Jimmy Carter must be the most likable grandfather in the world. Motivated by Christ’s true teachings, he has always endeavored to serve humanity — first as America’s 39^th president, then by helping the poor worldwide and offering his expertise to mediate world conflicts through peaceful negotiation. He did not cheat on his wife, like fellow former president Bill Clinton; and he did not cheat on his nation like current president George Bush Jr., who is still sending Americans to their deaths in faraway places.
Carter is not perfect. But during his presidency, Jimmy Carter gave both politics and politicians a good name – no mean feat for any leader.
But it is Carter — not Clinton or Bush – who has came under severe attack recently. Why? Because he’s always stood for what is ethically right and politically just and recently put his beliefs into a best-selling new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid."
If you haven’t had time to do the homework, you won’t go far wrong with an educated guess: The pro-Israel lobby continually strive to discredit anyone who dares to speak the truth about Israeli atrocities against native Palestinians. It’s as simple, and tragic, as that.
The more important, the higher profile a person has, the more severe will be the smear campaign launched against them – their career, their writings, their views, etc.
In the contexts of social justice, academic reputation and overall historical credibility, Carter is a heavyweight; thus, the Israel-can-not-do-wrong groups cannot tolerate him walking so large on the world stage and they want to shut him up and trash his book.
Carter’s latest (of more than a dozen books), Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, was published late last year by Simon & Schuster. It is a must-read for anyone interested in bringing peace to the Middle East through justice. Its foundational thesis is that peace is peace if, and only if, it is based on justice.
I also believe that a careful, in-depth reading of this book should be mandatory for every political science student in the U.S., Canada, and even the European Community.
Why? Because Carter relentlessly speaks the truth about Israel in words like these:
"[Israel is a] system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights. This is the policy now being followed, although many citizens of Israel deride the racist connotation of prescribing permanent second-class status for the Palestinians. As one prominent Israeli stated, ‘I am afraid that we are moving toward a government like that of South Africa, with a dual society of Jewish rulers and Arab subjects with few rights of citizenship. The West Bank is not worth it’."
Here is a partial list of facts all drawn directly from Carter’s book:
1. "Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land. In order to perpetuate the occupation, Israeli forces have deprived their unwilling subjects of basic human rights. No objective person could personally observe existing conditions in the West Bank and dispute these statements."
2. "Two other interrelated factors have contributed to the perpetuation of violence and regional upheaval: the condoning of illegal Israeli actions from a submissive White House and U.S. Congress during recent years, and the deference with which other international leaders permit this unofficial U.S. policy in the Middle East to prevail."
3. "There are constant and vehement political and media debates in Israel concerning its policies in the West Bank, but because of powerful political, economic, and religious forces in the United States, Israeli government decisions are rarely questioned or condemned. Voices from Jerusalem dominate in our media, and most American citizens are unaware of circumstances in the occupied territories."
4. "At the same time, political leaders and news media in Europe are highly critical of Israeli policies, affecting public attitudes. Americans were surprised and angered by an opinion poll, published by the International Herald Tribute in October 2003, of 7,500 citizens in fifteen European nations, indicating that Israel was considered to be the top threat to world peace, ahead of North Korea, Iran, or Afghanistan."
5. "The United States has used its U.N. Security Council veto more than forty times to bock resolutions critical of Israel. Some of these vetoes have brought international discredit on the United States, and there is little doubt that the lack of a persistent effort to resolve the Palestinian issue is a major source of anti-American sentiment and terrorist activity throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world."
6. "A new factor in the region is that the Palestinian election of January 2006 gave Hamas members control of the parliament and a cabinet. Israel and the United States reacted by announcing a policy of isolating and destabilizing the new government. Elected officials are denied travel permits to participate in parliamentary affairs, Gaza is effectively isolated, and every effort is made to block humanitarian funds to Palestinians, to prevent their right to employment or commercial trade, and to deny them access to Israel and the outside world."
7. "In order to achieve its goals, Israel has decided to avoid any peace negotiations and to escape even the mild restraints of the United States by taking unilateral action, called ‘convergence’ or ‘realignment,’ to carve out for itself the choice portions of the West Bank, leaving Palestinians destitute within a small and fragmented remnant of their own land.
8. "The holding of almost 10,000 Arab prisoners and the destructive military response to the capture of three Israeli soldiers have aroused global concern about the hair-trigger possibility of a regional war being launched."
And Carter concludes with more thought-provoking observations:
1. "Despite these immediate challenges, we must not assume that the future is hopeless. Down through the years I have seen despair and frustration evolve into optimism and progress and, even now, we must not abandon efforts to achieve permanent peace for Israelis and freedom and justice for Palestinians. There are some positive factors on which we may rely."
2. "As I said in a 1979 speech to the Israeli Knesset, ‘The people support a settlement. Political leaders are the obstacles to peace.’ Over the years, public opinion surveys have consistently shown that a majority of Israelis favor withdrawing from Palestinian territory …[R]ecent polls show that 80 percent of Palestinians still want a two-state peace agreement with Israel, with nearly 70 percent supporting the moderate Mahmoud Abbas as their president and spokesman."
3. "There have been some other encouraging developments over the years. Along with the awareness among most Israelis that a solution to the Palestinian question is critical if there is ever to be a comprehensive settlement, there is a growing recognition in the Arab world that Israel is an unchanging reality."
4. "Most Palestinians and other Arabs maintain that the proposal made by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, a proposal approved at the Arab summit in 2002 (Appendix 6), is a public acknowledgment of Israel’s right to exist within its legal borders and shows willingness to work out disputes that have so far not been addressed directly. The Delphic wording of this statement was deliberate, in Arabic as well as in Hebrew and English, but the Arabs defend it by saying it is there to be explored by the Israelis and others and that, in any case, it is a more positive and clear commitment to international law than anything now coming from Israel."
5. "Furthermore, the remaining differences and their potential resolution are clearly defined. Both Israel and the Arab countries have endorsed the crucial and unavoidable U.S. Resolutions 242 and 338, under which peace agreements have already been evolved."
6. "An important fact to remember is that President Mahmoud Abbas retains all presidential authority that was exercised by Yasir Arafat when he negotiated the Oslo Agreement, and the Hamas prime minister has stated that his government supports peace talks between Israel and Abbas. He added that Hamas would modify its rejection of Israel if there is a negotiated agreement that Palestinians can approve (as specified in the Camp David Accords). It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel."
7. "One promising development came in May 2000 when Marwan Barghouti, the most popular and influential leader of Fatah, joined forces in an Israeli prison with Abed al-Halak Natashe, a trusted spokesman for Hamas, in endorsing a two-state proposal that could unite the two Palestinian factions."
8. "The bottom line is this: Peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law, with the Roadmap for Peace, with official American policy, with the wishes of a majority of its own citizens — and honor its own previous commitments — by accepting its legal borders. All Arab neighbors must pledge to honor Israel’s right to live in peace under these conditions. The United States is squandering international prestige and goodwill and intensifying global anti-American terrorism by unofficially condoning or abetting the Israeli confiscation and colonization of Palestinian territories."
9. "It will be a tragedy — for the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the world — if peace is rejected and a system of oppression, apartheid, and sustained violence is permitted to prevail."