Book Summary: Palestine, Peace not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter
Carter’s book attempts to explain a very complicated and controversial history, the land at center of the Middle East. Carter opens the book with a chronological listing of all the horrible wars and conflicts and atrocities that have occurred in that land since 1900 BC. The book then argues for what needs to be done to stop the trend and bring peace to the area.
As a former US President, Carter has a unique perspective on the area. He has spent more time negotiating with the various parties than almost any other national leader. He has spent years trying to come up with a solution both sides can live with. Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid presents the history of the central Middle East crisis, perhaps the central global crisis, contrasted with the steps that can end it.
Chapters 1-3 | Chapters 4-6 | Chapters 7-9
Chapter 1 Prospects for Peace
Carter’s major life goal is to help ensure lasting peace for the Israelis and others in the Middle East. The volatility, terrorism, and instability in te region are a global threat. The Wars in Iraq has dramatized the conflict between Sunni and Shia, strengthening the hand of Iran. Israel’s nuclear capability and the growing power of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran have added new discouragement to the region.
For there to be peace, the Arabs must allow and accept that an Israeli nation has the right to exist in peace. The Israelis must live within their accepted borders, and the Palestinians must live within theirs. Everyone must agree that the killing of non-combatant by anyone is unacceptable. The U.S. plays a major role in this peace process, but only if it accepts and maintains a neutral negotiating position.
“It is known that Israel has a major nuclear arsenal and the capability to launch weapons quickly,” Page 12
“There is no place for sustained violence, which tends to subvert peace initiatives and perpetuate hatred and combat.” Page 14
“It will be seen that there is a formula for peace with justice in this small and unique portion of the world. It is compatible with international law and sustained American government policy, has the approval of most Israelis and Palestinians, and conforms to agreements previously consummated-but later renounced. It is this blueprint that we will now explore.” Final paragraph of chapter 1, page 19.
The first chapter could have been called the Introduction. It serves as a good introduction, jumps into the action and ends great. It succinctly describes the problems and offers (a few pages in) concrete actions that can be taken to resolve the problem. It’s generally easy to read and well written, moves along fast, and as such, let’s continue.
Chapter 2 My first visit to Israel, 1973
Carter first traveled to Israel in 1973 he spent most of the time sightseeing. He was amazed at the work being done, the land being farmed by communities as well as the apartments and factories being built for soviet immigrants. The land taken from the Syrians had only 1500 settlers on it at the time, and the Syrian gun placements left him no wonder why the land was so important to the Israelies, he assumed at the time the Israelis would withdraw from the land after some negotiations.
They showed him a military graduation and gave him a top secret classified military briefing explain their invulnerability to invasion. Though only 5% of their total forces were in uniform, their intelligence was outstanding and the time to call up all their reserves was minimal.
Then Egypt and Syria invaded with Soviet weapons, and Israel defended with U.S. weapons. They counter invaded and took the Suez canal. U.S./Soviet relations grew to their worst ever, until both sides demanded a ceasefire and the war ended after 20 days.
“My personal introduction to Israel came at a time when its citizens were filled with confidence and optimism about their future.” Page 21.
“[Foreign Minister Abba Eban] said that the occupied territories were a burden and not an asset. Arabs and Jews were inherently incompatible and would would ultimately have to be separated.” Page 30.
“the Arabs were at first successful, but Israeli tenacity and additional military supplies from the United States eventually turned the tide.” Page 34.
The second chapter was mostly sad. He sets up a generally rosy view of what Israel was and what was possible, contrasted with millenia of war and death. Hopefulness is another word to describe the first chapter, Jimmy Carters hopefulness that he can bring about peace in a land that has known so little. A little tedious with a lot of details of his traveling and sightseeing. Frankly, most of the chapter could have been edited out, should have been edited out. I think the point he was trying to make is how nice Israel was, but I’m not writing a sightseeing blog here.
Chapter 3 My Presidency, 1977-1981