Category Archives: Palestine

What Do I Know?

I downloaded the original report from Fred Kagen about the surge in January.  According to that report, which Bush used as his model, the surge shouldn’t have been completed until December of this year.  (p.38)  It includes the extensions of duty that have already occured.  Kagen presented the second phase of said plan in April.

Still there are deaths.  I make a point of reading –acknowleding them every night on the News Hour and then again on This Week with George S.  John Kerry has asked, and I think it is a quality question — who will be the last death in Iraq? 

 Speaking of which, Biden pointed out something that has been neglected.  And on this first father’s day since the man I most admired died, I will follow up with a point about Palestinians, as well as other conflicts.  While it is easy to judge from the outside, it is much more difficult to understand the problems that plague both Palestine and Africa — Darfur, Somalia and Kenya — by listening to the U.S. news.  At least today Biden laid out how stupid the Bush administration haw been wrt Palestine.  The Bush admin pushed for elections.  Hamas got elected.  Funds — including taxes collected by the Israelis from the Palestinians — was withheld.  From a line in one of my favorite movies — “You don’t like the results you change the rules?”  Yep, that’s what they did.  So the world cuts the Palestinians off and the Israelis don’t return their tax dollars — wow — how would people like this react to something like that?  With guns ablazing, I’m sure.

The U.S. is conducting military actions in Somalia and near if not in Kenya.  (I’m not at work, so I can’t get to Lexis/Nexis — and anyway — they sent me a letter stating that they let law enforcement access my personal data — so I am not so happy with them — but that’s another matter.)  One of my former students and current readers (I hope she still reads :) knows that things are not good in that part of the world, but the U.S. military’s intervention is not helping. 

Then there is the lame Darfur thing that Bush did.  Lame, limp, ineffectual, — how else to describe it?

 In honor of my father — who I hope would have come around and in honor of the man, who I admired perhaps more than my own dad — given that we came so far in such a short amount of time — from him dismissing me completely to the two of us agreeing on the important things in the end.  I will always remember that the last book he read — The Road by Cormac McCarthy, was one of the last books I read while he was reading it too, while he was alive, and that last Christmas, I sent him my copy of Jimmy Carter’s Palestine Peace not Apartheid, just when he wanted to send me his copy.  This from a man who retired from the foreign service when Carter became president. 

Perhaps my dad, had he lived to see George W. Bush become the governor of Texas, much less president, would have been more like the man I greatly admire.  Perhaps he would have finally seen my side of things, unlike my mother.

 I avoided any father’s day activities today.  It should be for my nieces and their father — not another holiday fought over with the in-laws.  Today was for those whose fathers are still alive.  The two men who held that place in my heart are dead.  I am stronger and more sure of myself because of both of them.

but what do I know . . . .

Carter’s Hope for a Debate Works

I bought Palestine: Peace not Apartheid last December, and that was a month after its initial release.  It is still at #9 on Amazon, and   on the NYT Bestseller list.  In the first interview I heard about the book (on the News Hour) Carter said that he wanted to spark a debate and, hopefully, the peace process, too, that had been largely ignored in the six years of the Bush administration.  Rice’s latest feeble attempts notwithstanding, Carter hasn’t succeeded in pushing the Bush administration (but that’s a tall order even for the majority of the American people to do, much less one man — no matter how pragmatically correct are his assertions).

Nevertheless, Carter has gotten people talking about and reading about the situation in Palestine.  He has also taken pot-shots from all sides and still been able to stay on his main point.  I’ve read several articles since I heard the interview Carter gave on NPR last week, and I’d like to share three of them.

The first two are from Tom DeLay.  Remember, he has the ideas, but someone else writes his *blog* and with that disclaimer, I offer these two posts of *his*.  First is the “Carter gets all his money from Arabs” post.  Tom wants Carter to come clean about the finances and asks if the money the Cater Center receives influenced Carter’s views.  I think the commenters on that post pretty much make the point I would — pot/kettle — but I would go one further.  Carter would have written this book with or without there being a Carter Center.  I’m actually not even sure Tom came up with the *idea* part of this post.

The second of the two remarks the fact that some of the people on the board of directors of the Carter Center left in protest.  As part of an article I will link to a little later, Tom’s writer fails to note that it was 14 of 200 and so I would think Carter probably expected that.  Compare the two “Tom” posts together — criticize Carter for accepting money from Arabs and then writing a book that makes the Israeli supporters on his board angry enough to quit.  To Tom’s writer’s point of view, that seals it — Carter is biased, and therefore he must be torn down.  (Nevermind that Tom and co. haven’t been right about Carter for over 30 years . . .  don’t even get me started on global warming . . .)

The third one is more comprehensive and evenhanded than Tom’s trifles and reminded me of a time when I was politically active in a different way than I am now, but to the same purpose.  It’s a piece from the Guardian by Ian Williams.  There’s a lot of there there, so I’d suggest reading it, but what touched me was the point — current because of the movie and one of my students has it as her research paper topic — about the diamond trade.  In the article, Williams (having pointed out that Carter only writes the word apartheid three times in the text) states:

His third use of the A-word is the most interesting. Rabin had just returned from the apartheid state, and described to Carter “the close relationship Israel had with South Africa in the diamond trade … but commented that the South African system of apartheid could not long survive.”

Israel’s sanctions-busting trade with the racist state helped it to survive longer than it would otherwise have done. And Israeli collaboration on arms programs may have gone beyond missiles and planes as far a joint nuclear test, with a pariah regime whose antecedents were Nazi sympathizers. If apartheid is such dreadful concept that we can’t use it about Israeli polices, where were Carter’s critics when Israel was the mainstay of the apartheid regime in South Africa?

Here’s my hope:  When I was in my teens and twenties, I reminded everyone I encountered that Nelson Mandela had been in prison for longer than I had been alive.  At the time, I had little hope Mandela would ever be released.   We now live in a world where Mandela was not only released, not only became the leader of his country, but where, thinking back I could hadly hope, he is considered a world statesman.  Carter is on his way there — to that place in world history.

Every time I write about Carter, I think of someone and hope for the best for him.  He fought for our country, worked for our security and influenced and refined my thoughts on the Israeli/Palestinian peace process.  Always, my best wishes and my willingness to help is there, along with my gratitude and appreciation.

Jimmy Carter’s New Book

No, I haven’t read it yet.  I usually wait until the library gets a copy, though I do have a little change left on a gift card, so I may get it this weekend.  President Carter was on The News Hour Tuesday night and briefly on Mike Gallagher’s radio show this morning.

On The News Hour, President Carter was patient but firm with Judy Woodruff, the interviewer.  This came right at the beginning when Woodruff asked him about the title: Palestine Peace not  Apartheid.  She described his using the word apartheid as provocative, and when he clearly stated that he doesn’t consider the word provocative to be negative, she misunderstood, thinking he meant apartheid.  Carter moved on to his point instead of wasting time setting her straight.  His point is to provoke debate on this topic here in the U.S.

President Carter rightly points out that virtually nothing has been done to advance the peace process in Palestine.  Woodruff counters that SoS Rice is going to meet with Abbas later this week.  Carter agreed that that is very nice, but there have been no negotiations facilitated or led by the U.S. in six years.

Then President Carter defines what he means by apartheid.  It is the pursuit, by a minority of Israelis to settle on and colonize Palestinian territory, and then separate themselves completely from the Palestinians — while living on their land.  (I’ve met and taught many Palestinians in my time as an ESL teacher.  The narratives they tell or write about in class reflect this situation.  The simplest things are made unbearable due to Israeli settlements.) 

Woodruff then points out that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has announced he is putting a proposal on the table to give back most of the West Bank and release prisoners, if there is a good faith effort on the part of the Palestinians. Carter rightly points out that the demand is that Israel give back all of the land, citing the UN resolutions as well as the agreements made at Camp David and at Oslo.  He adds that Israelis received Nobel Peace Prizes for making these agreements, and yet they have yet to abide by them.  Further, the Palestinians have adopted the Roadmap, while the Israelis have officially rejected the terms of the Roadmap.

Carter emphasises the walls around the West Bank and Gaza.  (An interesting asside — one of my students is writing a research paper on barriers around the world, focusing on barriers constructed to keep people out of certain territories or countries and evaluations of their effectiveness.  I’ve read part of her first draft and it is incredibly interesting.  I hope to post it on our school’s blog when she is finished.)  Israel has not agreed to give back all of the land and insists on keeping the walls.

Next Woodruff makes the argument that I hear so often — about everything the Palestinians do — rockets, bombs, kidnapping soldiers, and generally condoning terrorism.   Carter responds with a comparison based on the kidnapping of one soldier.  “At that time, Israel was holding 9200 Palestinians prisoner, including 300 children, almost 300, 293 children,  some of them 12 years old and holding almost a hundred women prisoner.”  The Palestinians — specifically the ones who kidnapped the soldier — wanted to exchange him for some of the women and children prisoners.  The Israelis said no. 

Woodruff comes at it from the angle of selling Carter’s idea to the Israelis.   Carter points to the elections in Palestine.  It was fair and free and recognized as such.  Of course then the U.S. among others didn’t like the democratic results and cut off funding to ALL Palestinians.  (So this is how it went.  The Palestinians participated in an election.  The U.S. disagreed with the choices of 42% of the people who voted, and so they punish 100% of the Palestinians.  Now that’s how you win hearts and minds I tell you what.)

The rest is in the next post.