"Palestine. Peace Not Apartheid" by Jimmy Carter

I was recommended this book several times, saw it in a book shop in London, and thought I would give it a go. Carter offers an amazing insight not only to the unique relationship Israel has with the Unites States, but also the gradual change of his personal views towards Israel during the time before he became the 39th US President, the time during, and the time after.

Jimmy Carters position on this subject comes through his unique position firstly from having access (as president of the US) to some of the key players on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also through his post-presidential work with the Carter Centre, an organisation that is dedicated to promote "peace, freedom, human rights, and the alleviation of suffering."

The book deals with his initial feelings of great respect for Israel, and a frustration with the many PLO attacks on Israeli people. But things start to change for him.

"A sightseeing bus was seized and thirty-five Israelis were killed. I publically condemned this outrageous act, but my sympathy was strained three days later when Israel invaded Lebanon and used American-made anti-personal cluster bombs against Beirut and other urban centres, killing hundreds of civilians and leaving thousands homeless. I considered this major invasion to be an overreaction to the PLO attack, a serious threat to peace in the region, and perhaps part of a plan to establish a permanent Israeli presence in Southern Lebanon. Also, such use of American weapons violated a legal requirement that armaments sold by us be used only for defence against an attack."

By the conclusion Carter is much more straightforward with his perspective...

“Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land. In order to Perpetuate the occupation, Israeli forces have deprived their unwilling subjects of basic human rights.“

When discussing the Israeli Partition Wall he comments... "It is obvious that the Palestinians will be left with no territory in which to establish a viable state, but completely enclosed within the barrier and the occupied Jordan River valley."

Carter also describes his anger at Israel over its continual violations of International Law, especially when it came to the violence against Palestinian children by the IDF.

But his biggest scorn is reserved for the Israeli governments blatant disregard for fundamental human rights.

"Under special Israeli laws covering the period before sentencing, Palestinian detainees can be interrogated for a total period of 180 days and denied lawyer visits for intervals of 90 days. ""Administrative detention"" is indefinitely renewable under military regulations. Confessions extracted through torture are admissible in Israeli courts. Accused persons usually are tried in military courts in the West Bank, and then incarcerated in prisons inside Israel. This means that both family visits and access to lawyers are prohibited during the frequent and extended times of tight travel restrictions. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits this policy, stating Protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein."

I cannot recommend this book enough for those people wanting to see the other side of a story which only normally has one very fixed perspective, that of Israel always being the victim.

Jimmy Carter relates his viewpoint on this complex issue from the unique perspective of being an former U.S. President.