Sunday, December 31, 2006

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid -- Jimmy Carter

To be honest with you, this was not necessarily one of the books I had on my "must read" list, but it was a Christmas gift so I began to read it. I know the book was controversial, and that Jimmy Carter had received a fair amount of criticism.

The book is essentially a historical look at the situation in Palestine and Israel with a strong focus on the time since 1973. Carter writes a significant amount about his personal experiences in this part of the world with many of the leading P
alestinian and Israeli figures -- from before the time he was President to 2006.

Simply put, the book is a call for peace - not a a form of apartheid between Jews and Arabs. If peace is to become a reality Carter believes 3 things must happen:

1. A recognition that if there is to be peace in this part of the world the security of Israel must be guaranteed. Arabs must acknowledge openly and specifically that Israel is a reality and has a right to exist in peace, behind secure and recognized borders and with a firm Arab pledge to terminate any further acts of violence against a legally constituted nation of Israel.

2. Israel should have permanent borders that coincide with those prevailing from 1949 to 1967. Any change in these borders should be negotiated and can be modified with mutually agreeable land swaps.

3. The sovereignty of all Middle East nations and sanctity of international borders must be honored. There is little doubt that accommodation with Palestinians can bring full Arab recognition to Israel and its right to live in peace.

It seems to me, that the most controversial part of Carters book deals with what he believes are the actions of Israel over the past 25 years to disregard previous agreements with Palestinians, illegally occupy land, cease to honor human rights, severely restrict the ability of Palestinians to earn a living, travel, educate their children, vote, and have access to healthcare. In addition, the building of the wall through Palestinian lands further exacerbates the issues related to finding a lasting peace.

While Carter clearly blames both Palestinians and Israelis for the seemingly ceaseless violence, it is clear that he holds the Israelis responsible for being the provokers.

I do not know as much as I should about the situation between Israel and Palestine. But I do think that anyone who wants to learn and gain perspective should read the book -- even if you disagree with Carter.

One of the things I will do is contact Palestinian believers I know who live in Bethlehem and work with both Palestinians and Israelis in an attempt to bring reconciliation between these two groups. It will be interesting to hear their perspectives on Carter's book.

In the meantime, read the book with an open mind.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey Karl! One of the things someone should do who wants to gain perspective on the Middle East... is to simply read the Bible...without all of the commentary or hoopla. Just the Word, man! i think a great many of us would have a different perspective if we went to the source of information about those ancient lands. just read it with an open mind...
anita hensley