Reading Jimmy Carter

I just started reading Jimmy Carter’s new book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, which has been garnering serious criticism in the Jewish world.

The American Jewish Committee’s David Harris, writing in the Jerusalem Post, had this to say about the book’s title — which is the subject of much of the ire directed against it:

Carter never claims that Israel is engaging in racially-motivated policies and rightly argues for a two-state solution to the conflict. His use of the word “apartheid” is misleading, referring instead to his view that Israel’s security fence and the “honeycomb” of settlements and roads behind it constitute a permanent Israeli control regime over Palestinian life.

But Harris has issues with the content of the book as well:

Carter leaves out what any reasonable observer, even those that share his basic views of the conflict, would consider obvious facts, but does include stunning distortions.

Obviously, I’d like to form my own impressions of the book, and if any of these seem significant to me, I’ll post them here. A few initial points of interest:

– The book includes an epigraph — by Jimmy Carter. Not sure I’ve ever seen that before: an epigraph by the author.

– The book begins with a timeline of major historical events in the Middle East. Included in this are biblical events such as Abraham’s journey to Canaan and the Moses-led Exodus, which weren’t necessarily historical realities.

– In this timeline, Abraham is referred to as Abraham and Jesus is referred to as Jesus, but Muhammad is called “The Prophet Muhammad”.

– Early on, Carter does seem to present the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza as the source of Palestinian terrorism, writing: “Some Palestinians have responded to political and military occupation by launching terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians…” though the sentence does continue: “a course of action that is both morally reprehensible and politically counterproductive.”

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