He Comes in Peace

Cynics will scoff at the title of former President Jimmy Carter’s new book, We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land. After all, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict seems as untamable as a knapsack of bumblebees.

But Carter does have a Nobel Peace Prize, and they don’t give those away in Cracker Jack boxes. This is the same guy who got the leaders of Egypt and Israel to smoke the peace pipe at Camp David in 1978. Thirty years later, that treaty still holds.

“I know that sometimes what seems to be an insurmountable obstacle can be overcome,” Carter tells New Times via phone in advance of his book signing at Changing Hands Bookstore.

We Can Have Peace details a workable plan for ending the conflict. It includes a demilitarized Palestinian state and the sharing of Jerusalem. And Carter finds hope in statements by Hamas regarding a Palestinian referendum on any agreement, and Hamas’ willingness to accept a Gaza-specific ceasefire. President Barack Obama also inspires Carter’s optimism.

“He [Obama] promised he would start working on the Mideast his first day in office, which he has done,” observes Carter. “He also has appointed a superb negotiator . . . factors [that] point to my title’s accuracy.”

Fri., Feb. 13, 6 p.m., 2009
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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons