Kids and Carter

Blogged in Foreign Relations,Palestinian Authority by Gloria Salt Friday December 15, 2006

Gosh, it’s been a while. How are you, gentle readers? I’ve been away from the blog for several reasons — preoccupation with the babies (they’re starting to crawl!), back trouble that’s made sitting at the computer an impossibility, and a new reluctance to obsess about things I can’t do anything about.

But you know me. A couple of things have happened in close succession that I don’t think I can stay silent about. I’m late out of the gate on both of them, but I can’t resist getting a thought or two off my chest.

Two things are on my mind: the killing by Palestinians of the three young sons of a political rival, and the publication of Jimmy Carter’s book labeling us an apartheid state. What drives me crazy about the horrific story about the killing of the kids (aged three, six and nine), aside from the the crime itself (which must surely be a new low even for them), is the way the media have painted it a botched assassination attempt. These guys picked up their automatic weapons and went to the boys’ elementary school, where they lay in wait and then opened fire on the car in full knowledge that — indeed, because – it contained the guy’s children. Murdering your rival’s children in an attempt to psychologically destroy said rival is a thug’s technique that we might hope went out with Titus Andronicus, but that is obviously alive and well among the Palestinians. The object was to kill the kids. If their father had been in the car, that would have been a bonus. Let’s cut the crap.

The disgustingness of this particular crime was brought into even greater relief for me by the almost concurrent furore that erupted over Carter’s ridiculous book. He seems to have made a prize jackass of himself this time, which is all to the good — he plagiarized maps from Dennis Ross’s book and apparently littered his text with so many lies and errors and bald inventions that the first executive director of the Carter Center and founder of its Middle East program can no longer stand to be associated with his name. What amazes me about the book is the spectacular chutzpah Carter demonstrates by daring to lecture us, or anyone, for that matter, on how to fix the Middle East. Jimmy Carter, with his supine response to the Iranian takeover of the U.S. embassy in 1979, is directly responsible for the emboldening of Islamist fanaticism. He is directly responsible for convincing the world’s Islamists that the U.S. is a paper tiger. He is directly responsible for the steady escalation of Islamist terror against the U.S. and all Western interests. I don’t know — his views on how to solve the Palestinian-Israeli problem lack weight somehow.

We’ve all always known about Carter’s bias, but it’s exceptionally vivid in view of his complete silence about Palestinian crimes even against each other. They can do no wrong in his eyes, and we can do no right. He even goes so far as to defend the snatching of Gilad Shalit by Palestinian terrorists, which is a bridge too far even for the most established Israel-bashers. He’s filled with horror at the wall, of course, and the way it interferes with the raising of Palestinian olives, but has nothing to say about the help it’s providing in the raising of Israeli children. An untold number of Israelis are breathing today, and I may be one of them, because the wall exists. It was obvious to all of us that the building of the wall would bring mountains of remonstrations down on our heads, but when the options are to put up with the sanctimonious pontifications of armchair geopolitical scientists with thin grasps on history, facts, or even reality or to go to lots and lots of funerals, the choice is easy. Jimmy Carter’s sensibilities notwithstanding, that wall needs to stand until we can have some reasonable assurance that the people on the other side of it are civilized human beings. As things stand now, when they can’t get at our kids, they kill each other’s. As Shania Twain says, that don’t impress me much.

5 Responses to “Kids and Carter”

  1. Asher/Chaim says:

    Welcome back, Gloria, & shabbat shalom & happy hanukkah.

    Re. the Carter book: tomorrow (Sat.) night at 21:00, the program Ro’im Olam (IBA TV Channel 1) will broadcast an interview by Yaron Dekel, IBA US correspondent, w/Carter. I don’t imagine that Dekel will tear Carter to shreads like he ought to, but the interview’s probably worth watching in any case.

    I haven’t looked carefully at the NYT or Fox News articles you link to yet, but there might be information in this detailed post on the maps in the book that isn’t in those pieces:

    http://jpundit.typepad.com/jci/2006/12/carters_maps_wo.html

    What I don’t get at a v. basic level, is why Carter felt such a pressing need to write his book. Or why there weren’t checks at some point along the way, people–friends, colleagues, advisors, the publisher, the guy who resigned from the Carter Center, _anyone_–who could tell him either a) not to go through with writing a book which I gather is, more than anything, v. stupid, or at least b) not to plagiarize Ross’s maps. I mean, for crying out loud: he’s an ex-Prez. has he no sensible advisors at all? Is the publishing house not concerned about its reputation?

  2. Elisson says:

    Welcome back. We’ve missed you…and your thoughtful way of addressing what is going on in Israel and its environs. (But I can’t argue with your priorities.)

  3. aliza says:

    ditto the “welcome back”! I can scarcely imagine how busy you must be. Try to find the time to enjoy it.

  4. Asher says:

    …from the Wall Street Journal:

    Carter Center Board Members Resign Over Palestine Book

    By RICK BROOKS and BETSY MCKAY

    January 11, 2007 2:20 p.m.
    ATLANTA—Fourteen members of an advisory board at the Carter Center resigned today, concluding they could “no longer in good conscience continue to serve” following publication of former President Jimmy Carter’s controversial book, “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.”

    “It seems that you have turned to a world of advocacy, including even malicious advocacy,” the board members wrote in a letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position. This is not the Carter Center or Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support. Therefore it is with sadness and regret that we hereby tender our resignation from the Board of Councilors of the Carter Center effective immediately.”

    RESIGNATION LETTERS

    Read the text of two letters1 sent Thursday, Jan. 11, by members of
    the Carter Center Board of Councilors.The advisory board is comprised of more than 200 members, including representatives from leading businesses and other groups in the Atlanta area.

    Some of the Carter Center board members who quit in protest have known Mr. Carter for decades. William B. Schwartz Jr., whose name is on the list of those resigning today, was U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas during the Carter administration. S. Stephen Selig III, chairman and president of Atlanta real-estate developer Selig Enterprises Inc., was a top White House aide to Mr. Carter who led outreach to the business community. Mr. Selig was chairman of the host committee for the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.

    Steve Berman, 51 years old and one of the board members who quit, said in an interview that the departing members “were greatly concerned that the book was not steeped in fact. It departed radically from his role and went to one-sided advocacy.” Recent media comments by Mr. Carter “have been most disturbing,” he added.

    The resigning board members also include: Michael J. Coles, chairman and chief executive of Caribou Coffee Co., Minneapolis; Barbara Babbit Kaufman, founder of Chapter 11 Discount Bookstores, a bookstore chain based in Atlanta; and Liane Levetan, former DeKalb County, Ga., chief executive. That is the top elected position in a county that includes a sliver of Atlanta.

    Ms. Levetan, who is Jewish and served on the Carter Center board for several years, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that she decided to quit because “you can’t sit back and know something isn’t the truth.” While she hasn’t read President Carter’s controversial book, Ms. Levetan said her background is a factor in her criticism of the book’s contents. Ms. Levetan was born in Vienna and fled to London with her parents in 1939, moving to the U.S. in 1951.

    Ambassador Schwartz said the letter speaks for itself, declining further comment.

    In a written statement, John Hardman, executive director of the Carter Center, said the organization is “grateful to these Board of Councilors members for their years of service and support for The Carter Center in advancing peace and health around the world. The Carter Center’s Board of Councilors is an advisory body of community leaders and business people who are briefed quarterly on the Center’s work and serve as emissaries of the Center to the greater community. They are not engaged in implementing work of the Center and are not a governing board. There are more than 200 members of the Board of Councilors. The Center’s governing board is the Board of Trustees.”

    Mr. Carter couldn’t be reached to comment. Deanna Congileo, head of public information at the Carter Center, responded to an interview request with the written statement from Mr. Hardman, adding that it is “the only response I anticipate,” according to an email.

    “Palestine” has sparked outrage among some critics who claim it is unfairly harsh toward Israel and contains historical inaccuracies. Mr. Carter’s use of the word “apartheid” has been particularly controversial, with critics saying it evokes unjust comparisons with South Africa’s former system of racial segregation.

    Mr. Carter’s book was published Nov. 14 by CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster imprint. It has gone back to press five times, and now has 450,000 hardcovers in print. The book debuted at No. 11 on the New York Times best-seller list and reached as high as No. 5. By means of comparison, Mr. Carter’s last book, “Our Endangered Values,” published Nov. 1, 2005, debuted at No. 1 and now has 760,000 hardcovers in print. There are also 200,000 copies of the paperback edition of that title in print.

    The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by Mr. Carter and his wife Rosalynn. The nonprofit organization, closely associated with Emory University in Atlanta, has a staff of about 150 and has worked on human rights, disease control and prevention, antipoverty and democracy-related projects in more than 65 countries. In November, Carter Center representatives monitored the presidential election in Nicaragua that was won by former Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega.

    The Carter Center had revenue of $149.9 million and expenses of $121.4 million in the year ended August 31, 2005. It received contributions of $41.4 million during fiscal 2005, the latest year for which financial figures were immediately available.

    According to a Carter Center annual report, the advisory board was founded in 1987 and is a “leadership group that promotes understanding of and support for the Carter Center in advancing peace and health around the world.” Members meet quarterly and “act as advocates” for the organization.

    The Carter Center’s governing board of trustees currently is comprised of 21 members and two trustees emeritus, and is led by John Moores, owner of the San Diego Padres. Mr. and Mrs. Carter hold seats on the board, and 10 of the slots are filled through appointments by Mr. Carter and trustees not affiliated with Emory’s board.

    —Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg contributed to this article.

    Write to Rick Brooks at rick.brooks@wsj.com4 and Betsy McKay at betsy.mckay@wsj.com5

    URL for this article:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116852889902273906.html

    Copyright 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

  5. Asher says:

    An excellent piece by Irshad Manji:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21194124-7583,00.html

    09feb07

    In the past year, a stream of thinkers across the West – from Australian writer Antony Loewenstein to US academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt – has punctured the usual parameters of debate about Israel. I, for one, welcome any effort to prevent ideas from calcifying into ideologies. As a Muslim refusenik, that’s what I do by defying the conventional prejudices of my fellow Muslims. Why would I resent refuseniks of a different kind?

    It’s precisely because I embrace intellectual pluralism that I respectfully challenge Jimmy Carter’s recent critique of Israel as an apartheid state. To be sure, I’ve long admired the former US president. In my book The Trouble with Islam Today I cite him as an example of how religion can be invoked to tap the best of humanity. In no small measure, it was Carter’s appreciation of spiritual values that brought together Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, compelling these former foes to clasp hands over a peace deal.

    Which is why Carter’s new book disappoints so many of us who champion co-existence. Entitled Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, the book argues that Israel’s conduct towards Palestinians mimics South Africa’s long-time demonisation of blacks. Of course, certain Israeli politicians have spewed venom at Palestinians, as have some Arab leaders towards Jews, but Israel is far more complex – and diverse – than slogans about the occupation would suggest. In a state practising apartheid, would Arab Muslim legislators wield veto power over anything? At only 20per cent of the population, would Arabs even be eligible for election if they squirmed under the thumb of apartheid? Would an apartheid state extend voting rights to women and thepoor in local elections, which Israel didfor the first time in the history of Palestinian Arabs?

    Would the vast majority of Arab Israeli citizens turn out to vote in national elections, as they’ve usually done? Would an apartheid state have several Arab political parties, as Israel does? In recent Israeli elections, two Arab parties found themselves disqualified for expressly supporting terrorism against the Jewish state. However, Israel’s Supreme Court, exercising its independence, overturned both disqualifications. Under any system of apartheid, would the judiciary be free of political interference?

    Would an apartheid state award its top literary prize to an Arab? Israel honoured Emile Habibi in 1986, before the intifada might have made such a choice politically shrewd. Would an apartheid state encourage Hebrew-speaking schoolchildren to learn Arabic? Would road signs throughout the land appear in both languages? Even my country, the proudly bilingual Canada, doesn’t meet that standard.

    Would an apartheid state be home to universities where Arabs and Jews mingle at will, or apartment blocks where they live side by side? Would an apartheid state bestow benefits and legal protections on Palestinians who live outside of Israel but work inside its borders? Would human rights organisations operate openly in an apartheid state? They do in Israel.

    For that matter, military officials go public with their criticisms of government policies. In October 2003, the Israel Defence Forces’ chief of staff told the press that road closures in the West Bank and Gaza were feeding Palestinian anger. Two weeks later, four former heads of the Shin Bet security service blasted the occupation and called on Ariel Sharon to withdraw troops unilaterally, which later happened in Gaza. Would an apartheid state stomach so much dissent from those mandated to protect the state?

    Above all, would media debate the most basic building blocks of the nation? Would a Hebrew newspaper in an apartheid state run an article by an Arab Israeli about why the Zionist adventure has been a total failure? Would it run that article on Israel’s independence day? Would an apartheid state ensure conditions for the freest Arabic press in the Middle East, a press so free that it can demonstrably abuse its liberties and keep on rolling? To this day, the East Jerusalem daily Al-Quds hasn’t retracted an anti-Israel letter supposedly penned by Nelson Mandela but proven to have been written by an Arab living in The Netherlands.

    Even the eminence grise of Palestinian nationalism, the late Edward Said, stated flat out that “Israel is not South Africa”. How could it be when an Israeli publisher translated Said’s seminal work, Orientalism, into Hebrew? I’ll cap this point with a question that Said himself asked of Arabs: “Why don’t we fight harder for freedom of opinions in our own societies, a freedom, no one needs to be told, that scarcely exists?”

    I disagree: some people still need to be told that Arab “freedoms” don’t compare to those of Israel. The people who need reminding are those who now push the South Africa analogy a step further by equating Israel with Nazi Germany. To them, Zionists are committing hate crimes under the totalitarian nightmare that they dub “Zio-Nazism” (like neo-Nazism).

    When it comes to granting citizenship, Israel discriminates in the same way as an affirmative action policy, giving the edge to a specific minority that has faced genocidal injustice. Does this amount to Nazism? Spare me. As a Muslim, I could become a citizen of Israel without having to convert. After all, Israel was one of the few countries anywhere to grant shelter, then citizenship, to the Vietnamese boatpeople who sought political asylum in the late 1970s. I don’t have to wonder how Syria compares on that score.

    Now for the ultimate proof of Israel’s flimsy credentials as a bunker of Hitlerian hate: It’s the only country in the Middle East to which Arab Christians are voluntarily migrating. And they are also thriving there, notching much higher university attendance rates than the Arab Muslim citizens of Israel, and enjoying better overall health than Jews.

    The Holy Land is gut-wrenching and complicated. As much as I applaud Israel’s efforts to foster pluralism, I condemn its illegal Jewish settlements and less visible crimes such as the diversion of water away from Palestinian towns. These contradictions of the Israeli state should be exposed, discussed, even pilloried. And they are: openly as well as often. So there’s little point in deciding whose camp is the paragon of vice or virtue. The better question might be: who’s willing to hear what they don’t want to hear? That’s the test of whether a country is more than black or white.

    Irshad Manji is author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith (Random House Australia).

    ©The Australia

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