What’s so brave about Jimmy Carter’s views?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - MONA CHAREN

Hav­ing scolded the West­ern world for its “in­or­di­nate fear of com­mu­nism,” for­mer Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter is now, 30 years later, try­ing to le­git­imize the shame­ful Zion­ism Equals Racism res­o­lu­tion passed and later re­pealed by the United Na­tions.

The man has a seem­ingly unerring in­stinct for er­ror. “Pales­tine: Peace Not Apartheid” is touted (by Mr. Carter him­self) as an even­handed anal­y­sis of the Is­raeli/Arab con­flict — but one need go no fur­ther than the ti­tle to sus­pect oth­er­wise.

Mr. Carter, like all Is­rael bash­ers, pro­claims his courage. Please. It takes courage to crit­i­cize Is­rael? The world is teem­ing with Is­rael­haters. No other na­tion in the world — not Rus­sia, not Saudi Ara­bia, not Cuba — is the sub­ject of so much con­cen­trated calumny. In Europe, as Me­lanie Phillips re­counts in her daz­zling book “Lon­don­istan,” Is­rael is cursed not just among the rab­ble but at el­e­gant din­ner par­ties and em­bassy soirees.

And while it’s true that in the United States, Is­rael en­joys high lev­els of sup­port, it is also rou­tinely cas­ti­gated (and nearly al­ways by peo­ple who imag­ine they are de­fy­ing some pow­er­ful ca­bal). What is amaz­ing is that even a for­mer pres­i­dent of the United States con­fuses free­dom of speech with free­dom from crit­i­cism for the con­tent of that speech.

Here’s a pre­cis of the book: Is­rael is the prob­lem. In fact, it’s all summed up in the fi­nal para­graph: “Peace will come to Is­rael and the Mid­dle East only when the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment is will­ing to com­ply with in­ter­na­tional law, with the Roadmap for Peace, with of­fi­cial Amer­i­can pol­icy, with the wishes of a ma­jor­ity of its own cit­i­zens — and honor its own pre­vi­ous com­mit­ments — by ac­cept­ing its le­gal borders.” By the way, that kind of awk­ward phras­ing is found through­out this slap­dash work.

Sixty years of recog­ni­tion with­held by its neigh­bors, cease­less ter­ror against Is­raeli civil­ians, count­less de­faulted agree­ments — none of this dis­turbs Mr. Carter’s cer­ti­tudes.

The book is so fool­ish you can pretty much close your eyes and point to any page to find some­thing sim­plis­tic, naive or ten­den­tious. On Page 97, for ex­am­ple, Mr. Carter as­serts, that “The mil­i­tant group Hezbol­lah [. . .] was formed in Le­banon in 1982 to re­sist the Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion.” Not quite. Hezbol­lah’s found­ing doc­u­ment calls for Is­lamic rule in Le­banon, an end to West­ern im­pe­ri­al­ism and de­struc­tion of the state of Is­rael. An arm of the Ira­nian Is­lamic revo­lu­tion, Hezbol­lah’s op­er­a­tives have been found in France, Spain, Cyprus, Sin­ga­pore, the “tri­bor­der” re­gion of South Amer­ica, and the Philip­pines, re­ports For­eign Af­fairs mag­a­zine.

Mr. Carter tells the his­tory of the Six-Day War in 1967 this way: “On June 5, Is­rael launched pre­emp­tive strikes, mov­ing first against Egypt and Syria, then against Jor­dan.” That’s false. Is­rael did strike first at Egypt and Syria (wait­ing to be at­tacked would have meant na­tional sui­cide), but specif­i­cally called upon Jor­dan to stay out of the fight­ing. Jor­dan’s King Hus­sein, putting faith in Ga­mal Ab­del Nasser’s claim that Egypt was de­feat­ing Is­rael, chose to shell Jerusalem. Is­rael then turned its full might on Jor­dan, driv­ing them out of Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Mr. Carter claims “The Is­raelis have never granted any ap­pre­cia­ble au­ton­omy to the Pales­tini­ans.” What? In De­cem­ber 2000, pur­suant to the Oslo Ac­cords, Is­rael (un­wisely) gave nearly com­plete au­ton­omy to the Pales­tini­ans in the dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries and even gave the Pales­tinian se­cu­rity forces weapons. In re­turn, the Pales­tini­ans were sup­posed to pre­vent ter­ror at­tacks against Is­rael. Not only did the PA fail to pre­vent ter­ror at­tacks, it or­ga­nized and car­ried them out.

Ex­pli­cat­ing last sum­mer’s Is­rael/Hezbol­lah war, Mr. Carter of­fers a dis­torted his­tory. He claims Hezbol­lah “at­tacked two Is­raeli ve­hi­cles, killing three sol­diers and cap­tur­ing two oth­ers.” Hezbol­lah did this, Mr. Carter ex­plains, in or­der to ex­change them for cap­tives in Is­rael. Very un­der­stand­able. But then Is­rael just went wild, at­tack­ing Le­banon with­out mercy. In fact, Hezbol­lah’s at­tack on the Is­rael De­fense Forces was ac­com­pa­nied by rocket at­tacks on sev­eral Is­raeli towns, which wounded sev­eral civil­ians and dis­placed many oth­ers. It was also timed to hit Is­rael when it was un­der at­tack by Ha­mas from Gaza.

Th­ese are not care­less er­rors, they flow from Mr. Carter’s pointed an­i­mus to­ward Is­rael and cor­re­spond­ing soft­ness to­ward the Arabs (read his el­egy to Saudi Ara­bia if you want to gag). How else to ac­count for the fact he takes Yasser Arafat’s peace­ful dec­la­ra­tions at face value? Or that he lets slip nasty anti-Semitic asides like this: “It was es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing to visit with some of the few sur­viv­ing Sa­mar­i­tans, who com­plained to us that their holy sites and cul­ture were not be­ing re­spected by Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties — the same com­plaint heard by Je­sus and his dis­ci­ples al­most two thou­sand years ear­lier.”

Those Jews never change, do they? What com­plaints ex­actly did Je­sus re­ceive about holy sites and cul­ture? We could ask Pres­i­dent Carter, but we should know bet­ter than to ex­pect an hon­est an­swer.

Mona Charen is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.