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Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
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77 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2011
I read this book twice. It's a very easy read, and yet it contains a lot of useful information for understanding this conflict. I say "surprisingly" unbiased (in my title above), because to be honest I never thought I'd read something by a U.S. President that was the least bit sympathetic to the Palestinians. Carter makes it very clear that Israel is to blame for the lion's share of the problems facing both Palestinians and Israelis vis-a-vis the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories and Israel's continued (to this day) settlement-building that is stealing more and more land and resources (particularly water) from the Palestinians.

Here are some quotes I found particularly valuable. The page numbers refer to the hard-copy edition. (They may be the same in the paperback edition, but I don't know.)

"Each Israeli settler uses five times as much water as a Palestinian neighbor, who must pay four times as much per gallon." (p. 121)

"[Binyamin Netanyahu] promised never to exchange land for peace." (147)

The greatest increase in the growth of the number of settlers [in the West Bank and Gaza] occurred during the administration of Prime Minister Ehud Barak." (This is the prime minister who supposedly made the "generous offer" that the Palestinians supposedly refused. See below.) (151)

"There was no possibility that any Palestinian leader could accept such terms [Clinton's peace proposal in 2000] and survive, but official statements from Washington and Jerusalem were successful in placing the entire onus of the failure on Yasir Arafat." (152)

"A new round of talks was held at Taba in January 2001, during the last few days of the Clinton presidency, between President Arafat and the Israeli foreign minister, and it was later claimed that the Palestinians rejected a 'generous offer' put forward by Prime Minister Barak with Israel keeping only 5 percent of the West Bank. The fact is that no such offers were ever made. Barak later said, "It was plain to me that there was no chance of reaching a settlement at Taba. Therefore I said there would be no negotiations and there would be no delegation and there would be no official discussions and no documentation. Nor would Americans be present in the room. The only thing that took place at Taba were non-binding contacts between senior Israelis and senior Palestinians." (152)

"Almost all [attacks on Israeli citizens and armed forces] were occurring on Palestinian territory [during the second intifada]." (i.e. not inside Israel proper) (155)

"Including the Israeli-occupied Jordan River Valley, the wall [that Israel is constructing in and around the West Bank] would take in large areas of land for Israel and encircle the Palestinians who remained in their remnant of the West Bank. This would severely restrict Palestinian access to the outside world. 'Imprisonment wall' is more descriptive than 'security fence.'" (174)

"Regardless of whether Palestinians had no formalized government, one headed by Yasir Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas, or one with Abbas as president and Hamas controlling the parliament and cabinet, Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land. Israeli forces have deprived their unwilling subjects of basic human rights. No objective person could personally observe existing conditions in the West Bank and dispute these statements." (208-9)

"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." (216)
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1,614 of 2,028 people found the following review helpful
[...]
The constant attempts to denigrate Carter's Presidency (as though the long lines at that shrine to American privilege, the gas pump, and our foreign presence preceding the Iranian hostage crisis were of the President's making and, moreover, of greater consequence than the Iraq debacle) are belied once again by this uncommon man's common sense and clarity of vision, which is mirrored by the measured lucidity of his prose. Someone had to write this book, and better it be Carter, with his personal, and largely effective, negotiations with the principal players in the desperate power struggles of the middle East, than anyone else.

Carter's staunch opposition to the invasion of Iraq is a matter he no longer talked about once the "mission" became reality. His efforts are directed toward future solutions, not righteous reminders of the past or self-justifications, lest he risk mirroring the very narrow, self-serving interests he seeks to confront and redress through proposals based on negotiated peace, mutual respect, shared rights and, above all, on genuine human and religious (including Judeo-Christian) values.

The negative reactions to the book, I'm afraid, prove its importance. Many Americans remained "passively" approving of the Iraq war--despite not just its blatant imperialist aggressiveness but its sheer irrationality and absurdity--because of the perception that somehow America's "holy war," with its pageantry of "shock and awe," was in the interests of Israel. Although Carter's warnings, criticisms, and prescriptions in "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" require as much of the Palestinians as the Israelis, the criticisms he has received come from narrow, defensive Americans who are incapable of rising to anything resembling an impartial, broad-based understanding of the "human community"--of the "family of man," as it was once called.

This is not a particularly hard-hitting account (its author is, after all, an ingenuous man of peace and good will). So the mean-spirited "hits" the book has been taking should in themselves be seen as a wake-up call--not just to Israelis and Palestinians but to Americans of every religion, ethnicity, class, and political stripe. If we "can't get along together," and if we can't model for the world a tradition-blind, color-blind melting pot instead of viewing that metallic vessel as a grenade, we can hardly pretend to be surprised the next time it blows up in our faces.
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459 of 584 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2007
For a people that have experienced so much persecution, it seems improper to criticize Israel's actions. Jimmy Carter has highlighted uncomfortable issues for American Jews (I am also one) to address. It was an important step forward that a well respected personality such as Carter wrote this book. Israel's 'realpolitik' towards the Palestinians is morally unsupportable. Terror has many tactics; it can come from government policies & tanks as well as suicide bombers.
My view is that it is time for American Jews to take the 'blue' pill, wake up and see the reality as it is, not what they wanted or were told it is. It's not a comfortable process to put into question assumptions that were taught since childhood. But blind devotion to a state is dangerous.
As we have seen with the Iraq war, a hard-right government can do things that its people realize is wrong. As is happening now in the US, we need to speak out in favor of a dramatic new course for Israel that may improve the chances for peace. It is high time that American Jews stop giving Israel (their hard-right gov't) a blank check of support irrespective of their actions and begin to treat Israel as the separate state that it is. The extreme right is the enemy of all peace loving people.
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139 of 182 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2006
I have just finished Jimmy's Carter's new book Palestine, Peace not Apartheid. It documents the truth about the Israeli expropriation of Palestine and brutalization of the Palestinian people. This is not new to anyone who has been paying attention and has the moral consciousness to care. What is unique about this book is its perspective. The story is told from the personal and naive view of a devote Christian, who has witnessed first hand the events and been a part of them. All the same facts are there, confiscations, jailing, group punishment, economic strangulation, systematic colonization, extraordinary PR, expulsions, killing, land theft, water theft, religious fanaticism, gradual take over of the whole country, etc., but the tone leaves the conclusions implicit, though inescapable. So if you want a measured gentle view of the theft of a country and expulsion of its people, this is your book.

Of course, the pro-Israel Lobby will not agree, as is evident from some of the other reviews.
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36 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2011
As I write, a lawsuit has been filed in NYC against the Jimmy Carter by an Israeli company for $5 million. The lawsuit claims the book "contained numerous false and knowingly misleading statements intended to promote the author's agenda of anti-Israel propaganda and to deceive the reading public..." Sure, Israelis might not understand the protection afforded political speech in America by our legal system. But surely NYC lawyers know better, don't they? Does anyone really believe lawsuits can suppress political speech in America? One wonders if the suit is a publicity stunt to sell more copies of this book. If not, it is an unbelievably foolish stunt for so many reasons. It has zero probability of success; it draws more attention to the book; it arouses resentment against Israeli meddling in American politics. It shows Israel and her supporters in a very unfavorable light. If this stunt represents a new Israeli policy then it is already having the opposite of its intended effect right now, on this writer. We have a saying "So sue me!" and we mean it. I admire the former President for taking on a powerful group. I might not agree with him on everything but I will support his right to say it with everything I have, at all costs, by absolutely ANY means that might become necessary. We should to wait and see what happens, probably nothing, but I am feeling a heated wave of resentment right now. Please buy this book to show your support for freedom of speech; I am ordering it as soon as I am done typing.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2008
This is an informative book on the Palestinian situation. Just the historical chronology, the related maps on different dates, and the Appendices including the text of U.N. Resolutions provide excellent reference material.

Carter's "land for peace" premise is straightforward as expressed on page 17. He believes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be resolved when: 1) Palestinians and other Arab countries will fully recognize Israel; 2) Violence and terrorism against civilians in Israel will abate; and 3) Palestinians will live in peace and dignity in their own land. He repeats those conditions in the concluding Summary. Within it he also specifies that Israel has to explicitly recognize its borders before 1967 as it had agreed within U.N. Resolution 242. Carter also states that the chronic obstacle to those conditions for peace is the belief by many Israelis that "they have the right to confiscate ...Palestinian land and try to justify the ... persecution of ... hopeless... Palestinians." "Some Palestinians react by honoring suicide bombers as martyrs... and consider the killing of Israelis as victories." Carter also adds that a major obstacle to peace has been the U.S. passivity towards the issue and its unconditional supportive bias towards Israel no matter what its behavior. As he states: "because of powerful political, economic, and religious forces in the U.S., Israeli government decisions are rarely questioned." There are many books on this subject, including The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy and The Power of Israel in the United States.

Carter notes that "most American citizens are unaware of circumstances in the occupied territories." His purpose is to educate the American public to the plight of the Palestinians. He wants to trigger a domestic debate to foster understanding that should allow America to facilitate permanent peace in the region. America has to be perceived as a fair mediator by the Arab world. Carter hopes the info he imparts will get us to reach a fairer assessment.

Since his Presidency in 1977, Carter's life as a peace waging diplomat has been closely intertwined with the contemporary history of the Middle East and the Israel-Palestinian conflict in particular. Carter's first hand narrative of the Camp David Accords in 1978 that he brokered between Sadat (Egypt) and Begin (Israel) is fascinating as described in chapter 3. He has known the majority of the current and previous generation of Middle Eastern leaders on a first name basis. He shares such firsthand accounts within chapters 4 and 5 including these leaders' detailed perspective on the conflict. In the next few chapters, he analyzes all four succeeding White House Administrations handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike former Presidents, he remains engaged at every step by facilitating diplomatic meetings, attending political conferences, monitoring elections, implementing humanitarian projects through his Carter Center while maintaining his contacts with Middle Eastern leaders.

Carter having observed the treatment of Palestinians firsthand thinks it fits the definition of apartheid precisely (separation of people from their homeland). In chapter 16 "The Wall of Prison" he is alarmed at how the Israelis built this huge wall around the West Bank encroaching and seizing Palestinian lands (see map pg. 191) separating some Palestinians from their own families and agricultural lands. He feels that the Israelis have imprisoned Palestinians.

Currently, there are books by established political scientists suggesting that despair and poverty are not the root of terrorism such as What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism (Lionel Robbins Lectures). In some cases, I may be inclined to agree. But, not here. The Palestinians lack of any human rights, comfort, and peace of mind combined with chronic Israeli land grab and military provocations leave them with little recourse but to lash out violently. Carter repeatedly denounces terrorism. But, he recognizes what triggers it.

This book is controversial as Jewish scholars accused Carter of being wrong on many counts. They compiled their rebuttals in a book: Bearing False Witness: Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. But, the latter stronger assertion is that Carter misinterpreted the key U.N. resolution 242, where the authors believe Carter falsely claimed that Israel had been required to cede the lands acquired in 1967. But, U.N. resolution 242 written in 1967 states " (i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict [1967 6-day-war]." Carter is right. Additionally, Carter practices full disclosure by publishing the literal text of key UN. Resolutions and peace accords. So, you can check the wording for yourself. I double checked the veracity of those texts that are accessible on line, and they all paned out.

Carter is the only Western leader who had contacts with Hamas that now runs the Palestinian government. His narratives suggest they are more moderate than the Media conveys. For visiting Hamas, Carter has been ostracized for collaborating with terrorists. But, as a result of his undertaking dialogue with Hamas they seem more open to peace negotiations than the Israelis are.

In the conclusion, Carter derives hope for peace by observing that polls of both Israelis and Palestinians show a majority of the population favoring a two-State solution as a condition for peace. But, the chronic refusal of Israel's political leadership to honor the terms of U.N. Resolution 242 represents an obstacle to peace in the region.

Anyone who is emotionally detached from this issue will recognize this is a rare document of history. L. Carl Brown with Foreign Affairs gave this book an excellent review. Also, Jimmy Carter Man from Plains is an interesting documentary on his U.S. book tour.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2011
You know this book hits a hot spot on the subject the same minute you read the 1 star reviews here in Amazon. The story is always the same. Everyone who dares to criticize Israel in some subject will be attacked in every personal way possible going from this motives, religion and finally by the top weapon. "Anti-Semitism". Yes, that's right. Every possible writer in the last decade who dared to citizen the Israeli government has been called "anti-Semite", "jew hater" and possible even "nazi".

The scare tactic is always the same. Most people here rating 1 star never even bought the book. Amazon should be in a better place to confirm this. They will just attack Jimmy Carter in every possible way because they don't agree with this point of view or book.
Don't be wondered if you are attacked next if you dare to give this book "5"stars, this would immediately convert you into a Jew hater and possible even a criminal, in the world we live I'm shocked this kind of books are not censored the minute they are published.

Just read this book and make your own conclusion. You will then see things more clearly, at least the way the "1 star" reviewer doesn't want. This is exactly the reason why should buy this book. To keep you informed and to make an impartial decision on this matter which is very clear but some try to complicate for pushing their own agenda. Don't be influenced by the bad reviews, read one or two and you will see they are all the same published by highly intolerant people.
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139 of 184 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2006
For most Americans, this book will be one of the following: 1) a disappointment because it's not pro-Israel, 2) a good thing because it's not automatically pro-Israel, or 3) a surprise because it's different from accepted American conventional wisdom.

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter is a worthwhile read, especially for Americans who are largely ignorant (by design) of the plight of the Palestinians. Except for the USA and Israel, just about every country in the world has some compassion for these displaced people. The truth is, Israel is not completely benevolent and has made (and is making) some atrocious mistakes, especially with regard to its treatment of the previous inhabitants of the land that is now called Israel. This book gives a decent overview and is a good introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but further reading is encouraged if this subject really interests you.

Note that this book is a mostly balanced account of the conflict - it's not pro-Israel (nor is it anti-Israel) - and so many Americans are making the standard accusations: it's anti-Semitic; Palestinians don't, and never have, existed; all Muslims/Arabs are terrorists and cannot be trusted; Palestinians have had their chance and passed; and so on. The same accusations are dusted off and re-released every time someone is even remotely critical of or questions Israel and/or its policies. Do yourself a favor and learn another side to the story.
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128 of 173 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2006
Apartheid: the second definition in my online dictionary is "segregation in other contexts [other than racial] : sexual apartheid." There is no doubt that the word apartheid can be and is correctly used as a segregation between Israelis and Palestinians within the Palestiniean territory (land occuppied and inhabited by Israel) as defined by the United Nations. This apartheid is formally established by a physical wall extending into Palestinian Territory.

President Carter is not talking about apartheid within the recognized (UN defined) territory of Israel but rather the apartheid that Israel has established by dividing Palestinian territory (UN defined) which he describes as Palestine into land for Israelis and land for Palestinians divided by a wall of apartheid based on a distiction between Israelis (in settlements)/Palestinians. When discussing language and semantics, one should be objective and actually acknowledge the definition as used by the author rather than interpret a word in a way other than as the author used it.

Please read this important book understanding what is actually meant by President Carter rather than the unfair and inaccurate description by those other than the author. (I will add that I spent over 20 years working in fields directly related to the interpretation of language and semantics in the development of international standards within the ISO. However, I've never learned to spell nor use proper sentence construction so please excuse any errors in these areas. Thanks.) READ THIS BOOK! Without addressing this aparheid as described by President Carter, there cannot be peace in the Middle East. U.S. Citezens need to discuss this issue because the discussion has not yet taken place and President Carter is asking us to have this discussion now.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2013
good book to read especially for those who are ignorant of what is going on in the middle east, and the crimes and miseries that are inflicted upon the palestinians under the name of peace or not peace. the question is: where was carter from this when he was president in office?
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