Former United States President Jimmy Carter was part of a panel discussion on a number of topics, including peace in the Middle East, in Jacksonville today.
Carter appeared with Dr. Khalaf Al Habtoor and former Congressman Paul Findley for the Phi Alpha Lecture Series, which was held in front of nearly 3,000 people at the Bruner Recreation Center at Illinois College.
“It’s a great honor for me to be here,” he said. “I have heard many years about the wonderful work this college has done… [it was founded] in 1829, and I was discouraged and a little bit embarrassed that it’s older than any college in Georgia,” Carter joked.
Carter’s lecture was titled “Waging Peace.” He focused on a number of topics, including sexual assault. He says one of the biggest places for assaults taking place is at colleges and universities across America.
“But the deans and presidents of universities don’t want to admit that those crimes take place on their campuses, so when it happens, the girl is cautioned, ‘don’t make an issue of it. Let’s not report it. We’ll council with the boy who’s guilty and maybe it’ll go away.’ And it does go away,” he says.
“As a matter of fact, 41 percent of all universities in America have not reported a single sexual assault in the last five years. This crime goes on unabated.”
Carter also talked about human trafficking and equality between men and women.
Al Habtoor began the event with an unveiling of a new program that will begin at Illinois College called the Pathways to Peace Initiative.
It will be a faculty-student seminar that will consider past peace efforts in international conflicts that will ask if similar programs could work in the Palestine-Israel conflict. The program will conclude with a two-week visit to Palestine and Dubai and possible visits to the West Bank and Jerusalem.
“They will meet with Palestinian and Israeli students. They will try to understand them and their needs. My hope is that they can reach a realistic solution that could help the peace process move forward,” declared Al Habtoor. “I realize the project will not be successful the first time, but we’ll try again and again.”
Findley called the Israel-Palestine conflict, which escalated once again this past summer, “grim” and opined that President Obama is the only person in the world who can bring about peace in the Middle East.
“If he has the courage of, let’s say, an Abraham Lincoln- who used an executive order to bring forth the Emancipation Proclamation in his circumstance- to have the courage and the wisdom to suspend all U.S. aid to Israel until Israel formulates a peace treaty with the Palestinians. That’s a long shot,” Findley declared.
Carter, who like Findley has been critical of Israel in that country’s conflict with Palestine, added this:
“We’ll never give up on that effort, as long as I have life. And I believe and hope that after this next election- as you know, sometimes American foreign policy is determined, I hate to say this, maybe, by the election process- that after the election in November, perhaps the United States will reconsider again it’s effort to bring about implementation of this dream to bring peace to Israel alongside a peaceful Palestinian state, and that both of them will recognize each other to be able to live in peace,” Carter stated.
Carter was presented with an Honorary Doctorate by Illinois College President Dr. Barbara Farley after today’s lecture series concluded.
Jimmy Carter was the 39th President of the U.S. He served from 1977 to 1981.
RAW AUDIO OF TODAY’S EVENT: