A former president's plan for peace in the Middle East
<b>A former president's plan for peace in the Middle East</b>Peace in the Middle East has been an unreachable goal for centuries, confounding a long line of political, military and religious leaders. But if there is a contemporary figure who can offer a credible solution to the crisis, it is former President Jimmy Carter. He was architect of the 1978 Camp David Accords, which brought temporary peace to Israel, Egypt and their neighbors. A year later, terrorists seized nearly 70 American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran, marking the low point of his presidency. Indeed, Carter has an intimate understanding of the Middle East and its complexities. So today, as the violence and rhetoric escalate, he offers timely thoughts on how to restore peace to the region in his latest book, <b>Palestine Peace Not Apartheid</b>.
Carter's book is instructional for readers with a limited understanding of the Middle East, yet informative for those with a deeper knowledge. It begins with a brief chronology dating to Moses and the Israelites escaping Egypt, underscoring the region's deep roots of upheaval. The book then quickly jumps to the later half of the 20th century, where Carter relates his personal experiences during his numerous visits to the Middle East and summits with its various leaders.
Turning to the present dilemma in the Middle East, Carter, winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, boils down the troubling issues to simple terms. He sees the roadblocks to peace being Israel's reluctance to recognize the borders originally set by the United Nations, and the Palestinians' reliance on terrorism and suicide bombers. His solution: Israel must be willing to live within its borders; in return, Palestine and its allies must acknowledge the legitimacy of Israel and work to guarantee its security.
The alternative, Carter concludes, is continuation of the current environment, where enemies exist in the same space, segregated by race and religion in short, a system of apartheid.
It will be a tragedy for the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the world, Carter writes, if peace is rejected and a system of oppression, apartheid, and sustained violence is permitted to prevail. <i>John T. Slania is a journalism professor at Loyola University in Chicago.</i>