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Middle East Issues





Jimmy Carter, Middle East Mirage USA Today Thought it Saw


Jimmy Carter, still falsifying after all these years.

USA Today, still rolling over for a man who left the White House 36 years ago and, when it comes to Israelis and Arabs, chronically denies anything he might have learned there.

The newspaper published Carter's commentary, “Obama Can Still Aid Middle East; Even this late in his presidency, it's crucial to advance peace negotiations” March 21, 2016 (online March).

Fact-checking would have revealed that almost every one of Carter's 742 words were either wrong or out of context. Carter claims, among other things:

*“Recent Israeli strategy has been to postpone solution of the Palestinian issue and maintain the status quo, which has strengthened those who see this as an opportunity for one Jewish state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

This assertion has all the honesty of a carnival barker offering the gullible a peek through dark glass into a dim room to see the two-headed woman.

In truth, recent Palestinian behavior has been to refuse U.S. and Israeli offers of a West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinian state, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, in exchange for peace with Israel. Rejection at Camp David in 2000; Taba, Egypt in 2001, in 2008 after the Annapolis conference and dismissal of Secretary of State John Kerry's 2014 “framework” to resume “two-state negotiations” show Palestinian leadership determined to “maintain the status quo rather than reach agreement.

In fact, Palestinian strategy demands a “one-state solution.” In it Haifa, Beersheva, Tiberias and the rest of Jewish Israel—described as part of “occupied Palestine” in textbooks of both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip—would be subsumed. Incitement of anti-Israeli terrorism, as through the “al-Aqsa mosque is in danger” libel in the current “stabbing intifada,” supports that strategy.

Crippling omissions

But Carter, whose serial omissions amount to deceit, never mentions either Palestinian rejectionism (see, for example, “Stop Giving Palestinians a Pass,” by Amb. Dennis Ross, The New York Times, Jan. 1, 2015 or bloodshed.

*The “key phrase” in U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, endorsed by Israel at Camp David in 1978 is “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every state in the area can live in security.” Here Carter scrambles separate aspects of 242, adopted after the 1967 Six-Day War and subsequently the keystone of all successful Arab-Israeli peace negotiations.

In truth, 242's “key phrases” include:

A call for “termination of all claims or states of belligerency” against Israel by its Arab neighbors;

Acknowledgement of the “right to live in peace within security and recognized boundaries [emphasis added; Israel's pre-1967 boundaries were neither secure nor recognized]”;

A “just settlement of the refugee problem [emphasis added; intentionally written to encompass Jewish refugees from Arab lands as well as the smaller number of Palestinian Arab refugees from what became Israel]”; and

“Withdrawal of Israeli armed [no mention of civilians, they were not there yet] forces from territories [famously, not “the” or “all”] territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

*Carter's distortions of 242 support his false allegation of an Israeli “policy of occupying Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.” The West Bank and eastern Jerusalem are disputed territories, as a co-author of Resolution 242, U.S. Undersecretary of State Eugene Rostow, made clear. (See “Security Council Resolution 242 According to Its Drafters,” CAMERA, Jan. 15, 2007.) With the Gaza Strip they constitute the last unallocated five percent of the original British Mandate for Palestine (successor states of Jordan and Israel comprising 77.5 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively).

Hiding Hamas and Fatah extremism

Jewish and Arab claims in the territories are to be resolved via negotiations as envisioned by 242 and its supporting measure, U.N. Security Council Resolution 338, adopted after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Contrary to Carter's insinuation, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains committed to negotiations with a Palestinian leadership willing and able to reach a “two-state solution” that ends the conflict and recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.

The ex-president admits the present “Palestinian leadership is weak and divided.” But, evasively, he omits that both the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority on the West Bank and Islamic fundamentalist Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip continue to incite and celebrate the current wave of stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks against Israelis. He's silent too on the fact that Isaac Herzog, leader of the Zionist Union opposition to Netanyahu's Likud Party-led coalition, believes there is no Palestinian leadership now ready to make and keep peace.

*Carter misleads. He tells readers “in his 1990 memoir, former secretary of State Dean Rusk explained the U.S. interpretation [of Resolution 242]: ‘We never contemplated any significant grant of territory to Israel as a result of the 1967 war.' This has been the general policy of our country's government and the world community [emphasis added] since that time.”

Rusk's memoirs are not definitive. Israel's unrecognized, insecure pre-Six-Day War boundaries—along the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) the temporary 1949 Israeli-Jordanian armistice line and with the Gaza Strip the temporary 1950 Egyptian-Israeli armistice line—left the country four miles wide just west of Jerusalem, less than nine miles wide just north of Tel Aviv. Rusk's boss, President Lyndon Johnson said full withdrawal would have been a prescription for “a renewal of hostilities.” The government of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir dismissed the 1969 proposal by Rusk's successor as secretary of state, William Rogers, of an Arab-Israeli settlement involving only “insubstantial [boundary] alterations required to improve mutual security.” President George W. Bush asserted it would be “unrealistic to expect” Israel to return to the '49 lines.

*As for Carter's notional “world community,” many of its members acceded to the 1973 Arab oil embargo against the few countries that aided Israel in its Yom Kippur War struggle. Many in that “community” condemned Israel's 1981 destruction of Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor. When the Arafat-led second intifada took more than 1,400 Israeli lives between 2000 and 2005, that community generally seemed less troubled by Palestinian terrorism than by Israeli counter-terrorism. And today many in “the world community” rush to renew business with Iran even while that country continues to threaten genocide—in violation of international law—against the Jewish state.

*Never mind the analysts, U.S. and Israeli, who fear a Hamas takeover of the West Bank from Fatah's Palestinian Authority soon after an Israeli withdrawal, as happened in Gaza. Never mind that Israel's northern borders feature Syria in meltdown and Lebanon dominated by Iranian-armed Hezbollah. Carter, his cancer reportedly in remission in part due to an Israeli-developed drug, wants President Obama to formalize concessions Israel would have to make regardless of present, let alone post-Obama Middle East developments. The ex-president, having falsified the diplomatic record regarding U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338—their substance contradicting his Ahab-like “punish-Israel” obsession—wants them superseded by a new resolution. In effect, Carter recommends Obama reward Palestinian intransigence by penalizing Israel and turning authoritative Security Council resolutions to Silly Putty.

USA Today—like The Washington Post—periodically grants opinion page space to Carter, letting him hang his rehashed anti-Israel commentary on a new news peg. It did so, for example, with “Israel's new plan: A land grab,” on May 16, 2006, and “It's time for a new approach to Middle East peace,” Dec. 21, 2010. (See “CAMERA ALERT: Jimmy Carter Blunders in USA Today,” May 17, 2006 and “Washington Jewish Week: ‘Carter's Elders of Anti-Zion,'” CAMERA, Feb. 3, 2011.)

Carter is an ex-president. He is a recipient of the often-politicized Nobel Peace Prize, bestowed by a panel of Norwegian parliamentarians. Since his presidency he's periodically grabbed the spotlight through the work of his Carter Center in Atlanta, funded in part by donors from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf oil states. Under the banner of human rights and humanitarian activities he has insinuated old, bigoted stereotypes of Jewish control of politics and the news media, as Prof. Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, Harvard University Law School, has highlighted. Carter's shown himself a false witness. (See CAMERA's 2007 100-page monograph, Bearing False Witness: Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.) It's long past time major news organizations, including USA Today, stopped indulging him.


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