Israel and Palestine seemed unlikely.
Shebat, editor of Al Mersad, an Arabic version of Hebrew newspaper Al HaMishmar, stressed the need for compromise and emphasized that both sides had members who were in favor of a peaceful settlement and were willing to negotiate. Shebat believed that the problem could be solved using a two-state solution.
It has been 40 years since Shebat’s speech and the conversation has not changed. With the recent military action in Gaza, the conflict is in the headlines yet again and the proposed solutions remain the same – the one-state solution, the two-state solution, or the destruction of one side.
We add our voices to the many folks expressing sadness over the tragic loss yesterday of comedian/actor Robin Williams. He was a Bay Area giant, whose comic gifts went hand in hand with a devotion to philanthropy and service. In addition to working with the USO and sick children, he took the time in 2003 to record a radio PSA — a public service announcement — for The Commonwealth Club's 100th anniversary.
In addition to the "straight" version that would eventually air on the radio, he also recorded this version, in which he has some fun with the script; now, for the first time, we make available this recording. LISTEN TO ROBIN WILLIAMS SPEAK FOR THE CLUB.