Not to be too "johnny come lately", but I just finished yesterday former president Jimmy Carter's 2006 book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." The book took a lot of flack when it first came out, and after reading it, I can only think of three reasons:
- He used the word "apartheid" in the title. No doubt this was provocative, and on purpose. I remember seeing President Carter on "The Tonight Show" last year, and even Jay Leno was struggling a little with that word. But even though it provokes those feelings, I have no doubt that President Carter believes it's the right word to describe the situation. The Israelis are building walls of separation, both physically and metaphorically, based solely on race, denying Palestinians even basic civil rights and occupying--even encouraging Jewish settlements in--land that does not belong to Israel according to the international community (land they took in the 1967 war and since). While Palestinians and other Arabs must both acknowledge Israel's right to exist and denounce violence (which doesn't help their cause in the long run anyway)--something Carter says several times in the book, Israel has repeatedly agreed in the past to return to their pre-1967 internationally-recognized borders but has yet to do so.
- He's a liberal democrat. Which means that he will not have a good idea in the eyes of conservatives.
- There are those that believe support of Israel should be unconditional based on their interpretation of the Bible. This is particularly true of premillenial dispensationalists like John Hagee and others. However even the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) challenges Israel to treat with justice the aliens living among them, something that is not always the case. Since Carter so strongly encourages the international community to push Israel to fulfill their promises related to releasing occupied lands and providing the Palestinians with their basic rights and self-governance.
In my next post I will talk about Carter's suggested solutions to pursuing peace in the region.