Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Here is a very nice analysis of Carter's new book, already the toast of such luminary outlets like "Counterpunch". Complete with extensive quotes from the book and a comparison along the lines of language, tone and inclination between the former American President's references to Israel and to Arab countries. Unfortunately, Carter treats facts as putty to be moulded according to his bias.

One wonders why a book so suffused with religious sentiments as Carter puts forth, is so enthusiastically embraced by the anti-Israeli segment in the American Left, while Bush is always jeered at for his religious faith. Maybe an excess of religiosity in politics and foreign policy is a good thing, as long as it targets Israel and sucks up to the Arabs. Come to think of it, the very same voices who like Carter's book are also the voices that see nothing outrageous in Islamic-Arab teachings that call for the destruction of Israel and the elimination of Jews.

Carter's discussion of the Israeli West Bank security barrier —— built as a last resort against years of mass murder bombers targeting Israeli civilians, and in the face of a complete and continuous Palestinian refusal to meet its Phase I Road Map obligation —— is never other than pejorative. He uses various terms —— the 'segregation wall,' the 'imprisonment wall,' the 'encircling barrier . . . imposing a system of . . . apartheid,' the 'huge dividing wall' —— that are simply Palestinian talking points, not an attempt at serious discussion. He makes no effort to describe the conditions that produced the barrier, and does not even fairly state the Israeli position regarding it.

This is not a serious book. It is poorly written, thoroughly unbalanced, factually erroneous on fundamental points —— the product of someone who went to Israel in 1973 and didn't like it then, lectured and insulted its leaders, and who obviously doesn't like it now.

Those interested in why Camp David failed should consult Dennis Ross' book; those interested in why Taba failed should consult Makovsky's article and Shlomo Ben—Ami's book; those interested in why the Road Map failed should consult Natan Sharansky and Ron Dermer's book The Case for Democracy.

As for this book, it will be of no use to those interested in a responsible discussion of the Israeli—Palestinian conflict. But it may be useful to historians pondering the perspective of a U.S. president who presided over the 1979 fall of a strategic ally in Iran and his replacement by a theocracy now pursuing nuclear weapons. At the time, Carter may have been impressed by the new leaders' deep religious convictions.


From the Evening Bulletin, another indignant criticism:

The book is such a disgrace to anyone who respects truth that he couldn't even get anyone* to write a blurb in its support. What's more, the book has no footnotes, probably because there are no credible authorities to support his positions. And the reviews, even from his supporters, have been invariably and overwhelmingly critical. You would expect Norman Finkelstein, known for harsh criticism of Israel, to be favorably inclined toward the book, which is certainly harsh criticism of Israel. But he writes that the book "is filled with errors small and large, as well as tendentious and untenable interpretations." The editor of the New Republic, Martin Peretz, labels the book a "tendentious, dishonest and stupid book." Alan Dershowitz, the eminent law professor from Harvard, writes, "Mr. Carter's book is so filled with simple mistakes of fact and deliberate omission that were it a brief filed in a court of law, it would be struck and its author sanctioned for misleading the court. Mr. Carter too is guilty of misleading the court of public opinion. A mere listing of all of Mr. Carter's mistakes and omissions would fill a volume the size of his book.

.... a liberal historian such as Douglas Brinkley, in his book on Carter, The Unfinished Presidency, documents in detail how Carter did everything in his power to help and support terrorist-in-chief Yasser Arafat. Brinkley reports Carter gave Arafat public relations advice on how to project his image for Western journalists and even wrote some of his speeches. When someone lends total support to a terrorist and has only disdain and hatred for the only democracy in the Middle East, you have to wonder about his intellectual honesty and balance."

* Surely someone like Rashid Khalidi would have been overjoyed to write a blurb? On second thoughts, maybe not. The book probably doesn't go far enough in its condemnation of Israel's existence.

Hmmm. Here is an interview Mr. Carter gave last August to the German paper Der Spiegel . His sympathies appear to be straightforward enough. To his credit, he does not even pretend to care for the fate of the kidnapped soldiers or the fact that a million Israelis were terrorised by a barrage of 2,000 katiushas from inside Lebanon. Neither his book nor his public statements attempt to conceal his indifference to the security of the people of Israel. But then Carter is an honourable man . . .

SPIEGEL: You also mentioned the hatred for the United States throughout the Arab world which has ensued as a result of the invasion of Iraq. Given this circumstance, does it come as any surprise that Washington's call for democracy in the Middle East has been discredited?
Carter: No, as a matter of fact, the concerns I exposed have gotten even worse now with the United States supporting and encouraging Israel in its unjustified attack on Lebanon.

SPIEGEL: But wasn't Israel the first to get attacked?

Carter: I don't think that Israel has any legal or moral justification for their massive bombing of the entire nation of Lebanon. What happened is that Israel is holding almost 10,000 prisoners, so when the militants in Lebanon or in Gaza take one or two soldiers, Israel looks upon this as a justification for an attack on the civilian population of Lebanon and Gaza. I do not think that's justified, no.



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