Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm receiving emails concerning the controversy President Carter's book, Peace No Apartheid. Also, I spoke by phone this morning to my American friend, Jane, who has returned successfully to the West Bank after her visit in the US. She said every book available in the bookstores in the West Bank sold out immediately. Folloing are two emails I've received today, the first from my son and the second from a friend of his.

Subject: Two Views of Jimmy Carter's Latest Book Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 14:48:37 +0000
The San Francisco Chronicle ran two commentaries today (both pasted below). The first, by Saree Makdisi, supports President Carter's use of the term "apartheid" to describe Israeli policies and points out the inequalities between Jews and non-Jews within Israel itself. The second, by David Makovsky, attacks Carter and blames the Palestinians for Israeli policies that deprive them of their rights. Please take a minute to let the San Francisco Chronicle hear from you.

Please write to letters@sfchronicle .com. Letters should be 200 words or less and include your name, address and telephone (for identification purposes only).

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http://www.sfgate. com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi? file=/chronicle/ archive/2006/ 12/20/EDGOULJ69N 1.DTL

On the New Book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid"
Carter's apartheid charge rings true < http://www.sfgate. com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi? file=/chronicle/ archive/2006/ 12/20/EDGOULJ69N 1.DTL>
- Saree Makdisi
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Former President Jimmy Carter has come under sustained attack for having dared to use the term "apartheid" to describe Israel's policies in the West Bank. However, not one of Carter's critics has offered a convincing argument to justify the vehemence of the outcry, much less to refute his central claim that Israel bestows rights on Jewish residents settling illegally on Palestinian land, while denying the same rights to the indigenous Palestinians. Little wonder, for they are attempting to defy reality itself.

Israel maintains two separate road networks in the West Bank: one for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers, and one for Palestinian natives. Is that not apartheid?

Palestinians are not allowed to drive their own cars in much of the West Bank; their public transportation is frequently interrupted or blocked altogether by a grid of Israeli army checkpoints -- but Jewish settlers come and go freely in their own cars, without even pausing at the roadblocks that hold up the natives. Is that not apartheid?

A system of closures and curfews has strangled the Palestinian economy in the West Bank -- but none of its provisions apply to the Jewish settlements there. Is that not apartheid?

Whole sectors of the West Bank, classified as "closed military areas" by the Israeli army, are off limits to Palestinians, including Palestinians who own land there -- but foreigners to whom Israel's Law of Return applies (that is, anyone Jewish, from anywhere in the world) can access them without hindrance. Is that not apartheid?

Persons of Palestinian origin are routinely barred from entering or residing in the West Bank -- but Israeli and non-Israeli Jews can come and go, and even live on, occupied Palestinian territory. Is that not apartheid?

Israel maintains two sets of rules and regulations in the West Bank: one for Jews, one for non-Jews. The only thing wrong with using the word "apartheid" to describe such a repugnant system is that the South African version of institutionalized discrimination was never as elaborate as its Israeli counterpart -- nor did it have such a vocal chorus of defenders among otherwise liberal Americans.

The glaring error in Carter's book, however, is his insistence that the term "apartheid" does not apply to Israel itself, where, he says, Jewish and non-Jewish citizens are given the same treatment under the law. That is simply not true.

Israeli law affords differences in privileges for Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of the state -- in matters of access to land, family unification and acquisition of citizenship. Israel's amended nationality law, for example, prevents Palestinian citizens of Israel who are married to Palestinians from the occupied territories from living together in Israel. A similar law, passed at the peak of apartheid in South Africa, was overturned by that country's supreme court as a violation of the right to a family. Israel's high court upheld its law just this year.

Israel loudly proclaims itself to be the state of the Jewish people, rather than the state of its actual citizens (one-fifth of whom are Palestinian Arabs). In fact, in registering citizens, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior assigns them a whole range of nationalities other than "Israeli." In the official registry, the nationality line for a Jewish citizen of Israel reads "Jew." For a Palestinian citizen, the same line reads "Arab." When this glaring inequity was protested all the way to Israel's high court, the justices upheld it: "There is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish people." Obviously this leaves non-Jewish citizens of Israel in, at best, a somewhat ambiguous situation. Little wonder, then, that a solid majority of Israeli Jews regard their Arab fellow-citizens as what they call "a demographic threat," which many -- including the deputy prime minister -- would like to see eliminated altogether. What is all this, if not racism?

Many of the very individuals and institutions that are so vociferously denouncing President Jimmy Carter would not for one moment tolerate such glaring injustice in the United States. Why do they condone the naked racism that Israel practices? Why do they heap criticism on our former president for speaking his conscience about such a truly unconscionable system of ethnic segregation?

Perhaps it is because they themselves are all too aware that they are defending the indefensible; because they are all too aware that the emperor they keep trying to cover up really has no clothes. There is a limit to how long such a cover up can go on. And the main lesson of Carter's book is that we have finally reached that limit.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA and a frequent commentator on Middle East issues.

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http://www.sfgate. com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi? file=/chronicle/ archive/2006/ 12/20/EDGOULJ69H 1.DTL

On the New Book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid"
Carter's polemic will not help the Palestinians < http://www.sfgate. com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi? file=/chronicle/ archive/2006/ 12/20/EDGOULJ69H 1.DTL>
- David Makovsky
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Former President Jimmy Carter has spent much of his adult life championing Palestinian rights. However, his most recent book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," will not help the Palestinians.

Some Palestinians may listen to Carter. Therefore, his book is a squandered opportunity. Instead of dispelling the myths that enable them to avoid making key decisions and moving forward, Carter perpetuates the fictions that have helped create the state of affairs: demonization of Israel, distortion of history and an overall sense of victimhood that puts no premium on Palestinian accountability.

The demonization of Israel begins with the book's title. Carter's use of such a charged word seems aimed at de-legitimizing Israel as a South Africa-type state. Carter mentions in a single, brief sentence on Page 189 that Israel is not a racist state like South Africa but does not elaborate. Had he taken the time to explain, he would have had to mention that Israel has airlifted many tens of thousands of black Ethiopian Jews from misery into new homes. He would also have had to mention that Arabs have Israeli citizenship, vote and hold office.

Israel has clearly made major mistakes since the 1967 war, but Carter conveniently puts virtually the entire onus for the ongoing conflict on Israel's shoulders. This is completely unfair. Yes, Israel's settlement enterprise has been misguided, with tragic consequences for both peoples, but this is only part of the picture. In the aftermath of that war, Israel faced classic Arab rejectionism and, more recently, growing Islamism, with groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad receiving funding from Iran.

Carter's book bathes Arab leaders in a very positive light and takes Arab statements at face value but casts the Israelis as often being disingenuous. His depiction of Yasser Arafat after becoming head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in the late '60s emphasizes that he spent much of his "attention to raising funds for the care and support of the refugees and inspiring worldwide contribution to their cause."

Really? In fact, his group was engaged in the early '70s in a bloody civil war in Jordan, cross-border attacks against Israelis from Lebanon including civilian terror attacks, maintaining a shadowy link to the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympics, and killing the U.S. ambassador to the Sudan.

Carter allows a statement made by Arafat to him at their first meeting in 1990 to stand without challenge in the book. Carter cites (Page 62) Arafat as telling him, "The PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel." In fact, the charter of Arafat's PLO states (Article 22) that "the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence." The Washington Post cited Arafat as saying on March 29, 1970: "Peace for us is the destruction of Israel and nothing else."

If the issue were only about land, the problem would have already been solved. At the 2000 Camp David summit, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was willing to confront the settlement enterprise and yield more than 90 percent of the West Bank. President Bill Clinton sweetened the offer to 95 percent, Barak concurred, and both agreed to offsetting territorial swaps to deal with the remaining land.

Carter, however, ignores the views of participant Clinton, who publicly said it was Arafat who missed that opportunity for peace.

Carter often minimizes terrorism. He falsely claims that Hamas has not been involved in terror since 2004. In reality, Hamas has directly claimed responsibility for several attacks since then, including blowing up part of the Karni crossing, a border point through which Palestinians were able to export goods to the outside world. Moreover, Hamas members are involved in the Popular Resistance Committees, which have fired more than 1,000 rockets from Gaza this year alone with Hamas-led security forces not lifting a finger to stop them. This came after Israel confronted its settler constituency and withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Carter apparently minimizes terrorism in order to make it possible to blame Israel for malevolence. But his arguments don't hold water. For example, after 35 years without security barriers, why would Israel suddenly begin building a fence in 2002? Carter would have us believe that ill will on Israel's part led to that initiative, but in fact it was Hamas that effectively built the barrier by inundating Israel with suicide bombings that claimed an estimated 1,000 lives between 2000 and 2004. After the barrier was built, the amount of suicide attacks dramatically decreased.

Moreover, it has not precluded a two-state solution. In fact, the barrier's route is very close to the borders that Clinton envisioned at the end of his presidency. And the Israelis have regularly adjusted the barrier's route on their own accord, so it shrinks the amount it dips into the West Bank.

Terrorism prevention aside, the wider implications of the barrier's route are obvious, and contrary to what Carter repeatedly alleges. The stage is set for a historic two-state agreement. There is still room for land swaps on both sides to complete the picture, if the parties agree in the future that the goal is to give the Palestinians the territorial equivalent of 100 percent of the West Bank. However, this is an option, not a requirement. Contrary to Carter's assertion, diplomats from many countries who negotiated every word and voted for U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 after the 1967 war have said that the measure did not mandate such a 100 percent return.

The Carter of the late '70s, who was a vital peacemaker in bringing about the historic Egypt-Israel accord, knew the goal of peacemaking is to get each side to abandon their myths as they move toward coexistence. Sadly, Carter the polemicist of today has made this work much harder.

David Makovsky is a senior fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The institute seeks to bring scholarship to bear on the making of U.S. policy in this vital region of the world.

Second Email Received today from a Palestinian American:

Thanks. I believe that the Iraq Study Group explained that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is important to US policy in Iraq.

Arabs and Muslims around the world see the United States and its policies through the prism of the Palestinian Issue. So if people are interested in the war in Iraq, I would hope they would want to understand the implications of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to our foreign policy while we are at war in the Middle East. I am not sure what is more timely than Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

This issue has not been discussed adequately in the media. While Pres. Carter is being unfairly attacked in the media because some wish to continue to censure discussion of this issue in the US, but I do not believe they can stop people reading it for themselves and making their own minds. When Carter came to sign the book at the Baileys Borders Bookstore, all 2,000 copies were gone in 45 minutes, which shows that the American people want to understand this important issue.

My plane gets into National Carter (not Reagan) Airport at 7:00pm. I will do my best to make it, short of unforseen flight delay.


In a message dated 12/16/2006 5:00:54 P.M.

Hi Nibal:

I have thought about this book and think it is a great suggestion that
I will add to the list of suggested books. At the end of each meeting
we typically pick the book for the next meeting based on how strongly
people feel about the alternative choices. I am sure people will take
your interest into consideration as we make the next selection. Maybe
you can slip by on your way home from the airport and make the case in


--- In ProgressiveBookClub s@yahoogroups. com, marwanb99@.. . wrote:
> Now that America is involved in a war in Iraq and the Iraq Study Group
> recommended a diplomatic initiative to resolve the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
> if we want to see peace in the ME, I would like to propose Carter's
New book
> Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid as a relevant book to read and
> Unfortunately, this issue seldom gets discussed in the US press.
> I am out of town until Jan. 1st, I return in the evening. I hope
that you
> will consider this book for discussion in February.
> Nibal

Your Hotmail address already works to sign into Windows Live Messenger! Get it now.


Blogger Bronwin Peel said...

Don't Believe The Hype

--Jamell Barbee

It is discouraging to read David Makovsky’s comments posted in the SF Chronicle on December 20, 2006. Makovsky in his ridiculous and baseless commentary only reflects the continued strategy to propel Israeli interests that Jewish Zionists and the Israeli government have been employing for many years —sidestep all responsibility, play the victim, and call those who refute their lies charged words such as anti-Semitic, polemical, or a terrorist in order to defuse the scrutiny being placed on them. Makovsky comments along with most Jewish Zionist and Israeli hype have misled and deceived the American public for way too long. Their hyperbole and drivel mask the real and distressing problems between Israel and most of her Arab neighbors.

In Israel ’s maniacal, extremist religiosity they have lost sight of true values and have made many horrifying decisions based on an arrogant belief that they have a right to exist no matter what the cost. Israel is guilty of apartheid and of slaughtering thousands of innocent Palestinians and Lebanese civilians. I urge you to read Mr. Carter’s book, to speak with Palestinians, and educate yourself about this heinous situation (go to sites such as,, if you are interested in learning more).

3:55 PM  

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