Open Letter to President Carter: Sanctions To Stop Slaughter

Dear President Carter,

Back in 1987 my wife and I had the pleasure and privilege of being invited to sit and talk with you and Rosalynn at The Carter Center. Since then, and with increasing concern, even alarm, you’ve been doing what American Presidents can’t do in office – telling the truth (well, quite a lot of it) about why a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has remained and, I fear, seems set to remain, beyond the reach of politics and diplomacy.

I say set to remain because while I believe that President Obama is a good man who means well, I think he will not be allowed to deliver. On matters to do with Israel, the Zionist lobby’s grip on your pork-barrel Congress is too strong for him to break. (You might not wish to say so in public, but I imagine you would agree with that assessment in private). I’m also inclined to the view that, because of his inexperience at the sharp end of international affairs, President Obama is out of his depth in the Middle East as well as Afghanistan (Vietnam II in-the-making for America unless Obama changes course?)

The idea for this open letter to you was provoked by your article in the Washington Post of 6 September.

In it, and while clearly saying that a two-state solution was “preferable”, you raised the option of a one-state solution. You wrote (my emphasis added):

A majority of the Palestinian leaders with whom we met are seriously considering acceptance of one state, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. By renouncing the dream of an independent Palestine, they would become fellow citizens with their Jewish neighbors and then demand equal rights within a democracy. In this non-violent civil rights struggle, their examples would be Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

In theory one non-sectarian, democratic state in which Jews and Arabs enjoyed equal political and human rights is the ideal solution and, more than that, it’s the stuff that real dreams are made of. Why? As this Gentile writes and frequently says, the Jews, generally speaking, are the intellectual elite of the Western world and the Palestinians are the intellectual elite of the Arab world. Together in peace and partnership they could change the region for the better and, by so doing, give new and real hope and inspiration to the whole world.

In theory the one-state solution has to be on the table because, as intended, Israel’s still on-going colonisation of the occupied West Bank has made a viable two-state solution impossible. It’s not yet formally buried but it is dead. Stone cold. (It’s worth noting in passing that if Zionism had been interested in a genuine and viable two-state solution, it was there for the taking by negotiation from the moment at the end of 1979 when Arafat persuaded first his leadership colleagues and then the Palestine National Council, the highest decision-making body on the Palestine side, to accept his policy of politics and compromise with Israel. Shortly after that Arafat sent a secret letter to the Security Council stating that he really was ready to do business on the basis of Resolution 242. The letter was received by Britain’s ambassador, Ivor Richard, in his capacity as that month’s president of the Security Council. Ivor’s view, he told me this himself, was that Arafat’s communication represented “the biggest breakthrough since 1948″. That was also the assessment of American ambassador Andy Young. You, dear Mr. Carter, were president at the time and you shared the views of both men. You responded positively by trying to involve the PLO in the peace process, but you got screwed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and the Zionist lobby. It decided to punish you for even thinking about involving the PLO by demanding that you fire Andy Young. Despite the fact that he was a soul-mate, you did).

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