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BOOK REVIEW: Palestine Peace not Apartheid (2006)


Former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter makes a courageous debut in the literary circuits as a proven champion of one of ‘the’ most controversial of subjects. ‘Designed to spell out the only clear path to permanent peace & justice in the Holy Land’ what part, if any can this book play in the salvaging of a currently skewed ME policy?

This president’s long term association (as broker of the Camp David Accords-Framework for Peace in the ME 1978) with the Middle East makes him well aware of the prospects of peace and limitations in the way of good intentions in this conflict ridden region. Now, taking on a different role as an observer and consultant with ‘political leaders, academics and private citizens’ , Carter, in my opinion, manages to give both issues as non-discriminatory a treatment as they can hope to receive. You would think otherwise though judging from the furor generated from this publication.

The book does its best not to let interest of the world wane from this part of the Middle East as the author seeks give traction to the limping Palestinian cause, drawn as he is to an ultimate resolution of Israel-Palestine peace process acceptable to the chief stakeholders, namely the Arab world, USA and the Quartet (EU); The ‘United’ States supports Israel while a ‘divided’ Arab world backs Palestine.

Provocative as the title may be, the success of such a book lies in its effectiveness in making readers as concerned with the outcome of core issues plaguing this particular Middle Eastern region as with the dispensing of justice fitting for all. The plight of Palestinians may well be at the heart of this debate but equal attention is paid to the potential influence of its neighboring Arab countries with a depiction of each as it relates to this region while comparing the success rate of commitments made by former U.S Presidents.

Carter once said in 1979 to the Israeli Knesset that ‘people support a settlement. Political leaders are the obstacles to peace’ . He retains this belief till today. Unfortunately, it is these politicians who have been entrusted with the key to freedom. That Carter was on scene during the Palestinian Election1996, 2005 and Palestinian/Israeli Elections 2006 may come as a surprise to many, but this is one of the mandate of the Carter Center; promotion of democracy.

‘Palestine Peace not Apartheid’ is a journey to the past where the birth of Israel triggered a tidal wave of cataclysmic proportions which continues to engulf the region to this day.

What is missing from the book is sugar coating of facts and this makes the powerful sincerity of the narrative take hold; it is a fairly small book, 216 pages, only because it is crisp and to the point .That being said; the simplicity adopted in the depiction of events does not detract from the seriousness of the subject matter.

If ‘most Americans are unaware of circumstances in the occupied territories’ due to the ‘voices from Jerusalem’ dominant in the U.S. media, the book at least is set to alter their conditioned perceptive(if such be the case) and clarify some of the news that has taken center stage these days, specifically the ‘Roadmap’ proposed by Kofi Anan in 2003 on behalf of the U.S., U.N., Russia and EU(contested by Israelis but accepted by Palestinians) , preconditions to peace as laid out by the Quartet and U.S. with an assessment of the ability of staying true to the proposed ‘peacekeeping’ processes. Carter is quick to condemn anyone who seeks to derail the fragile peace process through obstinacy or lack of foresight or being privy to terrorist activities that violate the very basis of civilization, whatever the provocation.

I suggest ‘Palestine Peace not Apartheid’ should be on the reading list of everyone which ever side they support regardless of their political leanings or personal convictions, for the book frames both sides of the question (and we must admit that there have been remarkably few of such instances).

For now, the proposed formation of a Palestinian unity government of ‘Fatah’(accepted as good guys) and ‘Hamas’(lets just say, not the favorites) has further aggravated the already complicated negotiation process with the fate of peace hanging precariously in balance; and the jury is still out.

About the author: Jimmy Carter 2002 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, founder of the Cater Center an NGO involved in conflict prevention and resolution, enhancement of freedom and democracy and improvement of health on a global scale.

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