Friday, March 13, 2009

Jimmy Carter book: We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land

I had a fascinating several days in Houston staffing a booth for Friends of Sabeel North America - - at the Unitarian Universalist Women's International Convocation. What a gang of wonderful sisters, all very interested in justice and peace. After that I escaped to Minnesota for a few days with my family. Sometimes life gets crowded, so I apologize for delays in posting here.

My work with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel keeps me very busy and it's a real joy -
At the home page you'll now find links to the blogs of two current accompaniers, both from southeastern Michigan, Scott Thams and Pat Ochodnicky. I commend them to you.

I want to put out another shout for Jimmy Carter's new book. The former president's work is right on the money, as always in my view. It's called We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land - A Plan That Will Work.

The Amazon website says, "In this urgent, balanced, and passionate book, Nobel Peace Laureate and former President Jimmy Carter argues that the present moment is a unique time for achieving peace in the Middle East -- and he offers a bold and comprehensive plan to do just that.
"President Carter has been a student of the biblical Holy Land all his life. For the last three decades, as president of the United States and as founder of The Carter Center, he has studied the complex and interrelated issues of the region's conflicts and has been actively involved in reconciling them. He knows the leaders of all factions in the region who will need to play key roles, and he sees encouraging signs among them.
"Carter describes the history of previous peace efforts and why they fell short. He argues persuasively that the road to a peace agreement is now open and that it has broad international and regional support. Most of all, since there will be no progress without courageous and sustained U.S. leadership, he says the time for progress is now. President Barack Obama is committed to a personal effort to exert that leadership, starting early in his administration.
"This is President Carter's call for action, and he lays out a practical and doable path to peace."

Haaretz pointed to Carter's openness to talking with Hamas:
Here's a quote: "Likudniks don't scare former United States president Jimmy Carter. On the contrary: The electoral turnaround of 1977 that brought them to power for the first time enabled Carter to be inscribed in the history books as the leader who facilitated the first peace agreement between Israelis and Arabs. In his new book, `We Can Have Peace in
the Holy Land' (Simon & Schuster), Carter relates that neither he nor America's Jewish community knew what to expect from prime minister Menachem Begin, a former underground fighter who had acquired a bad name for himself as a war-mongering fanatic. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat reported to Carter that he had asked Eastern European leaders who knew the new prime minister whether Begin was an honest man and a strong person. According to him, the
answers were in the affirmative.
"In a telephone interview before this week's election, I asked Carter what he thinks of Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu. From his office at the Carter Center in Atlanta, the 39th U.S. president answered calmly that Netanyahu is a practical politician, and that if a proposed peace agreement wins broad support among the Israeli public, the Likud leader would not turn his back on it, and would be `constructive.'"

And on NPR -
"Nearly 30 years ago, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty that holds to this day. Much of the credit for that treaty goes to former President Jimmy Carter.
"In the decades since, Carter has pursued a much more elusive goal: a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And he says there have been three recent developments that could help achieve it.
"The first development was the election of Barack Obama as president, he tells NPR's Renee Montagne. For the Middle East, Carter said, that should mean `a balanced and aggressive commitment to bring peace. That's quite a change.'
"The former president also cited progress in his meetings with members of the Palestinian parties, Hamas and Fatah, in April and December of 2008.
"`For the first time, the Hamas leaders pledged that they would accept any peace agreement negotiated between the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israel,' Carter said — as long as Palestinians approve the agreement in a referendum.
"And the recent violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which Carter called an `evolving tragedy,' adds what he said is `another element of urgency to bringing peace to Israel.'
"Carter has written a new book on that topic, titled We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land. It follows his 2006 analysis, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, which sparked protests from supporters of Israel.
"His latest book is subtitled, `A Plan That Will Work.' And that plan, Carter said, is no secret: a two-state solution in which Israel's right to exist is recognized by its neighbors — within its pre-1967 borders."

Eileen Fleming reviewed Carter's book on her blog, We Are Wide Awake:
Here's a portion of The Bell Tolls: A Review of We can have Peace in the Holy Land, by Jimmy Carter:
"With `the fierce urgency of now' Jimmy Carter writes of reasons why recent `public opinion polls in the Arab world revealed that the United States was seen as a greater threat than Iran, and a successful peace effort in Palestine could be the most important factor in improving its citizens' opinion of America.'[1]
"Due to their lack of political and military power, the Palestinians have been dependent on the international community to survive; and they have commitments from the UN, the International Quartet and the Arab League who have all dreamt a dream of a sovereign peaceful Palestinian state beside a secure Israel.
"The Carter Center Team in Ramallah reported that the failure of negotiations post Annapolis `may well mark an end to the two-state solution for Israel Palestine…The conclusion seems to be that even second class Israeli citizenship is preferable to unending occupation, or in other terms, the future may lie in one state.'[2]
"Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qurei predicted, `If Israel continues to reject our propositions regarding the borders [of a future Palestinian state], we might demand Israeli citizenship.'
"A Fatah leader quipped, `Where will a Palestinian state rise up? The Israeli nation is inside us already.'"

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