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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Peace in the Holy Land—Jimmy Carter

Former President has again written on peace for the Middle East, or at least between Israel and Palestine.

I have put off writing this review between my hope is at war with my pessimism.  That has not happened.  In fact this Blog Post started on 7 July and it is now 29 August.  Still little hope.

Here is the "other side of the coin," presented as an interview by Michael J Totten of writer Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic.  Mr Goldberg has written about his relationship with a prisoner Prisoners:  A Story of Friendship and Terror.

A first-hand understanding of how they think.  People in the United States find it hard to understand how people in Hamas and Hezbollah think.  It’s alien.  It’s alien to us.  The feverish racism and conspiracy mongering, the obscurantism, the apocalyptic thinking – we can’t relate to that.  Every so often, there’s an eruption of that in a place like Waco, Texas, but we’re not talking about 90 people in a compound.  We’re talking about whole societies that are captive to this kind of absurdity.
That isn't a helpful start.  In noting this quote I do it because Michael Totten is a serious roving journalist, a person worthy of some respect.

President Carter argues for US involvement:
Again, American leadership and involvement has been lacking but are key to an agreement.  From the United States' side an ancillary potential benefit is the possibility of Syria's increased cooperation in achieving our goals in Iraq, the promotion of peace in Lebanon, and reduction of terrorism in the region.  American cooperation will also be required in resolving other Israel-Syria issues involving water rights, the environment, and trade. (p 171)
SPOILER ALERT!  The basic plan President Carter proposes is (page 181):
  • A demilitarized Palestinian state, with international security forces.
  • Land swaps to keep some Israeli settlements around Jerusalem, but withdrawal of settlers elsewhere
  • A sharing of Jerusalem, which would be the capital of both states
  • Unity between Gaza and the West Bank and an agreement for Palestine and Israel to recognize a right to live side by side in peace
  • A specific time limit for achieving the goals
Back to Mr Goldberg and the Michael Totten interview.

This is why I’m negative about the intentions of Palestinians. If their goal were statehood, they could have had statehood.  Therefore, you have to give serious credence to the idea that their goal is not statehood, that it’s more important to rid the Arab world of Jewish nationalism than it is to have a Palestinian state that would improve the lives of individual Palestinians now.
And there you have it.  Peace is at hand, but only if Palestine is interested in statehood along side Israel.

The question is, how do we test that proposition and give the Israelis the sense that it isn't a single roll of the dice, with the stakes being their homeland?  I didn't think that President Carter answered that question.  On the other hand, how long can Israel hold out without a peace agreement with her neighbors?

Regards  —  Cliff

  This book has a copyright of 2009, with the first hardback being out in January 2009.  President Carter suggested on page 181 a date of September 2009.  I could barely read the book and review it by September 2009.

We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land:  A Plan That Will Work
Jimmy Carter
Simon & Schuster
New York
182 Pages plus annexes and index
$27.00 (Less with Amazon)

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