- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

Last year, I had the privilege to join President Carter’s conflict resolution task team to assist it in the worthy goal of “waging peace.” The opportunity to facilitate dialogues between warring parties in conflicts outside of the scope of the Israeli-Arab conflict was a tremendous experience. It convinced me that a goodwill ambassador could actually play a constructive role in facilitating the reconciliation of two enemies. Unfortunately, Mr. Carter’s last publication is in total contradiction to this notion. Not only is the book counterproductive, but it also completely contradicts all that I was taught about conflict resolution at the Carter Center.

I found “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” to be an outrageous one-sided accusation against Israel. It puts all responsibility for the failure of the peace process on Israel and goes as far as insinuating that Israel’s presence and control of the disputed territories constitutes a form of apartheid regime. Throughout the book the reader gets the impression that Israel is the source of all wrongdoings in the region and that if it were just willing to comply with the Arab demands, peace would already be flourishing in the Middle East.

The book pretends to give a descriptive account of the main actors, developments and realities of the region. But in fact, this work presents a simplistic and distorted view of the conflict. By entirely ignoring the countless examples of Palestinian rejection of Israel, inadmissible involvement in terror and the culture of hatred promoted by the Palestinian Authority, the reader is expected to see Israel as the key party responsible for the conflict.

Dozens of factual errors throughout the book detract from the knowledge and expertise Mr. Carter claims to have accumulated through his involvement in the region. His unyielding positions sometimes coincide with those of the most radical actors in the region, like his stance on the Shebaa Farms issue, and are in total opposition to international law he praises in other parts of his book.

Mr. Carter suggests that Israel is to blame for the failure of the road map since it attached reservations to its acceptance while the Palestinians “unequivocally accepted” it. By writing that, he chooses to ignore the fact that the Palestinians never even implemented the first point of the agreement, which said that a two-state solution “will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty.” The Palestinian Authority has consistently said it has no intention to fulfill its promise to dismantle terrorist organizations or to confiscate illegal weapons. Ironically, we have recently witnessed the use of those weapons in internal Palestinian clashes, which threaten to launch the entire Palestinian society into a tragic civil war.

I was especially offended when Mr. Carter equated the “ejection” of Palestinians from their homes to the Indians in Georgia being forced out to make room for “our white ancestors.” Mr. Carter deliberately chose to ignore that Jews, unlike his ancestors, were always living in their homeland and that the Palestinians were not ejected, but rather most fled during the battles of the 1947-49 war provoked by the Arab rejection of U.N. partition Resolution 181. Prior to that, the Arab population in that area had been growing, as Mr. Carter acknowledge elsewhere when he states that the two populations increased dramatically from 1931 to 1945. Mr. Carter notes that the Arab newcomers were attracted by economic opportunity, but neglects to mention that it was the influx of Jews from the diaspora who created those opportunities.

Sadly, I must reach the conclusion that in writing “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” Mr. Carter decided to transform himself from a goodwill player to an ardent advocate of the Palestinian cause. I am not suggesting that it is not his right to do so, but I would have expected a more evenhanded account from a man of his stature. Unfortunately, I see instead that he has become an obsessively biased critic of Israel, and even worse, due to his perceived credibility, a new hero for those seeking to undermine Israel’s very right to exist.

“Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” completely destroys Mr. Carter’s reputation as an honest broker, a distinction he merited throughout the years since his great achievement at the first Camp David summit, and one that even earned him the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

Today, modern Israel lost a friend and, the Israelis and the Palestinians remains with no peace.

No Shalom and No Chaver.

Yariv Nornberg, who recently graduated from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, worked as a graduate assistant in conflict resolution at Jimmy Carter’s Center in Atlanta and recently returned from an electoral observation mission on behalf of him in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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