After a column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette heaped praise on Jimmy Carter's new book while ignoring the many substantive complaints about the book's errors and distortions, the newspaper published the following CAMERA rebuttal:
In Rebuttal: Carter can't see straight
The former president's book on Palestine is full of errors and misperceptions
"Carter's Clear-Eyed View" (Dec. 6) by Post-Gazette Associate Editor Dan Simpson praises Jimmy Carter's new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" and the ex-president for supposedly casting a "candid," "cold light" on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Mr. Simpson says the book shows the Palestinian Arabs "as principally wronged by the Israelis, backed by the Americans."
Mr. Carter is so "clear-eyed" that Middle East historian Kenneth Stein -- the former president's Middle East adviser and first executive director of the Carter Center -- resigned from the center, charging that the ex-president's new book is "replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions and simply invented segments." Mr. Stein did not want to leave the impression that he was "sanctioning a series of egregious errors and polemical conclusions which appeared in President Carter's book."
"Cold light?" Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz calls Mr. Carter's latest book "shallow and superficial." He notes that the ex-president fails to "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."
According to Mr. Dershowitz, "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."
The ex-president's major errors include:
Stating that "Christian and Muslim Arabs had continued to live in [the Holy Land] since Roman times," but omitting the fact that Jews have lived there even longer;
Lamenting alleged Arab displacement by Israelis (Arab refugees who fled from wars that Arab armies started), while ignoring that a greater number of Jews (more than 800,000) fled ancestral homes in Arab lands, with nearly 600,000 immigrating to Israel;
Claiming that Palestinian Arabs long have supported a "two-state solution" and that the Israelis rejected it when, in fact, Arab leadership rejected such compromises or steps leading to a two-state solution when it was proposed in 1938, 1947-48 and 1979, and by failing to uphold the "Oslo process" after 1993, at Camp David in 2000 and at Taba in 2001. The Jews, and subsequently Israel, accepted and/or put forward those proposals;
Distorting the diplomatic/legal record. Mr. Carter ignores that Israel accepted U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) and its call for a negotiated peace settlement, withdrawal from some but not all occupied territory, and secure and recognized borders, but the Arabs rejected it. Contrary to 242's authors, Undersecretary of State Eugene Rostow and British Ambassador Lord Caradon, Mr. Carter insists that Israel is obligated to withdraw to the insecure, temporary 1949 armistice lines -- which the ex-president erroneously claims were "international borders";
Minimizing the terrorism of Hezbollah and Hamas but falsely asserting that "confessions extracted through torture are admissible in Israeli courts" and that prisoners are "executed," and
Blaming Israel for the "exodus of Christians from the Holy Land," when Christian Arabs have been emigrating from the Near East in significant numbers for well over a century and the exodus has accelerated with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
Mr. Simpson is entitled to his opinion of Mr. Carter's book. But it shouldn't be taken seriously.
(Eric Rozenman is Washington director of CAMERA - the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (firstname.lastname@example.org). )