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BOOK REVIEW: Awful Title, Several Passages Mar Carter’s Controversial ‘Palestine Peace Not Apartheid’ Book on Israeli-Arab Conflict

Posted by kinchendavid on January 28, 2007

Reviewed By David M. Kinchen
Huntington News Network Book Critic

Hinton, WV – Where to start with Jimmy Carter’s extremely controversial book on the Israeli-Arab conflict, “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” (Simon & Schuster, 288 pages, $27.00)?

The book’s publication in mid-November 2006 was followed by the resignation of 15 members of the Carter Center Advisory board — who called it one-sided, biased in favor of the Palestinian and/or Arab side of the conflict.

Ambassador Dennis Ross says that maps on Page 148 were apparently copied from Ross’s 2004 book on the conflict – “The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace” – without attribution. Click on http://www.thepoliticalpitbull.com/2006/12/video_dennis_ross_says_carter.phpm for Ross’ comments on the maps. From what I’ve heard about the Ross book, it’s a much better tome on the subject than Carter’s – much more balanced and even-handed.

In further damage control, the one-term president and prolific author has apologized for what he called a “stupid” passage in his book that critics say is a de facto endorsement of Palestinian violence against Israelis.

“I apologize to you personally and to everyone here,” Carter said when asked about the passage by a student during his appearance at Brandeis University on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007. After explaining that the passage was “worded in a completely improper and stupid way,” Carter said he has asked publisher Simon & Schuster Inc. to change the wording in future editions of the book.

The questionable passage, which appears on Page 213 of the book, reads: “It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel.”

Some of Mr. Carter’s critics, including the Carter Center board members who resigned, say the text reads as defending terror tactics until a peace accord can be reached between Israel and Palestinians.

“Repeatedly I call on all to terminate the use of violence,” Mr. Carter said in response. In all fairness to Carter, his book describes acts of Arab terror that lead to reprisals by the Israelis – although Carter suggests that the reprisals are “disproportionate” – to use a word popularized in last summer’s Israeli-Hezbollah conflict.

He also addressed critics who said the book title unfairly compared Israeli policy to the racial separatist policies of South Africa’s government, which ended apartheid in the early 1990s. Mr. Carter said he did not mean to “equate Zionism with racism” when choosing the title.

Some readers would have problems with Carter’s statement on Pages 189-190 that “The driving purpose for the forced separation of the two peoples is unlike that in South Africa – not racism, but the acquistion of land.” In other words, the Jews of Israel aren’t racists, just typical greedy land-grabbing Jews! Is that what you mean, Mr. Carter?

The punctuation of the title mystified me; in the book it doesn’t have a colon after “Palestine”, although many citations of the book put one there. The press release accompanying my review copy has no title punctuation.

Nowhere in the book does Carter refer to the hundreds of thousands of Jews driven out of the Arab countries in the years following Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. Nor does he note their second-class status – apartheid? – in virtually every Muslim Arab country.

Carter angrily attacks the security wall – one of dozens similar to those in other countries in the Middle East (including one between Syria and Turkey) and other areas – something he fails to mention – but doesn’t explain that the wall was a response to suicide and other terrorist attacks by “Palestinians” against Israeli civilians, including those celebrating Jewish holidays and attending weddings or merely enjoying a pizza in Tel Aviv or Haifa. There was no call for a security fence or wall during the decade-long period – from 1990 to 2000 – preceding the so-called “second intifada.”

Carter wears his evangelical Christianity like a sheriff’s badge, and he’s undoubtedly dismayed – as a member of the far-left branch of the Democratic Party – at evangelicals in the U.S. who overwhelmingly favor the Israeli position in the conflict.

I think that’s one reason why he repeatedly makes references to alleged Israeli mistreatment of Christian Arabs in his book. The fact of the matter is that Muslims in the Territories and Gaza have repeatedly attacked Christian houses of worship – something Israel hasn’t done – and that Arab Christians in Israeli cities like Nazareth are treated with respect by Israeli authorities.

I’ve talked to Arab Christians in Chicago who’ve described the “apartheid” they experienced under Muslim regimes. That’s one of the reasons why they emigrated to the States. All the data I’ve seen shows a decline in the Christian population in the Territories, while in Israel proper it’s stable or gaining.

One of the 15 who resigned from the Carter Center in Atlanta, Emory University history professor Kenneth Stein, in a statement released earlier this month through the university’s Institute for the Study of Modern Israel, noted that the Palestinian terror organization Hamas has never recognized the legitimacy of the Jewish state, calling it a “vile entity.”

Carter suggests in his book that Hamas is “ready for dialogue”, although he repeatedly states that Hamas doesn’t recognize the existence of Israel. For instance, on Page 178, Carter states that Hamas “had not accepted the PLO’s commitments at Oslo that recognized the ‘right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.””

Ross’s book was published in paperback in 2005. If you want to read about the seemingly never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has resulted in the deaths of almost 4,000 Palestinians and more than 1,000 Israelis in the first six years of this millennium, I suggest that readers of this review find a copy of “The Missing Peace” and give a pass to the book by Carter.

Publisher’s web site: http://www.simonsays.com

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