Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid

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Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is a 2006 book by former US President Jimmy Carter (ISBN 0743285026, ISBN 978-0743285025)

The main thrust of the book is to explore “a formula for peace” that “has the approval of most Israelis and Palestinians” and to document Carter’s own personal experiences in and regarding this region. This book is not trying to be a thorough historical perspective, read Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Charles D. Smith (used for some historical rebuttal below as [1]) or other books.

This page details the major criticisms of the book and looks at their validity, trying to ignore the rhetoric like "It’s obvious that Carter just doesn’t like Israel or Israelis" from Dershowitz.

This book has proven controversial. Fundamentally, none of the criticisms address that Resolution 242 should be the basis for peace or that Palestinians are suffering heavily under Israeli occupation.

Original author of analysis: User:Jsrrts


Reviews and Commentary

Unreviewed Links

Alan Dershowitz, The World According to Carter

an analysis of Dershowitz's essay, with supporting quotes from other sources

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter:

His use of the loaded word "apartheid," suggesting an analogy to the hated policies of South Africa, is especially outrageous, considering his acknowledgement buried near the end of his shallow and superficial book that what is going on in Israel today "is unlike that in South Africa – not racism, but the acquisition of land."

This criticism is repeated often. What is Carter getting at by this quoted statement?

Here is a fuller quote from the book [p 189], with boldface added to show matching text: "Israeli leaders ... Utilizing their political and military dominance, they are imposing a system of partial withdrawal, encapsulation, and apartheid on the Muslim and Christian citizens of the occupied territories. The driving purpose for the forced separation [through The Wall] of the two peoples is unlike that in South Africa – not racism, but the acquisition of land." Carter is referring to the dividing wall in particular here not all the other things he has enumerated over many chapters that are methods of apartheid. Carter gives a fuller account of his definition of apartheid in Palestine on page 215 that clearly contradicts Dershowitz's implication.

Desmond Tutu & other South Africans have compared practices in Palestine to Apartheid. See:

Also see A Palestinian view of Jimmy Carter's book by Ali Abunimah:

Norman Finkelstein said here:

For example, a major 2002 study of Israeli settlement practices by the respected Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem concluded: "Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime is the only one of its kind in the world, and is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa." A more recent B'Tselem publication on the road system Israel has established in the West Bank again concluded that it "bears striking similarities to the racist Apartheid regime," and even "entails a greater degree of arbitrariness than was the case with the regime that existed in South Africa."

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 1):

Carter emphasizes that “Christian and Muslim Arabs had continued to live in this same land since Roman times,” but he ignores the fact that Jews have lived in Hebron, Tzfat, Jerusalem, and other cities for even longer. Nor does he discuss the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries since 1948.

Carter does not give a long history of this region, his focus is more on his own experiences and current events and negotiations. Looking at Carters Historical Chronology starting on page I he has “ca. 1200 B.C.: Moses leads the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. Ca. 1000 B.C.: King David united the twelve tribes of Israel, then his son Solomon build the Temple in Jerusalem.” Clearly accounting for Jews living in Palestine before Roman Times. He does not however mention the Canaanites inhabitants of this area before the Jews arrived. From [1] page 1 “The names Israel and Palestine derive from two peoples who entered the region at approximately the same time, the twelfth century before the Christian era. The Jews, who called themselves Bnei Israel, “the people or tribe of Israel,” belived that the land had been given to them by God. Palestine refers to the Philistines, a people of Greek origin who settled in the coastal plains of the area …”

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 2):

Carter repeatedly claims that the Palestinians have long supported a two-state solution and the Israelis have always opposed it. Yet he makes no mention of the fact that in 1938 the Peel Commission proposed a two-state solution with Israel receiving a mere sliver of its ancient homeland and the Palestinians receiving the bulk of the land. The Jews accepted and the Palestinians rejected this proposal, because Arab leaders cared more about there being no Jewish state on Muslim holy land than about having a Palestinian state of their own.

I have found no reference that Carter claims “always”. In fact he does say that the Arabs rejected resolution 242 initially and that Arafat was sorry he rejected the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt when he met Carter. Anyway this is not an important point for the direction of the book. Carter focus is on UN resolution 242 that Israel did agree to but has not implemented namely withdrawing to 1967 boundaries. Lets look at Dershowitz’s claim that Israel accepted the Peel commission. “Ben-Gurion and Weizmann found themselves united in tentatively accepting the partition in principle but demanding larger, if unspecified, borders.” … “ Ben-Gurion announced at the World Zionist Congress in August that although “there could be no question… of giving up any part of the Land of Israel ... it was arguable that the ultimate goal would be achieved most quickly by accepting the Peel Proposals.” [1] This sounds a long way from Israel accepting a Palestinian state as implied by Dershowitz above. Arabs did reject the Peel Commissions proposal for a number of reasons see page 140 of [1] for more details.

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 3):

He barely mentions Israel’s acceptance, and the Palestinian rejection, of the U.N.’s division of the mandate in 1948.

Carter mentions the plan on pages xiii [map], 28 and a clear discussion on this issue on pages 57.58. “barely” is inappropriate in this context for a non-historically focused work.

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 4):

He claims that in 1967 Israel launched a preemptive attack against Jordan. The fact is that Jordan attacked Israel first, Israel tried desperately to persuade Jordan to remain out of the war, and Israel counterattacked after the Jordanian army surrounded Jerusalem, firing missiles into the center of the city. Only then did Israel capture the West Bank, which it was willing to return in exchange for peace and recognition from Jordan.

The full quote is [page 59] “On June 5, Israel launched preemptive strikes, moving first against Egypt and Syria, then against Jordan.” It’s not clear that Carter ment to imply that Israel launched a preemptive strike against Jordan. Jordan (King Husayn) had signed a mutual defense pact with Egypt (Nasser) and Jordan started shelling after the invasion of Egypt by Israel. Israel did try to tell Jordan to remain out of the war.

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 5):

Carter repeatedly mentions Security Council Resolution 242, which called for return of captured territories in exchange for peace, recognition and secure boundaries, but he ignores the fact that Israel accepted and all the Arab nations and the Palestinians rejected this resolution. The Arabs met in Khartum and issued their three famous “no’s”: “No peace, no recognition, no negotiation” but you wouldn’t know that from reading the history according to Carter.

Carter does not go into the historical details of Resolution 242, he does say [page 212] “Both Israel and the Arab countries have endorsed the crucial and unavoidable U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, under which peace agreements have already been evolved.”

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 6):

Carter faults Israel for its “air strike that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor” without mentioning that Iraq had threatened to attack Israel with nuclear weapons if they succeeded in building a bomb.

Carter does not fault Israel for this action; he only says that Arab states condemned it and that Israeli people were divided over the wisdom of this [and other] militant policy. The Israeli warplanes passed over Saudi airspace for this attack. Israel was also selling arms to Iran to use against Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war and involved in the U.S. Iran-Contra affair [1].

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 7):

Carter faults Israel for its administration of Christian and Muslim religious sites, when in fact Israel is scrupulous about ensuring every religion the right to worship as they please—consistent, of course, with security needs. He fails to mention that between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Hashemites destroyed and desecrated Jewish religious sites and prevented Jews from praying at the Western Wall. He also never mentions Egypt’s brutal occupation of Gaza between 1949 and 1967.

Firstly, Carter provides many first hand accounts of the lie behind Israel being scrupulous see pages 127, 194. Secondly with regard to other religious abuses one could list all day all abuses from all sides of religious freedom, Carter does not claim to the contrary.

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 8):

Carter blames Israel, and exonerates Arafat, for the Palestinian refusal to accept statehood on 95% of the West Bank and all of Gaza pursuant to the Clinton-Barak offers of Camp David and Taba in 2000-2001. He accepts the Palestinian revisionist history, rejects the eye-witness accounts of President Clinton and Dennis Ross and ignores Saudi Prince Bandar’s accusation that Arafat’s rejection of the proposal was “a crime” and that Arafat’s account “was not truthful” – except, apparently, to Carter. The fact that Carter chooses to believe Yassir Arafat over Bill Clinton speaks volumes.

See Clinton-Barak Israeli-Palestinian Peace Offers for a discussion of this issue

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 9):

Carter’s description of the recent Lebanon war is misleading. He begins by asserting that Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. “Captured” suggest a military apprehension subject to the usual prisoner of war status. The soldiers were kidnapped, and have not been heard from—not even a sign of life. The rocket attacks that preceded Israel’s invasion are largely ignored, as is the fact that Hezbollah fired its rockets from civilian population centers.

Dershowitz implies the “prisoner of war status”, Carter expounds on the motivation in capturing/kidnapping for a prisioner swap & also the action in sympathy with Israel’s actions in Gaza. Certainly using soldiers for this purpose is against the Geneva Conventions. The fact that Hezbollah were firing rockets into Israel was mentioned in context.

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 10):

Carter gives virtually no credit to Israel’s superb legal system, falsely asserting (without any citation) that “confessions extracted through torture are admissible in Israeli courts,” that prisoners are “executed” and that the “accusers” act “as judges.” Even Israel’s most severe critics acknowledge the fairness of the Israeli Supreme Court, but not Carter.

Lets look at some sections where Carter talks about the Israeli Supreme Court. Pages 125, 126 “Barak [chief justice] acknowledged that there were special legal provisions related to the occupied territories and acknowledged that many of the more sensitive issues were turned over to military courts.” Dershowitz does not address these. Carter during these pages again does not cast judgement on the Israeli Supreme court. Page 194 about their rejection of the International Courts Decision that Israelis government’s construction of the segregation wall in occupied Palestinian West Bank was illegal. It does acknowledge that Israel holds the West Bank “in belligerent occupation”… The Israeli courts reference above occurs on page 118 and refers to Military Tribunals, that Dershowitz conflagrates with the Israeli Supreme court. Page 197 addresses “Confessions extracted through torture” in Military Tribunals. repeats these Torture claims.

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 11):

Carter even blames Israel for the “exodus of Christians from the Holy Land,” totally ignoring the Islamization of the area by Hamas and the comparable exodus of Christian Arabs from Lebanon as a result of the increasing influence of Hezbollah and the repeated assassination of Christian leaders by Syria.

Unfortunately Dershowitz provides no evidence for these claims. Carter says on page 127 after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir who says that matters relating to abuse and unwarranted constraints imposed on them [Christians and others] were out of his hands, “and I understood for the first time why there was such a surprising exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.”

Alan Dershowitz said, in The World According to Carter (bulleted list item 12):

Carter also blames every American administration but his own for the Mideast stalemate with particular emphasis on “a submissive White House and U.S. Congress in recent years.” He employs hyperbole and overstatement when he says that “dialogue on controversial issues is a privilege to be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and withheld from those who reject U.S. demands.” He confuses terrorist states, such as Iran and Syria to which we do not extend dialogue, with states with whom we strongly disagree, such as France and China, with whom we have constant dialogue.

The George Bush Jr. administration has created a different approach to dealing with foreign affairs than earlier administrations. The implication that Carter heavily criticizes successive administrations is not correct, he does present actions that occur under them. He does address the George Bush administration see quoted section by Dershowitz. You can see the difference in direction under George Bush with the Iraq Study Group report under James A. Baker III (who served highly under Reagan & George Bush Sr.) and its direction to talk with Iran & Syria and Bush’s rejection. see


Simon Wiesenthal Center said, in ACT NOW AGAINST PRESIDENT CARTER'S ONE-SIDED BIAS AGAINST ISRAEL (bulleted list item 1):

"Israel’s “occupation and colonialization” of the West Bank and Gaza is the reason there is no peace.” FACT: President Carter deliberately overlooks that in 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak went to Camp David and offered Yasser Arafat 95% of the West Bank, 100% of Gaza and ..."

See Clinton-Barak Israeli-Palestinian Peace Offers for a discussion of this issue

Simon Wiesenthal Center said, in ACT NOW AGAINST PRESIDENT CARTER'S ONE-SIDED BIAS AGAINST ISRAEL (bulleted list item 2):

"Arafat’s response: launching the bloody Intifada ..."

This statement implies that the second intifada occurs under Arafat's direction. Carter contends that it was a reaction to the Ariel Sharon statement at the Temple Mount and frustration over Israel's failure to implement the Oslo Agreement. Heres the main crux of the Mitchell Commission see “Accordingly, we have no basis on which to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the PA [Palestinian Authority] to initiate a campaign of violence at the first opportunity; or to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the GOI [Government of Israel] to respond with lethal force. However, there is also no evidence on which to conclude that the PA made a consistent effort to contain the demonstrations and control the violence once it began; or that the GOI made a consistent effort to use non-lethal means to control demonstrations of unarmed Palestinians. Amid rising anger, fear, and mistrust, each side assumed the worst about the other and acted accordingly. The Sharon visit did not cause the "Al-Aqsa Intifada." But it was poorly timed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen; indeed it was foreseen by those who urged that the visit be prohibited. More significant were the events that followed: the decision of the Israeli police on September 29 to use lethal means against the Palestinian demonstrators; and the subsequent failure, as noted above, of either party to exercise restraint.” Does aim of the PLO currently call for violent resistance to the Israeli occupation?

Simon Wiesenthal Center said, in ACT NOW AGAINST PRESIDENT CARTER'S ONE-SIDED BIAS AGAINST ISRAEL (bulleted list item 3):

Israel’s ‘Wall’ has virtually choked-off the Palestinian economy and in many ways is worse than South Africa’s former Apartheid system - Carter. FACT: Israel’s temporary security fence has been an effective deterrent in thwarting unending Palestinian suicide terror attacks which have dropped over 90% since its construction. Israel has said that the fence will come down when the Palestinian terror stops. Israel is entitled to protect her citizens from outside threats in the same way as with any sovereign country.

The rebuttal here does not address the arguments by Carter at all. Neither does it address that the Security Wall is build on Palestinian land according to Resolution 242 and has been deemed illegal by the World Court etc.

Simon Wiesenthal Center said, in ACT NOW AGAINST PRESIDENT CARTER'S ONE-SIDED BIAS AGAINST ISRAEL (bulleted list item 4):

The actions of Israeli governments do not reflect the will of the people who, in polls consistently show that Israelis overwhelming support a two-state solution – Carter. FACT: Israelis’ support for a two-state solution is predicated on having a peaceful partner that does not seek the destruction of the Jewish State and has a government that renounces terrorism.

Detailed references for polling information will have to be provided to substantiate all the claims regarding the Israeli & Palestinian peoples support regarding solutions from Carter & the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Carter on page 211 lists the results from recent polls.

Simon Wiesenthal Center said, in ACT NOW AGAINST PRESIDENT CARTER'S ONE-SIDED BIAS AGAINST ISRAEL (bulleted list item 5):

President Carter blames “powerful political, economic and religious forces” in the U.S. for America’s "submissive" pro-Israel policies. FACT: America’s continuing bipartisan support of Israel is not a result of pressure from “powerful political, economic and religious forces” but based on U.S. interests and the fact that Israel is a democracy whose citizens share common values with the American people.

[Find quote from Carter mentioned]. Carter mentions the AIPAC lobby on page 130 and James Baker talking with them. The following article (also controversial) provides discusses pressure from the AIPAC on American Foreign policy with regard to Israel.

Norman Finkelstein, Peace Not Apartheid - Jimmy Carter's Roadmap

And his response to characterization of that article:

Norman Finkelstein said, in Peace Not Apartheid - Jimmy Carter's Roadmap (bulleted list item 1):

The historical chapters of Palestine Peace Not Apartheid are rather thin, filled with errors small and large, as well as tendentious and untenable interpretations … True, the historical part of the book contains errors in that it repeats standard Israeli propaganda.

No examples are provided.

Dr. Kenneth W. Stein, Resignation from the Carter Center Letter

Kenneth Stein said, in Resignation from the Carter Center Letter (bulleted list item 1):

The history and interpretation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is already drowning in half-truths, suppositions, and self-serving myths; more are not necessary. In due course, I shall detail these points and reflect on their origins.

Unfortunately he provides no examples of these half-truths etc.

Jeffrey Goldberg, What Would Jimmy Do?

I only found poor rhetoric in this article for example "... Carter, not unlike God, has long been disproportionately interested in the sins of the Chosen People. He is famously a partisan of the Palestinians ...".

Mitchell Bard, Jimmy Carter's Calumny

There are many exaggerations & distortions of what Carter has written. Here are some initial claims.

Mitchell Bard said, in Jimmy Carter's Calumny (bulleted list item 1):

Some statements are outright falsehoods, such as his unsubstantiated claim that Israel stole money sent to the Palestinians for humanitarian purposes…

Reading pages 122-124 of Carter. Firstly “One of their [Palestinian] most bitter grievances was that … even funds sent by the American government for humanitarian purposes were intercepted by the authorities and used for the benefit of the Israelis, including the construction of settlements in Palestinian communities. They [Palestinians] claimed that the government had seized U.S. Agency for International Development funds intended for a center for retarded children in Gaza and that …” Carter sets out to get to the truth of this situation and finds that yes [from Israeli sources - Carter should have listed them] funds were withheld because of fears that may be used for terrorist purposes and that some USAID funds appropriated by the U.S. Congress even for benevolent projects were kept by the Israeli government when necessary to prevent misspending. More of this has happened recently where Israel withheld money to the Hamas lead Palestinian Government see

Mitchell Bard said, in Jimmy Carter's Calumny (bulleted list item 2):

Carter says the Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their homes in 1967. This is also untrue.

From Charles D. Smith [page 285] “… over one hundred thousand new Palestinian refugees from within Israel as well as the West Bank crossed into East Bank Jordan, many were forcibly evicted from their homes; villages were bulldozed to ensure that they would not return.” Claims of razing and forced eviction of the villages Beit Nuba, Yalu and Amwas.

Mitchell Bard said, in Jimmy Carter's Calumny (bulleted list item 3):

He says that Israel took 77% of the disputed land and the Palestinians were left with Gaza and the West Bank. Historic Palestine included not only Israel and the West Bank, but also all of modern Jordan. It is Israel, including the disputed territories, that is only 22% of Palestine.

Bard starts minimizing Israel's borders by using the historical Palestine to confuse with the modern movement for a Palestinian State.

Mitchell Bard said, in Jimmy Carter's Calumny (bulleted list item 4):

Furthermore, like the Arabs, he chooses to ignore the rest of the resolution, which says that Israel has the right to secure and defensible borders and calls for a “peaceful and accepted settlement.” Carter’s interpretation of 242 reflects the book’s them that only Israel has obligations and the Arabs need do nothing to foster peace.

Carter repeatedly presents the duel thrust of the withdrawal/security issue e.g. page 207. The occupation draws violent resistance and the sooner withdrawal is complete the sooner that form of resistance will lesson and moderate voices will range against extremists advocating violence on both sides.

Mitchell Bard said, in Jimmy Carter's Calumny (bulleted list item 5):

Another example of getting basic facts wrong is his claim that Arab leaders didn’t decide to create the PLO in 1964 until Israel tried to divert water from the Sea of Galilee and Jordan to irrigate the west and Negev. The creation of the PLO had nothing to do with water issues…

The PLO was created at the January 1964 summit in Cairo that was setup to prepare an Arab response to Israel’s plans to divert water from the Jordan river. It’s not a clear casual relationship however the relationship is there.

Mitchell Bard said, in Jimmy Carter's Calumny (bulleted list item 6):

On a visit to Jerusalem in 1990, he said he met with a variety of Christian leaders who he said complained of various abuses. He doesn’t offer a single specific example

I agree some specific notes would have been good here.

Bard litanies stories regarding persecution of Christians in Arab countries, the declaration of human rights should be enforced in all countries, these persecutions are illegal. He does not address specific examples that Carter provides of Christian complaints and providing condemnation of Israel where appropriate.

Mitchell Bard said, in Jimmy Carter's Calumny (bulleted list item 7):

Another familiar theme is that Israeli settlements are the obstacle to peace. Of course, this is easily disproved by the fact that the Arabs were not willing to make peace prior to the establishment of settlements in the territories and Palestinian terror has continued after Israel’s disengagement from Gaza.

Carter has many sections about the universal condemnation of Israel building settlements in the occupied territories from the world and within Israel. The statement that Arabs were not willing to make peace ignores periods of peace that have occurred & overstates that Israel was also interested in peaceful resolution. Carter details the Camp David Accords where Egypt & Israel came to agreement.

Mitchell Bard said, in Jimmy Carter's Calumny (bulleted list item 8):

Carter says the Arabs will all recognize Israel once it reaches an agreement with the Palestinians. Syria has given no such indication. Hizballah and other Islamic terrorist groups have made clear that Israel’s existence is the provocation rather than its presence in the disputed territories.

I have found no section where Carter says all Arabs will recognize Israel. Similarly one could say not all Israelis will recognize a Palestinian state.

Jacob Laksin, Hatred, Not Analysis

Unfortunately no serious examples brought up to support his accusations. Heres one of the opening comments "Start with Carter’s cynical use of the word “apartheid” to smear the Jewish state."

Noam Chomsky, From an Interview

Noam Chomsky said, in the linked interview (bulleted list item 8):

The only serious error in the book, which a fact checker should have picked up, is that Carter accepted a kind of party line on the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 ... The claim here ... is that Israel invaded in response to shelling of the Galilee from -- by Palestinians, Palestinian terror attacks and Carter repeats that, it is not true. There was the border, there was a cease-fire, the Palestinians observed it despite regular Israeli attempts, something as heavy bombing and others to elicit some response that would be a pretext to the planned invasion. When there was no pretext, they invaded anyway.