Monday, December 11, 2006

Jimmy Carter's new anti-Semitic book 

Jimmy Carter: Israel's 'apartheid' policies worse than South Africa's
By Haaretz Service
Tue., December 12, 2006 Kislev 21, 5767

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said in remarks broadcast Monday that Israeli policy in the West Bank represented instances of apartheid worse even that those that once held sway in South Africa.

Carter's comments were broadcast on Israel Radio, which played a tape of an interview with the ex-president, but did not specify to whom Carter was speaking. But has made similar remarks in recent interviews, such as one to CBC television.

"When Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank, and connects the 200-or-so settlements with each other, with a road, and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing the road, this perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa."

Carter said his new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" was meant to spark U.S. discussion of Israeli policies. "The hope is that my book will at least stimulate a debate, which has not existed in this country. There's never been any debate on this issue, of any significance."

The book has sparked strong criticism from Jewish figures in the United States. Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, has said that some comments from the former president border on anti-Semitism.

"When you think about the charge that he has made that the Jewish people control the means of communication, it is odious," Foxman was quoted as saying last week. "If the Jews controlled the media, how come he is traveling around the country speaking about this book on talk shows?"

Carter has rejected the criticism of the book and its use of the word apartheid.

"I feel completely at ease," said Carter, about his commitment to the book, which accuses Israel of oppressing Palestinians. "I am not running for office. And I have Secret Service protection."

"The greatest commitment in my life has been trying to bring peace to Israel," Carter told the Atlanta Press Club last week.

"Israel will never have peace until they agree to withdraw [from the territories]."


Jewish Criticism Of Carter Intensifies.

Charge of anti-Semitism from one leader as ex-president deepens his critique of Israeli policy in West Bank.

James D. Besser - Washington Correspondent
Thursday, December 14, 2006 / 23 Kislev 5767

Former President Jimmy Carter has crossed the line into outright anti-Semitism as he promotes his controversial new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” according to at least one major Jewish leader.

Facing attacks from pro-Israel heavyweights, Mideast analysts and book reviewers for what many see as a one-sided, factually flawed analysis of the conflict, Carter has upped the ante by claiming that Israeli policies in the West Bank are “even worse” than the apartheid policies of the former government in South Africa—and accusing pro-Israel groups of stifling legitimate debate on U.S. Mideast policy.

Speaking in an Israel Radio interview, Carter cited roads connecting more than 200 Jewish settlements in the West Bank and rules prohibiting Palestinians from crossing the roads, which he said “perpetuates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa.”

That has led to an escalating response from the Jewish side as the book, Carter’s 21st, climbs the charts to No. 7 on the New York Times best-seller list, up from No. 11 last week.

“I believe he is engaging in anti-Semitism,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “For a man of his stature and supposed savvy to hold forth that the issues of Israel and the Middle East have not been discussed and debated because Jews and Zionists have closed off means of discussion is just anti-Semitism.”

Foxman particularly objected to Carter’s claim in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that while issues of peace are hotly and freely debated in Israel, “for the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee [sic] and the absence of any significant contrary voices.”

That, Foxman argued, is anti-Semitism because it reinforces the anti-Semitic canard that “our power is so great that you can’t even talk about these issues.”

Foxman said that Carter’s success in promoting the book refutes his claims about Jewish control of the debate.

“If we’re so powerful, why is he traveling across the country, appearing on every television show in the world?” he asked.

On Tuesday Carter met with the Phoenix Board of Rabbis and repeated his criticisms of Israeli policies in the West Bank.

But he also promised to be “more vocal” about his admiration for Israel as a democracy while speaking during his book tour, according to one participant. Carter also promised to be clearer in his denunciation of Palestinian terrorism.

The group presented Carter with a copy of a siddur for Jewish military service personnel. The meeting concluded with the group holding hands in a circle and praying.

Initially, Jewish leaders worried mostly that the use of the word “apartheid” in the title would serve as a rallying cry for anti-Israel forces in this country and damage Israel’s standing around the world.

Since the book’s release and Carter’s appearance on the talk show circuit, some leaders now worry more that he will provide added legitimacy to the chorus of voices claiming that Israel and the pro-Israel lobby here are skewing U.S. foreign policy in ways contrary to the national interest.

“What’s particularly worrisome is the accretion factor,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee.

Harris said Carter’s charges come “on the heels of Walt and Mearsheimer,” the two prominent foreign policy academics whose April article accusing the pro-Israel lobby of distorting U.S. foreign policy continues to gain traction with groups on the right and the left.

Harris said Carter’s views could give added and unwarranted credibility to claims the pro-Israel lobby is damaging U.S. national interests and squelching the views of those who publicly make that case.

Several Jewish leaders said sales of the Carter book have been boosted by growing interest in the Walt-Mearsheimer analysis—and in the report of the Iraq Study Group, released last week, which links progress in getting U.S. troops out of Iraq to renewed efforts to push Israel and her neighbors to the bargaining table.

“The surprise is that Tim Russert [host of NBC’s Meet the Press] and others are taking this book so seriously,” said Jennifer Laszlo-Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, a group that does pro-Israel outreach work. “But it’s not just because of Jimmy Carter; it’s the timing, at a time when the Baker report was just about to come out, when there were rumors about recommendations to put more pressure on Israel. From Carter’s perspective, he got lucky.”

Laszlo-Mizrahi called Carter’s analysis “lazy,” but said it gains currency because “he is a former president, because he is someone who, after leaving the presidency, went out and did very good work on behalf of Habitat for Humanity. He has a very clean image, but now he’s selling a very dirty rag. And he has a very large megaphone.”

Laszlo-Mizrahi said Jewish groups need to counter both specific assertions in the book—such as Carter’s claim that Israel did not make a credible offer to the Palestinians during the 2000 Camp David peace talks—and the broader charge that the pro-Israel lobby is at the center of a conspiracy to shut down legitimate debate on Mideast issues.

Some Jewish groups are mounting an aggressive counterattack to do just that.

Foxman said his group will “follow President Carter as he criss-crosses the country to bring attention to his skewing of the Middle East.” ADL’s primary weapon: ads in major newspapers claiming that “there’s only one honest thing about President Carter’s new book: the criticism.”

Others are working quietly, behind the scenes, to line up prominent political figures to speak out against Carter’s harsh view of Israel.

One top Jewish leader said that he is hoping former President Bill Clinton can be enlisted to speak out against the apartheid charge—and “speak the truth about what happened at Camp David in 2000.”

Former Carter administration officials and associates of the former president after he left office in 1981 have also been approached.

Stuart Eizenstat, Carter’s domestic policy chief, said in an e-mail that he has “expressed my strong views to President Carter privately about his book,” but declined public comment.

Last week Kenneth Stein, a longtime fellow at the Carter Center in Atlanta and its former director, resigned, calling the book “replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments.”

Stein, a top Mideast scholar, said that his “continued association with the Center leaves the impression that I am sanctioning a series of egregious errors and polemical conclusions which appeared in President Carter’s book. I cannot allow that impression to stand.”

AJC director Harris said Jewish groups face a difficult strategic choice in dealing with the outspoken former president at a moment when pro-Israel forces are already being accused of stifling debate.

“We don’t want to be silent as he says these things,” Harris said. “He is getting tremendous attention from the media; I’ve never seen so many softballs thrown to a guest on the talk shows.”

At the same time, he said, the 2004 controversy surrounding Mel Gibson’s controversial film “The Passion of the Christ” offers a cautionary tale about how an aggressive campaign to counter anti-Israel or anti-Jewish slurs by prominent public figures can backfire.

“It’s tricky,” Harris said. “The Mel Gibson story should be a reminder to those whose intentions are good, but whose actions may only lead to an increase in book sales.”

Although Carter uses the word “apartheid” in the title, he does not say in the book that Israel is an apartheid state. “I am referring to Palestine and not to Israel,” he writes. “Arabs living in Israel are citizens of Israel and have full citizenship, voting and legal rights, and so forth.”

That led Harris to accuse Carter’s use of the word apartheid to be “false advertising.”

While the Carter book has roiled Jewish organizational boardrooms across the country, its footprint in Washington has been almost undetectable.

“It’s not having a significant impact here,” said Jess Hordes, ADL’s Washington director. “For people in the political world, these are not particularly new positions for Carter, and they are easily discounted.”

Hordes pointed to the top Democratic leaders who quickly and forcefully distanced themselves from Carter’s views, including incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) -- a longtime critic of Israel’s policies.

And he said Carter’s perspective is largely discounted by Washington’s political and foreign policy elites, as well as by the vast majority in Congress.

Not all Jewish leaders have rallied around the anti-Carter flag.

In an op-ed, Rabbi Michael Lerner, leader of the Tikkun Community, called the attacks on Carter “astounding” and repeated Carter’s claim that he is not calling Israel an apartheid state, but merely referring to the “de facto apartheid situation” in the West Bank.

“Jimmy Carter is speaking the truth as he knows it, and doing a great service to the Jews,” he wrote.


Jimmy Carter: Not Just Peanuts

by Bennett Zimmerman
December 14, 2006

Let's be clear before Jimmy Carter does any harm to the sole democracy in the Middle East. Israel's Arabs have full citizenship and full rights to vote. If a plurality of their fellow citizens deems it appropriate, any Arab of appropriate age can become the prime minister of Israel.

In the midst of the 1948 attack from six neighboring countries, Israel reached out to her Arab minority with a Declaration of Independence that should be a model of enlightenment for anyone interested in democracy. This, while Jimmy Carter rode around in Plains, Georgia, where Black Americans could not eat in the same restaurant with him, sleep in the same hotel next to him, and most could certainly not vote with him. And today, the radical Hamas government is elected while hall monitor, "My Name is Jimmy Carter," not only tolerates, but salutes, their victory.

Southern segregation was bad. Real bad. And the guilt of it has driven Jimmy Carter's political outlook ever since. Reaching out with love to Black Americans, descendants of slaves who wanted nothing more than to be part of the USA, was long overdue.

But every issue in the world is not defined in the same terms. Or in South African terms. And Jimmy Carter's provincialism is what made his the worst presidency of our lives. His contribution laid the seeds of the current crisis faced by the world today, a crisis he continues to fuel with his current book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

An Enlightened Peanut Farmer From Georgia

In Israel, there are 7 million people, 1.35 million of them Arab and all of them with equal rights before the law. There are another 1.4 million in the West Bank, a zone that wanted independence and impunity to attack Israel. That's 16% of the population in Israel and the West Bank. When Jimmy Carter recommends Israel annex the West Bank, he may then argue for Israel's democracy to bring another 16% into its system - while he figures out what to do with his democratically elected regime in Gaza. But Jimmy Carter demands another solution for the territory.

The Camp David Accords

As Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Cy Vance plotted an international conference to drag concessions from Israel, Anwar Sadat of Egypt was alarmed at the naivete of Jimmy Carter bringing the Soviet Union back into the Middle East. Sadat made the bold move (although it was a move Israel was always willing to make) and went to Israel's Knesset. He hit the jackpot. He received the enormous Sinai Peninsula, three times the size of Israel, oil wells producing a billion dollars a year, and a Carter-endorsed $2 billion a year of aid (which was unnecessary for a deal Sadat had already decided to make). Carter forced Israel off each grain of Sinai sand and established a horrible precedent of Israeli withdrawal from all disputed territory (rather than "from territories"). And Carter passed Israel $3 billion a year, which, I'm sorry to say, was the price Israel sold the Sinai Peninsula for a bailout of the debts of the 1973 War, and an Israeli GDP of $30 billion. (No one ever discusses the economics, but they are overwhelming.)

Jimmy Carter added another complication. He personally resurrected the idea of Palestine. UN Resolutions 242 and 338 did not call for the establishment of another state. It was the Arabs who rejected Palestine, as Jordan and Egypt grabbed the land for themselves. But Jimmy Carter pressured Israel to concede eventual Palestinian Autonomy zones, in addition to other mass concessions to Egypt. That only emphasized Jimmy Carter's long love affair with regimes led by dictators, excused of moral judgment.

The Carter Years

Even as a high school student, something struck me as wrong. President Carter explained US leadership as the result of historic anomaly after World War II. Power would soon be shared with other nations, including the Europeans, the Soviets, China and Third World blocs.

Before he could yell, "Retreat!" the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. The formerly peaceful nation entered into a blood revolt led by the Mujahadeen, the precursor to Al-Qaeda. The Shah of Iran, an ally of both the US and Israel, and a counterweight to the Arabs, flew from capital to capital in search of support, and finally into exile. A cleric named Khomeini living in Paris was welcomed by Jimmy Carter with a note, "religious man to religious man," who understood revolutions in the natural order of progress. It wasn't long before the gas lines started, the misery index exploded, and Americans were taken hostage in their own Embassy. Jimmy Carter hid in the Rose Garden to manage a crisis he had created.

Latin America Provides a Clue

I was in Panama in December 2004. You see homage everywhere to Omar Torrijos, the strongman selected by Jimmy Carter to receive the Panama Canal. In the national museum, there he is in all his glory, smiling "my name is Jimmy Carter" with the beaming eyes of a lunatic, as he embraces a dictator, while fulfilling their mutual dream: the USA giving strategic assets to bad guys. Jeanne Kirkpatrick, a Democrat at the time, caught Ronald Reagan with this clear thinking: "When Marxist dictators shoot their way into power in Central America, the San Francisco Democrats don't blame the guerrillas and their Soviet allies... they blame America first." She could not have penned anything more accurate about Jimmy Carter.

Thank G-d for Ronald Regan. And thank G-d for Ambassador Kirkpatrick, a clear voice that sadly left us this month. With simple honesty, they called the Soviet Union by its true name, the "Evil Empire," and stared it down and outspent it; and the empire was gone before a decade passed. That might have been humbling for an ex-president. Not for Jimmy Carter.

Lowering Golf Scores or World War III

Ex-presidents usually gain a modicum of respect. The nation forgave Richard Nixon as he seemed contrite and perhaps a bit embarrassed about the excess, and respected him for his wisdom and his legacies, opening the door to China among them. Others had the grace to go play golf and understand their term was up. And Americans are a polite lot. We are happy to let ex-presidents go play golf or return to life on the peanut farm or to build houses for Habitat for Humanity.

But Jimmy Carter, you are responsible for the madness in the world today: The Islamofascists plot our destruction, with a near-nuclear, insanity-based government in Iran that thinks G-d will be pleased if they use their weapons. And while it's almost axiomatic to describe the Camp David Accords as a success, the multi-billion dollar shakedown by Anwar Sadat will never aid the US in Iraq, and might well be seen by history as a disaster if the Egyptian army you've modernized, bought and paid for ever shows its true purpose.

With a record like that, sir, you would be best not to lecture anyone on anything. You've screwed up the world and have no authority, moral or otherwise, to judge anyone.

Your time is through.

Copyright 2006

Bennett Zimmerman is Managing Director of Israel Emerging Growth Fund, L.P., which he runs from Los Angeles. (He supported Jimmy Carter at age 13, but reports that he was, happily, too young to vote for him.)


Carter talks with U.S. rabbis about controversial new book

By The Associated Press
Wed., December 13, 2006 Kislev 22, 5767

PHOENIX - Former President Jimmy Carter prayed with rabbis who are angered by his new book's reference to apartheid in describing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but he did not change their minds.

The Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix said they would not call for a boycott of Carter's book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," but they also would not suggest that anyone read it.

"I don't know if he gets the evil that we are facing," said Rabbi Bonnie Koppell of Scottsdale.

Carter, 82, was met by a crowd of protesters Tuesday as he appeared at a book store in suburban Tempe to autograph copies of the book.

He said he chose the title to shine light on the festering conflict and give Americans a different point of view than what they're used to.

"I wanted to provoke debate," Carter said. "I wanted to provoke discussion."

Carter's book follows the peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians during his presidency in 1977-1980.

He is critical of all players in not reaching a better accord, but he is especially critical of the Israelis.

He previously told The Associated Press that Americans are rarely exposed to anything other than pro-Israeli views in the news media.

Koppell said Carter's word choice was "gratuitously provocative" and meant to add fuel to an already incendiary subject and sell more books.

"I don't really see the book as helpful," said Koppell, who has read it.


Jimmy Carter or David Duke?

The Rush Limbaugh Show
December 13, 2006


RUSH: I mentioned yesterday David Duke was over in Iran attending the Holocaust-Didn't-Happen Convention sponsored by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and I said, "If you listen to David Duke, you can't tell the difference between him and Jimmy Carter," and a lot of people wrote me, "You can't say that! David Duke has become... You can't say that!" Yes, I can, and now I'm going to prove it. We have two side-by-side comparisons. First up, David Duke yesterday on PMSNBC live with Rita Cosby. She said, "The president of Iran just said a short time ago that the Zionist regime will soon be wiped out. Do you understand why that's so offensive to so much of the world?"

DUKE: What he said was that the Zionist government, a government that oppresses and has ethnically cleansed the Palestinian people, that commits torture, that's invaded Lebanon, that commits human rights violations and that, by the way, has led America to disaster in Iraq pause we're in Iraq -- America is in Iraq because the Jewish extremist neocons have brought us into Iraq.

RUSH: Now, do I even need to play Jimmy Carter for you? I will, but Jimmy Carter is out there talking about the neocons and how Israel is responsible for us being in Iraq. So he was on The Tonight Show. (Jay Leno, what are you thinking? You have a comedy show there, and you've got Jimmy Carter?) By the way, Jimmy Carter was in Tempe, Arizona today to sign his book and a lot of protesters showed up, which is healthy news. So here's Jimmy Carter, and Jay Leno was interviewing Jimmy Carter about apartheid.

CARTER: I don't want to see Apartheid, but in Palestinian territory there's horrible persecution of the Palestinians who live on their own land. They have occupied the land, they have confiscated, they've colonized it and they've forced Palestinians away from their homes, away from their pastures, away from their fields, cut down their olive trees and severely persecuted the Palestinians.

RUSH: David Duke, Jimmy Carter: you can't tell the difference. By the way, this business of cutting down the olive trees? I'm sorry, Jimmuh, but it's the other way around. If anybody desecrated the mountain of olives, it was the Palestinians -- in one of the wars. This is just caca. But we've got two more. David Duke blaming the Jewish lobby for preventing criticism of Israel.

DUKE: Why should we be supporting Israel which has violated every nuclear idea, they have nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction. Iran has been a member of the atomic energy inspection, allowed inspections, and yet Israel allows none. We have a double standard because of the Jewish lobby and its power over the American government.

RUSH: Here is Tim Russert asking Jimmy Carter about the Jewish lobby. He says, I read your book. This struck me, particularly from somebody in political life. You went on to say, "There's no doubt there's a stronger version to criticizing Israel in this country. I wouldn't say it's all because of intimidation, but that's one factor."

CARTER: It's almost completely unacceptable in this country for any public official to criticize the policies of Israel, even if they are horribly abusive against the Palestinians. (Unintelligible). The Jewish lobby may be part of it.

RUSH: David Duke. Jimmy Carter.



Carter's book presents only Palestinian, Arab positions.

Your views

The Gainesville Times
Opinion - Thursday, December 14, 2006

As someone who was born in South Africa and has visited Israel four times (including the disputed West Bank), I can tell you Jimmy Carter's book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid," is wholly unbalanced and only presents the Palestinian and Arab narrative on the conflict in the Mideast.

President Carter might consider that the reason Americans are generally supportive of Israel is not due to his view that the media is pro-Israel (he obviously doesn't watch ABC, CNN, read the New York Times or Washington Post or listen to NPR), rather that Americans hold dear the same values that Israel does: A vibrant democracy, free press, freedom of religion, rule of law, emancipation of women, and protection of minority rights. President Carter, Israeli citizens did not hand out sweets and honk their car horns in celebration of 9/11, but mourned our tragedy with us.

Et Gentin


Originally published Thursday, December 14, 2006


Carter's Indefensible Book

by Alan M. Dershowitz
3 Tevet 5767 / 24 December 2006

Why won't Carter debate his book?

You can always tell when a public figure has written an indefensible book: when he refuses to debate it in the court of public opinion. And you can always tell when he's a hypocrite to boot: when he says he wrote a book in order to stimulate a debate, and then he refuses to participate in any such debate. I'm talking about former president Jimmy Carter and his new book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid."

Carter's book has been condemned as "moronic" (Slate), "anti-historical" (The Washington Post), "laughable" (San Francisco Chronicle), and riddled with errors and bias in reviews across the country. Many of the reviews have been written by non-Jewish as well as Jewish critics, and not by "representatives of Jewish organizations" as Carter has claimed. Carter has gone even beyond the errors of his book in interviews, in which he has said that the situation in Israel is worse than the crimes committed in Apartheid South Africa. When asked whether he believed that Israel's "persecution" of Palestinians was "[e]ven worse . . . than a place like Rwanda," Carter answered, "Yes. I think -- yes."

When Larry King referred to my review several times to challenge Carter, Carter first said I hadn't read the book and then blustered, "You know, I think it's a waste of my time and yours to quote professor Dershowitz. He's so obviously biased, Larry, and it's not worth my time to waste it on commenting on him." (He never did answer King's questions.)

The next week Carter wrote a series of op-eds bemoaning the reception his book had received. He wrote that his "most troubling experience" had been "the rejection of [his] offers to speak" at "university campuses with high Jewish enrollment." The fact is that Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz had invited Carter to come to Brandeis to debate me, and Carter refused. The reason Carter gave was this: "There is no need to for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."

As Carter knows, I've been to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, many times -- certainly more times than Carter has been there -- and I've written three books dealing with the subject of Middle Eastern history, politics, and the peace process. The real reason Carter won't debate me is that I would correct his factual errors. It's not that I know too little; it's that I know too much.

Nor is Carter the unbiased observer of the Middle East that he claims to be. He has accepted money and an award from Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan , saying in 2001: "This award has special significance for me because it is named for my personal friend, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan." This is the same Zayed, the long-time ruler of the United Arab Emirates, whose $2.5 million gift to the Harvard Divinity School was returned in 2004 due to Zayed's rampant Jew-hatred. Zayed's personal foundation, the Zayed Center, claims that it was Zionists, rather than Nazis, who "were the people who killed the Jews in Europe" during the Holocaust. It has held lectures on the blood libel and conspiracy theories about Jews and America perpetrating Sept. 11. Carter's acceptance of money from this biased group casts real doubt on his objectivity and creates an obvious conflict of interest.

Carter's refusal to debate wouldn't be so strange if it weren't for the fact that he claims that he wrote the book precisely so as to start debate over the issue of the Israel-Palestine peace process. If that were really true, Carter would be thrilled to have the opportunity to debate. Authors should be accountable for their ideas and their facts. Books shouldn't be like chapel, delivered from on high and believed on faith.

What most rankles is Carter's insistence that he is somehow brave for attacking Israel and highlighting the plight of the Palestinian people. No other conflict in the world -- not even the genocides in Rwanda and Sudan -- evokes more hand-wringing in the media, universities, and human rights organizations than the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Jimmy Carter isn't brave for beating up on Israel. He's a bully. And like all school-yard bullies, underneath the tough talk and bravado, there's a nagging insecurity and a fear that one day he'll have to answer for himself in a fair fight.

When Jimmy Carter's ready to speak at Brandeis, or anywhere else, I'll be there. If he refuses to debate, I will still be there -- ready and willing to answer falsity with truth in the court of public opinion.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Boston Globe.

Author Biography:

Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard Law School and author of The Case for Israel.


Jimmy Carter's offensive against U.S. Jewry

By Bradley Burston
Wed., January 17, 2007 Tevet 27, 5767

Shortly after Jimmy Carter's "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" began appearing in bookstores, the former president stated that one ultimate goal of the book was "to help restart peace talks (now absent for six years) that can lead to permanent peace for Israel and its neighbors."

One might assume, then, that Mr. Carter might be troubled by the signal lack of interest and comment the book has stirred in Israel.

Unless Carter's beef was not really with Israel. Unless, that is, Carter's true intended target was the organized American Jewish community.

If Carter's intent had been to foster a revival of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, then - as scathing critics Alan Dershowitz and Abraham Foxman have both explicitly remarked - the book can indeed be judged by its cover, and written off as a failure.

Carter's use of the word apartheid, going so far as to say in an interview broadcast on Israel Radio that Israeli policies on the West Bank were worse than those which held sway in the former South African regime, assured that Israelis would associate his stance with that of Yasser Arafat at the close of his career, and dismiss the book out of hand.

In Israel, the Carter issue remains a non-issue. His words - by any measure, in America, fighting words - merit barely a passing nod in the Israeli national discourse.

In fact, even if Carter's intent, as some observers have suggested, was to curry favor with the Palestinians and be seen and celebrated as an honest broker on the Middle East, even that effort has fallen short.

"The glaring error in Carter's book," wrote UCLA Prof. Saree Makdisi in the San Francisco Chronicle "is his insistence that the term 'apartheid' does not apply to Israel itself, where, he says, Jewish and non-Jewish citizen are given the same treatment under the law. That is simply not true."

Organized U.S. Jewry, meanwhile, makes for the ideal Carter target.

Jimmy Carter knew just what to expect when he named his book. No matter how American Jewish leaders react, they do the former president's bidding. If they choose to ignore him, they lend evidence to Carter's contention that U.S. Jewish figures are cowed into silence over Israel. If they choose to lambaste him, they lend credence to Carter's argument that pro-Israel bias obviates any genuine discussion of the issues.

Best of all, from Carter's standpoint, is the blistering flak he has taken from an A-list of prominent American Jews. The criticism grants weight to Carter's carefully worded accusations as to Jewish control of the American media, a self-fulfilling charge if ever there was one, and one sure to keep the hardcovers flying off bookstore shelves.

"For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts," Carter wrote in the Los Angeles Times last month, in a reference to what may be called The Case for Palestine.

"This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee [sic] and the absence of any significant contrary voices," Carter wrote.

"When you think about the charge that he has made that the Jewish people control the means of communication, it is odious," Anti-Defamation League national director Foxman said in response to Carter's statements. "If the Jews controlled the media, how come he is traveling around the country speaking about this book on talk shows?"

What Carter reveals, in the end, is that he knows the organized Jewish community of the United States in ways he will never know the Jewish community - or for that matter, the Palestinian community - in the Holy Land. He knows America's Jewish leadership as do few American Jews. He was, after all, twice the nominee of the Democratic Party.

These people elected him president. They applauded him at Camp David. They sang his praises for forging the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation.

Carter knows these people, all right. He knows their vulnerabilities, their gut fears, their feelings for Israel. He knows what makes them tick. He knows what makes them squirm. He knows what makes them livid with rage. And Carter plays them, all of them, all at once, with the brio of a virtuoso on his farewell concert tour.

Jewish control of government? "It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defense of justice or human rights for Palestinians."

Jewish Control of the media? "What is even more difficult to comprehend is why the editorial pages of the major newspapers and magazines in the United States exercise similar self-restraint, quite contrary to private assessments expressed quite forcefully by their correspondents in the Holy Land."

Jewish fears over relations with African Americans? "The book describes the abominable oppression and persecution in the occupied Palestinian territories," Carter writes, adding "In many ways, this is more oppressive than what blacks lived under in South Africa during apartheid."

Small wonder, then, that on Thursday, when the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinic body of the largest demonination of religiously affiliated American Jews, announced the cancellation of a scheduled visit to the Carter Center in Atlanta, and that it would "firmly disassociate ourselves from Mr. Carter and the Carter Center," the rabbis' dominant tone was one of having been betrayed by a once-cherished ally.

Speaking of "our sadness," the group noted how in the past Carter and his center had been known for dialogue, honest brokering, justice and lovingkindness.

For a final flourish, Carter at once set up and hyped the next round of confrontation with U.S. Jewry, likely to focus on a High Noon showdown with his academic nemesis, Dershowitz. Appropriately, Carter's challenge is framed as a kvetch:

"My most troubling experience has been the rejection of my offers to speak, for free, about the book on university campuses with high Jewish enrollment and to answer questions from students and professors."

If what Carter really wanted, as he relentlessly reiterates, was to stimulate discussion, he has succeeded beyond measure.

It may be no coincidence, however, that in this curious, furious Last Hurrah, the focus of the debate has not been Palestine, nor Israel, nor peace, but Jimmy Carter himself.
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