James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States (1977–1981) and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office. Before he became President, Carter served as a U.S. Naval officer, was a peanut farmer, served two terms as a Georgia State Senator and one as Governor of Georgia (1971–1975).
During Carter's term as President, two new cabinet-level departments were created: the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. He established a national energy policy that included conservation, price control, and new technology. In foreign affairs, Carter pursued the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II), and returned the Panama Canal Zone to Panama.
Throughout his career, Carter strongly emphasized human rights. He took office during a period of international stagflation, which persisted throughout his term. The end of his presidential tenure was marked by the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (at the end of 1979), 1980 Summer Olympics boycott by the United States of the Moscow Olympics and the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.
By 1980, Carter's popularity had eroded. He survived a primary challenge against Ted Kennedy for the Democratic Party nomination in the 1980 election, but lost the election to Republican candidate Ronald Reagan. On January 20, 1981, minutes after Carter's term in office ended, the 52 U.S. captives held at the U.S. embassy in Iran were released, ending the 444-day Iran hostage crisis.
After leaving office, Carter and his wife Rosalynn founded the Carter Center in 1982, a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization that works to advance human rights. He has traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, observe elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. Carter is a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity project, and also remains particularly vocal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
In a 2007 speech to Brandeis University, Carter stated: "I have spent a great deal of my adult life trying to bring peace to Israel and its neighbors, based on justice and righteousness for the Palestinians. These are the underlying purposes of my new book."
In his book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, published in November 2006, Carter states:
Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land.
He declares that Israel's current policies in the Palestinian territories constitute "a system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land, but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights." In an Op-Ed titled "Speaking Frankly about Israel and Palestine," published in the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers, Carter states:
The ultimate purpose of my book is to present facts about the Middle East that are largely unknown in America, to precipitate discussion and to help restart peace talks (now absent for six years) that can lead to permanent peace for Israel and its neighbors. Another hope is that Jews and other Americans who share this same goal might be motivated to express their views, even publicly, and perhaps in concert. I would be glad to help with that effort.
While some – such as a former Special Rapporteur for both the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the International Law Commission, as well as a member of the Israeli Knesset – have praised Carter for speaking frankly about Palestinians in Israeli occupied lands, others – including the envoy to the Middle East under Clinton, as well as the first director of the Carter Center – have accused him of anti-Israeli bias. Specifically, these critics have alleged significant factual errors, omissions and misstatements in the book.
The 2007 documentary film, Man from Plains, follows President Carter during his tour for the controversial book and other humanitarian efforts.
In December 2009, Carter apologized for any words or deeds that may have upset the Jewish community in an open letter meant to improve an often tense relationship. He said he was offering an Al Het, a prayer said on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.