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Saturday, 02 December 2006 11:03
by Linda Milazzo

Other than 2002 Nobel Prize Laureate, Jimmy Carter, no American politician has spoken honestly about Israel's occupation of Palestine. No American politician has addressed Israel's mistreatment of the Palestinians. Not because the mistreatment doesn't exist. But because acknowledging it brings accusations of anti-semitism and the potential to lose an election.

To date, Jimmy Carter is the most high-profile American to publicly denounce the horrors of the Israeli occupation. Not in a sound byte or a simple aside. But in a full length book, provocatively titled, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid."

In his book, President Carter provides a detailed analysis of Israel's confiscation of Palestinian land and ongoing demoralization of the Palestinian people within their own homeland. President Carter bravely defies the American taboo of never criticizing Israel, recognizing that humanitarianism dwarfs political correctness.

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The intentions of the book are as honorable as the man who wrote it. To provide a clear understanding that there are two sides to the Israeli/Palestinian story. To show how Palestinians are suffering under the Israeli occupation. And to prove that there is a legitimate, humane two state solution.

For America's elected officials, denouncing Israel is unthinkable, although denouncing her detractors is common. As one would expect, members of Congress attacked the book immediately, prior to ever reading it. According to incoming Democratic Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, "It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously."

Speaker Pelosi's statement is indicative of the dismissive sentiments of most members of Congress. Unlike Israelis themselves, who acknowledge that Palestinian mistreatment is real, America's elected officials deny it's very existence.

A question for Speaker Pelosi: if these atrocities aren't happening, why do Israelis protest them so much? Why do Israeli soldier "refuseniks" decline actions against Palestinians and opt to spend time in jail?

It took Pennsylvania Representative Jack Murtha to speak out against America's occupation of Iraq before others had the courage to oppose it. Perhaps Jimmy Carter can have a similar effect on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Maybe after acknowledgment by a man of President Carter's stature, America's leaders will adopt a humanitarian approach toward the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and develop the courage to oppose it.

Unfortunately, this is more of an optimist's dream than a scenario about to happen. Even President Carter doubts the new Democratic-lead Congress will change its purely pro-Israel tone. In a November 27th interview with CNN's Larry King, President Carter admitted, "It's almost inconceivable for any members of the House and Senate to take any position that would be critical of Israel. That's one reason I wrote my book. It's just to precipitate some controversy, to use your word, provocation, that is to provoke debate on the issue and to let the people of America know that there are two sides to many issues in the Middle East, and that in order to have peace for Israel, Israel will have to comply with international law. But I don't think it's likely at all that Democrats will be any more critical of the policies of Israel than were the Republicans."

Nor will Carter's fellow ex-Presidents, George H.W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton be critical of Israel's actions, although they know that these horrors occur. They lack Carter's moral fiber. They're politicians acting as statesmen. Carter is a statesman with a political past.

The differences are clear. Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush are political emissaries of the current President Bush. A tour de force fundraising duo, deployed to disasters with a political purse.

Carter, on the other hand, is a respected humanitarian. He's a welcome ambassador for America's humanity. In a world where America is increasingly hated, Jimmy Carter does America proud. Particularly when compared to George Bush, Sr., who isn't a statesman at all. Or a patriot either, if one accepts his claim that he never assisted his son. If this is true. If he never tried to reverse the dereliction of George W. Bush, then George Bush Sr. is guilty of irreparable harm.

Americans sacrificed their sons for this nation. He sacrificed this nation for his son. A shameful indictment at best.

The fact is, there is no possibility of Middle East peace without resolving the Palestinian conflict. America's bias toward Israel must be replaced with equality and balance. Carter summarized it this way in his appearance on Larry King:

"You never hear anything about what is happening to the Palestinians by the Israelis. As a matter of fact, it's one of the worst cases of oppression that I know of now in the world. The Palestinians' land has been taken away from them. They now have an encapsulating or an imprisonment wall being built around what's left of the little tiny part of the holy land that is in the West Bank.

In the Gaza, from which Israel is not withdrawing, Gaza is surrounded by a high wall. There's only two openings in it. One into Israel which is mostly closed, the other one into Egypt. The people there are encapsulated. And the deprivation of basic human rights among the Palestinians is really horrendous and this is a fact that's known throughout the world. It's debated heavily and constantly in Israel. Every time I'm there the debate is going on. It is not debated at all in this country. And I believe that the purpose of this book, as I know, is to bring permanent peace to Israel living within its recognized borders, modified with good faith negotiations between the Palestinians for land swaps. That's the only avenue that will bring Israel peace."

America needs to adopt an honest policy toward Palestine. Jimmy Carter shouldn't be criticized for taking so courageous a stand. He should be applauded. America can't help Israel, or itself, by supporting actions that inflame hatred and provoke harm.

Why not listen to President Carter. His Middle East experience is unparalleled. He is still the only President to have negotiated a successful Middle East Treaty. Thanks to his 1978 Camp David Accords, Israel has had peace with Egypt for nearly thirty years!

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Comments (6)add comment

Art James said:

For any failure in the past critics point-out in the former-peanut farmer, I have respected his contributions to do well, build houses etc...He's the only politician who knows what end of a hammer to use. Most politicians would not know the diff between a hammer and a brussel-sprout. And, he does not steal Middle East real estate.
December 02, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Noga said:

President Jimmy Carter's recent book is an anti-Israel screed. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN he was asked plainly why his version of Camp David II is so different from Bill Clinton's. Clinton puts the onus of the failure directly on Arafat.

*BLITZER: But the government, the current government of Prime
Minister Olmert...
BLITZER: ... the previous government of even Sharon and before that...
CARTER: Netanyahu.
BLITZER: But -- Netanyahu, but Barak, Ehud Barak, they offered,
under the last days of the Bill Clinton administration, a deal which
would give up most of the West Bank, including parts of Jerusalem
itself. And Clinton said Arafat missed a major opportunity to resolve
this crisis right then.
CARTER: That is not quite an accurate description of it, which the...
BLITZER: Well, let me read to you what
CARTER: ... the accurate description...
BLITZER: Let me read to you what Jim -- what Bill Clinton wrote in
his book, "My Life." He was the president who as negotiating at Camp
BLITZER: ... and then at Taba, trying to resolve this. And Barak,
the prime minister...
BLITZER: ... who made some major...
CARTER: OK. Go ahead.
BLITZER: ... major concessions. He said: "Right before I left
office, Yasser Arafat thanked me for all my efforts and told me what a
great man I was. 'Mr. Chairman,' I replied, 'I am not a great man, I am
a failure and you have made me one.' Arafat's rejection of my proposal
after Ehud Barak accepted it was an error of historic proportions."
CARTER: OK, well...
BLITZER: That's what the former president wrote in his book.
CARTER: All right. Well, in my book, which I think is accurate --
I hate to dispute Bill Clinton on your program because he did a great
and heroic effort there. He never made a proposal that was accepted by
Barak or Arafat.
BLITZER: Why would he write that in his book if...
CARTER: I don't know.
BLITZER: ... if he said Barak accepted it?
CARTER: I don't know...
BLITZER: And Arafat rejected it.


I'm puzzled by this contradiction between Clinton's and Carter's versions. It is safe to assume that Carter researched some material for his book, and that surely he read Clinton's autobiography, thus being well aware of Clinton's account. Why has he not made the effort, then, to reconcile Clinton's statements with his own perceptions of the truth? Why didn't he go to Clinton and ask him about the facts? He preferred to write his book, knowing full well that there was a differing record, written by another former president.

When Blitzer asked him about it, Carter just said he didn't know why Clinton made the statement he did, and that his book makes other claims. But Clinton was speaking from a position of authority as an eye witness and a present participant in the Camp David talks while Carter is merely observing from afar, selecting whom to believe and whom to disbelieve without even explaining the reasons for his selection.

This is most puzzling.


Carter appears to be a deeply religious man and his entire view of Israel seems to have been perverted by this religiosity. He had one vision of what a Jewish state should have been like, and encountered a completely different state of affairs, a state which seemed to have embraced secularity rather than religiosity. It seems to have created a great disturbance in his worldview.

"Carter says he paid his first visit to Israel in June 1973 (when he was privately 'planning a future role as president'), and he devotes an entire chapter to it. The trip 'formed most of my lasting impressions of Israel' —— and they do not seem to have been good ones.

On his trip, he traveled 'along the paths of Jesus' around the Sea of Galilee and found that:

'It was especially interesting to visit with some of the few surviving Samaritans, who complained to us that their holy sites and culture were not being respected by Israeli authorities — the same complaint heard by Jesus and his disciples almost two thousand years earlier.'

He describes his visit to several kibbutzim and finds that Israel fails his religious test again (at least on one kibbutz):

'The next morning was the Sabbath, and at the appointed time we entered the synagogue, said a silent prayer, and then stood quietly just inside the door. Only two other worshippers appeared. When I asked if this was typical, [the guide] gave a wry smile and shrugged his shoulders as if it was not important either way.'

Later on the trip, when asked to participate in a graduation ceremony at an IDF training camp, Carter helps by presenting a Hebrew bible to each graduate,

'which was one of the few indications of a religious commitment that I observed during our visit.' ...

At the end of his visit, he meets with Prime Minister Golda Meir and when asked to share his observations, responds to her as follows.

'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.'


I find it ironic that a president who is expressing with such passion and righteousness a religious interpretation of Israel's "crimes" is so readily embraced by the far left (represented by this blog, for example). What can it mean? After all, these are the very people who never cease to sneer at Bush's religious faith. Something, like Miss Clavel would say, is not right here.
December 02, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

So what?
Noga: If Carter did get it wrong about Camp David -- and I'm not conceding that he did -- would the fact that he got it wrong mean that Israel is NOT an apartheid state? Would it mean that Israel is NOT stealing the Palestinians' land? Would it mean that Israel is NOT building a wall around the land they've stolen? Would it mean that Israel is NOT running Gaza like the Nazis ran the Warsaw ghetto? If you say the answer to any of those questions is "yes," then it's you (and not Jimmy Carter) who is a liar.

Fact is, your post is an anti-Carter screed, and the nature of it reveals more about you than it does about Carter. If Carter was wrong, his would at least be an honest mistake.
December 02, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Noga said:


I assume, from the breathless tone of your questions, that you are in full agreement with Carter's narrative, which is nothing but a retelling of the familiar Palestinian narrative. You refuse to acknowledge even this small contradiction I pointed to, and which was, as far as I could tell, NOT an honest mistake and not even a mistake. As it was deliberately inserted into his book. When challenged to clarify why he does not accept Clinton's version, his only claim is that his is the correct version. How can it be a mistake, then? Or an honest mistake, if a mistake is not even being conceded? I put it to you that he has no answer to this challenge, which is why he could only repeat: I don't know. But how can he NOT know that there was a contradiction? This is just one small example of the kind of scholarship, research and ethics that went into this little travesty of a book. If you choose to ignore it (as well as the many other distortions, lacunae and/or disinterpretations of official documents and records) it means you choose to ignore the truth, or factors that might interfere with your own truth.

You must know that in a court of law, a judge instructs the jury that if a witness is caught lying about one thing, they are advised to discard his entire testimony. For who knows what more lies and distortions have been embedded in the witness's testimony and went undetected?

But of course, Carter can hardly be called a witness. He was not there. He is just a badly-informed commentator, or a highly biased interpreter. And this is not a trial. There have been numerous reviews of his book, detailing the list of factoids and myths passing for facts and history in his account of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

And, btw, The Fence (which is only a "wall" in 5% of its length) was erected in order to keep away the terrorists from gaining easy access to Israeli buses and coffee shops, an objective largely achieved. Surely you see the merit of a non-violent means, even at the price of hardship to the Palestinian population, of saving lives, don't you? Or maybe you consider that it's no big deal if an Israeli high school kid does not make it to school on a given day for being shredded to pieces by a Palestinian suicide-bomber, as long as his Palestinian counterpart can walk to school unhindered by any obstacles?

When Palestinians begin to take responsibility for their actions and choices, and consider their children’s future more important than gratifying their lust for revenge, this is when borders can be drawn and societies allowed to live, unhindered by fences and checkpoints. Until such time as that, Israel will continue to protect its citizens. You can call the fence whatever you like. The fact is that even Carter does not make the case for calling it what he does (I believe he tries it on p. 189 in his book).
December 03, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

Methinks thou doth protest too much
Art James and I posted 3 short paragraphs between us. You, Noga, have posted uh, let's see, ummmm 45 paragraphs -- supposedly in response -- but without addressing any of the points I raised, viz:

If it turns out that Carter was lying, would that mean Israel is NOT an apartheid state? No response from you on that one.

If Carter was lying, would that mean that Israel is NOT running Gaza like the Nazis ran the Warsaw ghetto? No response from you on that one.

If Carter was lying, would that mean Israel is NOT stealing Palestinian land? No response from you on that one.

If Carter was lying, would that mean Israel is NOT building a wall -- oops! excuse me -- a 20-foot high concrete FENCE -- around the land they've stolen? No response from you on that one, except your assertion that a 20-foot concrete wall is actually a fence.

Your 45 paragraphs don't have much in them, except your incessant screeching that Carter told a lie. Nobody would accuse you of being breathless but it looks like you're long on rhetoric, short on answers, and frantic to cover your silly lying butt. You'd better post that slop somewhere else. People here are better read, have longer better memories and longer attention spans than the fools you're accustomed to dealing with.

Maybe you can get a job at AIPAC -- or mayber you already have a job at AIPAC? It must pay pretty good if you're willing to sign your name to -- oops! You don't sign your real name, do you "Noga"? But Jimmy Carter does. And I do. And I'm not going to argue with a jerk who hides behind an alias any longer.
December 03, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Noga said:

Jimmy: I wonder why you think Noga is not my given name. My, my, what a short temper! I repected your comments by responding fully with facts and coherent arguments and you choose to acquit your position with personal insults and some unusual free association.

"ad hominem: Latin for "to the man." An arguer who uses ad hominems attacks the person instead of the argument. Whenever an arguer cannot defend his position with evidence, facts or reason, he or she may resort to attacking an opponent either through: labeling, straw man arguments, name calling, offensive remarks and anger."

December 03, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

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