5/02/2007

Jimmy Carter

Former President, and Noble Peace Prize Laureate Jimmy Carter came to Berkeley this afternoon. He was promoting his new book: Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. In a packed Zellerbach Auditorium, he talked to an audience of mostly students (only 150 seats were made available to faculty and staff). He received a Berkeley Medal of Honor, the highest honor the University extends to dignitaries (Berkeley does not issue honorary degrees).

For me, there were three points of appeal to Carter’s presence at the University: I believe Jimmy Carter to have done very well as a human rights activist (so much better than he did as a US President, I believe). Additionally, he is a man very much hated by a group of Iranians who hold him directly responsible for the regime change of 1979 in Iran. I don’t actually agree with the second point, but it intrigued me enough to want to hear this man talk. The last point is that I believe whether he was good or bad, effective or useless, a servant of human rights or a traitor to them, history will have until eternity to judge Jimmy Carter and other leaders to measure and evaluate them; however, in my limited lifetime, whenever I have a chance to go see major figures of our contemporary history, I never pass it up.

Jimmy Carter talked about his book, and the plight of Palestinians. The overall premise of his book is that while he criticizes suicide bombers and those who "consider the killing of Israelis as victories,” he says "some Israelis believe they have the right to confiscate and colonize Palestinian land and try to justify the sustained subjugation and persecution of increasingly hopeless and aggravated Palestinians." He said Israel will never find peace unless it withdraws from its neighbor’s lands and stops persecuting Palestenians.

He then had a talk with Orville Schell, Dean of Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. Schell asked Carter several questions, including what he thought about US taking military action against Iran, and he replied it would be a catastrophe, worse than Iraq.

Another interesting day in Berkeley, wouldn't you say?

3 comments:

Assal said...

Did President Carter make any comment at all regarding Iran?

Nazy said...

Salam Assal Jan. Obviously his speech was about his book on Palestine and Israel, but during the Q/A with Orville Schell, he posed a question regarding a military attack on Iran, and he was really against it. Many people in the audience cheered that reply, too. Are you finished with your finals? I know you have been really quiet, so I hope you are going through them with flying colors. The blogs have been really boring while everybody scrambles for finals. Best of luck.

Karim said...

Interesting points.