Man from Plains

I literally just got done watching a documentary entitled “Man From Plains”. It was a documentary about Jimmy Carter following the release of his book, “Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid”. I haven’t read the book so I can’t attest to whether or not the subject matter is factual or not. Based off of what I know about President Carter, I am generally on his side. The problem with many people who were showcased in the documentary is that they were quick to make assumptions about Jimmy Carters political and social ideology based off the title. No doubt, the title is quite provocative. The single word “apartheid” evokes so much within every student of geopolitics and casual observer that it is no surprise the book was controversial. But, since this is a moderate website, I feel that I should address the moderate agenda in the film (and what I understand about the book).

Carter tries to make the point that a wall was constructed, forcibly around the West Bank and Gaza. This wall was constructed by the Israelis on certified Palestinian land. Not only was the wall constructed on Palestinian land but within those borders, station after station of Israeli guards patrol the highway that is standard traveling highway within and outside of the borders. A Brandeis student in the movie, towards the end, makes the point that in 2005 there were some 290 terrorist attacks upon Israelis by Palestinians and in 2006, upon completion of the wall, there were two. How could Mr. Carter justify his claims that building of a wall was wrong. President Carter, whom I believe to be moderate, stated quite simply that he isn’t against a wall. As a matter of fact, the international community as a whole has no problem with a wall separating the territory. The problem is that the wall was constructed, not in the green zone or on Israeli land, but deep into Palestinian territory. The international community recognizes that it’s okay to have a wall and Pres. Carter acknowledges and indeed accepts that. A country has the right to stop terrorism in the most effective way they see fit. Once upon a time, Israelis welcomed building a wall along the border as well. Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin advocated for the wall to be built along the green territory, but guess what. He was assassinated. By whom? Not a Palestinian, no… an Israeli, an Israeli who thought that Rabin gave too much leeway to the Palestinians. Not only is the construction of the wall a problem, but the patrolling of 270 miles of Palestinian highway by armed Israeli guards. Palestinians can’t even drive their own highways, fish along a coast, or enjoy their own mountains because they first need to seek permission from an Israeli official. Imagine what that does to a people. Take away their leisure, take away their history, take away their commerce and leave them with nothing but rocks; what do you think might happen? They just might throw those rocks.

The saddest part of the documentary was not the story of the Palestinians or the disdain that the media developed of President Carter. No, the saddest part of the story is what the international community thinks of the United States. The DVD showed excerpts from the Camp David accords, where Carter successfully negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Egypt. Anwar Sadat as well as Menachem Begin had such a profound respect for president Carter and the United States of America. Then, Carter went to Egypt with Sadat to millions of Egyptians lining the streets, waving American and Egyptian flags and cheering. Not burning the flags, waving them, with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts. And I was overcome with this great sense of sadness. The sadness comes from knowing how far ‘soft-power’ took the status of the United States in the Middle-East, and how far ‘hard-power’ has brought us back down. I can’t help but think, if our current president were to visit Egypt or even “walk” down Pennsylvania avenue, how warmly would he be received?


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Johnny on May 14, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    I don’t have a comment about the Carter documentary as I haven’t seen it…But congratulations on the internship.

    Sounds really interesting and exciting. See you soon.


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