Former American President Jimmy Carter published “Palestine: Peace not
Apartheid” last month. It is considered by many to be critical of
Israeli and United States policy. Some are lashing out , but mostly the
book is being ignored. This is not a debate that the US seems ready to
Referring to Congress, Carter points out that to even call on international law to be applied in the situation, or to talk about Palestinians from a human rights perspective, is akin to political suicide.
The Carter Center's Executive Director and founder of its Middle East Program, Kenneth Stein, resigned because he objected, although Carter pointed out that Stein was not actively involved in the Carter Center for 12 years. The Center's objective, and Carter's, is stated as “committed to advancing human rights and alleviating unnecessary human suffering.”
The debate, or lack thereof, on Palestine in the US is summed up by Stein's remarks that Carter's book was not only factually incorrect, but that he had “simply invented statements” as quoted from an Atlanta paper.
Jimmy Carter's book is based on the elections he laid eyewitness to in 1996, 2005 and 2006. He notes that the only malfeasance in the elections was committed on the part of the Israelis, whose measures greatly reduced Jerusalem participation.
Simon & Schuster signed the Nobel Peace Price winner two years ago to write a book on the Middle East. He used his years of diplomacy in the region, three Palestinian elections, personal impressions, USAID meetings, and those with Israeli leaders.
Carter said that the issue of peace as it concerns Palestine and Israel is widely discussed everywhere except the US. He blamed the Israeli lobby, specifically AIPAC, which for the past 30 years has ensured that debate is squelched. Those critical of Israeli policy in the US are generally labled "anti-Semitic."
An excerpt from "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid" reads:
“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. 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. 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 Tribune 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. The United States has used its U.N. Security Council veto more than forty times to block resolutions critical of Israel.”
Some university campuses have denied him the right to speak. A democratic in Congress jumped to say that Carter, a democrat himself, does not represent the party. Carter could hardly be described as “radically pro-Palestinian,” as this excerpt from the Introduction to Chapter 17 illustrates:
“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 increasingly hopeless and aggravated Palestinians; and
2. Some Palestinians react by honoring suicide bombers as martyrs to be rewarded in heaven and consider the killing of Israelis as victories.
In turn, Israel responds with retribution and oppression, and militant Palestinians refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israel and vow to destroy the nation.
The cycle of distrust and violence is sustained, and efforts for peace are frustrated. Casualties have been high as the occupying forces impose ever tighter controls. From September 2000 until March 2006, 3,982 Palestinians and 1,084 Israelis were killed in the second intifada, and these numbers include many children: 708 Palestinians and 123 Israelis. As indicated earlier, there was an ever-rising toll of dead and wounded from the latest outbreak of violence in Gaza and Lebanon.”
Carter is clearly not "pro-Palestinian." Instead he is a former US President who engages international law, the Geneva Conventions, United Nations resolutions, and international human rights law, in his discourse on the subject of Palestine. And this is unusual in the US where over three million dollars per day go to fund the Israelis. And Carter is considered to be echoing an opinion that has been registered by several visitors to the West Bank coming from South Africa: Israeli policy is more racist than Apartheid South Africa. These are realities that the most of the Americans are not yet willing to even debate.