tv Book Discussion CSPAN October 26, 2014 8:48am-9:54am EDT
so it is a matter of putting yourself out there in saying this is something i feel passionate about and i want to do it. if i'd done that earlier, the book would have been written quicker, but i had to fight through my own insecurities. i'm grateful for the wealth of support not only the art community, but the science community and i'm really proud of the end product. a lot of it has to do with it comes to riding projects, you can't do this, no one will read it here believe me, i've had my low moments. i was in between residencies and i was like sleeping on a friends couch in philadelphia in may for the sick are okay? this is going to be great. it's all going to work out. someone will publish it. it's all cool. she's like you are not doing great. but it all worked out. even in your low moment, keep moving forward and keep doing the stuff that is valuable to you. i'm sort of a strange person to
tell it, but it all happens the way it had to be. great question. so thank you so much, austin. thank you, both people. [applause] and i will see you over here. [applause] >> yeah, we can start designing now. if you purchased about, you can start lining up this way towards the elevator. [inaudible conversations] >> pulitzer prize-winning author lawrence wright recounts the
camp david accords or president jimmy carter brokered a peace treaty between israeli administered egyptian president. the other professor respected world leaders and reports on their daily meetings over 13 days. this is about an hour and 10 minute. >> good evening. tony clark from the carter residential museum. i am really pleased you all are here. there is no more appropriate place for the soccer program than right here. last november the carter library the central intelligence agency had a seminar. the cia released a number of documents related to the camp david accords and it was just a fascinating book at everything that went into getting ready for the camp david accords and president carter discussing his remembrances of the camp david accords. one of the people in the audience that day was for it's
right. lawrence wright is an author, screenwriter, playwright. he is staff rider for "the new yorker." he has written for southern voices, to monthly, rolling dog at "the new yorker." many of his articles have won prizes, including two national magazine awards. he is the cowriter of movies, the siege and showtimes for the noriega favorite. he is an author of one novel and eight nonfiction looks, including in this nonfiction books, "the looming tower" al qaeda and the road to 9/11 and go in clear, scientology, hollywood and the prison of belief. his most recent book, 13 days in september, carter avakian at camp david this book brings us here today. -- "thirteen days in september." "the new york times" did it this past week. it is a glowing review of the work he has done.
i think it probably sums it up best at the end when he says -- when the rider says, lawrence wright makes a masterly case that it's time we gave credit to jimmy carter, gave him full credit for all the live services in fire diplomacy had saved. it's a fascinating story. first time put into context in the book. please join us in welcoming, lawrence wright. [applause] >> well, thank you so much. it's good to be back in atlanta. not just back from the research i did here at the library. i used to live around the corner. we lived on what was then called forest road, now ralph mcgill boulevard. this is a vacant lot. it looks like it would never be
anything other than a vacant lot, but it's so great to see what it's become. i'm going to tell you a little bit about how this book came about and then i'll talk about the three chronologies that i have in the book, which are the 13 days of camp david and the history of the modern middle east. and sort of the biblical plagues them of history around even to this day. this book had a really odd beginning. unique as far as i know. i got a call in 2011 from gerald russia. many of you know him. he was jimmy carter's media types are in the white house. he was asking if i interested in writing a play about camp david. his pitch was that this is when the born-again christian of pious muslim and orthodox jewish
went behind closed doors for 13 days in a merged with the only durable peace treaty in the region. it was a pretty good pitch. i thought that's interesting. also, we had last year when carter was governor, when he ran for president and we also lived in cairo when said six became president. we were teaching at the american university there. i asked a reporter had spent several trips to israel. so i thought it was a good fit for me. but aside from the beginning, i want to research this, just the same way i would do a new yorker story or e-book. i have to talk to everybody. i have to go to the middle east in talks to the middle east intact while the surviving delegates over there so that we get their event as well. so we begin by going to planes. for those of you who have never
been to the president and mrs. carter's house there, it is very modest. they built it after jimmy retired from the navy and came home to take over the peanut warehouse after his father had died. they were sitting on a blue couch with matching blue change curtains behind them. on the wall behind the couch was a painting that jimmy carter had done of the room we were in. it looks to me like an ostrich and from goodnight to. [laughter] said jerry rasch sharon says mr. president, where he works for "the new yorker." at this time i have to preface this. i'm working on the play, not the book. i'm trying to envision in my mind who was onstage. anybody else? said jerry says mr. president, larry works for "the new yorker"
and he recently wrote a piece about scientology. i found that most intriguing. [laughter] worldwide turns around and says since when did you start reading "the new yorker"? the fourth carat are suddenly appeared in my mind. i needed somebody who could talk to jimmy carter like that. when parker was born in the house next-door to. they've known each other for almost a century and they still have a vital and interesting relationship. brooklyn was especially helpful to me. for one thing, i learned of camp david was her idea. carter had put a lot of energy into trying to create an international summit in geneva. but the truth is that was doomed from the beginning. the geopolitical forces that were a work were never going tonight that a success. and he in roseland were at camp
david. she said why don't you just bring them here? so in many respects, she is beyond the knowledge.correct this peace treaty. it was in some ways her inspired idea that brought these men together. i had noted in her memoir that she kept a personal diary at camp david. 200 typewritten pages she said. so when we went planes, i said mrs. carter, sure would like to have a look at that diary. it's around here somewhere. no effort to find it. i couldn't find a keyer. so i kept pestering and he finally called the president then one day a brown manila envelope arrived in the mail. it was very helpful in charting the emotional tenor of those 13
tumultuous days in the toe of his taking on everybody. so i highlighted the stuff that was useful in the marginal note that a month later jerry called and says larry, where is that diary? roselyn wants it that. it's aroma copy. so if you are wondering sunday, future historians, it was me. so after that, we went to egypt and israel and talked to the surviving delegates on both sides. they saw manifested in a play that appeared at the arena stage in washington this past spring that we are hoping -- we hope we can take it to broadway and elsewhere. we hope you'll come to atlanta. i was apprehensive about the president's reaction and he was apprehensive about the play before you saw it.
at the hand, jerry hand, gery said he'd never seen carter cried and he was openly weeping. and he went to alex, played rosalinda blanton took her hand and said i fell in love with you again tonight. last night pretty good line for a man that's about to be 90 years old i've got to say. but by that time i was already deep into writing this book. you know, the issues that were on the table at camp david, so many of them are front of us still today. i thought if i could write about what was going on at camp david, i can understand in a deep way the roots of this conflict that continues to send the middle eastern into turmoil threatens the world order. so much tragedy has emerged from this region.
so many wars, so many refugees, so much terrorism and so little hope. but there was one time when peace was achieved in this book is the story of how the piece was made. i think it is useful to look at a moment like this when peace was accomplished despite the pessimism that typically surrounds the idea of middle east peace. it seems like people sneer when they say that. you know, the idea there could be anything other than the eternal war between arabs and jews. if you look at the first 30 years of israel's existence, there were four wars. ..
mythologies that lower societies into conflict. let's begin with the biblical concept of the promised land, the legend that is at the root of this conflict. in genesis, god speaks to abram in a dream and promises to give them and his descendents the land between the nile and the euphrates, territory that would encompass southern turkey, western iraq, parts of saudi arabia, all of syria, jordan, israel, the west bank, gaza, sinai and half of egypt. later, god makes a similar pledge to moses as he leads his people out of egypt, although the boundaries are now from the red sea to the euphrates. on another occasion god tells moses that the promised land is really keen in, which is an entity that's much more like modern israel, including the west bank and much of southern
lebanon. defining borders has always been a problem in the middle east, evidently, even for god. when the wandering israelites reached the river jordan, god draws moses up to mount needle and since this is the land i promised to abraham and his descendents, and you the opportunity to see but i will not let you cross over. so abraham, so moses label to look out from the mount and see all the way to the mediterranean sea. and then he passed away at the age of 120, having delivered his people out of egypt into the wilderness of sinai. at this point guide instructs moses successor, joshua, to take the israelites into the promised land saying every place you set foot i have given you. however, the land is not vacant.
the story of joshua's conquest of the promised land is one of the most shocking event in the bible. cities have burnt to the ground, populations are wiped out every man, woman and child, even the livestock all slaughtered on the lord's instruction to kill every living thing. in that way the children of israel finally came into possession of the promised land. one of the many problems with the biblical account is that during the time of exodus, all of the territory was part of the engine egyptian empire. the 31 teams that joshua is said to executed were all paying taxes to the pharaoh before, during and after the supposed israelite invasion. from the earliest time the egyptian people so decrepit talent for bureaucracy but they kept extensive records. there's no historical or archaeological evidence that the israelites were ever in egypt.
the bible records that six and 3000, 550 israelite man above the age of 20, plus their wives and shown and various hangers on, estimated to be queuing people, spent 40 years wandering in the sinai on their journey to the promised land, but 2 million people lined up 10 abreast would stretch more than 150 miles, more than the entire width of the sinai peninsula. there's no evidence of their presence in the sinai. archaeologists have excavated most of the cities that joshua is said to have raised. many were not inhabited at the time were not destroyed. on the other hand, there are abundant remains of egyptian military outposts and administrative centers that testify to the imperial rule of one of the most powerful empires in the ancient world. if the exodus did occur in some
fashion, the israelites were making a journey from one part of egypt to another. the bible doesn't mention this. the most likely explanation for the origin of the israelites is that they were themselves the canaanites. dna studies have indicated that jews and palestinians are very closely related. over them are descended from the canaanites. genetically they are the same people. both have been displaced for thousands of years. but the three men who would meet at camp david in september 1978 accepted the biblical account, as to believe it's been abraham religions, all over the world. even if i believed that god had chosen the jews and lead them to the promised land, but as a muslim he believed if the jews had broken the covenant with the lord, and he had turned against them. now i'm going to sketch out a
little bit of the history leading up to camp david, and you'll see why it's such a remarkable event. in november 1947, the u.n. partition to this former portion of ottoman empire into two parts. one to be a jewish state, and another, the other part of it to be set aside for the palestinian people. the following made the state of israel committee being along with its doomed twin palestine. five arab armies immediately attacked. it wasn't just israel they were attacking. it was a land grab for palestine. jordan took the west bank. egypt to gaza, and israel to the west -- took the rest of the. so much for palestine. in 1956 after egyptian president nasser -- israel conspired with
israel and france to attack egypt and take over the canal to president eisenhower, furious, forced return of the sinai to egypt. this marked the end of england and france as great powers but also consolidated in the minds of arabs notion that israel was an outpost of western colonialism. and for better or worse, america took on the middle east portfolio. in 1967 nasr demanded peacekeepers be removed and sign and have access to the straits which israel considered acts of war. in june issue of attack and wiped out three arab armies in six days the israel seized the west bank. the old city of jerusalem which had been under jordanian control since 1948 that also took the golan heights from syria as well as the sinai peninsula, including gaza from egypt to be tripled the size of israel,
adding 1.5 million arabs. but at the time israel only had about 2 million jews. now, i want to get a little bit about the psychological effect of the 19 '67 war. before the war, jews were leaving israel in great numbers. there was a sense that israel was doomed. and war itself became manifest in likely to happen. gas masks were passed around egypt at the time as if they were in yemen using chemical weapons. and there were trenches dug in city parks for mass graves. the expected thousands and thousands of casualties. but in the space of an hour the egyptian air force with wiped out. we call it the six-day war but it was decided in the first 60 minutes. israel's lightning victory excited jews all over the world. they begin streaming and israel.
there was a sense of that prophecy was finally being fulfilled. and many christians believe this as well. there was a sense that the consolidation of israel hearkened to prophecy, and the in the days when the messiah will return to the thrill of rapture was in the air. for muslims, the human vision of the six-day war also had a divine consequence. in the minds of many it meant that god had turned against them. and why would he do that? perhaps because we weren't good enough, muslims. we weren't pure enough. radical islam whispered into life and begin to express itself in acts of terror. after the six-day war, the u.n. passed resolution 242 in which israel signed to get states that israel with fashionable withdraw from territories seized in the
six-day war. it doesn't say all territories or doesn't say the territories but it just has territories, which opens the idea that there is a possibility for negotiation over which territories would be. except serious negotiations -- excuse me, negotiations never actually took place. very quickly as we settlement began to spring up in the occupied territories, and go along, east jerusalem, the west bank and sinai. if there's one lesson to be learned from studying the war of the middle east is the it is neither victory nor defeat brings peace. one war merely lays the groundwork for the next one. and october 1973 on yom kippur, egypt's stance is your by sending its vast army across the suez canal. simultaneously, israel was caught by surprise.
within 24 hours israel had lost 200 tanks, 35 aircraft, several hundred soldiers killed. within two days those losses have doubled. in desperation israel turned to u.s. for help. nixon agreed to resupply the israeli defense forces just as the soviets were beginning to resupply the arab army. american intelligence detected that israel might have been arming its nuclear missiles in case of an overwhelming defeat. but israeli forces recovered and broke through the egyptian lines, crossing the suez canal and trapping the egyptians in the sinai desert. at this point the soviets sent comput three airborne division on alert and sent a naval flotilla into the region. now, nixon under siege in the white house because of watergate, drunk much of the time, raises the nuclear alert
to the highest level it's been in america since the cuban missile crisis. it took extraordinary diplomacy by henry kissinger to stop the superpower train wreck and disentangle the armies in the sinai desert. this was the start of the first 30 years of israel's existence, continual warfare with its neighbors, especially with egypt, the only arab country that posed a genuine threat to israel's existence. now let's take a look at the three men who would meet at camp david. jimmy carter was a one term governor of georgia when he was elected president in 1976. the carter's were the only white family and a little south of georgia hamlet called archery airplanes. directed the height of the families in the area. they were all black. when jimmy was a boy is acts was
almost interesting which will from his playmates. he and his best friend would go to the me be clear. you had to stop the train for a whiteboard and a black boy to go to the movie together. the white boy gets on one car. a black boy gets another car. they get to the town. they go to the theater and they go, a black child is in developing and the one child goes down. that's going to the movies together. the only jew that carter new well was his uncle, louis brownstein, an insurance salesman in chattanooga who could chin himself with one hand. that made huge impression on young jimmy carter. the first air the mad was that the daytona 500 when he was governor of georgia. he had lost his first race for governor to lester maddox. i'm sure many of you remember lester maddox.
i interviewed him when i was a young reporter. he was famous of course for chasing black customers out of this restaurant with an ax handle and a pistol in his hand, and also for riding a bicycle backward, which is really pretty impressive. but that loss to lester maddox was a crippling moment in jimmy carter's political career. this is the time, sometimes referred to as born-again period. he went through a period of despair and recovered him and immediately began running for governor once more. his biggest supporter, interestingly enough, was an iranian jew named david who was a wealthy businessman from savannah. who is also a pilot. they would fly, he would like carter around the state for his speeches and they were in the plane so much that jimmy learned how to fly this little cessna
while david took catnaps. at one point as they were flying and david is napping, the engine coughed and died, and so carter nudged him, david, david, wake up. what's wrong? we are out of just. and david said well then, we will crush. [laughter] he let that sit the from and to reach down and turn on the spare tank. and mike spent a lot of people these jimmy carter. it testified to the depth of that relationship. and later carter said we're nearing the end of the race. it appears i'm going to win. and you been so helpful to me. what can i give to you? and he said, jenny, i don't need anything from your. this is one thing i'm going to ask is that if you're elected i want you to address the problem of racial discrimination which
has held this state back for so long. and carter reached over and he got an old flight map and he wrote on there, i say to you the time for racial discrimination is over. and he showed to ravvin committee said if i'm elected i will say this. and ravvin said signed it. [laughter] well, he did say it and i guide them on the cover of "time" magazine and the plant the seed of his presidential campaign. now, if you want to know who is secretly considering running for president you can see was traveling to israel. carter and roslyn traveled israel in 1973. at the time nobody really knew he had these plans in the back of his mind. golda meir was the prime minister, and she lent them a station wagon to they drove around israel and the west bank
and they got to wait in the river jordan which was so meaningful to them. they had the opportunity to go to synagogue on the west bank. at the time jimmy estimates are only about 1500 settlers in the west bank, but he could already see they were a formidable threat to peace. and when he got back and return the station by, he told golda meir, there were only two other people in the synagogue when we came. and he reminded her that whenever the jews turned against god, they lose politically and militarily. and she laughed at him. i think, he was a governor of georgia. what did he know? but a few months later sadat send his army across the suez and golda meir had to step down from her office. now, carter came home determined to do whatever he could or the
state of israel. and four years later he was sitting in the oval office. he told me he felt god had placed them in the office in order to bring peace to the holy land. walter mondale, his vice president, said he was quite shocked on the first day of carter being in office that he announced that he intended to forge a comprehensive peace in the middle east. not the easiest to ask, especially for a neophyte president. none of carter's advisors encouraged this idea. but he began to interview leaders of the middle east who came to meet the new president, and he was unimpressed, until one day anwar sadat came. in jimmy carter fell in love. he actually said he loves and wants about the it's not the normal eye which of international diplomacy, and i've wondered about this
relationship. it was quite striking. both of them had a feeling for each other that everybody recognized and so what wasn't? i think in part they shared certain experiences. jimmy grew up following the red so of south georgia barefoot behind a mule, and anwr sadat did something similar in the which now delta behind a water before. i think it also -- anwar sadat. i think it might've been something about the fact that sadat was black. sadat's mother was the daughter of an emancipated slave and anwar sadat inherited that dark coloring, which makes it different -- difference even in egypt. so the might've been some feeling of kinship there. sadat was a man full of
contradiction. he seemed to be looking for destiny to give them some huge ride. once when he was a kid, this little village, he was following some boys. you were all going swimming in this irrigation ditch and they jumped in the water, and he jumped in and then you realize, i can't swim. he said his thoughts were, if i die, egypt will have lost anwar sadat. [laughter] well, this is a kid with big plans. when he was 12, mahatma ghandi came through the suez canal on his way to england to negotiate the future of india. this may tremendous impression on 1 12 year old anwar sadat. so much so he took off his clothes and started wearing an apron and build a spindle and went on the roof of the south and begin spinning thread. at the same time for new bedtime
he developed an affection for adolf hitler. now, it wasn't completely uncharacteristic for egypt to admire the nazis because they were fighting the british, and many egyptians hated the british who are occupied egypt at the time. but even years later, years after world war ii when 10 million people were dead, sadat was asked to write a theoretical letter to hitler. and he once again expressed his great admiration for him. so a man of extraordinary contradictions. during the second world war when he was a 23 year-old captain in the egyptian army, he tried to make an alliance with general erwin rommel, the desert fox, the great german tank commander who is in the north part of
egypt. the way sadat tried to make contact is decent a friend in an airplane with a letter and a friend flew they were displayed the the germans chinatown so the message did not get to. but later he collaborated with a pair of nazi spies in cairo and he became a part of what he called a murder society. this was a group of egyptian underground -- their main goal was to kill british soldiers, most of the time when they're wandering drunk and alone in the streets of cairo. but sadat redirected their energy to attack, into political assassinations. he tried twice to kill the prime minister of egypt, and it did succeed in killing another minister. and he went to prison for five years before escaping. eventually he was able to return to the arm and participate in a
1952 try to buy military officer. i was in cairo when the president of egypt, an iconic figure in the entire arab world to this day had a heart attack and died in 1970. i will never forget that night. you know the leading sound of arab women in morning. the city was vibrant and. for three days this immense city full of people was vacant until the burial. and then we saw millions, millions in the streets. and sadat had become president. and everybody thought he was a clown. he had missed the revolution he had been at the future. double feature. the revolution happened and then he became president.
so nobody thought that he would become this startling figure that he became. within a year he had rounded up many of nasser's cronies and throw them in prison. when we lived in cairo we have no diplomatic relations between the u.s. and egypt to the old a couple hundred americans in the whole country, but thousands of russians. the russian news agency was right across the street from our apartment, and sadat expelled them. there were only two superpowers, and he had no diplomatic relations with the u.s. the only friend he had, powerful friend, he threw out of the country. once again nobody could figure out what he was up to. and then in 1977 in a speech to the egyptian parliament he announces that i'm willing to go to the ends of the earth, even to israel, even to jerusalem, even to his parliament of
knesset, you, it was to advance the cause of peace and save one more egyptian like the everyone applauded because nobody believed it. even yassir arafat was in the audience and he applauded. it wasn't even reported in the newspaper the next day because it was so unlikely. but a couple of weeks later sadat's plane is flying into israel. now, first of all, it takes less than an hour to fly from egypt into israel. they are very close neighbors. and yet they didn't know each other at all. what was so striking about, these people have been at war for 30 years, and yet they had very little experience with each other. sadat said there is a tremendous psychological barrier. there was 90% of the problem. and so when he's lying over tel aviv, their floodlights that are capturing the plane, this is just after shabaab.
and nobody knows if sadat is really on the play but there's talk mabus phobics poses but maybe there are terrorist. the airport is ringed with cyprus just in case it's not sadat it gets off the plane. the israeli orchestra didn't know how to play the egyptian national anthem, so they didn't have the sheet music so they listened, tuned into radio cairo to pick up how to play the song. suddenly the plane lands and sadat gets off and he kisses ultimate ear and each cheek. this was an earthquake in the middle east -- kisses golda meir. no arab leader would even acknowledge the existence of the show but to actually cross that barrier. it was a remarkable moment. now, he left, sadat felt that this moment is overture would be rewarded, but he left israel in
can't. that was largely because of the naca megan this is a man -- menachem begin. his entire caribbean but expanding the territory of israel as a refuge for jews. he had grown up in a little polish town called risk -- brisk. is earliest memory was of polish soldiers flogged put you in a public park. when the nazis invaded poland, they executed 5000 years in brisk. his mother had been known and she was in the hospital. the nazis went to the hospital killing of patients in bed. his father was tied up and rocks are put in his pocket and he was drowned in the river. menachem begin was hiding in lithuania when that happened, and he would spend two years in soviet prisons and gulags before stalin freed the polls to fight
the nazis. the jewish units that tried one joint were sent to palestine. when he arrived in houston he became head of a terrorist group that was targeting the british who were occupied, your part of the mandate in palestine at the time. one of the most famous actions was in 1946 when can once group blew up the king david hotel -- begin's group, the most luxurious hotel in palestine at a time, and a part of it was the nerve center of the british mandate. 91 people were killed. but he struck again and again almost daily, and begin had a genius for theater. giunta stood out terror can be used to promote his cause.
for instance, when some were flogged by the british to you can imagine how the would awaken memories in menachem begin. he captured some british officers and had them flogged. this is so shocking, newspapers all over the world carried it. when the british hanged three convicted terrorists, begin hanged to british sergeants that he had captured and booby-trapped their bodies. in 1948 while israel was still fighting for its independence, troops attacked a little village, a little palestinian village. it was a peaceful village that had made a nonaggression pact with this old orthodox neighbors but it stood above a strategic approach into the city of jerusalem and begin felt it
needed be taken. his story is that they sent a truck ahead to warn the villagers, but the truck bill into a ditch and nobody heard the warning. when there was resistance from the village, the attackers went through entered an age for the winners to a blue of the houses with teeny today was a massacre. surviving women and children were loaded on a flatbed truck. some of them are rated to the old city of jerusalem. about 20 male survivors were taken to a quarry and executed. now, they were palestinians who were fleeing israel already. but after missing, decades flooded open and 750,000 palestinians left him and the doors locked behind them. begin was denounced by jews all over the world. he came to new york that same
year, and albert einstein and others signed a protest asking him not to come to the united states. even in israel he was regarded as an extremist. a marginal figure on the sideline of israeli politics. he was called a little hitler, a fascist and racist that just wants to kill all the arabs. but after the 1973 war when sadat's forces cross the canal, israelis began to look upon begin as a possible struggling to recapture the sense of invalid billy that israel had enjoyed after the six day war. so these were the three men who came to camp david while the wounds of war were still fresh. are there lessons in the camp david summit? that we could learn from today. i offer several that i think
will help frame our current failed efforts. there are no perfect partners for peace. look at the men who came to camp david. an assassin and a terrorist leader, and a failing an unpopular president. it would be hard to imagine three less likely partners for peace, but there was one quality they all shared an abundance, which was political courage. timing isn't everything. it's true that the 1973 yom kippur war shook israel out of his reverie of unchallenged dominance and changed the political context, but the surprise attack by sadat only reinforced in the minds of many israelis need to keep the sinai peninsula as a strategic barrier against the main israeli army, i mean the main egyptian army. in egypt, sadat was not just in
egypt, and the whole arab world have i was practically a loan in his belief that peace with israel was possible or even desirable. two of his foreign ministers resign following his trip to jerusalem, and the third resigned at camp david. in fact, the dissension in the egyptian delegation was so great that one point, at four in the morning quarter will come worried that sadat is going to be murdered by some delegation at camp david. and they called zbig brzezinski to wake him up and he was running around in pajamas reinforcing security around sadat cabbage were taken from his own people. eventually of course it was his own people who killed him, and that camp david agreement i think was probably his best
work. carter had his own problem. he was struggling to -- with a faltering economy. double-didouble-di git inflation to the prime rate was 20%. it was a revolution in iran and midterm congressional elections. his political visors unanimously oppose his quixotic decision to seek peace in the middle east when there were so many pressing problems at home. finally, america place a crucial role. egypt and israel simply couldn't make peace by themselves. so after the fifth day carter did something he really didn't want to do. he decided to great an american plan. there was already a plan in the works, but he made america a full partner to the negotiations. he made it clear to both men that their relationship with the united states was on the line. for instance, at one point sadat
had ordered a helicopter. he backed off his back. he was leaving, and carter told him he'd never been angrier in his whole life. he went to sadat and said, if you do this there will be no more relationship between our countries, and our friendship will be over. egypt will be alone and helpless in the world. do you want this? it was in carter's term a come to jesus moment. and sadat state. on a couple of other occasions, begin and also delete and carter said i will make sure the american people will knows that fall at the stick he said he's going to speak to the congress and put the blame on begin. he had a speechwriter drop a speech in which as the israeli people to vote on the government. can you imagine? but by doing this, carter on each side to make concessions to the united states that they could make to each other. these are some the lessons of the success of camp david, but
there are lessons in its failure as well. the accord sketch a resolution to the israeli-palestinian dispute, which has never been fully implemented. all of our efforts since then have been an attempt to finish the camp david accords. peace requires painful compromises that neither side has been willing to make, and yet the alternative is an ending strife. if there is one final lesson of camp david, it is that peace is worth the price. thank you very much. [applause] >> since we're recording the scum if you can come around to where i am to ask the questions so we can get it on the microphone. questions.
>> i have stunned the ball inside and. >> i do have a question. president carter often talks about the photographs. >> i think that's a good point. this conference has ups and downs. rosalynn at one point was almost physically ill by the kind of gyrations, the emotional gyrations, but the worst moment in the conference, no doubt, was the last day, sunday. carter believed that everything had been signed and all that remained was to go to the white house and initial the accords. the networks would be interrupting the emmys and they were setting up the tables and chairs in the east room of the white house, and sadat had asked carter to provide a signed letter about jerusalem, an issue that they decided was too hot to
put into the court. so east -- each side was riding in a penny. it had no legal standing. it was just a statement of the position that each side had regarding jerusalem, and carter wrote a letter saying that the american position on east jerusalem is as was stated by three previous american u.n. ambassador going back to arthur goldberg, and he quoted them saying that east jerusalem is occupied territory. that letter came into begin's hands on sunday, and he told carter, you have to retract this. you have betrayed me. and carter said i can't. i've made a pledge to sadat, and this is no standing, still, begin said the conference is over. the signing is all. he was so angry about it. perhaps he was having buyer's
remorse. i mean, we don't know exactly what was going through his mind, but at that point carter walked back to his cabin and it was the most despondent moment. the exhaustion of those 13 days, in the sense that it'd been right there in his hands, and now it was a fiasco. there was a photograph of the three men sitting on the porch outside of the presidential cabin, and carter had some copies of it made up to give to begin for his grandchildren. and his secretary, susan, had thoughtfully called israel and that in the names of begin's grandchildren. so carter inscribed each of them personally and then said, love, jimmy carter. so very reluctantly he went back to begin's cabin, and begin was
frigid. the relationship was over. it was essentially goodbye, mr. president. carter handed him the manila envelope with the pictures inside, and begin glanced at it and it was to one of his grandchildren. he looked, they were all inscribed and he began to we've come and carter also began to cry. and he said, i had hoped to write, this is where grandpa and i made peace in the middle east. so we went back to his cabin to tell sadat that the signing was off, and the phone rang and begin was calling to say that he would sign. such things, the fate of the world depends upon. >> i loved your book. i thought it was very thoughtful and very dramatic, and i read in like three or four days. could you give me a favor and expound a little bit on your theory as to how this related to
the growing muslim brotherhood movement that came out of this? how was that ignited? how does that fit into this process? >> well, when i lived in egypt, which was 69 to 71, nasser had rounded up the muslim brotherhood and throw them in prison. and very much like sisi is doing now. budget was a dragnet and many of them were imprisoned. and then nassar died, and some not, he was very religious. he thought he was and i deleted because it is heidi. at the time egypt was a nearly as conservative -- now to mike dean of students was covered. now they all are, but, and sadat had the prayer mark on his forehead that was for a lot of egyptians a kind of an embarrassing thing.
now it's common as it can be, but he was a very pious man, and he thought because of his piety, he called himself the first manned of islam, that he could safely let the muslim brothers out of prison. but he was unaware of the radical currents that have been stewing in those prisons, and the youthful, the younger members who are far more radical than the older generation. and it was in those prisons, those egyptian prisons where a lot of the debate had taken place. egyptian society was, after the camp david accords, there was a tremendous letdown. the peace that they thought was going to bring them prosperity didn't really happen.
there was never a sense of embracing this piece. so at this point a lot of radical movements begin to take shape. and the people i wrote about, now the head of al-qaeda, he and another group, they planned when, he was tangentially involved in this assassination of sadat in 1981, but they had a plan to kill the foreign leaders who came to bury sadat. so carter and sadat both appeared. -- begin. or it could but all three leaders have been killed until their experience in camp david, but that plot was broken up. he was captured on his way to the airport. but the fury, to some extent let loose by camp david ii i think it gave was in some ways a symbolic moment.
it should've been a moment of hope, a moment of change in the egyptian society, but to fully, unloved peace both in israel and in egypt, and yet both sides know that the alternative is so much worse. i think it's a measure of how hard it was to achieve that peace, that it still felt today. >> i've got two questions really. the first is whether or not there was any consideration of including the palestinians in the peace talks. and the second question is whether there were any promises of foreign aid or military equipment that were made as a result of the agreement? >> the first thing, the palestinians, the palestinians weren't represented. there was a time when carter was
talking about the geneva conference. they were trying to find a way in which palestinians could be represented, but not by the plo. it was a terrorist organization but it wasn't going to be allowed. we can talk to the plo. so in camp david came along, there was not an obvious representative. it's doubtful, it's completely unlikely that begin would've gone to camp david if there were palestinians present. but sadat took it on himself to negotiate for the palestinian cause. honestly, if you look at his involvement, he's ambivalent on the subject of the palestinians. he did not want to make a separate peace, but he was willing to sell them out.
i'm not saying he did in the camp david accords. there is a linkage between the peace between the israelis and egyptians, and its purported peace between israelis and the palestinians, but sadat finally, what he really wanted was sinai. it became apparent that he was going, if you wanted sinai he would have to sign this other framework for peace that never really did get implemented. but -- i forgot what the other question was. oh, the money. we've been spending about $3 billion a year giving israel about $3 billion a year since then, and 2.5 billion egypt. it's been an expensive piece for the american people, but cheaper than the alternative i believe.
>> the play was terrific and the book was terrific. i'm wondering from an author's standpoint which was harder to buy, the book or the play? and then obviously some of the producer should be interested to converting this book into a movie. have you given much thought to who should play the major parts? [laughter] >> well, i don't want to get in trouble on casting, but i will say richard thomas played jimmy carter. some of you are old enough to remember the waltons, and i was getting richard, because he was far more popular than jimmy carter at that time. he was one of the most popular people in the country, and how we foot was roselyn and ron rivkin played begin.
i remember at the curtain call when jimmy and roselyn came out to greet the actors, mrs. sadat was present and she came running up and threw her arms and said begin. one of the strangest moments. we had an egyptian movie star who played sadat, and they were all wonderful. and yes, we would love to do a movie. we talk about it and it's always been jerry's dream. we will see. but in terms -- each form, writing is always hard but there are always delights in it as well. i always feel, i want to be read and think i'm not writing at the time, but i loved writing the play and i was very reported by
writing this book, and having the opportunity to talk with the carter's aunt and to do all these people. i'm glad i had a chance to get to them. some of them i was too late for. >> you mentioned the pressure that carter applied to sadat, and it was a real threat. i'm just wondering was there no since at some point that he might well we were back to the russians, particularly in this time when the so-called arc of crisis that was going on when carter and brzezinski seemed to be so concerned about, whether angola, ethiopia or by now already asking u -- afghanistan, some sense of soviet hostility they're going for the. was that not in the offing or was -- has that worked?
>> sadat had a very competent relationship with the soviets, and it's dead -- tested the egyptian people. the russians were not like. they were seen as a just and unfriendly, was americans go around high, you know, everybody. they were friends with everybody. i remember, the soviets used to have a press agency across the way, they used to have parties on saturday night. the most dismal looking things. actually you could peek into the window from our balcony and you would see them with vodka just sitting on couches. and then the music they were playing was all american pop songs and always remember teresa brewer singing nickelodeon, put another nickel -- and the glum the soviets of drinking. sadat's expulsion of the
russians was in many respects rather popular in egypt. it had an interesting effect on the soviets in that they actually begin to be more responsive to sadat's demands for weapons and things like that. it's conceivable he might've turned to them again. he was a master manipulator like that, but they don't think it is a rose is a real choice. >> a quick question about your opening comment about the relevance today. have you had any inquiries from anyone in positions of power in washington who has either seen the plane or read the book in says, why did you come in and chat with us about what we can draw from a? >> that's a nice question to actually we did have a lot of people in the play when it was in washington, and martin indyk was the chief immigration and became choice. the last night of the play he brought his negotiating team,
and he said it felt very familiar. but he just wished that his attempt could've turned out as well. the state department invited us, the actors and i, over, secretary -- secretary kerry and i introduced us for secretary shrunken or something like that. it was great. we were well treated, and i think, i do think this play in this book provide a commentary on a difficult piece is. hal sanders was an undersecretary of state at the time. he was at camp david. before the summit took place he went down to the historian at the state department and the, has this ever happened before? you know, and the historian said yeah, in american diplomatic history as one example, which was