|Jimmy Carter accused:
The resignation letter of his close supporters
Published: 25 January 2007
Briefing Number 189
‘ Palestine : Peace not Apartheid' and its aftermath
In November 2006, former US President Jimmy Carter published his latest book ‘ Palestine : Peace not Apartheid' (Simon & Schuster). While Palestinian advocacy groups welcomed the book, it prompted a torrent of criticism from supporters of Israel : that it was one-sided, factually inaccurate, historically superficial, and that it would do nothing to advance the cause of peace.
Perhaps the most telling criticism emerged when a group of Jimmy Carter's closest supporters, and senior members of the Atlanta-based Carter Center for Peace, resigned in protest. Here is the full text of their resignation letter (published on www.foxnews.com on 18 January 2007 ) [We have added section headings – Beyond Images].
Dear President Carter
As members of the Board of Councilors each one of us has been proud to be associated with the Carter Center in its noble struggle to repair the world. However, in light of the publication of your latest book ‘ Palestine : Peace Not Apartheid' and your subsequent comments made in promoting the book, we can no longer in good conscience continue to serve the Center as members of the Board of Councilors.
Abandoning your role as honest broker….
In its work in conflict resolution the Carter Center has always played the useful and constructive role of honest broker and mediator between warring parties. In your book, which portrays the conflict between Israel and her neighbours as a purely one-sided affair with Israel holding all of the responsibility for resolving the conflict, you have clearly abandoned your historic role of broker in favour of becoming an advocate for one side.
Your book has confused opinion with fact….
The facts in dealing with the conflict are these: there are two national narratives contesting one piece of land. The Israelis, through deed and public comment, have consistently spoken of their desire to live in peace and to make territorial compromise to achieve that status. The Palestinian side has consistently resorted to acts of terror as a national expression, and has elected parties endorsing the user of terror, the rejection of territorial compromise and of Israel 's right to exist. Palestinian leaders have had chances since 1947 to have their own state, including during your own presidency when they snubbed your efforts. Your book has confused opinion with fact, subjectivity with objectivity and force for change with partisan advocacy.
You penalise groups for participating in free and open political process….
Furthermore the comments you have made in the past few weeks insinuating that there is a monolith of Jewish power in America are most disturbing and must be addressed by us. In our great country where freedom of expression is basic bedrock you have suddenly proclaimed that Americans cannot express their opinion on matters in the Middle East for fear of retribution from the ‘Jewish lobby'. In condemning the Jews of America you also condemn Christians and others for their support for Israel . Is any interest group penalised for participating in the free and open political process that is America ? Your book and recent comments suggests you seem to think so.
You repeatedly make false claims….
In the past you would inject yourself into this world to moderate between the two sides in the pursuit of peace and as a result you earned our admiration and support. Now you repeatedly make false claims. You wrote that UN Security Council Resolution 242 says that “ Israel must withdraw from territories” (p38) but you know that the word “must” in fact is not in the resolution. You said that since Mahmoud Abbas has been in office there have been no peace discussions. That is wrong. You wrote that Yassir Arafat told you in 1990 that “the PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel ” (p62). Given that their Charter, which explicitly calls for Israel 's destruction, was not revised until the late 1990s, how could you even write such a claim as if it were credible?
You denied on Denver radio on December 12 that Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh said he would never accept or negotiate with Israel . However, the BBC Monitoring Service reported just the opposite. In fact Haniyeh said: “We will never recognise the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihadist movement until bayt al-Maqdis ( Jerusalem ) and the Al-Aqsa mosque are liberated”. When presented with this fact you said: “No, he didn't say that, no, he did not do that, I did not hear that”. These are points not of opinion, these are points of fact.
And finally, it is a disturbing statement to write: “that it is imperative, that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Road Map for peace are accepted by Israel ”. In this sentence you clearly suggest that you are condoning violence against Israelis until they do certain things (p213). [** see below for President Carter's comments on this statement – Beyond Images].
You have energised White supremacist groups who believe in Jewish control…
Your use of the word ‘Apartheid', regardless of your disclaimers, has already energised white supremacist groups who thrive on asserting Jewish control of government and foreign policy, an insinuation you made in your Op-Ed to the Los Angeles Times on 8 December 2006: “For the last thirty years I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts”. According to a website monitored by the Anti-defamation League, US white supremacists have enthusiastically embraced your suggestion that the Israel lobby stifles debate in this country, saying it confirms Jewish control of government and foreign policy, as well as the inherently ‘evil' nature of Jews. If you doubt the support you are giving and receiving please refer to: www.adl.org /main_Anti_Semitism_Domestic.
From there you can get to the postings of the four different white Supremacist organisations that both support and make user of the contents of your book and what you have said in public.
We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position….
As a result it seems that you have turned to a world of advocacy, including even malicious advocacy. We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position. This is not the Carter Center or the 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 , effectively immediately.
Alan Abrams, Steve Berman, Michael Coles, Jon Golden, Doug Hertz, Barbara Babbit Kaufman, Liane Levetan, Jeff Levy, Leon Novak, Ambassador William B Schwartz, Steve Selig, Cathy Steinberg, Gail Solomon.
Post-script – Carter expresses regrets….. for one sentence
At a public lecture which he delivered at Brandeis University on 22 January 2007 (as reported on www.forward.com ), President Carter was challenged by a member of the audience on the sentence quoted in the letter above (marked **). Carter stated:-
“That sentence was worded in a completely improper and stupid way, for which I have to apologise. I have written to the publishers to change that sentence immediately…..”
Carter did not express regret for any other part of the book.