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Palestine: Peace not Apartheid 1


Palestine: Peace not Apartheid

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Palestine: Peace not Apartheid

Introduction to Author

Jimmy Carter was the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. Before

becoming president, he has served two terms in the Georgia Senate and was elected the 76th

Governor of his state, from 1971 to 1975.

He is famous for his role in the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties and

the 2nd round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT).

Carter always had a strong emphasis on human rights; he was the driving force in

1979 behind the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. His stand on Panama Canal Zone was

criticized heavily. He lost the next election to Ronald Reagan.

After leaving the presidential office, he along with his wife Rosalynn established The

Carter Center. The Carter Center is an NGO famous for its exemplary works for human

rights. President Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize for his monumental work on peaceful

solutions of international issues, human rights, and promotion of economic and social

development in 2002. He became the third U.S. President, after Roosevelt and Wilson, to be

honored with the Prize. He is the only Georgian besides Martin Luther King, Jr. to be so


He became a prolific writer after retiring from office, he wrote 21 of his 23 books in

these years. His books cover a multitude of topics, like humanitarian work and human rights,

politics, aging, religion and poetry.

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Introduction to the Book

Jimmy Carter was a witness of the famous Camp David Accords between Israel and

Egypt during his presidency, and had been personally involved in the Middle-East crisis, to

safeguard U.S. interests in the region. Apart from politics, he has been an industrious author

as well and has written bestsellers on varied topics like his childhood, his faith, American

history and off course, politics. Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is another of his masterpieces.

The book emphasizes on the Middle East crisis and the issue of peace in the region especially

Israel's relationship with its neighbors. He has suggested ways to keep Israeli sovereignty and

security by means of a state of peaceful coexistence with Palestinian nationhood.

Carter has always been a big voice on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Palestine

Peace Not Apartheid, published in November 2006, Carter has voiced his opinion that Israel's

persistent control over Palestinian land is the basic hurdle to reach a comprehensive peace

treaty in the region. Although he admits that Arab citizens living in Israel have equal rights,

he still feels that Israel's present policies in the Palestinian territories make an apartheid

system, with two types of people living in the same land, but alienated from each other

completely, with Israelis dominant and depriving Palestinian Arabs of their basic human

rights. According to Carter, "The ultimate purpose of my book is to present facts about the

Middle East that are largely unknown in America, to precipitate discussion and to help restart

peace talks (now absent for six years) that can lead to permanent peace for Israel and its

neighbors. Another hope is that Jews and other Americans who share this same goal might be

motivated to express their views, even publicly, and perhaps in concert. I would be glad to

help with that effort." (Carter, J. (2006). Speaking Frankly about Israel and Palestine. Los

Angeles Times.) Critics have alleged a number of errors and misstatements in the book.
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Carter starts his book with an interesting story. He writes that on his first visit to Israel

when he was still the governor of Georgia in the early 1970s, he met with the then Prime

Minister Golda Meir, who asked him to share his experience about his visit. "With some

hesitation," Carter remembers, "I said that I had long taught lessons from the Hebrew

Scriptures and that a common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the

leaders turned away from devout worship of God. I asked if she was concerned about the

secular nature of her Labor government." Carter proclaims that Meir was stunned by his


Carter argues that the "imprisonment wall" Israel is building to disconnect Israelis from the

Palestinians on the West Bank is an indication of Israel's belief in apartheid. But in the later

part of the book he says that the purpose of division here is not the same as was in South

Africa i.e. racism, but the possession of land.

Carter has traced the role of the U.S. in each of his succeeding administration, and has

also mentioned critical roles played by neighboring countries like Syria, Jordan, Lebanon,

and Saudi Arabia. Carter didn’t sound too happy when he talked about the role US has played

in resolving the issue. In a chapter on the Clinton period, Carter once again laid the blame on

the Israelis for the failures at Camp David. Carter presents the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace

agreement as a proof that old-time enemies can also coexist peacefully. He labels the political

leaders of both the sides as "obstacles to peace."

According to Carter’s understanding "There are two interrelated obstacles to

permanent peace in the Middle East: some Israelis believe they have the right to confiscate

and colonize Palestinian land and try to justify the sustained subjugation and persecution of

increasingly hopeless and aggravated Palestinians; and some Palestinians react by honoring
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suicide bombers as martyrs to be rewarded in heaven and consider the killing of Israelis as


One can infer from it that the Palestinian violence is a reaction to the building of

Israeli settlements. Settlement movement and the expansionist ideology have caused great

harm to the Zionist dream of a democratic Jewish state. Many Palestinians and Israelis have

died because of this issue and it seems like the people of Israel have realized it.

Carter apparently wants to convince American evangelicals to review their support for

Israel. He is enraged over the behavior of Israeli authorities with their Christian citizens and

their holy places. Citing his first visit to Israel, when he toured Galilee, he writes, "It was

especially interesting to visit with some of the few surviving Samaritans, who complained to

us that their holy sites and culture were not being respected by Israeli authorities … the same

complaint heard by Jesus and his disciples almost two thousand years earlier." He further

writes about the security fence that it "ravages many places along its devious route that are

important to Christians …. In addition to enclosing Bethlehem in one of its most notable

intrusions, an especially heartbreaking division is on the southern slope of the Mount of

Olives, a favorite place for Jesus and his disciples."

On the literary front the book has little to offer, but this gets neglected after noticing

the fact that the author is by no means a scholarly figure, but an experienced statesman.

Carter’s criticism over the Israeli authorities’ non-serious attitude towards the problem can

not be ignored by calling it anti-Israeli propaganda. He has provided the facts like Israel’s

unwillingness to comply with U.N. Resolution 242 and its failure to act on the agreements

made over the years in Washington, Oslo and many other places. He has also highlighted the

fact that Israel is still claiming land by means of settlements well within Palestinian

boundaries and still detains hundreds of Palestinians; men, women and children. He has also
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criticized various strategies and moves of Yasir Arafat and other Palestinian groups, but has

still laid most of the blame for the present situation on the Israelis and their U.S. supporters.

He especially targets Bush administration, particularly Rice, who has remained silent on the

issue for six years (the book was written in 2006). People may argue over his opinion and

may also deny his facts, but Carter believes that if someone wants to bring in a change,

he/she ought to see both sides of the picture.


People say that history will remember Carter as a better ex-president than president.

He has tried to present the reader with a history of Arab-Israeli conflict and the quest for a

successful resolution. In his learned opinion lack of permanent peace in the Middle East is a

"persistent threat to global peace" and claims that the stumbling blocks to an end of armed

conflict are Israel's reluctance to abide by international law and respect its past peace

commitments, and Arabs’ continual refusal to admit Israel's right to live in peace. His book

although, reflects his personal point of view, is a wonderful cornucopia of ideas expressed

with perfect clarity. He has made sure that nothing remains vague, when it comes to

scrutinizing the issue from a historian’s point of view.

Carter still hopes for a peaceful and comprehensive solution to regional issues, this

book is his personal effort to the cause. Carter assigns most of the blame of the problem to

Israel, saying that the Israeli leadership has generally destabilized the peace process by their

stubborn, hostile and illegitimate occupation of regions captured in 1967. He has laid lesser

blame on the Arab leaders. This book provides an excellent summary for those unfamiliar

with the past history of the issue and also presents a wonderfully flexible roadmap for peace.
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Carter, J. (2006) Palestine: Peace or Apartheid. Simon & Schuster.

Carter, J. (2006). Speaking Frankly about Israel and Palestine. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved

November 16, 2008 from