Jimmy Carter

What does Carter mean saying ’America Must Recognize Palestine’?

Alwaght– Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, said America must recognize Palestine in an op-ed published on Tuesday in the New York Times.

Before scrolling down to read the text, you will find a GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) of a dove carrying an olive branch in its beak, as two nestlings (representing Palestine and the Israeli regime) vie for the green symbol of peace. Perhaps this illustration is intended to show the US, maybe even Barack Obama, as the bearer of good will, as the messenger of peace who is going to break the branch in half and give equal shares to the two rivals. Alas, this image is all but real.

The lead into the piece further supports this idea. Carter began his op-ed by pointing out that the Obama administration’s policy is open to the idea of ending the “conflict.”

“It has been President Obama’s aim to support a negotiated end to the conflict based on two states, living side by side in peace,” Carter wrote.

Yet, he went on to warn of the ticking clock that will strike 12 on Jan. 20, and perhaps put an end to the magic of diplomacy before Donald Trump takes over. The first step is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, following the lead of another 137 countries. The second would be to help it achieve full United Nations membership.

However, Carter’s call for US recognition of Palestinian statehood is based on his reminiscence of the Camp David Accord, which was reached during his presidency.

Glorifying the agreement which was struck under his very own administration in 1978, and lamenting the failure to realize it; Carter states that the key words of the resolution were “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every state in the area can live in security,” and the “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

He lauded Obama’s “efforts” to push for a complete freeze of Israeli illegal settlement construction on Palestinian territory in 2009. However, Carter verbalized his awareness of the situation, expressing concern over the fate of his precious Camp David accord.

“38 years after Camp David, the commitment to peace is in danger of abrogation,” he warned.

“Israel is building more and more settlements, displacing Palestinians and entrenching its occupation of Palestinian lands. Over 4.5 million Palestinians live in these occupied territories, but are not citizens of Israel. Most live largely under Israeli military rule, and do not vote in Israel’s national elections,” Carter added to prove his point.

Furthermore, the founder of the Carter Center seemed worried about the pressure the Israelis will increasingly face as a result of their settlement expansion policy.

“This process is hastening a one-state reality that could destroy Israeli democracy and will result in intensifying international condemnation of Israel.”

Wait. What democracy? If all of the mentioned wrongdoings do not already put so-called Israeli democracy under the microscope, what will? This, as human rights violations and crimes against humanity continue to be disregarded by the “international community”, particularly by Washington.

“I am certain that United States recognition of a Palestinian state…and would clear the way for a Security Council resolution on the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Truth be told, the Camp David Accords were never meant to work. Nor do they provide a viable comprehensive solution to the problem. American recognition of Palestine would not ensure anything for the Palestinians because the Americans are always more concerned with the perpetuation of the Israeli regime than anything else.

“Security guarantees for both Israel and Palestine are imperative, and the resolution must acknowledge the right of both the states of Israel and Palestine to live in peace and security. Further measures should include the demilitarization of the Palestinian state, and a possible peacekeeping force under the auspices of the United Nations.”

Resolution? Peace? The demilitarization of one side but not the other? How would this remotely help Palestinians, whose main problem is the occupation? Should they live in peace with their occupiers? Acquiesce to subjugation? The best? The only means? Mr. Carter, ever heard of resistance? What about justice?

What he called the primary foreign policy goal of his life was bringing peace to “Israel” first and foremost, and to its “neighbors” (whom he did not name) second. Thus, the Nobel Peace Prize winner fails to understand peace.

Carter again reminisced on the day he quoted the bible to a joint session of Congress as then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, were applauded for being “peacemakers.”

38 years on, peace is in tatters.

“I fear for the spirit of Camp David. We must not squander this chance.”

Would anyone please tell Mr. Carter that the spirit of Camp David was and is corrupt? Would anyone inform him that the Accords have not been abided by because the Israelis will always trample on the notion of peace, no matter where it is agreed upon and no matter which side oversees it?  Would anyone tell him that “Israel” and “peace” may be used to form a syntactically meaningful sentence but cannot possibly be semantically valid?

Many would agree that the road to peace is thorny. Many would also agree that one should not bear the thorn pricks in silence, but rather pluck them from the route altogether. If the olive branch being extended to Palestinians is just a camouflaged thorny branch, should they take it?

Hence, the analogy between the dove with the olive branch on the one hand, and the US with their concept of peace on the other, does not function to signify peace.

In fact, while the two symbols, one originating from Greek tradition, and the other inspired by the Biblical story of Noah and the Flood, have become universal signs of peace, Rabbinic literature interpreted the olive leaf as “the young shoots of the Land of Israel.”

Semiotically, the meaning-making of the dove with the olive branch may lead to different interpretations from what it is intended to communicate. Is the US proposing peace? Or is the olive branch the dove is carrying a symbol of Palestine? If the second may be the true, to whom is Washington inclined to hand the branch?

All of this is topped with the supremacist notion that if the Americans designate Palestine as a state, then it will automatically become one, not to mention that the any UN resolution will bear conditions.

Mr. Carter, Palestine exists without your acknowledgement.