Book Review: PALESTINE PEACE NOT APARTHEID : Jimmy Carter. Rated A.

December 18, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
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A Voice In The Wilderness.

Jimmy Carter was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 2002 for the reasons given in the Nobel committee’s citation which begins as follows:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002 to Jimmy Carter, for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development. During his presidency (1977-1981), Carter’s mediation was a vital contribution to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, in itself a great enough achievement to qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize. At a time when the cold war between East and West was still predominant, he placed renewed emphasis on the place of human rights in international politics.

The balance of the citation can be found here. (click here)

Mr. Carter has now written a book published by Simon and Schuster in 2006 giving his opinion why peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis cannot be achieved under the conditions that presently exist.

First he points out that Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Arafat and the Israeli Government have all agreed at one time or another to a division into two states of the land called Palestine as it existed before 1948 to the borders existent in 1967. This is a general principle all parties ostensibly agree upon but the devil is in the details of execution.

The principal of “Right Of Return” is a condition of the Palestinians, along with just compensation for lands acquired as a result of the creation of the State of Israel. Many Palestinians still have deeds to property they owned in Israel for which they did not receive compensation.

If all Palestinians exercised a right of return to Palestinian land as it existed before 1948 there would be more Palestinians than Israelis in Israel. However, allegedly most Palestinians do not want to return but about 10 percent say they do. This would amount to three to four hundred thousand people and presumably this would be intolerable to the present population of Israel. The balance of the Palestinians alive today would live in the West Bank, Gaza or elsewhere in the Middle East or the world. Presumably the right of return would be limited to the West Bank or Gaza in any treaty.

The central theme of this book is that the present Israeli government is preventing a peaceable two state approach as stated above by building the wall. The wall is not being built along the 1967 borders of the West Bank but is three times as long as the 1967 border. It is being built on Palestinian land and snakes through the West Bank in a way that divides communities from their fields and in other ways that separate Palestinian not only from Israelis but also Palestinians. Also it divides the West Bank into economically unsustainable parts. Carter points out that the economically fertile Jordan River Valley in the West Bank was confiscated by the Israel after the 1967 war and settled by Israelis. The Palestinian owners have never been allowed to return or have been compensated.

Carter points out the many unjust social, legal and economic practices by the Israelis in the occupied lands since 1967 which create road blocks to any lasting settlement.

THE WALL WILL PREVENT PEACE.

He argues that the wall will never constitute the basis for a lasting settlement. It will not lead to peaceful coexistence but is an unjust measure by the Israelis to confiscate land in the West Bank and will always be an impediment to peace. Further it will prevent the Palestinians from ever developing a socially or economically viable state. Gaza his always been recognized as a place that is economically unsustainable on its own and Israel seems to have abandoned its settlement practices there but has intensified its grip on land in the West Bank. Land which is needed to established a viable Palestinian state.

It took great courage for former President Carter to state his opinion of why lasting peace is not obtainable in the Middle East between the Palestinians and Israelis under present conditions. He calls the policy underlying the erection of the wall comparable to the system of Apartheid in South Africa.

In doing so he has incurred the wrath of the Israeli lobby in the United States and has voiced opinions never heard before in mainstream American media. He has been attacked not on the rationale of his beliefs but personally as a man and a Christian.

Carter has raised questions about Israeli policies toward the Palestinians that appear to be the root causes of the conflict and unless the Palestinians have a viable state legally, socially and economically peace will remain unlikely.

Poverty and injustice is the incubator of suicide bombers and Carter believes this practice will go away once a sustainable independent Palestinian State is established within the 1967 borders.

While it seems that non-secatarian moderates on both sides may be in agreement as to the basis of a viable peace it is the extremists on both sides that prevent peace from becoming a reality.

Carter does not address this problem. It seems that extremists on both sides are strong enough prevent the compromises needed to achieve a lasting peace.

However it should be remembered that Carter’s opinions should not be dismissed lightly. In 1979 he was able to bring together Menachem Begin and Anwar Al Sadat (both men were involved in terrorist resistance to British rule. One in Palestine the other in Egypt) and concluded the Egypt- Israeli Peace Treaty which is still in force today. On this basis alone Carter’s opinions should receive serious consideration.

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Movie Review: Blood Diamond: Rated B: Another Exploitation Of Sierra Leone.

December 11, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
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This film stars Leonardo DiCaprio (Danny Archer) as a nihilistic South African diamond smuggler. Djimon Honsou, (Solomon Vandy) is a Sierra Leone fisherman whose village has been ravaged by the Revolutionary United Front. The RUF is a guerrilla army financed by conflict diamonds that uses young boys as soldiers. Vandy is sent off as forced laborer in the guerrilla held diamond fields and his son is conscripted into the rebel army. Jennifer Connelly (Maddy Bowen) is a journalist chasing the story of the international syndicate, DeBeers, which buys the diamonds to maintain their monopoly over the international diamond market. A large part of this market consists of Americans paying high prices for polished bits of carbon that would be worth a few dollars at best if there was a free market in diamonds. The dark side of the purchase of these conflict or blood diamonds is that it finances the RUF in its wild rampage for control of the diamond fields.

In one scene it shows the guerrillas chopping of the hands and arms of innocent civilians. This is the RUF response to the President’s proclamation that the future of a Sierra Leone is in the hands of its people.

While he is a captive, Solomon finds a huge uncut diamond and hides it. He escapes and ends up in a Freetown Jail where Danny is also incarcerated as a captured smuggler. Another prisoner who was A RUF guard accuses Solomon of hiding the diamond.

Danny learns about Solomon’s diamond and when they are released from jail offers to help Solomon to find his son in exchange for a share in the diamond. Danny meets Maddy who wants the story and pictures of the diamond fields, slave workers and the boy soldiers to show how the diamond cartel prolongs the war. She offers to help Danny and Solomon return to the diamond field where the Solomon has buried the diamond using her journalist access as cover. This is as about as thick as the plot gets.
Blood Diamond an exploitation film about exploitation.

This motion picture is loosely based on the political situation in Sierra Leone that existed in the Nineties. Since 2000 with the help of UN troops the situation is stable and the RUF is a political party and no longer in control of the diamond fields.

This movie therefore is old news and its self righteous indignation at the activities of the diamond cartel in financing the guerrillas and their bloodthirsty war sounds phony. The movie pretends to be a “cause” movie but it is not because it concerns it self with past events and not an on going situation like Darfur.

Indeed the movie is just a new level of exploitation in the long history of Sierra Leone.
This time by the movie industry using the country to make another buck off the misery of the people there.

The script is poorly written and the movie is basically a dramatic chase movie rather than an expose of the diamond trade. Indeed the diamonds are now mined by the government and sold to DeBeers so they can continue to maintain their monopoly.
DiCaprio and Honsou are convincing in their roles. Jennifer Connelly is out of her depth. There are other actresses ( i.e.Cate Blanchette) who could have played her role much more effectively but probably turned the role down recognizing the movie for what it is. A misguided attempt to secure an Academy Award for DiCaprio.

The film is directed by Edward Zwick who has done better work, (i.e. The Last Samurai). All this said the film is still worth a viewing.

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