Not Peace, Not Apartheid, Not Palestine
Former US President, Jimmy Carter's one-man attempt to fictionalize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and blame the Jews
by Becky Johnson
December 5, 2006
Santa Cruz, Ca. --- When Carter was president, he established a basis for foreign aid based on the human rights conditions imposed by foreign governments on their populace. Using this standard, if he were President today, Israel would more than qualify for aid while the PA, with its state-run media, terrorism, honor killings, corruption, religious intolerance, lack of women's rights, and treatment of gays and lesbians would not.
Jimmy Carter, a former U.S. President, spoke on November 28th, 2006 in Virginia about his new book, Palestine: Peace or Apartheid? Yet, despite being a key player in the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Carter seems to little understand the situation. Even worse, he singles out the Jewish State as the lone culprit in the failure of all attempts at peace in the region. Here are some of his recent comments made on his book tour and my refutations of those comments.
JIMMY CARTER: Some people have said the title is provocative, and I accept that categorization, but I don't consider the word "provocative" to be a negative description, because it's designed to provoke discussion and analysis and debate in a country where debate and discussion is almost completely absent if it involves any criticism at all of the policies of Israel. And I think the book is very balanced.
BECKY: I am not sure what country Carter is talking about. Surely criticism of Israel is rampant in the United States as any google search engine can quickly confirm. Carter may have been speaking of a nearly unanimous support for the State of Israel expressed by both the House and Senate, the Democrats and the Republicans, and much of the mainstream press. But to say there is no debate in this country is to not see the forest or the trees.
JIMMY CARTER: Secondly, the words “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” were carefully chosen by me. First of all, it's Palestine, the area of Palestinians. It doesn't refer to Israel. I’ve never and would imply that Israel is guilty of any form of apartheid in their own country, because Arabs who live inside Israel have the same voting rights and the same citizenship rights as do the Jews who live there.
BECKY: Carter has chosen one definition out of many for the name "Palestine," and not one the majority of the Palestinians themselves use. He uses the name "Palestine" interchangably with the areas currently controlled by the Palestinian Authority located in Gaza and the West Bank. "Palestine" could mean the area of the British Mandate for Palestine 1917-1947 which included Jordan as well. But the meaning of the word "Palestine" to the average Palestinian is synonymous with Israel. In fact, for the average Palestinian, there is no Israel, only occupied Palestine.
JIMMY CARTER: And the next word is “peace.” And my hope is that the publication of this book will not only precipitate debate, as I’ve already mentioned, but also will rejuvenate an absolutely dormant or absent peace process.
BECKY: No one wants peace more than the Israelis. It is not due to a lack of debate, but the continued acts of terrorism, incitement, and broken promises that have led to war---all on the part of the PA.
JIMMY CARTER: For the last six years there's not been one single day of good faith negotiations between Israelis and their neighbors, the Palestinians. And this is absolutely a departure from what has happened under all previous presidents since Israel became a nation. We’ve all negotiated or attempted to negotiate peace agreements. That has been totally absent now for six years. So “peace.”
BECKY: Carter completely ignores Bush's 2002 "Roadmap" proposal. Carter, who should know better, fails to contextualize that six years ago Barak and Clinton brought The Camp David Accords to the table, only to be met with Arafat's bloody Intifada and over 130 suicide bombings. It is the Intifada which has characterized the last 6 years, not Israeli intransigence.
JIMMY CARTER: And then the last two words, “not apartheid.” The alternative to peace is apartheid, not inside Israel, to repeat myself, but in the West Bank and Gaza and East Jerusalem, the Palestinian territory. And there, apartheid exists in its more despicable forms, that Palestinians are deprived of basic human rights.
BECKY: I hear this vaccuous claim made time and time again with no specific substantiation. It is no more compelling an argument when made by a beloved past U.S. President. What human rights has Israel deprived the Palestinians of? They can't vote in ISRAELI elections because they are not Israeli citizens. But the DO vote in PA elections, in no small part thanks to Israel and the Oslo Accords of 1994. They CAN utilize the Israeli courts to settle problems both private and with public agencies. There are no special "rights" in these courts that Israelis, Jews, or foreign nationals for that matter have.
JIMMY CARTER: Their land has been occupied and then confiscated and then colonized by the Israeli settlers. And they have now more than 205 settlements in the West Bank itself.
BECKY: "Their" land? He is not speaking of land taken from private Palestinian property owners, as in the few instances where this occurred, it was bought from willing sellers. Jewish re-settlement of what, for centuries, had been called Judea and Samaria, has occurred primarily on vacant land owned by no one in particular.
Joseph Farah, an Israeli Arab writes in "An unconventional Arab viewpoint" the following:
"The Arabs have build 261 settlements in the West Bank since 1967. We don't hear much about those settlements. We hear instead about the number of Jewish settlements that have been created. ... Is this a new phenomenon? Absolutely not. This has always been the case.
BECKY: Most of these settlements were of Arabs who had newly immigrated to the West Bank with no more legal status than the Jewish settlements---often less so. Carter ONLY objects to the Jewish ones.
JIMMY CARTER: And what has happened is, over a period of years, the Israelis have connected settlements with highways, and those highways make the West Bank look like a honeycomb and maybe a spider web. You can envision it. And in many cases, most cases, the Palestinians are prevented from using the highways at all, and in many cases, even from crossing the highways.
BECKY: These "Israelis-only" highways were built to skirt Arab villages where Jewish drivers had been pelted with stones or shot. Palestinians CAN use the roads, provided they apply for a permit and pass a security clearance. Carter ignores the impetus for the roads was gratuitous Arab violence.
JIMMY CARTER: I’d like to make one other point. When Israel was founded back in 1948 by the United Nations, Israel was allocated 56% of what we would call “the holy land” between Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. After the wars, when the Arabs tried to destroy Israel, treaties were worked out, and Israel wound up with 77% of the holy land. 22% was designated as the West Bank, and 1% only, Gaza. So at the optimum case, as recognized by all the United Nations resolutions, Israel would wind up with 77% of the area, and the Palestinians only 23%, including Gaza and the West Bank.
BECKY: Carter is committing a major error by ommission here. The I917 Balfour declaration granted a Jewish State in ALL of British-controlled Palestine at the time, but was pre-empted when in 1922, Britain awarded 80% of Palestine to Jordan, which immediately banished all of its Jewish population. Therefore, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza are on the remaining 20% of Palestine. 60% of the population of Jordan are Palestinian Arabs, prompting some people to point at Jordan and say "There is the Palestinian state!"
JIMMY CARTER: And remember that Gaza is on the sea coast, where the Philistines lived during the time of King David, and it’s separated by 40 kilometers, about 30 miles, from the rest of Palestinian territory. So in order for a Palestinian to go from Gaza to the West Bank, they have to go through 30 miles of Israeli land, though that’s just a geographical description.
BECKY: There is no evidence that the Palestinians in Gaza are decendants of the Philistines.
JIMMY CARTER: This book is designed to restimulate the prospect for peace. And I’m going to just read three options that Israelis face. And I’d like to say at the beginning that none of them are completely acceptable to all Israelis. But for the last 40 years, a strong majority of Israelis have preferred to relinquish Arab land in return for peace. And this sentiment prevailed until the time when Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated by an irate Israeli who didn't like what Rabin and Shimon Peres had done at Oslo in negotiating a peace agreement for which they both received the Nobel Peace Prize.
BECKY: Many Israelis are resigned to a two-state solution, but I don't think many prefer this solution. The problem is, few in Israel believe the Palestinians even want an independent state.
JIMMY CARTER: Although a clear majority of Israelis are persistently willing to accept terms that are tolerable to most of their Arab neighbors, it is clear that none of the options is attractive for all of the Israelis. And these are the three options. First one has been discussed quite extensively and most persistently by the present prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, who presented this thesis quite early in his career as a young member of the Israeli parliament -- he's now the prime minister -- a forceful annexation of Palestine and its legal absorption into Israel, which would give large numbers of non-Jewish citizens the right to vote and live as equals under the law. So, a large sectarian nation involving both Israelis and Palestinians is this option.
BECKY: This is the "Greater Israel" solution, which would return the situation to what it was like before Oslo---a situation in which the Palestinians enjoyed a 5% unemployment rate, and the best living standards they had ever achieved. Olmert is no longer promoting this idea.
JIMMY CARTER: This would directly violate international standards and the Camp David Accords, which are the basis for peace with Egypt. At the same time, non-Jewish citizens would immediately make up a powerful swing vote if other Israelis were divided. In other words, if Israelis, who now have a majority, were divided 60-40 or 50-50, as you could see, then if the Palestinians voted as a bloc, they would prevail in establishing the basic policies of Israel, if other Israelis were divided.
BECKY: Carter is right that demographics has always loomed as an issue for the Israelis. If they were ever to lose their Jewish majority, they believe an Arab majority would vote to end the Jewish State forever. However, such a settlement would NOT violate the Camp David Accords as Egypt gave up all claims on Gaza.
JIMMY CARTER: It would also maybe constitute an outright majority in the new greater Israel. This is because of demographic trends. The Palestinians have a much higher birthrate than do the Israelis, the Israeli Jews. In fact, in Gaza, which I describe, the Palestinian birthrate is 4.7% annually, which is the highest in the world. And that means that in Gaza at this time, half their citizens are 15 years old or less. Israel would be further isolated and condemned by the international community. So I think within 20 years or less, in a combined Israel and Palestinian land, the Arabs would actually have a majority, more than the Jews.
BECKY: A recent study done by American demographer, Bennett Zimmerman, has pretty much debunked this theory. He found that the PA had fudged their census information by counting Jerusalem Palestinians twice, counting Palestinians living outside of Israel, and failing to subtract when Palestinians emmigrated from the PA. Zimmerman documents and predicts that the Jewish majority is actually likely to increase in the coming years. See: http://www.pademographics.com/voodoo%20azure%20print.htm
JIMMY CARTER: Second, a system of apartheid -- this is, remember, in Palestine -- with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights. This is a policy now being followed, although many citizens of Israel deride the racist connotation, which I certainly don’t imply, of prescribing permanent second-class status for the Palestinians. As one prominent Israeli stated, quote, “I am afraid that we are moving toward a government like that of South Africa, with a dual society of Jewish rulers and Arab subjects with few rights of citizenship. The West Bank,” this Israeli said, “is not worth it.” And that’s a majority -- that’s the opinion of a majority of Israelis.
BECKY: Palestinians are not "second-class citizens." They are non-citizens. Under Apartheid in S. Africa, 80% of the population was confined to 13% of the land, had no rights to vote, and did NOT represent 20% of the population within white S. Africa. They did NOT have representatives in their parliament like the Arab Israelis inside Israel have either. And these restrictions were coded into law. There are no such laws in Israel. Despite 240,000 Jews living on the West Bank, there is not a single Jewish minister of parliament in the PA. Yet Carter singles out the Israelis for blame.
JIMMY CARTER: An unacceptable modification of this choice now being proposed is the taking of substantial portions of the occupied territory with the remaining Palestinians completely surrounded by walls, fences and Israeli checkpoints, living as prisoners within the small portion of land left to them. I think you can quickly see the unacceptability of both of those options.
BECKY: Why doesn't Carter reference the Barak/Clinton proposal of 2000? This offered 95% of the West Bank and all of Gaza to the PA, with corresponding land swaps equal to the remaining 5%. Carter acts as if this wasn't offered and then rejected by Arafat.
JIMMY CARTER: There's only one option left, and that is withdrawal to the 1967 border, as specified in UN Resolution 242 and as promised legally by the Israeli government in the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Agreement and prescribed in the Road Map of the International Quartet. You remember, the Quartet consists of the United States and Russia and the United Nations and the European Union. Those four comprise a Quartet. And they have devised the latest proposal, known as the Road Map for Peace, which has been enthusiastically endorsed by President Bush, as you know. This is the most attractive option and the only one that can ultimately be acceptable as a basis for peace. Good faith negotiations can lead to mutually agreeable exchanges of land, perhaps permitting a number of Israeli settlers to remain in their present homes near Jerusalem inside Palestinian territory.
BECKY: All of these proposals were premised on the Palestinians giving up terrorism. They have all failed because the Palestinians refuse to stop attacking Israel. Even today, during a supposed cease-fire, rockets still rain down in Sderot. Carter completely ignores Arab terrorism.
JIMMY CARTER: One version of this choice was spelled out in the Geneva Initiative. The Geneva Initiative is described in a separate chapter. I was involved, in some ways, in the preparation of the Geneva Initiative, and I was there and made the keynote speech in Geneva when this initiative was prescribed. But what it does do is work out a compromise between the Palestinians and the Israelis through which about half of the total Israelis who live now in the West Bank could stay where they are, and the others would withdraw, which would still leave the Palestinians with a contiguous -- that is, a constant -- area of land over which they could have a united government of Palestinians.
BECKY: Carter has just cavalierly proposed displacing over 100,000 Jews from their homes, businesses, schools, and synagogues.
JIMMY CARTER: And also a part of that was a swap of land. Whenever the Palestinians would give up part of their land, where the large Jewish settlements are built, then the Israelis would give up an equal amount of land that might lie just west of Gaza or some parts -- relatively uninhabited parts -- of Israel. So it was a swap of land for land.
BECKY: Just as Barak proposed in 2000 and Arafat rejected and launched his bloody Intifada instead.
JIMMY CARTER: The other step was the right of return. This is a very important thing for Palestinians, none of whom would give this up. It's guaranteed in United Nations Resolution 194. The right of Palestinians to return to their homeland, or either to be compensated for their property if they can prove that they actually have title to that property. And a compromise worked out in the Geneva Initiative was, okay, the Palestinians can return, but they can return only to Palestine. They cannot return to Israel, the new nation of Israel, unless Israelis approve each application for return. But they would still be -- have available to them some kind of compensation.
BECKY: Of the 650,000 Palestinian Arabs displaced by the war in 1948, 170,000 have already been repatriated in Israel. Of the remaining 480,000, the YOUNGEST person would now be 58 years old! Carter is completely ignoring that 900,000 Jews were also displaced from Arab countries from 1948-1950, also losing their homes, businesses and properties. Even worse, the Geneva Accords also count three generations of Palestinian Arabs--advocating the "return" of a huge population that never lived in Israel while completely ignoring ANY compensation for the Jewish refugees of the same time period.
JIMMY CARTER: And the third major issue -- I’m summarizing very quickly -- is the settlement of the property, about who controls or owns East Jerusalem. And this is covered quite extensively throughout the book. But a very good compromise was reached, where the holy places would be under the complete control of the Arabs, on the one hand, and the Jews, on the other, including the Wailing Wall and the adjacent land.
BECKY: This aspect of the Geneva Initiative was vigorously opposed by religious Jews. The Temple Mount is the MOST HOLY site for the Jewish people and should NOT be handed over to the Arabs.
JIMMY CARTER: And then the rest of East Jerusalem would be administered by a joint commission that would take care of housing and schools and garbage collection and water and electricity and that sort of thing. So it was a very good compromise.
BECKY: In the January 2006 election in the PA, many Arabs in Jerusalem refused to register to vote in the PA, preferring to be considered Israeli citizens with universal health care and spared the lawlessness of the PA. They are voting with their feet. Carter's compromise is unneccessary.
JIMMY CARTER: In my opinion, ultimately something very close to the Geneva Initiative described in this book is the only avenue toward permanent peace for Israel, with justice and peace for their Palestinian neighbors.
So the book is deliberately -- I wouldn't say controversial, but it's deliberately designed to be provocative, because, as I said earlier, in Israel and in Europe, these kind of issues are debated every day, in a most vehement way, particularly in Israel. Pros and cons, arguing back and forth, in the news media, television, radio, the major newspapers. Never, in this country, do you hear any of these issues proposed publicly by an elected member of the House or the Senate or in the White House or NBC or ABC or CBS, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times. Never.
BECKY: Most Americans support Israel for good reason. However, fierce debates ARE happening all across America. A simple google search of the fields "Israel" and "apartheid" reveal 1,640,000 entries! That is quite a lot for a debate that "isn't occurring" although, admittedly most are leftist and non-mainstream publications.
JIMMY CARTER: And I think it's time for Americans to start looking at the facts about the Mid-East situation. And only then, and based on the knowledge of the facts, will we ever have a chance to move forward and consummate a peace agreement that would give Israel what they need and what they deserve -- permanent peace, recognized by their neighbors and all Arab countries and the rest of the world -- and the Palestinians to have their human rights, their land and a chance to have their own state, side by side, living in peace with their Israeli neighbors.
BECKY: No one wants peace more than Israel. But Carter hasn't even mentioned Palestinian violence---suicide bombings, rocket attacks, kidnappings of IDF soldiers and newsmen, and children throwing rocks. Arab Palestinian violence has been the stumbling block since before Israel was formed and remains the problem today. Carter just ignores it as though it weren't happening. This is extremely disingenous.
JIMMY CARTER: Yeah, the word “balance” is one that's almost unacceptable in our country. If you had a candidate for Congress running either Democratic or Republican and they announced to the general public, “I’m going to take a balanced position between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” they would never be elected. That's an impossibility in our country. But that doesn't preclude an incumbent administration from demonstrating with their own actions and words that they are concerned about Israeli peace, they are also concerned about peace and justice for the Palestinians. And that's what I did. It’s what Richard Nixon did. It’s what Ronald Reagan did after I left office. It’s what George Bush, Sr. did. It’s what Bill Clinton did. But it's not being done now.
BECKY: Bush offered his Roadmap in 2002. But since it was prefaced on stemming Palestinian violence, it hasn't been enacted. Carter ignores this as well.
JIMMY CARTER: There is a general feeling throughout the Arab world, throughout Europe, not even noticed in this country, that our present administration has not given any consideration, in my opinion, to the plight of the Palestinians. And you don't have to be anti-Israel to protect the rights of the Palestinians to have their own land and to live in peace and without being subjugated by an occupying power.
BECKY: The Palestinians are subject to their OWN civil administration: the PA. The current Hamas government has vowed constant war with "the Zionist entity" until it is defeated. The Olmert government has decried not having a suitable partner for peace. Why Carter sums this up as the Israelis "subjugating" the Palestinians as the problem is a mystery.
JIMMY CARTER: So I think that that is a proper approach. If it is impossible during the next two years of President Bush's administration for him to take that, to use your word, “balanced” approach, then as a fallback, it may be possible for the International Quartet to take that role. And that would obviously be the United States playing a major role, but not the only role, and for it to involve the United Nations and Russia and the European Union. And I think they could say, okay, let us orchestrate peace talks based on United Nations resolutions, based on the Camp David Agreement that I worked out, based on the Oslo Agreement, and based on the will of a majority of Israeli citizens, and based on the Road Map that we ourselves have prescribed.
BECKY: What about the Palestinian responsibility to stop terrorism?
JIMMY CARTER: By the way, every element of the Road Map has been adopted enthusiastically by the Palestinian side. None of the key elements in the Road Map have been adopted by the Israeli side. They have rejected all of them. And I have the actual action of the Israeli cabinet in the appendix to this book.
BECKY: The Palestinians have not:
1. rejected terrorism against Israeli civilians
2. agreed to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state
3. agreed to honor past agreements
...all part of Bush's "Roadmap."
JIMMY CARTER: So, to summarize, the international group of leaders, the Quartet, could take strong action to implement the terms of the Road Map. Thank you all very much, and I will sign a few books.
BECKY: And how are they supposed to stop Palestinian terrorism? The road to peace is to work for:
1. Arab recognition of Israel's right to exist
2. stopping the incitement and Jew hatred in the PA
3. cutting off arms and funding for Palestinian terror networks
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi summed it up nicely when she said, "It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously." I couldn't agree more.
Carter's Nov. 28, 2006 speech can be found at: Democracy Now! website at: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/30/1452225