Ralph Nader: If Barack Obama Is Serious About Palestinian Peace, He Should Apologize To Jimmy Carter

Ralph Nader says Barack Obama has a great opportunity to facilitate peace between the Palestinians and Israel.  In order to get the process moving, Nader is urging Obama, on behalf of the Democratic Party, to offer a public apology to Jimmy Carter for the shabby treatment Carter received at the Democratic National Convention.

Nader writes in an article at Counterpunch that at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the Democratic Party denied Jimmy Carter the traditional invitation to speak that is accorded its former presidents.  Nader says Carter was denied this courtesy because of Carter’s well published, controversial views on Israel — summarized in his book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”

Nader says:  “First, there was a compromise offer to let Carter speak but only on domestic policy subjects. This would have kept him from mentioning his views on securing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians through a two-state solution essentially back to the 1967 borders. …Even this astonishing restriction on the former president was unacceptable to the dictatorial censors. They wanted nothing from the deliberate, candid Georgian short of complete exclusion.”

Excerpts from the article:

  • Silencing Carter, who negotiated the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement, involved behind the scenes tensions between supporters of the hard-line AIPAC lobby and those Democrats who argued both respect and free speech to let Carter join Bill Clinton on the stage and address a nationwide audience.
  • It is false to attribute this shutdown to the opinions of American Jews, a majority of whom polls show support a two-state solution and disagree on other issues with the AIPAC lobby, as recently documented by The Nation Magazine’s Eric Alterman.
  • The Convention planners, with the full knowledge and approval of their candidate, Barack Obama, arranged to have a short video on Carter’s work during the post-Katrina crisis followed by a walk across the stage by Carter and his wife Rosalynn to applause.
  • Carter’s opponents did not hide their efforts to keep him from speaking. They spoke openly to the media. They disliked Carter’s recognition of Palestinian suffering under the Israeli government’s military and colonial occupation, the blockades, the violations of UN Resolutions and international law. He championed the work of the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements who together have worked out a detailed two-state accord that is supported by a majority of their respective peoples.
  • Jimmy Carter knew fully what the Party did to him. But he played the loyal Democrat as a good sport and avoided a ruckus without even a public grumble. Privately, however, he and Rosalynn were very upset, believing that political pandering prevents the United States from playing a key role in peacemaking between the powerful Israelis and their Palestinian neighbors.
  • This is an auspicious time for vigorous peacemaking by the new Obama Administration as a steady, honest broker. The serious offer by the Arab League in 2002 for such an agreement, coupled with diplomatic and economic relations with the Arab countries was reiterated dramatically on November 10 with a full page message in the New York Times. Headlined “Peace is Possible: More than 50 Arab and Muslim Countries Agree,” the Center for Middle East Peace reminds Americans of that Arab Peace Initiative, reiterated in 2007, and supported by the fifty-seven member nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (www.centerpeace.org). The dramatic declaration, replete with all the flags of these countries, ended with the plea: “Let us not miss this opportunity.”
  • The Israeli government has not engaged this long-standing offer by the Arab League. Without Barack Obama taking a strong initiative in America’s national interest, it is unlikely that there will be any serious engagement. A sign that he is determined to set the peace process on course is whether he expresses his regrets about the intolerance and suppression of a former president whose views on the Palestinian question he once shared in Chicago before he began the quest for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
  • Jimmy Carter—the early peacemaker between Israel and Egypt (for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize)—has remained the most steadfast, prominent American friend that the Israeli and Palestinian peoples have in securing a stable peace in that region. The new President Obama should welcome Mr. Carter’s wise and seasoned counsel.
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6 Responses to Ralph Nader: If Barack Obama Is Serious About Palestinian Peace, He Should Apologize To Jimmy Carter

  1. Bud says:

    Jimmy Carter should apologize for running this country in to the ground from ’77-’80. Carter was the one of the worst Presidents ever and the way he runs his mouth makes him the worst ex-President ever.
    God his administration was awful. If people think things are bad now they should have been around when inflation, mortgage rates, and unemployment were all double digits. His total botching of the Iran hostage crisis put the morale of the country in the toilet.

  2. Mike Bock says:

    Nader’s accusation is that the Democratic Party snubbed Carter at the 2008 convention because of Carter’s stand on the Palestinian issue as publicized in Carter’s book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

    Bud, it seems to me, Carter’s record as President over 25 years ago has nothing to do why the Democraic Party snubbed Carter.. The Democratic Party snub had nothing to do with Carter’s work as president; Carter was given the courtesy of speaking at previous Democratic Conventions, but at the 2008 convention, because of the publicity surrounding his book, and his outspokenness concerning the plight of the Palestinians, the Democratic Party treated Carter rudely. Carter himself seems to agree with Nader’s conclusions. The snub was very apparent to a lot of people who witnessed the whole event, and it seems reasonable that Nader is correct: Carter was snubbed because of his advocacy for justice for the Palestinians.

    Nader’s advice to Obama, concerning apologizing to Carter, to me, seems sound.

  3. Bud says:

    To be more specific, Carter has received a cool reception by Dems because he is trying to liken Israeli policy of treatment of the Palestinians to South African apartheid, which is ridiculous.

    Jimmy Carter should just go away.

  4. Peter Morris says:

    Bud, perhaps you know more about aparthied than Nelson Mandela.
    if you don’t think thats possible then check out what Mandela has to say concerning Palestine/Israel compared to aparthied South Africa.

    The sad conclusion to the snubbing episode is that the Democrats have been totally taken over by one small group whose primary objective relates to a foreign enterprise and has nothing to do with average Americans.

    If the extremist pro Israeli crowd are so passionate let them form their own party and not srew up the legitimate workings of both main parties.

  5. Bud says:

    I don’t care what Nelson Mandela thinks about an Israeli/Palestinian comparison to apartheid. If Mandela can’t see the differences such as Arabs having the right to vote, etc. then he is only making himself look ignorant.
    Arabs have been in Israel since it was formed in 1948. Is there discrimination against them in Israel? Undoubtedly. But is there discrimination against Jews living in Arab states (if you can find any)? Absolutely. Israel has no government policy for hatred against Arabs as is found under apartheid so the comparison is invalid.

    Go peddle your anti-Semitism on some neo-Nazi web site.

    I had to laugh at your statement about screwing up “the legitimate workings of both main parties”. Both parties are so corrupt and misguided they are beyond repair.

  6. Stan Hirtle says:

    A major problem occurs when anyone critical of Israel’s actions, particularly towards Palestinians, gets accused of being an AntiSemite or a neo Nazi. One of Carter’s points is that issues concerning Israel’s treatment of Palestinians which are openly debated in Israel, can’t be openly debated in the US. Even saying that got him denounced, including by the Democratic leadership, even though no one has his credentials nor did as much to bring peace to the region as he did. If he can’t say these things, what is going to happen to the rest of us?

    The religious Trialogue group here had a discussion of the Israeli Palestinian conflict last winter, emphasizing the “Parallel Realities” of both sides’ claims and grievances. It became clear that Jews, remembering the way the West accomodated to the power of Hitler and ended up enabling the Holocaust, do not trust the rest of the world to save them, and have an exceptionally emotional tie to Israel as crucial to the survival of Jews. Unfortunately Israelis, after constant attacks, have gotten themselves in a position of being oppressors themselves, and being both a terrorized and terrorist state.

    It took a long time before it was acceptable in the US to even support the idea of a two state solution. Unfortunately the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the roads connecting them ot Israel, is dividing up the Palestinian side to the extent that it may soon be impossible to have a functional Palestinian State. The Palestinian territories are now divided up in ways that do resemble the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa. There are also some differences, as Bud points out. Arabs do vote in Israel and they even have some members of the Knesset. Occasionally Arabs win lawsuits in Israeli courts. Jews have fared less well in Arab countries they historically lived in. Many were taken in by Israel, and its supporters point to the comparatively little they believe Arab countries have done for displaced Palestinians.

    However Israel faces a demographic time bomb, both with the expanding Arab populations in Israel proper, the occupied territories and certainly the surrounding countries. People who are surrounded by overwhelming numbers people who hate them face an uncertain and unpleasant future. Other Middle Easterners feel, with some justification, that Europe has exported its inability to live with its Jewish citizens onto them, broken promises to both sides, and has generally been a harmful influence since. As a result anti-Semitism, which had been discredited, now thrives around Israel’s neighbors. In fact the recent terrorists in Mumbai, who appear to be fighting over issues regarding the treatment of Moslems in Hindu India and the Kashmir border with Pakistan, which has nothing to do with Jews or Israel, went out of their way to attack a Jewish Center and kill a Rabbi, a senseless punctuation to senseless violence.

    Anyway there needs to peace in the region. I think that requires two states that are economically equivalent and economically interdependent, sort of like France and Germany who are no longer killing each other. That would take an enormous investment in peacemaking, particularly now after decades of grievances and anger, and with neither Israel not Palestinians having strong governance at present. Peacemaking needs to start at the top with the US Administration, but also needs a lot of support from below and from around the world. This runs afoul of the geopolitics of oil and the kind of divide and conquer approach to the region that the West has practiced for a century. However it needs to happen for Israels’s sake, ours and everyone else’s. We will see what if anything Obama can do, and what the rest of us may need to do to help.

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