Jimmy Carter's new book with its gratuitously provocative title, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, has been making quite a stir shortly after its publication, so perhaps it deserves at least a mention. By his own admission Carter has not even read Dennis Ross's book on Camp David, which is the most detailed and definitive account so far - yet Carter still feels he can weigh in as some kind of expert. I shall return the favor and not bother to read Carter's book. There is no need. For as to our subject, Camp David, Carter says nothing new and nothing that I have not covered in my previous replies. He basically recycles the Palestinian narrative, which the facts discredit. So to present a detailed analysis of his book would only be repeating myself. Besides, others (including Alan Dershowitz, whom Carter is afraid to debate) have already responded very eloquently to Carter's biases and distortions of history. I direct the reader to those accounts.(1) They describe in detail Carter's extreme one-sidedness, his frequent misrepresentations of key facts, and even the possibility that a part of his book may have been plagiarized.
Kenneth Stein, an associate of Carter's and former director of the Carter Center's Middle East Study Section, called the book's title "too inflammatory to even print" and had this to say about the book itself:
[Carter's book is] replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments. Aside from the one-sided nature of the book, meant to provoke, there are recollections cited from meetings where I was the third person in the room, and my notes of those meetings show little similarity to points claimed in the book. Being a former President does not give one a unique privilege to invent information or to unpack it with cuts, deftly slanted to provide a particular outlook. Falsehoods, if repeated often enough become meta-truths, and they then can become the erroneous baseline for shaping and reinforcing attitudes and policy-making. The history and interpretation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is already drowning in half-truths, suppositions, and self-serving myths; more are not necessary.(2)
Recently Carter went so far as to say that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is even worse than the genocide in Rwanda - where a million people were murdered just because of their ethnicity.(3) Nobody who knows anything about the Middle East can take such a statement seriously. In fact, in the Middle East the Palestinians are the ones who murder people for their ethnicity. Carter's reckless words only show he is so consumed by hatred of Israel (and of Jews?) that he cannot even think straight.
I would only mention one anecdote from Carter's book. Describing an encounter he had with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir he writes: "With some hesitation, I said that I had long taught lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures and that a common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of God. I asked if she was concerned about the secular nature of her Labor government." This startled Meir, and for good reason. Carter's words echo a classic anti-Jewish theme: that the Jews' own scriptures prove they are evil because their own prophets condemn them and God punishes them. Even the Qur'an attacks the Jews in this manner. This idea has fueled anti-Jewish hatred throughout the centuries, as a careful study of history makes obvious. Yet Carter retells the incident with pride.
Would Carter be fairer to Israel if its government were less secular, say, than that of the United States? Or as religious as Hamas?
And so it goes. Playing loosely and selectively with historical fact can certainly confirm an impression that the unfaithful Jews are responsible for virtually all of the problems in the Middle East. And who knows where else.
Does one even need to read Carter's book? The title says it all. The phrase "Peace Not Apartheid" puts the blame squarely and exclusively on Israel. It also tries to legitimize the Palestinian propaganda slogan that Israel is an "apartheid" state, while any fair and informed comparison will show that Israel cannot be compared to the South African apartheid regime. If Carter is really concerned about apartheid, why doesn't he write about the treatment of non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia, or of Christians in Bethlehem? Christians enjoy far more freedom in Israel than they do in Arab lands.
I won't even bother calling Carter an anti-Semite. Just let his own words speak for him.
1. Boone, Christian, "Adviser Breaks with Carter on Mideast Book," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 6, 2006; Bosman, Julie, "Carter Book Stirs Furor with Its View of Israelis’ ‘Apartheid’," New York Times, December 14, 2006; Dershowitz, Alan, "The World According to Carter," New York Sun, November 2, 2006; Getlin, Josh, "Maps in Carter's Book Are Questioned," Los Angeles Times, December 8, 2006; Goldberg, Jeffrey, "What Would Jimmy Do?" Washington Post, December 10, 2006; Isseroff, Ami, "Carter's Apartheid Book: Not Anti-Semitic, but Not Good Either" ZioNation, February 11, 2007; Kinsley, Michael, "It's Not Apartheid: Carter Adds to the List of Mideast Misjudgments," Washington Post, December 12, 2006; Makovsky, David, "Carter’s Book Is a Disservice to Peace," U.S. News andWrold Report, December 13, 2006; Stein, Kenneth, "My Problem with Jimmy Carter's Book," Middle East Quarterly, spring 2007.
2. Wajsman, Beryl. "From the Klan to Tehran: Baker, Carter, Duke and the New 'Cliveden Mindset'," Canada Free Press, December 18, 2006.
3. Transcript, "'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Nov. 28," MSNBC, November 29, 2006; see also note 2.
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