Sunday, January 8, 2012

Carter Recalls Camp David

In a recent interview on the occasion of his new book, "Through the Year with Jimmy Carter: 366 Daily Meditations from the 39th President" which includes "fascinating glimpses into behind-the-scenes activity at the White House", we read:

Was there a role for faith when you were brokering peace with Egypt and Israel?

There was. When I was elected President nobody asked me to negotiate between Israel and Egypt. It was not even a question raised in my campaign. But I felt that one of the reasons that I was elected President was to try to bring peace to the Holy Land. And I was blessed with two other deeply religious persons, in fact Menachem Begin was the first religious Prime Minister of Israel. The rest of them were quite secular in their attitudes, particularly Golda Meier, who laughed when I brought that up when I met with her when I was governor.

Anyway, Anwar Sadat was a deeply religious Muslim and Begin was a religious Jew and the first thing we did was to provide a common prayer to the world that we would have peace there. And Sadat brought it up quite often and wanted to build a shrine on Mount Sinai that would be used by all three faiths. We would have done that, but he was assassinated soon after I left office, and the idea was dropped. But we talked about our common worship of God quite frequently while we were negotiating the peace agreement.

Did you actually pray together?

No, we didn't have a chapel at Camp David but we used a little room and the Muslims used it on Friday, the Jews on Saturday and the Christians on Sunday. We were very assiduous in our worship.

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