TerrierGirl (terriergirl) wrote,

I got a ticket and I saw Carter speak.

For those who care:

Because this university is so very pro-Israel and so very Jewish, I'd expected a hostile scene when Carter came... but this is what I saw:

There were more pro-peace protesters than pro-Israel protesters outside the building when I went in. There was a group, for example that had a sign that said "Killing Civillians is not a Jewish value."

Inside the event, the front half of the room was heavy with pro-Israel folks (so they had arrived hours ahead to get these seats), and the back had more peacenicks. Each group applauded and stood for different things. Nobody on either side ever booed, shouted, or spoke. There were some high-tension moments, especially when a questioner had a particularly polarizing question. Some students tuned out when Carter said things that were critical of Israel. But folks were mostly polite. There were no protests or signs of any kind in the building.

Everyone in the audience stood when Carter entered, and when he stood up to the podium. Carter spoke about Louis Brandeis (who helped found Israel) and invoked what he called Jewish values of Rightousness and Justice, which he finds in the old testament of the Christian Bible. He pointed out that he has been involved in the Mid-East peace process for over 30 years, and that there are few people with more personal knowledge of the leaders and people involved than he. He pointed out that prior to the Camp David Accord that he brokered, Israel was under threat from Egypt (which was supplied with arms by Russia) and that "not a word" of the peace deal he negotiated between Egypt and Israel has ever been violated.

He said that the oppression of Palestinians was inconsistent with Jewish values, and inconsistent with a safe Israel. He said that the Jewish settlements were in violation of agreements Israel itself had made, and with the legal borders of Israel (?I got mixed up with all the treaties-- I think this one was Oslo) and that Israelis had taken the choicest land, built over 200 settlements, and created highways connecting them which Palestians cannot use or, in some cases, even cross over. This creates a discontinuous fragemented country that is not economically viable. He said that the wall extends very intrusively into the Palestinan territories. He thinks that peace process should be based on the fact that all Arab nations are willing to acknowledge Israel inside it's "legal" (Oslo accord?) borders, and that Israel should completely withdraw to those borders, and that 60% of Israeli's and 80% of Palestinians polled recently by the Harry Truman Institute in Israel would be willing to accept such a settlement, and that almost all people on both sides "overwhelmingly" want peace. He suggested that a small group of Brandeis students and professors should visit the occupied territories and see for themselves whether what he saying about the conditions there is true, and that they should bring a report back to the university and the country.

The students asked questions and here are some of them, with his answers, much paraphrased and abbreviated.

Q:Why did you compare the situation in the Palestinan territories with the genocide in Rwanda on ?some talk show?

A: I didn't. The Rwandan genocide in (?1993?) was second only to the Holocost in human rights scale. I compared the Palestian situation to the situation in (? other african nation-- forgot which and when).

Q: Isn't it irresponsible and counterproductive of you to use such an inflamatory word as "apartheid"
A: I thought about it; I take full responsibility for the word choice; lots of people have called me a bigot and a jew-hater and it's hurt me; We haven't had any attempt at peace negotiations for 5 years-- so it was time to say something and I'm hoping that by starting the debate up we can move towards peace.

Q: Is there really a "partner" for Israel to negotiate with?
A: Dodge, duck-- remember about the 25 Arab nations that are willing to recognize Israel and the vast majority on both sides that want peace and will accept a sovergn Israel within it's legal borders.

Q: Before the wall: >200 deaths a year from sucide bombings, after the wall 2/yr-- how can you tell Israel not to keep itself safe?
A: Wall would be okay if it were on Israel's actual border, but wall intrudes into Palestinan territory. Also multiple factors contribute to decrease in mortality including Hamas' decision to forbid sucide bombings.

Q: The Carter Center takes money from the Saudis and you talk to them. Have you ever confronted them about their human rights abuses particularly towards homosexuals?
A: Carter center takes only 2.5% from arab nations. We are well auditied. The money went to African farm aid and Palestian elections. There is no corruption. (But he never mentions gay people or their human rights nor does he say that he has confronted the Saudis about it.)

Overall, he was quite an impressive statesman, he had a great store of knowledge and facts and he directly answered most of the questions put to him.
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