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January 8th, 2009
04:30 PM ET

An Unnecessary War

Smoke rises in Gaza City after an Israeli airstrike Thursday.

Smoke rises in Gaza City after an Israeli airstrike Thursday.

Jimmy Carter
The Washington Post

I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.

After visiting Sderot last April and seeing the serious psychological damage caused by the rockets that had fallen in that area, my wife, Rosalynn, and I declared their launching from Gaza to be inexcusable and an act of terrorism. Although casualties were rare (three deaths in seven years), the town was traumatized by the unpredictable explosions. About 3,000 residents had moved to other communities, and the streets, playgrounds and shopping centers were almost empty. Mayor Eli Moyal assembled a group of citizens in his office to meet us and complained that the government of Israel was not stopping the rockets, either through diplomacy or military action.

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Filed under: Israel • Palestine
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. JIM S CALIFORNIA

    Jimmy Carter is the last person who can make this statement. He is mainly responsible for the mideast crisis by allowing terrorist to overthrow the Shah of Iranin 1979. He is the main reason we arr paying billions of dollars being involved with muslim terrorists. He is wrong about this war. It is necessary in order for Israel to stop Hamas from firing rockets into Israel. Jimmy Carter knows personally that you cannot negotiate with muslims.

    January 9, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  2. Suz

    Can someone explain how Israel's actions are any different than Nazi Germany's. This seems to be a case of victims of violence become perpetrators of violence and so it goes on and on through the centuries. Shame on you Israel. Many feel you are cheapening the memory of the victims of the Holocaust by your actions. Please do not kill because you were the victims of mass violence. You must know by now that you will only get more violence. Violence and inhumanity produce more violence and inhumanity.

    January 9, 2009 at 1:45 am |
  3. charles shaw

    As long as US support Israel war machine peace is not reacheable.
    US must step down from the process as a mediator we fail out. US didn’t achive anything in the last 30 years, no even Carter or Clinton did and if they did that was just a brief and short peace. Israel must understand that the land belongs to the Arab world and they must share the land in order to live in peace with not rules or agression of any kind. Palestina must be free, If we reach peace United Nations is the one who must deal the negociations not US.
    Thanks

    January 9, 2009 at 1:44 am |
  4. Teresa, OH

    I agree with PA... Israel's carnage is shocking. While I am in agreement with you in prayer, PA, I think this one is gonna play out in a way no one expects.

    I dont understand when two leaders who have disagreements: why dont THEY fight it out? Why do they have to involve a whole population? Let those two duke it out and may the best man, or woman, win.

    January 8, 2009 at 8:01 pm |
  5. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Hamas has brought all this on themselves by constantly firing rockets into Isreal.. This is a terrorist act by any definition

    Would any one here tolerate a neighboring country firing rockets into our country and causing terror? I think not. Well, it looks like Isreal has had enough and finally had to do what is necessary to defend itself. They have been patient for a long time, now patience is gone!

    Where was the crying out and protests about Hamas firing rockets into Isreal??? Hamas has kicked a hornets nest, and is finding out what their actions have brought them.

    No one really wins in war, but this action by Isreal is not unnecessary if they want to live in peace.

    January 8, 2009 at 7:59 pm |
  6. jim Fallbrook CA

    Jimmy Carter is the last person who has the credentials to call this a unnecessary war. Let me see he allowed a terrorist group to overthrow the Shah of Iran. Shah was pro west. Then there was the hostage crisis allowing the terrorists government ot hold American Hostages for about 444 days humiliating us. The reason we are involved in the middle east crisis is mainly due to the Carter administration. Thank you Jimmy Carter. This includes the billions we are spending fight these wars. Otherwise, Jimmy Carter is wrong. This war in necessary. As the American people know, you can't negotiate with muslims. Tryiing to is like negotiating with a brick wall. Yhe civilians that have been killed is due to Hamas using them as human shields. Why hasn't anybody said anything about that? Muslims only understand one thing brute force. How do you think Saddam Hussein stayed in power in Iraq for over 40 years?

    January 8, 2009 at 7:58 pm |
  7. Leonard

    Yes, both side could have avoided this war. If Israel had not taken exception to its citizens being subject to rocket attacks and had not invaded, and if Hamas had not fired rockets into Israel and had not broken a ceasefire to fire those rockets. Why didnt Hamas lodge an appeal or protest with the appropriate authorities? Its not because we let them fire rockets, its because in doing nothing about this ongoing conflict we have come to expect it from them. So who is to blame?

    Mr Carter skips over the psychological damage done from rocket attacks to say only 3 people have died. And yet, the pilgrims who founded America didnt emigrate here cause King George was killing people. They came here at much sacrifice and risk because of the mental anguish the tyrant of England posed on a daily basis. He disturbed their peace by forcing his views on them. Mental anguish is psychological damage.

    Hamas has made a rocket a point of view. By sending them daily, Hamas believes they can force their views on Israelis. Really no different than King George, just looks different cause of technological advances in weaponry. If we let them go without protest or challenge, Hamas thinks its ok and will continue.
    "The world is an evil place, not because of those who do evil in it, but because of those who look on and do nothing." Albert Einstein

    The problem is really ours, but we are comfortable letting Israel take the brunt of it. Israel has tried to handle the problem with just assistance from allys. But if we dont soon convince Hamas that a rocket is not a point of view or an idea, then this conflict will look small compared to what will follow.

    January 8, 2009 at 7:43 pm |
  8. Dave Eisley

    Mohammad Alsharabati....am I missing something, or didn't Hamas fire first??? And regarding the hypocratic west.....weren't we attacked in 2001, unprovoked, or am I missing something there as well??? Now, I will be the first to agree that our government needs a serious overhaul, and I was no fan of George Bush. However, for Arabs to act like they are defenseless victims is ridiculous. However, I am all for stopping FIRST...get out of Iraq...get out of Gaza....stop wasting lives and everyone's time....the World needs to get a JOB!

    January 8, 2009 at 7:26 pm |
  9. Zahua J.

    Isreal needs to stop the killing in Gaza. They are killing innocent people and wont stop! Isreal has no right of this!!! The Isreal's are the ones that are terrorists not Hammas...Hammas just wants their country country back that belongs to them and have their rights ..FREE GAZA!

    January 8, 2009 at 6:59 pm |
  10. CA

    I wish all who don't understand Israel actions would live a few years under constant bombardment and suicide bombers killing your kids. Maybe then you would understand that no terrorist organization and/or state (as Gaza today) should go unpunished.

    Palestinian people (like Germans in 40's) voted for Hamas in 2006 and now they are paying the fair price for their choise. They celebrated when the terrorists shot rockets all those years killing? They cheered every suicide attack in Israel cities? They were part of the killing machine that Hamas created and shouldn't blame anyone but themselves for what happens to them.

    January 8, 2009 at 6:54 pm |
  11. Susan, Novato CA

    PA said, "I am disgusted and shocked by Israel’s total lack of humanity, compassion and Christianity toward the Gazan people! "

    Israel has shown an enormous amount of humanity and compassion toward the Gazan people by continuing to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and by doing everything they can, including calling Gazans and warning them before military strikes, to keep the civilian death toll to a minimum despite the fact that Hamas uses civilians and children as human shields.

    And the fact that people still equate "Christian" with "humanity and compassion," particularly in this situation involving these two groups, neither of which are Christian, illustrates a large part of the problem.

    January 8, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  12. Kim

    Cease fire,end it and peace out !

    January 8, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  13. Paul Blount, Albuquerque, NM

    This is a first for me, writing on a news blog. After reading about Israeli soldiers firing on Red Cross and U.N. convoys I am so angry I can barely contain myself! That simply cannot be allowed for any reason! The U.S. has the clout to severely chastise Israel for this and should do so immediately!!!

    January 8, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  14. Melissa B ~ California

    Until the palestinian people prove they want peace with their Israeli neighbors the fighting and killing will continue. I agree that a greater effort is needed getting humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza, still the war goes on. If the palestinian militants would stop using children in schools and other people in civilian homes as "human shields" a great many innocent civilians would still be alive.

    A first step toward REAL peace in Gaza is for the palestinian people to denounce Hamas, whose goal is not to live in peace with Israel, but to destroy it and replace it with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. That is part of the Hamas Charter. Sadly, the people of Gaza voted for this terrorist organization, so if they really want to live in peace with their neighbors they must change the leadership in Palestine by voting for a different organization to lead them out of this seemingly endless hostility.

    January 8, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  15. PA

    I agree that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided. What was the purpose and what positive outcome could it possibly entail? Peace certainly couldn't be considered an option to this volatile assault.

    I am disgusted and shocked by Israel's total lack of humanity, compassion and Christianity toward the Gazan people! Their attacks on Ghaza over the last two days have been an assault on a people who are hemmed in on all sides with no possible escape or refuge. . And then for Israel to deny them supplies and human aid in their suffering is unimaginable. To see innocent women and children suffering and total families lost to this unnecessary agressive power is heart wrenching. I fear Isreal's international image will suffer greatly as a result of thes attacks on innocent civilians.
    I pray God will hear our pleas and free the people of Gaza. I hope all bloggers will join me in prayer.

    January 8, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  16. Cindy

    Obviously both sides could have avoided this conflict but they were not willing to bend a little to appease the other side. But when you are dealing with terrorists, which is what Hamas is, who care for no one but themselves, then you really can't expect much out of them. They could care less about whomever they kill or harm in Israel or Gaza. With people like that it is hard to take them seriously or make agreements with them.

    Cindy...Ga.

    January 8, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  17. Suliman Shihab

    For three people killed in seven years, Israel killed 765 Palestinians most of them are civilians, bombed 17 mosques so far, bombed three UN schools, killed at least 10 medical personnel and on top of that claims that its actions are justified. The disaster is that all of the west who gave us in the Arabic world lectures in Democracy and Human rights support actions of Israel. Now, we know that Human rights it depends on the customer. If this customer is pro-west then he or she has the full Human rights but if he/she against the west then do not dream even of animal rights.

    January 8, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  18. Mohammad Alsharabati

    I thin Israel and the whole westbehind it lost its credibility, morality and uncovered its real face. 765 palestinians more than 80% are civilians and disarmed were killed in 13 days and still you are blaming the victims. Who are the people living in Gaza? are they rats or insects? I am sure if they were animals somebody in the hypocratic west will defend their rights. To all the world, it is clear that Israel targeting civilians. Who are the people of Gaza? they are the same people who were kicked out from their land in 1948 to be refugee in Gaza in the last 60 years. That was not enough for Israel and the west, now they are chasing them and their grandsons and daughters to kill them and take them out of the world.

    January 8, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  19. Petah

    Most people seem to be ignorant of the history of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. I am a geography professor who lectures on the region and once the students understand the true history without calling groups terrorists they appreciate the struggle. I am not taking sides, but CNN can do us all a favor and have a special on this now that the whole world is watching. Cover the British Balfour, Zionism, the Arab/Israeli conflict, the 1960s war, the 1970s oil crisis, how Israel got the best land and waters from the Arab states, millions of Palestinians displaced and still have no rights. Also, include what led to the 1990s uprisings. The CNN specials are excellent in informing the American public {and the world} and they can do so this time around and hopefully Americans will finally understand the conflict without any bias.

    January 8, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  20. Russian

    "If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel" -Benjamin Netanyahu

    January 8, 2009 at 4:43 pm |