Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dershowitz Takes President Carter to Task

In "The World According to Carter," Alan Dershowitz (via ALD) finds much wrong with President Jimmy Carter's "ahistorical" retelling of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that runs through the former President's new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

Sometimes you really can tell a book by its cover. President Jimmy Carter's decision to title his new anti-Israel screed "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" (Simon & Schuster, 288 pages, $27) tells it all. His use of the loaded word "apartheid," suggesting an analogy to the hated policies of South Africa, is especially outrageous, considering his acknowledgment buried near the end of his shallow and superficial book that what is going on in Israel today "is unlike that in South Africa—not racism, but the acquisition of land." Nor does he explain that Israel's motivation for holding on to land it captured in a defensive war is the prevention of terrorism. Israel has tried, on several occasions, to exchange land for peace, and what it got instead was terrorism, rockets, and kidnappings launched from the returned land.

In fact, Palestinian-Arab terrorism is virtually missing from Mr. Carter's entire historical account, which blames nearly everything on Israel and almost nothing on the Palestinians...There is no mention of the long history of Palestinian terrorism before the occupation, or of the Munich massacre and others inspired byYasser Arafat. There is not even a reference to the Karine A, the boatful of terrorist weapons ordered by Arafat in January 2002.

Mr. Carter's book is so filled with simple mistakes of fact and deliberate omissions that were it a brief filed in a court of law, it would be struck and its author sanctioned for misleading the court. Mr. Carter too is guilty of misleading the court of public opinion. A mere listing of all of Mr. Carter's mistakes and omissions would fill a volume the size of his book.
After listing a few of the "mistakes and omissions," Dershowitz continues:

And it's not just the facts; it's the tone as well. It's obvious that Mr. Carter just doesn't like Israel or Israelis. He lectured Golda Meir on Israeli's "secular" nature, warning her that "Israel was punished whenever its leaders turned away from devout worship of God." He admits that he did not like Menachem Begin. He has little good to say about any Israelis — except those few who agree with him. But he apparently got along swimmingly with the very secular Syrian mass-murderer Hafez al-Assad. Mr. Carter and his wife Rosalynn also had a fine time with the equally secular Arafat — a man who has the blood of hundreds of Americans and Israelis on his hands:

Rosalynn and I met with Yasir Arafat in Gaza City, where he was staying with his wife, Suha, and their little daughter. The baby, dressed in a beautiful pink suit, came readily to sit on my lap, where I practiced the same wiles that had been successful with our children and grandchildren. A lot of photographs were taken, and then the photographers asked that Arafat hold his daughter for a while. When he took her, the child screamed loudly and reached out her hands to me, bringing jovial admonitions to the presidential candidate to stay at home enough to become acquainted with is own child.

There is something quite disturbing about these pictures.

"Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" is so biased that it inevitably raises the question of what would motivate a decent man like Jimmy Carter to write such an indecent book. Whatever Mr. Carter's motives may be, his authorship of this ahistorical, one-sided, and simplistic brief against Israel forever disqualifies him from playing any positive role in fairly resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. That is a tragedy because the Carter Center, which has done much good in the world, could have been a force for peace if Jimmy Carter were as generous in spirit to the Israelis as he is to the Palestinians.


Yzerfontein said...

There are similarities and differences between apartheid South Africa and palestinians in the West Bank, Black South Africans were forced to become citizens of uneconomic Bantustans.

Anonymous said...

Visit Ramalla and visit the West Bank. Americans would be shocked and shamed.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes in order to see a conflict anew, we need to try some new glasses. Former President Carter offers such an approach by encouraging people to see the conflict through the lens of apartheid South Africa.

Of course at one level it is not the same. But there are things that we can learn as human beings from the errors of Apartheid South Africa with Occupation within the West Bank and attacks on Gaza. This is not a one-way conflict, of course. As a white South African I would be scared as hell of being subject to violent attack from some members of the black South African community (I would have been fearful of others from some in the white community as well).

For a detailed reflection on my thoughts on conflict in general and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in particular please see

For my thoughts on how Dershowiz can broaden his view of history see


Stewart Mills