Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stepping Back from the precipice?

Apparently, President Carter's public speech last night at Brandeis University was an attempt to step away from the chasm of hostility and distrust that his book had opened up between himself and the Jewish community. He clarified a few things, apologized for some, denied other allegations. Alan Dershowitz, who followed him with a rebuttal, was also quite conciliatory but not conceding a few issues which were not properly addressed by the former president.

Here's an account of the event.

I agree with Derscowitz about the double Carter.

I am very glad that he seems to realize what he was saying in a sentence " in which he seemed to suggest that Palestinians would not have to end their suicide bombings and acts of terrorism until Israel withdraws from the territories “was worded in a completely improper and stupid way,” adding: “I have written my publisher to change that sentence immediately. I apologize to you personally, to everyone here.”

However, if the sentence was a poorly-worded statement, that hardly explains why he repeated the very same idea in a recent Al-Jazeera interview, about which I wrote here.

If he did not mean to suggest that the Palestinian condition was worse than the Rwandan genocide, why did he say it on television here:

So the persecution of the Palestinians now, under the occupying territories—under the occupation forces—is one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation that I know. And I think it‘s—
SHUSTER: Even worse, though, than a place like Rwanda?
CARTER: Yes. I think—yes. You mean, now?

Last night, Carter said: "Responding to one of the criticisms of him, he said: “I have never claimed or believed that American Jews control the news media. That is ridiculous to claim.”

Well, it's a recorded fact that Carter did say it:

Earlier today, though, he says that U.S. politicians, the news media are intimidated by the Israel lobby in the United States and they really don't speak out forcefully on the Palestinian question. Listen precisely to what he said.


CARTER: There's a tremendous intimidation in this country that has silenced our people, and it's not just individuals, it's not just folks that are running for office. It's the news media as well. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you say to that charge, that's a very serious charge.

ROSS: Well, has it silenced him at this point or did it silence him up until now? Are we to presume that everything he has said up until today was a function of intimidation and now he's not intimidated?

Looks like President Carter is a sort of chameleon, taking on Al-jazeera's Arab sensibilities when there, denying what said there when faced with a crowd of savvy Jewish students. His performance last night proved what I have long suspected; that he is a shallow, suggestible thinker, and therefore an irresponsible and unreliable one.

The type of thinker who would casually claim that his version of Camp DavidII is more reliable and correct than President Cinton's who was there as as a witness and an active participant.

I can't see how Carter's speech at Brandeis night clarified matters in any credible way. In my humble opinion, he only muddied the discussion even further by creating these new incongruities between what he said in the past and what he denied having said last night.


Some blogs that feature the story this morning:

Dershowitz Debate

One-Sided Post Mortems on Carter's Brandeis Speech

Carter's Brandeis Rope-a-Dope

Pre-Selected Questions Cause Students To Question Open Dialogue

BREAKING NEWS: Carter defends book, outlines vision for Middle East


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