Jimmy Carter brings a Christian perspective to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Unfortunately, it is the same Christian perspective as a drunken Mel Gibson, obsessed with heaping blame on the Jews.
Yes, there are two sides to every dispute, and heaven knows the Palestinian people have suffered throughout the past six decades, but Carter apes the Palestinian position and calls it evenhandedness. He is such a rabid partisan that his next logical step after the publication of his rant of a new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, can only be to follow the example of the late Israel-hater Edward Said and be photographed throwing rocks at Israeli security forces.
Carter’s inflammatory title accords with attempts to delegitimatize the existence of the Jewish state by equating Zionism with racism. Carter thinks he’s being charitable because what he is criticizing “is not racism but the desire of a minority of Israelis to confiscate and colonize choice sites in Palestine, and then to forcefully suppress any objections from the displaced citizens.” Oh, is that all?
The book marks Carter’s further disgraceful descent from ineffectual president and international do-gooder to apologist for the worst Arab tendencies. “It is imperative,” Carter writes, “that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel.” In the meantime, presumably, the slaughter of Jews can continue.
Israel can’t be so blithe about the murder of its citizens, which is why it built the security fence. Carter calls it an “imprisonment wall,” but it has been effective in preventing Palestinian terrorists from blowing people to bits — the kind of attacks Carter characterizes as “(unfortunate) for the peace process.” Twice recently, Israel has vacated occupied land, in Southern Lebanon and Gaza, only to see attacks against it launched from those same territories. But Carter always finds a way to point a finger at Israel.
In doing so, Carter thinks he is providing an extraordinary public service. In an interview with Newsweek, Carter said he wants “to provoke discussion, which is very rarely heard in this country.” Carter must not have followed the news during Israel’s war with Lebanon this summer, when media outlets were replete with criticisms of the Jewish state. Carter-like calls for a rejuvenated peace process, meanwhile, are so common that they are a cliché.
Carter argues that more people would see the Middle East his way if it weren’t for the nefarious influence of the pro-Israel American-Israel Political Action Committee. He apparently believes that if only the Palestinian Authority had better lobbyists, then members of Congress would flock to the cause of this chaotic, corrupt, terrorist-supporting excuse for a governmental entity.
Incredibly, given his media presence, Carter thinks that he is being silenced by shadowy forces. He makes this bizarre claim: “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.” Does Carter keep track of which schools have lots of Jews? And who does he think is keeping him from speaking at them?
Just as creepy is a passage in the book about Christians in Galilee 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 2,000 years earlier.” As New Yorker writer Jeffrey Goldberg notes, “There are, of course, no references to ‘Israeli authorities’ in the Christian Bible. Only a man who sees Israel as a lineal descendent of the Pharisees could write such a sentence.”
What the Palestinians desperately need is a decent government that is genuinely committed to pursuing peace with Israel. By excusing the current degraded state of the Palestinian leadership, Carter is helping only to extend the conflict with Israel and perpetuate Palestinian suffering, not to mention trash his own reputation.
© 2006 by King Features Syndicate