Friday, January 26, 2007

B. K. Rana: Carter, Palestine and Apartheid

Carter, Palestine and Apartheid

B. K. Rana


Today, January 23, 2007, President Jimmy Carter is on a visit to Brandeis University in Waltham, a suburban campus in Boston. He is scheduled to discuss his recently published controversial book: Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The book has drawn harsh criticism from a Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz.

Earlier, President Carter was invited to debate on the book with the professor. But the President turned down the invitation which sparked an outcry from some students and faculty. They urged President Carter should be invited to campus without conditions. The Brandeis was founded by the American Jewish community. About half of whose students are Jewish origins.

Somehow or the other, the university could convince President Carter to speak on the book saying that there will be no prior conditions. President Carter is set to speak to a closed session of the university faculty this evening. Obviously, no public would have any access to listen to his lecture. Hopefully, his lecture will be available in print media tomorrow morning ! I will read most of the materials on his lecture.

Prior to the program, President Carter was here in Harvard Cooperative Society - in short ‘Harvard Coop’- to sign the book. I had bought one sometime ago and already had a cursory look onto it. The book, by the 39th President of United States of America, appeared to me a bit different than his other books including The New York Times bestsellers ‘Our Endangered Values’.

I stood in line, waited my turn to pass through the ‘security checks’ in the first floor. Actually, it was not any ‘tight’ security. There were a number of desciplined buyers in line up the stairs to the second floor and third floor also. Of course, there were some polite security personnel in civil dress watching or directing everyone in the line. Some police were also seen standing or walking past us – the enthustic ‘book-buyers’ or Jimmy Carter fans.

In the meantime, from my shoulder behind sounded a masculine voice saying that he ‘was born in Lebanon, grew-up in Palestine and living currently in USA’. He was talking to one of his acquaitances behind. Understandably, he was a pro-Palestine fellow. I didn’t think it would be of any use to turn around to see him and say ‘Hi, I am from Nepal’ or ‘the conflict ravaged Himalayan country of Nepal as yours in the middle-east’. An avarage Nepalese like myself may not have any particular concern either over Lebanon, Palestine or Isreal, however, Nepal does send ‘Shanti Senas’ or ‘troops for peace’ in Lebanon at the call of United Nations.

I think Nepal began sending such ‘Shanti Senas’ after [or later] the signing of Camp David Accords[1] on September 17, 1978 by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. To successfully finalize these two accords, they had twelve days of secret negotiations at Camp David - a presidential retreat outside the White House in Maryland. The two agreements were signed at the White House, and were witnessed by President Carter. Sadat seemed to be willing to call the accords ‘the Carter Accords’. Later Sadat was assissanated on October 6, 1981 apparently for signing the accords. Carter termed Sadat as one of the bold and couragious leraders he had ever met.

I was a student when Carter had been able to persuade Sadat and Begin to sign the accords. A ever smiling face Mr. Carter could bring peace in between Egypt and Isreal but the middle-east still remains burning. My country, Nepal is also burning now. A faint hope is that peace will prevail in the land of Buddha – the prince of peace.

I have great respect for President Carter as he spoke of human rights for peace and justice in the world. He was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 "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”.

The Carter Center is deeply concerned over Nepals’s socio-economic conditions and current peace processess also. In the meantime, we can hope President Carter would also speak in support of the larger mass of drisadvantaged communities across South Asia including Nepal for their basic human rights for peace and prosperity in the region.

[1] The Camp David Accords

Langhali Association: Govind Thapa Magar
Janajati Angst
Nepal Janajati Statement From NYC
Adivasi Janajati Talk At Harvard: Photos
Janajati Sammelan At The New School

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