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.