Summary and book reviews of Palestine by Jimmy Carter

Palestine

Peace Not Apartheid

by Jimmy Carter

Palestine
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2006, 264 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2007, 288 pages

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Book Summary

Following his #1 New York Times bestseller, Our Endangered Values, the former president, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, offers an assessment of what must be done to bring permanent peace to Israel with dignity and justice to Palestine.

President Carter, who was able to negotiate peace between Israel and Egypt, has remained deeply involved in Middle East affairs since leaving the White House. He has stayed in touch with the major players from all sides in the conflict and has made numerous trips to the Holy Land, most recently as an observer in the Palestinian elections of 2005 and 2006.

In this book President Carter shares his intimate knowledge of the history of the Middle East and his personal experiences with the principal actors, and he addresses sensitive political issues many American officials avoid. Pulling no punches, Carter prescribes steps that must be taken for the two states to share the Holy Land without a system of apartheid or the constant fear of terrorism.

The general parameters of a long-term, two-state agreement are well known, the president writes. There will be no substantive and permanent peace for any peoples in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key U.N. resolutions, official American policy, and the international "road map" for peace by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians. Except for mutually agreeable negotiated modifications, Israel's official pre-1967 borders must be honored. As were all previous administrations since the founding of Israel, U.S. government leaders must be in the forefront of achieving this long-delayed goal of a just agreement that both sides can honor.

Palestine Peace Not Apartheid is a challenging, provocative, and courageous book.

17
SUMMARY

Since the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was signed in 1979, much blood has been shed unnecessarily and repeated efforts for a negotiated peace between Israel and her neighbors have failed. Despite its criticism from some Arab sources, this treaty stands as proof that diplomacy can bring lasting peace between ancient adversaries. Although disparities among them are often emphasized, the 1974 Israeli-Syrian withdrawal agreement, the 1978 Camp David Accords, the Reagan statement of 1982, the 1993 Oslo Agreement, the treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994, the Arab peace proposal of 2002, the 2003 Geneva Initiative, and the International Quartet's Roadmap all contain key common elements that can be consolidated if pursued in good faith.

There are two interrelated obstacles to permanent peace in the Middle East:

  1. Some Israelis believe they have the right to confiscate and colonize Palestinian land and try to justify the sustained subjugation and persecution of ...

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Reviews

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There is much in the book that is of value, such as the chapter devoted to the humiliations of every day life for the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, the confiscation of farm produce, unfair competition from Israeli goods, the withholding of foreign donations, leveling of houses without legal recourse, and so on and so forth; and the fact does remain that Israel is in violation of key U.N. resolutions. However, whereas Carter goes out of his way to cite examples of Israeli bad faith frequently, he allows many apparently hollow statements and arguable misrepresentations by Israel's enemies to pass into print with little in the way of counter-argument or even comment.

There will always be people ready to criticize any book written about the Israel-Palestine conflict, especially one from a pro-Palestinian viewpoint; but it seems a great pity that Carter, one of the highest-profile authorities on the area, has left himself open to such easy pot-shots with what, at times, comes across as an unnecessarily unbalanced account of the conflict.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (825 words).

Media Reviews

The Washington Post - Jeffrey Goldberg

Why is Carter so hard on Israeli settlements and so easy on Arab aggression and Palestinian terror? Because a specific agenda appears to be at work here. Carter seems to mean for this book to convince American evangelicals to reconsider their support for Israel. Evangelical Christians have become bedrock supporters of Israel lately, and Carter marshals many arguments, most of them specious, to scare them out of their position. Hence the Golda Meir story, seemingly meant to show that Israel is not the God-fearing nation that religious Christians believe it to be. And then there are the accusations, unsupported by actual evidence, that Israel persecutes its Christian citizens. On his fateful first visit to Israel, Carter takes a tour of the Galilee and 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.

The New York Times - Ethan Bronner

This is a strange little book about the Arab-Israeli conflict from a major public figure. It is premised on the notion that Americans too often get only one side of the story, one uncritically sympathetic to Israel, so someone with authority and knowledge needs to offer a fuller picture. Fine idea. The problem is that in this book Jimmy Carter does not do so. Instead, he simply offers a narrative that is largely unsympathetic to Israel. Israeli bad faith fills the pages. Hollow statements by Israel’s enemies are presented without comment. Broader regional developments go largely unexamined. In other words, whether or not Carter is right that most Americans have a distorted view of the conflict, his contribution is to offer a distortion of his own.

San Francisco Chronicle - Saree Makdisi

Many of the very individuals and institutions that are so vociferously denouncing President Jimmy Carter would not for one moment tolerate such glaring injustice in the United States. Why do they condone the naked racism that Israel practices? Why do they heap criticism on our former president for speaking his conscience about such a truly unconscionable system of ethnic segregation?

Perhaps it is because they themselves are all too aware that they are defending the indefensible; because they are all too aware that the emperor they keep trying to cover up really has no clothes. There is a limit to how long such a cover up can go on. And the main lesson of Carter's book is that we have finally reached that limit.

Publishers Weekly

Carter's book provides a fine overview for those unfamiliar with the history of the conflict and lays out an internationally accepted blueprint for peace.

Booklist - Brad Hooper

The former president's ideas are expressed with perfect clarity; his book, of course, represents a personal point of view, but one that is certainly grounded in both knowledge and wisdom. His outlook on the problem not only contributes to the literature of debate surrounding it but also, just as importantly, delivers a worthy game plan for clearing up the dilemma.

School Library Journal

Adult/High School—This is not intended to be a scholarly work but rather a frank assessment of the current state of affairs in the Middle East by an experienced elder statesman.....this book is essential reading, for it stimulates precisely the kind of dialogue that Carter believes is necessary to prod all affected peoples beyond present roadblocks to a just and lasting peace.

The Independent (UK) - Benjamin Pogrund

The one great success of his presidency was his fathering of a peace accord between Israel and Egypt, a feat all the more remarkable because, as he notes, it was between two men who disliked each other, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat. Building on his Christian beliefs, Carter has since had an abiding interest in working for Middle East peace, and this book is an expression of it. That, sadly, is as far as it will go. Because the book is so sloppy and strangely deficient, and so one-sided, that it puts Carter out of court.

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Beyond the Book

A Short History of Palestine

  • The Canaanites are the earliest known civilization to live in the area of land at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, living in city-states such as Jericho around 3,000 BCE. Positioned close to Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia and Asia Minor it was not only a meeting point for different cultures but also a battleground for the various empires such as the Assyrians and Egyptians, and by different groups of invaders including the Amorites, Hittites and Hurrians.
  • Around the 14th century BCE, Egyptian power in the region weakened and new groups appeared - the Hebrews and the Philistines.
  • c.1050 BCE: The Philistines defeated the Israelites. c.1000 BCE: Israel's King David defeated the ...

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