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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Speakers at WEF Call U.S. Smug, Inattentive

NEW YORK -- They came in solidarity with this terror-wounded city.

But since they arrived, speaker after speaker at the World Economic Forum has lambasted America as a smug superpower, too beholden to Israel at the expense of the Muslim world and inattentive to the needs of poor countries or the advice of allies.

With the forum wrapping up its five-day session Monday, some of the criticism has been simple scolding by non-Western leaders. But a large measure has come in public soul-searching by U.S. politicians and business leaders.

U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton cited a global poll that characterized Americans as selfish and bent on arranging the global economy for their own benefit.

"We've not done our fair share to take on some of the global challenges" like poverty, disease and women's rights, Clinton said Sunday. "We need to convince the U.S. public that this is a role that we have to play."

Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates warned that the terms of international trade were too favorable to the rich world.

"People who feel the world is tilted against them will spawn the kind of hatred that is very dangerous for all of us," Gates said. "I think it's a healthy sign that there are demonstrators in the streets. They are raising the question of 'is the rich world giving back enough?'"

Held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos in its first 31 years, sponsors decided to move this year's forum to New York to show support for the city after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

About 2,700 corporate and political leaders, clergy and celebrities came to discuss the world's problems and have spent much time dissecting U.S. foreign policy, its possible role in breeding terrorism and the potential harms of globalization.

In a curious convergence, the titans of business and politics have seized on many of the same socially liberal issues that they have been accused of ignoring at past gatherings.

The forum's agenda may have taken some of the steam out of street protests and has even paralleled issues under discussion at the World Social Forum, an anti-globalization conference under way in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

In Brazil, speakers on Saturday condemned the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

In New York, guests heard a similar message Sunday.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. national security adviser, warned that Palestinian violence risked evolving into large-scale urban terror, while Israel's response "will slide into a pattern of behavior that resembles the South Africans."

However, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Sunday he saw "a ray of hope" for Mideast peace. New talks with the Palestinians could lead to a cease-fire, and mutual recognition of a Palestinian state and Israel's right to exist, he said.