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We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work Paperback – Bargain Price, February 9, 2010
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Carter’s advice to pursue peace.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Balanced, deeply felt. . . a thoughtful and much needed addition to the discourse. . . Eschews the partisan recriminations and historical gerrymandering that typify most discussions of the conflict. . . . Carter offers a pragmatic solution. . . . If only everyone involved in this issue were as considered and optimistic as Jimmy Carter.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“As always, his is a voice to be listened to.” —Booklist
“Carter is illuminating and inspiring in this knowledgeable insider’s history.”
About the Author
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (February 9, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1439140693
- ISBN-13 : 978-1439140697
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,551,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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In any event, who is the Carter that we find? Certainly not the anti-semite or anti-Israel zealot that some would have you believe. Carter clearly believes that were Israel to remove its West Bank settlements, a peace deal could be reached. But he strongly defends the existence of the state of Israel, and is careful to emphasize the fact that Israel is democracy. Indeed, that is part of the problem, Carter believes: the vibrancy of Israel's political democracy means that small parties representing settler interests are able to block negotiations because they can threaten to bring down the government. Of particular interest is a revelation that I had never seen before: Carter relates that during a recent trip to the region, Israel's deputy prime minister, the ultra-orthodox Eli Yishai, wanted to negotiate with Hamas about captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, but Hamas refused to see him. So much for the idea that it is all Israel's fault.
No--the Carter you see here is committed and well-intentioned: a genuine lover of Israel. He is also extraordinarily naive. For all the (justified) attention he gives to the noxious Israeli settlements, he gives virtually no attention to the issue that really killed the 2000-01 negotiations: the Palestinian demand for a "right of return" to Israel itself -- a demand that, if satisfied, would destroy the Jewish state. Outside of Sari Nusseibeh, no major Palestinian leader or public figure has agreed to relinquish this demand (unlike the many Israeli leaders who have called for evacuating West Bank settlements.). Perhaps this is because they feel they cannot say it in order to keep a bargaining chip. But Carter does not even acknowledge the issue.
It's not that Carter thinks the Palestinians are right about this: at the end of the book, when he sets forth his peace plan, he (finally) states quite clearly that Palestinian refugees should only have a right of return to the Palestinian state, and any who do not return should get monetary compensation. But why does Carter think that the Palestinians, who believe this right to be a sacred principle, will suddenly give it up? He doesn't say; indeed, he doesn't even think it's an issue. It's almost as if he thinks, "oh yes, by the way, that has to go." But why would the Palestinians accept it? And if they wouldn't accept it, how can there be a peace deal? He repeatedly references the Arab League's "acceptance" of Israel in the 2002 Saudi initiative, and that initiative was indeed an important development. But the Saudi initiative also insisted on the right of return. Isn't that a problem? Again, the silence is deafening.
The reader can expect as much after reading the first part of the book. There, Carter reflects on the use of the term "apartheid" in the title of his previous book. He explains that he only meant it as referring to conditions in the territories, not Israel itself. He notes that the use of the term to describe these conditions is often used in Israeli journalism (an overstatement, but true enough), and when he published the book, it did not dawn on him that it would receive the reaction it did, that American supporters of Israel might not take kindly to the idea that Israel itself is an apartheid state or that Israel in any way could be compared to the apartheid regime. He now admits that it was a mistake. You think?
And that's what makes the book so frustrating. Here is a very good man, who cares deeply about both Israelis and Palestinians, who is frustrated that a deal hasn't been reached, and has faith -- a sincere, compassionate, abiding faith -- that a deal can be reached. Since the deal hasn't been reached, he will show us the way. But it never seems to occur to him that there are real, significant issues between the parties, that it's not just that they ran out of time, and that real, serious, painful concessions must be made by both sides that they might not be ready for.
And because of that, he cannot really give us a clear idea of what, precisely, the United States should do. As much as he understands people, he doesn't seem to understand political forces -- a strange condition for a man who was, after all, elected President of the United States (and maybe the reason he wasn't re-elected). He seems to think that if only those terrible settlers would get out of the way (and they are truly terrible), then everything would be okay. I hope he's right. But he gives us little reason to believe him.
For those who know little about the region, the book is okay. He has some anti-Israel biases, but they are not strong, at least not in this book. But for those who really want the details of the region, of peacemaking, of the obstacles on both sides, you won't find much here. You are much better off just reading the online English version of the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz: [...]
I note that although this book averages 3 stars, the majority of reviews are either 5 stars or 1 star. So it goes.
This book is genuine, intelligently written, and has a well-thought out premise backed by Jimmy Carter's decades of experience working with key leaders on all sides of the Middle-East peace process. The political tide in the United States has turned, and the timing of this book is no mistake: Carter is hoping take advantage of the change to encourage another attempt of peace in the Holy Land.
The main body of the text provides a relevant history of peace efforts in the Middle-East. I found this review to be quite helpful. It reads much easier and more interesting than "The Blood of Abraham," Carter's 1985 detailed history of the various groups involved in the Middle-East. The reason I rated this book as 4 stars instead of 5 is because there really isn't a lot of new information or ideas for those who are well-read on Carter. But I can still highly recommend this book since most people out there haven't read lots of Carter.
Carter recounts the trial-and-error Camp David negotiation process that he used as President in 1978. He reminds us of the bickering and accusations made by both sides, but also the compromises they were ultimately able to agree upon. Carter's role was to lay down and enforce some rules, be willing to ad lib, be determined, and to act as friend and intermediary to both sides.
Carter is not getting any younger, and I think the take-home message is clear. This is an urgent issue that still requires a lot of hard work. Too many lives are being lost everyday on all sides. The Camp David Accords, the Oslo Accords, and other agreements were ground-breaking in their day, but time marches on. It's up to our generation and our country to go to work and use our influence in the pursuit of peace. The process will be difficult and may seem impossible at times. With this book, Carter urges us to try.
In the 13th chapter and the 5 enormously insightful appendices that follow, he lays out the agenda for peace. Jimmy Carter understands the deep need of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and safety. He believes that the moment of decision is close, and that strong, unbiased U.S. presidential leadership willing to deal with both Fatah and Hamas is vital.Despair in lack of progress will lead to disaster: one state instead of the majority-desired two-state solution.
I am using this book for group discussion. It's great for that, although it provides no discussion guide. The 5 maps are terrific, although I would have liked more. That, and the fact that he does not mention the plight of ancient Christian communities in the region,might be the only reason not to give this book 5 stars.