Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Carter and Camp David, where it all began

Carter and Camp David, where it all began Zachary Wales, The Electronic Intifada, 22 January 2007

Now it's on. The debate over President Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace not Apartheid has become a mainstream staple. Turn on Fox News and see resigned Carter aid Steve Berman bullied into saying that Carter is not only anti-Semitic, but supports terror. Open the New York Times, Amazon.com, Washington Post and find outraged columnists, petitioning consumers, D-Rep. Lady Macbeth washing her hands of that dreaded a-word.But like most things Israeli and Palestinian, few are taking note of history and what it might mean to an ex-president. Carter is no longer in "the game," which affords him the liberty to speak frankly, unlike Howard Dean, who once hinted at criticisms of Israel before quickly retreating to behavioral protocol. Perhaps then it is fairer to judge Carter's present in light of his past, when political cards were stacked and he spoke with another voice.

It is mid-September 1978, and President Carter has invited Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Camp David for thirteen days of negotiation over an Arab-Israeli peace. The event was preceded by Sadat's diplomatic visit to Jerusalem in November 1977, the first public meeting between an Arab leader and Zionist or Israeli official since the June 1918 meeting between Chaim Weizmann and the Emir Faisal. Opposition proliferated: the government in Damascus instituted a "Day of National Mourning," Iraq canceled the celebratory Al-Adha feast, Libya withdrew recognition of the Sadat government, and Egypt's Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmy submitted his resignation.

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