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‘We cannot have peace without justice’

Monday, October 26, 2009 05:57:35 PM, Roger Harrison

PEACE CAMPAIGNER: Former US President Jimmy Carter being welcomed by Sami Angawi at his house in Jeddah on Saturday evening.

(AN photo by Roger Harrison)

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Jeddah: Former US President Jimmy Carter visited Jeddah on Saturday to share his vision of the future of cross cultural and interfaith relations and peace in the Middle East with an invited audience.


Sami Angawi, who hosted the event, greeted the 39th US president who has devoted his life to building understanding between peoples and offering practical medical help to millions of the poor across the world through the Carter Center.


“Everybody’s talking about peace, but we cannot have peace without justice,” he said in his opening remarks to guests. “But justice cannot be done without mercy and mercy cannot be given without knowledge,” he said.


He posed the rhetorical question as to what could be done practically to achieve this and referred to Qur’anic injunctions emphasizing balance and unity through diversity.


“The balance is between the constant and the evolving. If only constant, nothing happens and if only evolving, then there will be chaos. Balance is what brings them together. Change will give us diversity and constancy will give us unity,” he said.


He added that diversity exists within unity and unity accommodates diversity and this was what brought us together as mankind.


Carter said that his return to Saudi Arabia reminded him that the Kingdom represented the common aspirations of many human beings.

“Peace, cooperation, forgiveness and ability to work together for common goals that are also common to all the major religions,” he said.


He noted that we were all children of Abraham and that this bound us together as brothers and sisters to pursue the same goal which became indistinct in a modern fast moving world.


Carter recalled a schoolteacher from his youth whom he quoted at both his inauguration as president and on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.


“He said that we must accommodate changing times but cling to unchanging principles. We must be flexible in modern days recognizing the diversity of the hopes and dreams of all people but I also think that principles never change. Justice, peace, humility, service, forgiveness, compassion and love. So, we have no separation among us.”


Carter described some of the activities of the Carter Center that are driven by those principles and said that he had a very deep commitment to several issues. He noted that since he was free of political office he could go where he chooses and say what he wants.


“The most important political goal of my life for 30 years is to bring peace to Israel and to all Israel’s neighbours with justice for the Palestinians,” he said.


“All of us at the Carter Center maintained a full time commitment to bringing peace and justice to the Holy Land,” he added.


Carter said that he had met and dealt with the parties working toward Middle East peace — the US, Fatah, Hamas, Israelis, Lebanese and Syrians. “We have come to the realization that there is a desire for peace, but there are not many people who are free to move as we (the Carter Center) do to seek this common goal,” he said.


Carter said that he had faith and confidence in the moral values of President Barack Obama and that he was well aware of the tremendous pressures on him by interest groups in the US.


Offering a glimpse of the way the Carter Center worked at both ends of the peace continuum, he said; “We try to provide an alternative voice to some of those groups. I have free access to President Obama and his advisers and we continue to pursue the goal of the US taking leadership to bring about the dream of peace.”

(Arab News)












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