Creating people's geographies
It is extraordinary but perhaps not surprising that, as the Democracy Now transcript below reveals, former US President and Nobel Peace Laureate Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” released two weeks ago now has not yet even been mentioned in the news pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Boston Globe or the Los Angeles Times.
Lobby, what lobby?
Self-censorship is far more effective than outright censorship here, with fear of intimidation, job loss and bullying if you dare to mention unmentionables. As Carl Becker has astutely noted, “Whether arguments command assent or not depends less upon the logic that conveys them than upon the climate of opinion in which they are sustained.”
Despite all this, after just a week it is #11 on the New York Times Bestseller list.
While Carter has in some instances made overcompensatory gaffes (as Norman Finkelstein notes here), presumably intended to be conciliatory towards uncritical Israel-first Democrats, this is a much needed and overdue book from a high profile figure and another step towards justice. Please consider buying it. See also selected excerpts from the book (consistently the most visited post here in the last week), again thanks to Norm Finkelstein’s efforts. See here for an interview with Carter on PBS Newshour.
Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid…Jimmy Carter In His Own Words
Democracy Now | 30 November 2006
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is accusing Israel of creating an apartheid system in the West Bank and Gaza. The charge comes in his new book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” We play an address by Carter talking about the Palestine-Israel conflict, the role of the United States and much more. Carter says, “Palestinians are deprived of basic human rights, their land has been occupied, then confiscated, then colonized by the Israeli settlers.” [includes rush transcript]
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is accusing Israel of creating an apartheid system in the West Bank and Gaza. The charge comes in his new book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”
The Nobel Peace Prize winner has been deeply involved in Middle East policies for the past three decades. As president he negotiated the Camp David Accords – which secured a lasting peace between Israel and Egypt.
In his new book, Jimmy Carter writes, “Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land.”
Carter criticizes Israel for building what he describes as an imprisonment wall through the West Bank. He accuses Israel of strangling the residents of Gaza where the poverty rate has reached 70 percent and where the malnutrition rate mirrors countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. And Carter is critical of Washington’s role. He writes, “The United States is squandering international prestige and goodwill and intensifying global anti-American terrorism by unofficially condoning or abetting the Israeli confiscation and colonization of Palestinian territories.”
Some of the most vocal critics of Carter’s book have been fellow Democrats. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 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.”
John Conyers, the incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, urged Carter to change the title of the book, which he described as “offensive and wrong.”
Meanwhile, the nation’s newspapers have largely ignored Jimmy Carter’s book since its publication two weeks ago. The book hasn’t even been mentioned in the news pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Boston Globe or Los Angeles Times.
Today on Democracy Now we are going to hear Jimmy Carter in his own words. On Tuesday night he discussed his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” at an event in Virginia.
RUSH TRANSCRIPTThis transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
Donate – $25, $50, $100, more…AMY GOODMAN: Today on Democracy Now!, we’ll hear Jimmy Carter in his own words. On Tuesday night, he discussed his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, at an event in Virginia.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
AMY GOODMAN: Former US President Jimmy Carter, speaking in Virginia. We’ll come back to this address in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We return to the words of former President Jimmy Carter. He was speaking Tuesday night at a book event in Virginia, where he read from his new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.
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 Israel said, “is not worth it.” And that’s a majority — that’s the opinion of a majority of Israelis. 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.
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.
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. 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.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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
AMY GOODMAN: Afterward President Jimmy Carter spoke on Tuesday about his book, Palestine: Apartheid Not Peace [sic], he took questions from the audience. He was asked to outline what a balanced US-Middle East policy would look like. Again, his book is called Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.
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.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.
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.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.
AMY GOODMAN: Former US President Jimmy Carter talking about his new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.