Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Power Line blog brings us this letter:

A reader writes that he received the email message below sent by Professor Kenneth Stein of Emory University and the Carter Center. Professor Stein's expertise lies in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Our reader writes that when he was an undergraduate student at Emory in the mid-1990's, Professor Stein was one of the most revered, respected professors on campus, and that Professor Stein had a long-standing association with the Carter Center in his capacity as an expert in Middle East politics and history. Professor Stein was in fact the first director of the Carter Center (1983-1986).

Professor Stein is apparently terminating his association with the Carter Center, solely as a result of Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid. The reaction of Professor Stein -- a formerly close associate and collaborator of Carter -- to Carter's new book is, as our reader thought it would be, of great interest to us:

This note is to inform you that yesterday, I sent letters to President Jimmy Carter, Emory University President Jim Wagner, and Dr. John Hardman, Executive Director of the Carter Center resigning my position, effectively immediately, as Middle East Fellow of the Carter Center of Emory University. This ends my 23 year association with an institution that in some small way I helped shape and develop. My joint academic position in Emory College in the History and Political Science Departments, and, as Director of the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel remains unchanged.

Many still believe that I have an active association with the Center and, act as an adviser to President Carter, neither is the case. President Carter has intermittently continued to come to the Arab-Israeli Conflict class I teach in Emory College. He gives undergraduate students a fine first hand recollection of the Begin-Sadat negotiations of the late 1970s. Since I left the Center physically thirteen years ago, the Middle East program of the Center has waned as has my status as a Carter Center Fellow. For the record, I had nothing to do with the research, preparation, writing, or review of President Carter's recent publication. Any material which he used from the book we did together in 1984, The Blood of Abraham, he used unilaterally.

President Carter's book on the Middle East, a title too inflammatory to even print, is not based on unvarnished analyses; it is replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments. Aside from the one-sided nature of the book, meant to provoke, there are recollections cited from meetings where I was the third person in the room, and my notes of those meetings show little similarity to points claimed in the book. Being a former President does not give one a unique privilege to invent information or to unpack it with cuts, deftly slanted to provide a particular outlook. Having little access to Arabic and Hebrew sources, I believe, clearly handicapped his understanding and analyses of how history has unfolded over the last decade. Falsehoods, if repeated often enough become meta-truths, and they then can become the erroneous baseline for shaping and reinforcing attitudes and for policy-making. The history and interpretation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is already drowning in half-truths, suppositions, and self-serving myths; more are not necessary. In due course, I shall detail these points and reflect on their origins.

You can read the rest in the link above.

And another shocked historian makes a judgment:

Carter’s book is a total distortion of history and an attempt to re-write the facts: He states that the Jewish-Arab problem started when "Jewish Militants" attacked Arab settlements in 1939. Carter completely ignores the Grand Mufti of Palestine who, in 1929, ordered the killing of more than 100 Rabbis, Jewish students and others who were living in Hebron. In fact, it was this slaughter of Jews that caused the formation of the Jewish defense groups such as the Hagana and the Irgun. Carter mentions nothing about the Arab terrorism, about the Arab slaughter of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games, and the creation of the PLO’s terrorist groups and suicide bombers by Yasser Arafat.

According to recognized history, Israel has never initiated a war with anyone. They have been in ongoing mini-wars with their Arab neighbors since their inception in 1948 and there have been three major wars with Arabs. Israel has been the most successful nation in history using their armies in defense of their nation or in retaliation for acts of terrorism…of which there have been a significant number. Sometimes their acts of defense seem a little strong, such as the bombing of Beirut in retaliation for two Israeli soldiers being kidnapped, but there is some justification in attacking the heart of an enemy and not just the soldiers doing the bad deeds.

Carter states that the Arabs have often supported a two-state division of Palestine and Israel has consistently rejected this. Mr. Carter has conveniently forgotten that in 1938, the Peel Commission offered a two-state solution that was accepted by the Jews and rejected by Arabs. He has also conveniently forgotten that in 1948, after the failed Arab invasion of the new Israeli State, that the United Nations proposed a two-State solution. Again, Israel accepted and the Arabs rejected the proposal. In fact, with their rejection of a two-State Palestine, the Arab League declared that there will be no peace in the Middle East until all the Jews have been annihilated or driven into the sea.

Carter falsely states that, in 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike against Jordan. In fact, history tells us that it was Jordan who struck first, surrounded the city of Jerusalem and sent artillery shells and rockets into the heart of Jerusalem. Carter also seems to forget that when Israel counter-attacked and drove Jordan from Jerusalem and the West Bank, that Israel offered to give the West Bank back to Jordan in exchange for a peace treaty.

Carter implies that the Israeli air attack on Iraqi nuclear sites was an "act of war" while conveniently forgetting that Iraq was virtually advertising that they were building a nuclear bomb with the specific goal of using it on Israel.

Carter blatantly distorts the truth when he states that the Israelis have not allowed the Christians and Muslims in Israel to worship as they please. Probably more than any victorious nation in history, Israel has carefully preserved the religious sites of other religions and never once interfered with their right to worship. Carter also fails to mention that In Lebanon, 100,000 Christians and Jews were slaughtered in the name of Allah.

I have two rejoinders to make to Mr. Ellis's account:

1. No one expected any "thank you" from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan or Palestinians when Israel withdrew from territories it had acquired through its defensive wars. What was expected was some respect for the agreements that preceded these withdrawals and cessation of violent activities. Jordan and Egypt lardgely kept to the letter of these agreements, though neither encourages any peaceful reciprocity and continue to villify Israel and Jews through their education and media systems. Lebanon and the Palestinians have chosen to exploit the better strategic positions these agreements and withdrawals afforded them to continue to terrorise Israeli civilian centres.

2. The first Lebanon war might be interpreted as technically initiated by Israel, though it was launched as an attempt to stop the repeated and incessant invasions of its borders by PLO terrorist cells. Some of the most atrocious massacres of school children in schools, and families in their homes, took place prior to the decision to try to disempower the PLO in South Lebanon.


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