We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land – A Plan That Will Work – By Jimmy Carter – Book Review
Jimmy Carter has been criticized by many people in the media for being unevenly against Israel in his position. He documents in his book that he has been called “an anti-Semite, senile, a liar, a plagiarist, a racist, unfamiliar with the vicinity and a supporter of terrorism” because of his writings.
In the book, Carter defends himself by saying that only two months after taking office back that he told a reporter that Israel needs to be “recognized by the Palestinians” and any belief or idea of destroying Israel must change. He says that in many ways, “the same answer can be given today.”
Carter also unequivocally condemns Hamas for launching rockets from Gaza into southern Israel. He tells Hamas that their rockets are “counterproductive” to their aspirations to be free. The one thing that makes Carter different from other people who condemn Hamas is that he truly describes the dire situation that the Palestinians are in.
He starts the book off by telling us his early fascination of the Middle East vicinity as a kid and then gives us a fleeting overview of all the death and destruction that Israel and her neighbors have done to each other. The 2nd chapter includes the awful truth of the illegal settlements and how every President since Lyndon B. Johnson has considered the settlements in the occupied territory to be illegal and an obstacle to peace. Every Israeli administration since LBJ has continued to expand the settlements despite protest from the U.S.
Carter explains that the settlements have been a major obstacle to peace efforts. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice once said while she was in Jerusalem that she was “very concerned” about the constant building of settlements at a time when we are trying to “build confidence.” The response by Israel was to build 1300 new homes in the West Bank and projected 40,000 more during the next decade.”
Something has to be done about the Palestinians in the West Bank and Carter talks about how Israel is slowly moving towards a one state solution. The scenario of the Palestinians becoming citizens of Israel and demanding complete rights is something that could cause Israel to lose its Jewish majority.
chief Minister Ehud Olemert is quoted in an interview with the Jewish newspapers Yediot Aharamot as having said that if Palestinians ever need the right to vote as citizens of Israel, “we will lose everything.” He also said to the Haaretz paper that if a two state solution does not work, we will “confront a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights.”
In the chapter titled “Can Hamas Play a Role,” Carter acknowledges why Israel is reluctant to include Hamas because of their refusal to accept the existence of Israel. What Carter tries to explain is that despite Hamas not officially recognizing the state of Israel, they can and must be approached at the negotiating table. The method of excluding Hamas is “just not working” and according to Carter, Hamas has said that they are willing to accept any deal made by Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas if it is submitted by a referendum vote by the Palestinian people.
Carter also describes the dire situation in Gaza that preceded the recent bombing campaign by Israel. After the removal of Jewish settlers from Gaza in 2006, Carter documents how the borders were sealed so that transportation of food and fuel were restricted by Israel from land, air, and sea. Carter quotes the UN which says that “80% of Gazans are dependent on food aid” and “40% are unemployed with 95% of planned building operations suspended.” He says that suppressing Hamas “only exacerbates the cycle of violence” and makes them more popular with the people.
The book ends by saying the blood of Abraham continues to run by the veins of Jews, Christians, and Arabs and “too much of it has been spilled” in the holy land. The people themselves want peace, but those in strength have done everything they can to prevent it. A poll shows that 64% of Israelis “sustain direct talks” of their government and Hamas but he says that it is the minority conservative leaders in Israel that have done everything to avoid peace and these leaders and have been backed by powerful American Jewish organizations.
The solutions that Mr. Carter proposes is that we have a demilitarized Palestinian state with an international peacekeeping force at the borders, a withdrawal of all settlers from the pre-1967 armistice line, except from the city of Jerusalem which should be a capital of Israel and Palestine, the right of the Palestinians to return to their homes in the West Bank and Gaza, and a commitment from both sides to recognize their right to live peacefully side by side.
These sound like solutions that are reasonable and realistic, but removing all the Jewish settlers from the West Bank is something that will be enormously difficult to bring about considering there are nearly 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, not including Jerusalem, compared to the 8,000 settlers that were removed from Gaza. This is in addition to the inability of the U.S. to stop the building of new settlements in the West Bank. Only time will tell if President Barack Obama will finally be the person who demands Israel to remove the settlements, or else.