The Individual Right of Return, the Key to Peace

                                    Copyright ©  2007 Jordan White


            I have just received a copy of former President Jimmy Carter’s new book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid (Simon and Schuster, 2006).


            Although many of Carter’s points are valid, and he has shown great courage in taking on Israel’s vile treatment of the Palestinian people, he has missed what is likely the key issue in the conflict: the Palestinians’ right of return.


            Carter does the same thing that most other so-called “negotiators” have done: he speaks of “the Palestinians” as if they were some gelatinous blob of humanity with no faces and no individual identities.


            He speaks of the need to return to negotiations, but how can there be negotiations when no one discusses the right of return?  How can you drive people from their lands and their homes and expect that “the elephant in the living room” will just be ignored?  How can you hold “talks”?  There is simply nothing to talk about.


            Our whole system, in the United States, is predicated on the protection of the individual rights of its citizens.  That is what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights expressly accomplish.  The documents are there to protect specific, individual rights.  This is the key element of democracy.  This is what allows the American people to live in peace, harmony and freedom.


            However, no one seems to realize that the respect of individual rights is the only way to solve any sort of conflict.  The first step in solving a conflict should always be to determine what these rights are, and how they are being violated.  The fledgling US did that quite nicely for itself in the 1770’s: “No taxation without representation!” was the rallying cry.


            So, why is it that the Palestinian rallying cry: “No peace without the right of return!” is ignored and shoved under the table when it should be the very first issue to be discussed?   Discussed, and acted upon!


            Let us, for once, listen to what these disappointed, dispossessed people have to say.  They don’t want to talk about border lines, water rights, cease-fires or any other issues until they have been granted the right to go home.  That is their right under international law, and it is the most fundamental individual right of all.