Res­ig­na­tions add to Carter con­tro­versy

Board mem­bers quit for­mer US pres­i­dent’s re­search cen­tre over ‘apartheid’ book


WITH HIS book, Pales­tine: Peace Not Apartheid, well es­tab­lished in the top-10 best­sellers list of The New York Times, for­mer US pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter is con­tin­u­ing to draw fire from Jewish groups and ac­tivists in Amer­ica.

Last Thurs­day, 14 Jewish board mem­bers of the Carter Cen­tre re­search in­sti­tute re­signed, cit­ing the for­mer pres­i­dent’s book.

“This is not the Carter Cen­tre or the Jimmy Carter we came to re­spect and sup­port,” the board mem­bers wrote in their res­ig­na­tion let­ter, ac­cus­ing Mr Carter of pro­vid­ing a one-sided ac­count of the sit­u­a­tion in the Mid­dle East. “Your book has con­fused opin­ion with fact, sub­jec­tiv­ity with ob­jec­tiv­ity and force for change with par­ti­san ad­vo­cacy,” the 14 board mem­bers’ let­ter reads.

“Is any in­ter­est group to be pe­nalised for par­tic­i­pat­ing in the free and open po­lit­i­cal process that is Amer­ica? Your book and re­cent com­ments sug­gest you seem to think so,” they con­tin­ued.

The book has also ou­traged the US Jewish com­mu­nity, who claim it blames the stale­mate in the Mid­dle East squarely on Is­rael and equates the sit­u­a­tion in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries with that of South African apartheid.

The ex-pres­i­dent has also come un­der fire for ap­par­ently al­leg­ing that the de­bate in the United States on Mid­dle East pol­icy is­sues is be­ing sti­fled due to the pres­sure of the Jewish com­mu­nity and the pow­er­ful pro-Is­rael lobby.

Last week, a group of Re­form rab­bis can­celled a planned visit to the At­lantabased Carter Cen­tre. “Our can­cel­la­tion of the visit to the Carter Cen­tre re­flects our con­tin­u­ing com­mit­ment to Is­rael, Zion­ism, and Amer­ica’s role in the es­tab­lish­ment of a just and last­ing peace be­tween the State of Is­rael and all her Arab neigh­bours,” the lead­er­ship of the Cen­tral Con­fer­ence of Amer­i­can Rab­bis wrote to Mr Carter.

The next round is ex­pected next week, when Mr Carter de­fends his book at Bran­deis Univer­sity in Mas­sachusetts, which has the largest Jewish stu­dent body in the US.

Mr Carter had re­fused to at­tend a one-on-one pub­lic de­bate with prom­i­nent law pro­fes­sor Alan Der­showitz, but agreed to ap­pear in front of a mainly Jewish crowd and take ques­tions. Mr Der­showitz has al­ready promised he will be there in the first row, ready with tough ques­tions for the for­mer pres­i­dent.

Jimmy Carter has sparked anger with his book on Is­rael and Pales­tine

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