Roundup of Commentary on Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace not Apartheid

Jimmy Carter’s new book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, is being widely criticized by people from across the political spectrum, including some who in the past had worked with or for Jimmy Carter. Here is a roundup of some of that criticism.

Links to CAMERA Articles and Quotes:

(Click here or scroll down for links to reviews and columns from the mainstream media.)

A Comprehensive Collection of Jimmy Carter’s Errors

Jimmy Carter purports that “everything” in his new book is “completely accurate,” and maintains (incorrectly) that the book’s critics deal in straw man accusations and ad hominem attacks. But many if not most of the facts on which his book’s premise rests are demonstrably false.

Jimmy Carter Distorts Facts, Demonizes Israel in New Book

One gets the feeling after reading just a few pages that if [Carter] could have blamed Hurricane Katrina on Israel, he would have.

S&S Stands Behind Carter (Publishers Weekly)

Andrea Levin, executive director of CAMERA, which describes itself as a nonpartisan media watchdog organization, said she and her association don’t take issue with Carter’s stance but, rather, with his handling of history. “We have nothing to argue with about his opinions,” she said. “What we’re talking about are issues of fact.” …

When asked whether S&S will change the book, Rothberg said: “We’re going to stick with the president’s version.”

Jimmy Carter’s “Settlement Freeze” Deception

Jimmy Carter has consistently and falsely claimed that during the Camp David negotiations Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin agreed to a settlement freeze to last the duration of subsequent peace talks, and that Begin violated this unwritten agreement. …

[But] Begin promised and delivered a three month freeze, and further, Jimmy Carter knows this.

Correcting Carter’s 242 Distortion (Jerusalem Post)

In the controversy over Jimmy Carter’s error-ridden new book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, the role of publisher Simon and Schuster has been largely ignored. The assumption, evidently, is that the company producing, promoting and profiting from a supposedly non-fiction history on a contentious topic, bears no responsibility for the book’s accuracy – or falsity. Indeed, Simon and Schuster makes no pretense of assuring the factual merit of its product or of planning to redress errors.

Vice President of Corporate Communications Adam Rothberg told Publishers Weekly when asked whether S&S will change the book: “We’re going to stick with the president’s version.”

That “version” includes myriad untrue statements of a kind newspapers routinely correct.

Carter Admits to Ignoring Key Source

Not only did Carter ignore the authoritative source on what transpired at the Camp David negotiations, he apparently also didn’t bother to consult news reports from the era.

NPR’s Fresh Air Allows Carter to Revise History While Smearing Israel

… Terry Gross, host of “Fresh Air,” interviewed Carter and allowed all his falsehoods to pass unchallenged, one-by-one. The broadcast was also filled with incendiary language and misleading charges.

Time Inc. Turns to Propagandist for Book Intro

It is wrong to treat a partisan activist—especially one whose views are on the extreme end of the spectrum of a contentious debate—as a credible and objective expert. Yet Time Inc. turned to Jimmy Carter for its book on the Middle East.

Historian Severs Association with Carter Center Over Distorted Book

Professor Kenneth Stein of Emory University denies having anything to do with “the research, preparation, writing, or review of President Carter’s recent publication,” which he charges is “replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments” and resigns his 23-year association with the Carter Center.

On CNN, Many More Carter Fabrications

The sheer number of factual errors in these two CNN appearances suggests that Carter either has scant knowledge of the facts, or little desire to truthfully discuss those facts.

Another Emory Professor Denounces Carter

Professor Melvin Konner declined an advisory position at the Carter Center, and wrote of the former president that “Something has happened to his judgment. I don’t understand what it is, but I know it is very dangerous. At a minimum, his legacy is irrevocably tarnished …”

Mass Resignations from Carter Center

Fourteen members of the Carter Center advisory board have resigned a fter concluding that the Center’s founder, former president Jimmy Carter, has turned to “malicious advocacy” for the Palestinians and against Israel.

Links to Book Reviews, Opinion Columns and Articles:

San Diego Union-Tribune, Bill Clinton quoted by reporter John Marelius, “Bill Clinton sees new dynamic at work in troubled Middle East“:

… it’s not factually accurate and it’s not fair.

WBUR, Michael Corgan interview with Deb Becker, “Controversy surrounds Carter at Brandeis“:

Michael Corgan is an Associate Professor of International Relations at Boston University and a specialist in presidential history.

I’m afraid its not the most profound or sophisticated book, and I can see why he might not want to debate someone who’s a good debater, like Alan Dershowitz. There’s a number of points in the book where he simply slides over what various local Arab leaders might or might not have done and tries to put the onus on Israeli politicians ….

(Q: You think Carter’s crossed a line here?)

If he’s crossed the line of good sense, I’d have to say yes. … [H]ere’s somebody who may have had good intentions, but he tends to take certain things that Arab leaders say at face value, not really questioning them. It’s not a sophisticated work … he’s out of his depth.

Providence Journal editorial, “Carter versus Israel“:

Jimmy Carter seems happy that his new book, a scathingly anti-Israel polemic titled Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, is ringing a lot of cash registers. …

He absurdly charged that Israel engages in “worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa.” … 

Such verbal firebombing is stock-in-trade in the book industry these days, as various loudmouths seek to blast through the media clutter. But should a former president be behaving like Ann Coulter? After all, a president, whatever his human failings, carries great symbolic weight, as a leading voice of his country. …

Yet any sense of balance seems missing. Mr. Carter blames minuscule Israel, bordered by enemies who desire its annihilation, for the failure of peace with the Palestinians, while skimming over the latter’s terrorist attacks and their refusal to recognize even Israel’s right to exist.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jim Wooten, “Our Opinion: Carter aside, Israel deserves total support“:

Jim Wooten is associate editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Whenever another person long invested in the passions of Jimmy Carter feels so betrayed by the assertions in his latest book that they divorce themselves from his legacy work, the rest of us should surely take notice.

When they, loyalists such as former Ambassador William B. Schwartz Jr., scholars such as Kenneth Stein and Melvin Konner, public people never given to impetuousness, such as former state Rep. Cathey Steinberg and former DeKalb CEO Liane Levetan, when they — and others whose contributions to the betterment of this state and nation are renown — walk away from the most important figure most of them will ever know, the world should take notice. And ask why.

The New York Times, Dennis Ross, “Don’t play with Maps“:

Dennis Ross was chief Middle East peace negotiator under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

I became embroiled in a controversy with former President Jimmy Carter over the use of two maps in his recent book, “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.”

…To my mind, Mr. Carter’s presentation badly misrepresents the Middle East proposals advanced by President Bill Clinton in 2000, and in so doing undermines, in a small but important way, efforts to bring peace to the region.

… the reader is left to conclude that the Clinton proposals must have been so ambiguous and unfair that Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, was justified in rejecting them. But that is simply untrue.

…It is certainly legitimate to debate whether President Clinton’s proposal could have settled the conflict. It is not legitimate, however, to rewrite history and misrepresent what the Clinton ideas were.

Put simply, the Clinton parameters would have produced an independent Palestinian state with 100 percent of Gaza, roughly 97 percent of the West Bank and an elevated train or highway to connect them.

… since the talks fell apart, there has emerged a mythology that seeks to defend Mr. Arafat’s rejection of the Clinton ideas by suggesting they weren’t real or they were too vague or that Palestinians would have received far less than what had been advertised. … But that was myth, not reality.

The New York Times, Ethan Bronner, “Jews, Arabs and Jimmy Carter“:

This is a strange little book about the Arab-Israeli conflict from a major public figure. It is premised on the notion that Americans too often get only one side of the story, one uncritically sympathetic to Israel, so someone with authority and knowledge needs to offer a fuller picture. Fine idea. The problem is that in this book Jimmy Carter does not do so. Instead, he simply offers a narrative that is largely unsympathetic to Israel. Israeli bad faith fills the pages. Hollow statements by Israel’s enemies are presented without comment. Broader regional developments go largely unexamined. In other words, whether or not Carter is right that mos t Americans have a distorted view of the conflict, his contribution is to offer a distortion of his own.

The Washington Post, Jeffery Goldberg, “What would Jimmy do?“:

… Carter makes it clear in this polemical book that, in excoriating Israel for its sins — and he blames Israel almost entirely for perpetuating the hundred-year war between Arab and Jew — he is on a mission from God. …

Carter, not unlike God, has long been disproportionately interested in the sins of the Chosen People. He is famously a partisan of the Palestinians, and in recent months he has offered a notably benign view of Hamas, the Islamist terrorist organization that took power in the Palestinian territories after winning a January round of parliamentary elections.

There are differences, however, between Carter’s understanding of Jewish sin and God’s. God, according to the Jewish Bible, tends to forgive the Jews their sins. And God, unlike Carter, does not manufacture sins to hang around the necks of Jews when no sins have actually been committed.

Christianity Today, David Aikman, “Whatever happened to former President Jimmy Carter?“:

Mr. President, fellow born-again Christian, … your role as an impartial “man of peace” has never been more in question.

Washington Jewish Week, Ira Forman, “Carter damages Israel’s and his own image“:

Ira Forman served as the Ohio field director for the Carter-Mondale campaign.

As someone who once worked for Jimmy Carter, it brings me no pleasure to criticize the former president. His commitment to such praiseworthy projects as Habitat for Humanity brings much credit to his post-White House years. No one disputes his right to criticize Israel. Few pro-Israel activists will argue that Israel is always right.

But his ongoing, deeply biased commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict does a great deal of damage to the truth. Democrats, as well as others, have an obligation to rebut his charges.

The American Thinker, Rich Richman, “The world according to Jimmy Carter“:

The anti-Israel bias is so clear, the credulous description of Arab positions so cringe-producing, the key ‘facts’ on which Carter relies so easily refuted by public documents, that the book is an embarrassment to Carter, the Democrats, the presidency and Americans.

The New Republic Online, Marty Peretz, “Jimmy Carter’s latest“:

It is a tendentious, dishonest and stupid book.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cedric L. Suzman, “‘Apartheid’ label doesn’t fit Mideast“:

Rightly or wrongly, Israel has concluded that while it tries to negotiate a settlement of the conflict, it has to ensure its survival and safety through its military strength and superiority. This context in no way resembles the situation in which apartheid was developed as an ideology and social system in South Africa.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Michael Jacobs, “Carter’s book a distorted view of Israel“:

For Carter, Israel is the cause of all the problems in the Holy Land and beyond, including “terrorist activity throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world.”

If Israel would just do what is right, he implies, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, al-Qaida, etc., would lay down their explosive belts, give up their improvised explosive devices, dismantle their rockets, forget nuclear bombs and live in peace and harmony for all time.

In reality, Palestinians, Arab nations and Iran remain intent on Israel’s destruction.

U.S. News and World Report, David Makovsky, “Analysis: Carter’s book is a disservice to peace“:

Instead of dispelling the myths that enable them to avoid making key decisions and moving forward, Carter perpetuates the fictions that have helped create the current state of affairs: demonization of Israel, distortion of history, and an overall sense of victimhood that puts no premium on Palestinian accountability.

Rocky Mountain News, Vincent Carroll, “Carter tips his hand“:

My critique mentioned only Carter’s public statements, which reach far more people than his book ever will. And those statements almost uniformly shovel virtually all blame onto Israel.

As if to prove my point, Carter appeared a week later on Denver’s KHOW radio, in an exchange as revealing as it is incredible. You can listen to the full interview on KHOW’s Web site, but here are two segments in which Carter tips his hand.

KHOW’s Craig Silverman: “Didn’t the head of Hamas, the elected leader of the Palestinians, go to Tehran last week and say ‘We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government?’ ”

Carter: “No, he didn’t.”

The Jerusalem Post, David J. Forman, “Jimmy Carter, go back to your peanut farm“:

David J. Forman is a founder of Rabbis for Human Rights

What a warped sense of history, past and present; what a blatant abuse of our sensibilities. … [W]ould it not have been far more appropriate had Carter, instead of superimposing his own humble presence over the wall, superimposed a replica of the hundreds of memorial plaques that dot Israeli bus stops, restaurants, supermarkets, malls and synagogues where Palestinian suicide bombers carried out their acts of murder?

The security fence did not come about in a vacuum. Would any country in the world do differently if going out of the house meant that its citizens played Russian roulette with their lives? …

The barrier is a necessary evil, which unfairly impinges on some of the elemental rights of the Palestinians. But that is a far cry from endorsing apartheid.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Deborah Lipstadt, “Jimmy Carter’s Jewish problem“:

Compare Carter’s approach with that of Rashid Khalidi, head of Columbia University’s Middle East Institute and a professor of Arab studies there. His recent book “The Iron Cage” contains more than a dozen references to the seminal place the Holocaust and anti-Semitism hold in the Israeli worldview. This from a Palestinian who does not cast himself as an evenhanded negotiator. …

Perhaps unused to being criticized, Carter reflexively fell back on … innuendo about Jewish control of the media and government. Even if unconscious, such stereotyping from a man of his stature is noteworthy. When David Duke spouts it, I yawn. When Jimmy Carter does, I shudder.

The Middle East Quarterly, Kenneth Stein, “My problem with Jimmy Carter’s book“:

Kenneth Stein was the first permanent executive director of the Carter Center.

[Carter] does what no non-fiction author should ever do: He allows ideology or opinion to get in the way of facts. While Carter says that he wrote the book to educate and provoke debate, the narrative aims its attack toward Israel, Israeli politicians, and Israel’s supporters. It contains egregious errors of both commission and omission. To suit his desired ends, he manipulates information, redefines facts, and exaggerates conclusions. Falsehoods, when repeated and backed by the prestige of Carter’s credentials, can comprise an erroneous baseline for shaping and reinforcing attitudes and policymaking. Rather than bring peace, they can further fuel hostilities, encourage retrenchment, and hamper peacemaking.

National Review, Claudia Rosett, “The question of Carter’s cash“:

… this book sets fresh standards of irresponsibility. Purporting to give a balanced view of the Palestinian–Israeli conflict, Carter effectively shrugs off such highly germane matters as Palestinian terrorism. The hypocrisies are boundless, and include adoring praise of the deeply oppressive, religiously intolerant Saudi regime side by side with condemnations of democratic Israel.

The Jerusalem Post, David A. Harris, “Carter’s compromised statesmanship“:

Carter leaves out what any reasonable observer, even those that share his basic views of the conflict, would consider obvious facts, but does include stunning distortions.

The New York Sun, Alan Dershowitz, “The world according to Carter“:

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. Here are just a few of the most egregious …

The Jewish Press, Jason Maoz, “Jimmy Carter’s Jewish problem“:

Former New York mayor Ed Koch, in his 1984 bestseller Mayor, recounted a conversation he had shortly before the 1980 election with Cyrus Vance, who’d recently resigned as Carter’s secretary of state. Koch told Vance that many Jews would not be voting for Carter because they feared “that if he is reelected he will sell them out.”

“Vance,” recalled Koch, “nodded and said, ‘He will.'”

The Washington Post, Michael Kinsley, “It’s not apartheid“:

Comes now former president Jimmy Carter with a new best-selling book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” It’s not clear what he means by using the loaded word “apartheid,” since the book makes no attempt to explain it, but the only reasonable interpretation is that Carter is comparing Israel to the former white racist government of South Africa. That is a foolish and unfair comparison …

I mean, what’s the parallel? Apartheid had a philosophical component and a practical one, both quite bizarre. Philosophically, it was committed to the notion of racial superiority. No doubt many Israelis have racist attitudes toward Arabs, but the official philosophy of the government is quite the opposite, and sincere efforts are made to, for example, instill humanitarian and egalitarian attitudes in children. That is not true, of course, in Arab countries, where hatred of Jews is a standard part of the curriculum.

The Day (New London), Tom Teepen, “Ancient animosities at the heart of Mideast problems“:

[Carter] hurled the charge of apartheid at Israel just to liven things up …

The Day (New London), Tom Teepen, “Carter’s twisted history“:

… his new book, “Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid,” is a bitter disappointment. Its agenda seems less the peace that the title proclaims than an effort to anathematize Israel.

In the course, Carter dodges, ignores or even twists history to serve that agenda. The book is an act of cynicism toward its readers, presuming on Carter’s confidence that most will lack the detailed knowledge needed to see through him.

New Jersey Jewish Standard, Abraham Foxman, “Judging a book by its cover and its contents“:

In order to reach such a simplistic and distorted view of the region, Carter has to ignore or downplay the continuing examples of Palestinian rejection of Israel and terrorism, which have been part of the equation from the beginning and which are strong as ever today. He has to minimize or condemn all the instances of Israel’s peace offers and withdrawals … . And he has to frame every example of Palestinian distress as simply the product of Israeli repression …

The Huffington Post, Alan Dershowitz, “The world according to Jimmy Carter“:

I like Jimmy Carter. I have known him since he began his run for president in early 1976. I worked hard for his election, and I have admired the work of the Carter Center throughout the world. That’s why it troubles me so much that this decent man has written such an indecent book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jewish Current Issues, Rick Richman, “Carter’s maps: worse than plagiarism“:

Carter’s maps are worse than plagiarism — they are placed together in a way that dramatically distorts history, misinforms the reader, and assists Carter in his book-length attempt to absolve the Palestinians from their rejection of peace in 2000 in favor of a barbaric war.

The Boston Globe, Alan Dershowitz, “Why won’t Carter debate his book?“:

Carter’s refusal to debate wouldn’t be so strange if it weren’t for the fact that he claims that he wrote the book precisely so as to start debate over the issue of the Israel-Palestine peace process. If that were really true, Carter would be thrilled to have the opportunity to debate. Authors should be accountable for their ideas and their facts. Books shouldn’t be like chapel, delivered from on high and believed on faith.

The Washington Times, Rachel Ehrenfeld, “Carter’s Arab financiers“:

To understand what feeds former president Jimmy Carter’s anti-Israeli frenzy, look at his early links to Arab business.

Front Page Mag, Jacob Laksin, “Jimmy Carter and the Arab lobby“:

… applying Carter’s own standard, his extensive contacts with the Saudi elite must make his views on the Middle East suspect.

History News Network, Gil Troy, “On Carter’s false Apartheid analogy“:

Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University

Carter and his comrades use “Apartheid” as shorthand to condemn some of the security measures improvised recently, especially since Carter’s late friend Yasir Arafat unleashed the latest wave of terrorism in September 2000. Israel built a security fence to protect its citizens and separate Palestinian enclaves from Israeli cities. …

Applying the Apartheid label tries to ostracize Israel by misrepresenting some of the difficult decisions Israel has felt forced to make in fighting Palestinian terror. Israel’s opponents are trying to transfer onto Israel the civilized world’s justifiable contempt for South African oppression.

The Washington Times, Yariv Nornberg, “Israel loses a friend“:

Not only is the book counterproductive, but it also completely contradicts all that I was taught about conflict resolution at the Carter Center. …

Sadly, I must reach the conclusion that in writing “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” Mr. Carter decided to transform himself from a goodwill player to an ardent advocate of the Palestinian cause. I am not suggesting that it is not his right to do so, but I would have expected a more evenhanded account from a man of his stature. Unfortunately, I see instead that he has become an obsessively biased critic of Israel, and even worse, due to his perceived credibility, a new hero for those seeking to undermine Israel’s very right to exist.

“Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” completely destroys Mr. Carter’s reputation as an honest broker, a distinction he merited throughout the years since his great achievement at the first Camp David summit, and one that even earned him the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize., Cinnamon Stillwell , “Jimmy Carter’s legacy of failure“:

The attempt to associate Israel with apartheid era South Africa has indeed been a popular and effective tactic in the arsenal of anti-Israel talking points. It matters little that the charge is untrue. One simply has to insert the word “apartheid” into the discussion and the damage is done.

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