On December 10, I blogged about how Prof. Ken Stein (right) resigned as a fellow at Emory’s Carter Center because of the anti-Israel rhetoric (including referring to Israel as an Apartheid state) in Jimmy Carter’s new book. Well, it appears that in an effort to sell more copies of his new book, on December 15 the former president issued a letter to the American Jewish community. In the letter, President Carter refers to a meeting he had with rabbis in Phoenix who announced before Carter’s arrival that they would demonstrate against the book as any pro-Israel rabbi should do. The letter is well intentioned but extremely contradictory to what Carter actually writes in his book. In this letter he tries to redefine his usage of the term Apartheid. Nice try!
Carter ends his letter by describing the warm feelings he had at the end of the meeting when the group of Phoenix rabbis held hands in a circle while one of the rabbis prayed before Carter then autographed copies of his book. The Anti-Defamation League does a good job responding to Carter’s letter in their own “Open Letter to Jimmy Carter” where they write:
Your efforts in the letter to minimize the impact of your charge that American Jews control US Middle East policy are simply unconvincing. In both your book and in your many television and print interviews you have been feeding into conspiracy theories about excessive Jewish power and control. Considering the history of anti-Semitism, even in our great country, this is very dangerous stuff.
Perhaps the best response to Jimmy Carter has been the firsthand account from one of the rabbis who attended that meeting. My colleague, Rabbi Arthur Lavinsky, gave me permission to quote directly from his e-mail account of the meeting. His words are in italics:
Carter’s visceral disdain for Israel was visible to most of us. He EXPLICITLY and repeatedly used terms like “Israeli colonialism” and actually drew a moral equivalency between the attacks against innocent Israeli civilians and the Palestinian casualties due to Israeli military strikes (and complained that more Palestinians died than Israelis – I was unaware that an equal number of people need to die in order to justify the actions of a nation acting in self defense).
Carter was, to say the least, clueless. He is blind to Israel’s virtues and equally blind to the inherent evil of Radical Islam. When I asked him, “How do you negotiate with people who declare “We have won because we love death as much as they love life?”, he didn’t have much of an answer.
In my opinion, Jimmy Carter will serve society much better if he sticks to the good work he’s done for Habitat for Humanity and puts a strip of duct tape over his mouth when he has the urge to talk about the situation in the Middle East.