The role of the cultural mediator as enacted by Jimmy Carter at Camp David, September 5 - September 17, 1978
In September of 1978, former United States President Jimmy Carter dedicated 13 days at the Camp David presidential retreat to an intensive negotiation between Egypt's Anwar el-Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin. Producing the only two peace agreements ever signed between Israel and any Arab nation, this "Camp David" summit, and the behavior of the mediator behind it, are the focus of this paper. Throughout the summit, Carter was faced with the challenge of mediating between culturally incompatible values and behaviors. These obstacles which divided the principals, divided their nations, as well. Carter first met this challenge by mediating through translation (Bochner 1981). In this role, he was somewhat disengaged from the negotiations, primarily defining the exchanges between the principals. Yet as the talks grew increasingly strained, along with the relationship between the principals, Carter moved into the role of the synthesizer. Actively engaged in the negotiations, Carter made personal statements and offered American proposals. He sought creative solutions to the cultural obstacles which stood between Begin and Sadat--and any foreseeable peace. The results from this study demonstrate that Carter's enactment of the role of the cultural mediator was vital to this intercultural negotiation.