Thursday, January 25, 2007

A staged debate at Brandeis university

This editorial claims that "Carter succeeded in bringing to Brandeis a productive, civil debate."

The same editorial that insouciantly itemizes earlier the terms under which Carter agreed to appear:

1. "He did not want to debate Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz."

2. "He would not answer random questions from a general audience."


In other words, Carter made absolutely certain that he would have a free stage from which to deliver his version of the Israel/Palestinian conflict, unhindered by the trenchantly relevant critique of Dershowitz or challenged by any hardball questions from the students.

It is my perception that Carter's highly regimented appearance at Brandeis was done for the sake of saving face, having clumsily rejected an earlier invitation to debate with Dershowitz.

In other words, he used the pomp and circumstance of his status of a former president to control tightly the "debate", the same way a monarch would when addressing "the people", or the way a third world authoritarian ruler would speak to his "fellow citizens".

The question is not why the editorial appears to endorse wholeheartedly these questionable terms of a public debate, but rather why Carter goes to such lengths to avoid a bona-fide debate. If a person believes the 'truth" of his thesis, the way Carter insists he does in his book, why fear the challenges? Why not welcome the opportunity to explain and demonstrate how he reached the conclusions articulated in that book?

And btw, it was reported that Carter got a "standing ovation" from the audience. This show of overawed deference is quite disturbing. Certainly a polite round of a welcome applause would have been quite sufficient under the circumstances. Why the need to demonstrate such gratitude to a public figure who had claimed he was being silenced by a campaign of intimidation from Jewish-controlled media and organizations? Who went on record in al-Jazeera making excuses for terrorists who kill Israeli Jews? Carter's condescending to appear before Jewish students on his terms (excluding Dershowitz, excluding hard-hitting questions) should have earned him from the student body at Brandeis no more and no less than the amount of respect confered upon a former president.

There was no dignity for the audience at that moment, only fear expressing itself in the over-ingratiating gesture.

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Michael B. Oren, a Princeton PhD graduate, who wrote the definitive book to date about the Six-Day War, gives an acute analysis of Carter's muddled emotions with regards to the Jewish state. It's almost one month old. I missed it before.

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