You spent so much of your career working toward a reasonable, peaceful solution to violence and strife in Israel and Palestine. Increasing attention has been paid to traditionalist evangelicals’ strong support for Israel, based on the New Testament prophecy that the reconstruction of the ancient kingdom of David will usher in the “end times” and the Second Coming of Christ. As a believer and a peacemaker, how do you respond to this?
That’s a completely foolish and erroneous interpretation of the Scriptures. And it has resulted in these last few years with a terrible, very costly, and bloody deterioration in the relationship between Israel and its neighbors. Every president except for George W. Bush has taken a relatively balanced position between the Israelis and their enemies, always strongly supporting Israel but recognizing that you have to negotiate and work between Israel and her neighbors in order to bring about a peaceful resolution.
It’s nearly the 25th anniversary of my consummation of a treaty between Israel and Egypt -- not a word of which has ever been violated. But this administration, maybe strongly influenced by ill-advised theologians of the extreme religious right, has pretty well abandoned any real effort that could lead to a resolution of the problems between Israel and the Palestinians. And no one can challenge me on my commitment to Israel and its right to live in peace with all its neighbors. But at the same time, there has to be a negotiated settlement; you can’t just ordain the destruction of the Palestinian people, and their community and their political entity, in favor of the Israelis.
And that’s what some of the extreme fundamentalist Christians have done, both to the detriment of the Israelis and the Palestinians. Preach it, Brother Jimmy!