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