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Carter's Cri de Couer PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Saturday, 27 January 2007 02:54
Carter's Cri de Couer

AG - Patrick Seale - The world rightly celebrates those Gentiles who, at the risk of their lives, saved Jews from extermination by the Nazis during the Second World War. In much the same way, Jimmy Carter deserves a monument for his brave efforts to save the Palestinians from Israel?s cruel and determined attempt to destroy them as a people.




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In Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, Jimmy Carter speaks of dipping in the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized, holding Arafat's baby daughter on his knee, and his utmost admiration for Anwar Sadat -- among other memories, fond and bitter. And he takes a courageous stand in describing the oppression of the Palestinians by Israel, and strongly challenges Washington's status quo on Israel.

Jimmy Carter?s Cry from the Heart

Patrick Seale

Agence Global
January 27, 2007

Copyright ? 2007 Patrick Seale
[Republished at PEJ News with AG permission] 


[I would really like to believe Carter is not, like the entirety of his predecessor presidents, a war criminal himself; I'd like to believe there were at least one sane and good soul helming behemoth America, but I remember Timor. Still, it's refreshing to see at least one of those serial killers, doubtless now facing his imminent demise, come out to bat for "good" at the end. - Lex]

In daring to criticise Israel in his new book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, Jimmy Carter has not risked death. But he has faced character assassination by Jewish groups, wounding attacks by fellow Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, and vilification by former associates of his Carter Center at Atlanta, Georgia, which he set up to promote conflict resolution, monitor elections and keep alive the faltering Arab-Israeli peace process.

Carter?s fate demonstrates yet again the perils for a public figure in the United States to arouse the fury of the Jewish lobby and its many supporters. The use of the word apartheid in his book?s title, and its repeated use in the text, has outraged Israel?s most fervent supporters. But Jimmy Carter, the very archetype of an honest politician, believes in calling a spade a spade.

He bluntly describes "the policy now being followed" by the Israeli government as "[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."

President of the United States from 1977 to 1980, Jimmy Carter is a pious and practicing Christian. His passionate devotion to the cause of Middle East peace stems from his Christian faith. "Having studied Bible lessons since early childhood," he writes, "and taught them for twenty years, I was infatuated with the Holy Land." On an early visit to Israel before he became President, he describes how he "took a quick dip in the Jordan River near where I thought Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist."

But Jimmy Carter?s devotion to the cause of justice for the Palestinians has another psychological source: his sense of having been double-crossed by Menachem Begin, Israel?s former prime minister.

Carter was the architect of the Camp David Accords of 1978 signed by Begin and by Egypt?s President Anwar al-Sadat, which laid the foundations for the Israel-Egypt peace treaty the following year.

But the Accords also prescribed "full autonomy" for the inhabitants of the occupied territories, withdrawal of Israeli military and civilian forces from the West Bank and Gaza, and the recognition of the Palestinian people as a separate political entity with a right to determine their own future, a major step towards a Palestinian state.

Carter thought he had a promise from Begin to freeze settlement construction during the talks on the final status of the West Bank and Gaza in which the Palestinians, as specified in the Accords, were to participate as equals. Instead, Begin "finessed or deliberately violated" his promise.

In a passage of sharp self-criticism, Carter writes: "Perhaps the most serious omission of the Camp David talks was the failure to clarify in writing Begin?s verbal promise concerning the settlement freeze."

Carter?s book is written in simple, guileless language, but burning anger at Israel?s behaviour is the underlying theme.

He describes how he forced Israel out of Lebanon after its 1978 invasion by threatening to notify Congress that U.S. weapons were being used illegally. When, during Ronald Reagan?s presidency, Israel invaded Lebanon again in 1982, Carter writes: "I was deeply troubled by this invasion, and I expressed my concern to some top Israeli leaders? Back came a disturbing reply: ?We had a green light from Washington.'"

He lists dozens of Israeli crimes: from punitive demolitions of Palestinian homes, to mass arrests of Palestinians, the destruction of thousands of ancient olive trees, the frequent closure of Palestinian schools and universities leaving students on the streets or at home for long periods, the interception and confiscation by Israel of foreign aid from Arab countries, even funds sent by the American government for humanitarian purposes; and, above all, the accelerated seizure and settlement of Arab land. He has no hesitation in describing Israel?s ?security wall? built on Palestinian land on the West Bank, as an ?"imprisonment wall." The Palestinian economy, he writes, has been "forced back into the pre-industrial age."

He relates how on March 29, 2002, one day after the 22 nations of the Arab League endorsed a Saudi plan offering Israel normal relations if it withdrew to its 1967 borders, "a massive Israeli military force surrounded and destroyed Yasir Arafat?s office compound in Ramallah, leaving only a few rooms intact? Except for one brief interlude, Arafat was to be permanently confined to this small space until the final days of his life."

There are, however, some cheerful moments in his narrative as when, on a visit to Arafat and his wife Suha in Gaza, their baby daughter, "dressed in a beautiful pink suit, came readily to sit on my lap." He describes his liking for Sadat: "Of almost a hundred heads of state with whom I met while president, he was my favourite and my closest personal friend" -- and his hours of often heated debate with the Syrian leader Hafiz al-Asad.

On the eve of the Palestinian elections of January 2006, won by Hamas, Carter met Hamas leaders and urged them to forgo violence. Among these leaders was Mahmoud al-Zahar, whose house was last week struck by rocket-propelled grenades fired by Fatah supporters -- only the latest episode in a suicidal intra-Palestinian war.

Carter?s message is stark: The only option that "can ultimately be acceptable as a basis for peace" is a "withdrawal by Israel to the 1967 border as specified in UN Resolution 242 and as promised in the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Agreement and prescribed in the Roadmap of the International Quartet."

If Carter were in the White House today, peace might have a chance. But he is not.


Patrick Seale
is a leading British writer on the Middle East, and the author of The Struggle for Syria; also, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East; and Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire.

Copyright ? 2007 Patrick Seale

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Released: 27 January 2007
Word Count: 993

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Advisory Release: 27 January 2007
Word Count: 993
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Agence Global is the exclusive syndication agency for The Nation, The American Prospect, Le Monde diplomatique, as well as expert commentary by Richard Bulliet, Mark Hertsgaard, Rami G. Khouri, Tom Porteous, Patrick Seale and Immanuel Wallerstein

Last Updated on Saturday, 27 January 2007 02:54
 

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