AFTER BEING accused of anti-Israel bias and antisemitism, former president Jimmy Carter managed to make inroads to the US Jewish community following a highly anticipated speech at the predominantly Jewish Brandeis University in Massachusetts.
The crowd of students, many of them Jewish, cheered for Mr Carter and welcomed him with a standing ovation.
On the stage, the former president tried to fix the impression made by his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, and said that one of the paragraphs in which he suggested that Palestinian terror against Israel might be justified was worded “in a stupid way”.
Mr Carter initially declined an invitation by the university when it was formatted as a debate with law professor Alan Dershowitz. Later it was agreed that both would speak at the same event but not at the same time. The university, with the largest Jewish student body in America, was expected to lead the way in bashing the former president’s book.
But Mr Carter’s conciliatory tone won over the crowd. He did not retreat from his views that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank was the main reason for the conflict with the Palestinians, but stressed he did not approach the issue from an anti-Israel standpoint. “This book is the first time that I’ve ever been called a liar and a bigot and an antisemite and a coward. This is hurting me,” the former president said.
Prof Dershowitz said afterwards that if Mr Carter’s book had reflected the views presented at Brandeis, the entire controversy could have been avoided.
In the blogs, p38; Alan Dershowitz, p47