The Fern Sidman Commentaries:
December 30th, 2006: "PALESTINE: PEACE, NOT APARTHEID" a Book Review
Since itís release several weeks ago, Jimmy Carterís new book, "Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid", has received enormous publicity as well as a litany of reviews, both critical and praiseworthy. After reading this book, one can begin to understand why Jimmy Carterís place in presidential history will be not be one of the "great peacemaker" in the Middle East, but rather of the president who holds the dubious distinction of bearing the most animus towards Israel and the Jewish people.
In this one-sided, totally skewed and highly subjective piece of Arab propaganda, Mr. Carter presents a premise and thesis that reeks of vacuity, while presenting ostensibly specious arguments that obfuscate both fact and truth. According to Mr. Carterís gospel on the Israeli-Palestinian debacle, the blame for the continued tensions between these two peoples rests squarely on the shoulders of Israel. His use of the word apartheid in the title says it all. Carter makes it abundantly clear that his accusations of racism and systematic oppression of the Palestinians is tantamount to the South African version of apartheid, which has been universally condemned.
According to Carter, "The book is about Palestine and what is happening to Palestinian people. Which is a terrible affliction and oppression of these people. There is no doubt that in Palestine, the people are treated with, in many cases, much more harsh treatment than existed in South Africa, even in the apartheid years.
Carter fails miserably in presenting his argument because his book is riddled with gross historic inaccuracies, colossal factual errors, glaring omissions and a plethora of distorted statements. This book also lacks any footnotes or scholarly references and the miniscule amount of research done does not buttress his claims. The publication of this book was followed by the resignation of Professor Kenneth Stein of Emory University and the Carter Center.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 Carterís new book, Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid. The reaction of Professor Stein ó a formerly close associate and collaborator of Carter ó to Carterís new book is as follows:
"President Carterís 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."
Carter devotes many chapters of this book to lambasting Israel for constructing the security wall dividing the Palestinian population from the Israeli population. He mentions nothing about Israelís right to defend herself against Palestinian suicide bombers, nor does he mention the clear and present danger of a Hamas government. Carter displays no understanding or sympathy for Israelis whose lives have been snuffed out by Palestinian terrorists and even justifies such actions as a result of Israeli tyranny.
As Carter takes us down his own personal memory lane, he speaks of his thorny relationship with former Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin. He blames Beginís ďinstransigenceĒ for his failed peace making attempts at Camp David and insists that Palestinian claims of land ownership are indeed factual. It is clear that Carter is a man who is seething with anger that his political career came to a demise when he was not re-elected. Rather than taking personal responsibility as a failed leader during the Iranian hostage crisis, her turns to Begin, making him the scapegoat for his shortcomings. It is clear that Carter couldnít manipulate Begin nor coerce him to make even greater territorial compromises, so he concludes that it was Begin who was at total fault for not guaranteeing him his place in history as the "great peacemaker" in the Middle East Carter obviously feels threatened by the "pro-Jewish" lobby in the United States which he claims stifles any debate on the Middle East. He strongly asserts that a countervailing political force is necessary for assuring long lasting peace. It is noteworthy to mention that Simon and Schuster, Carterís publishers, delayed releasing the book until after the mid-term elections that saw an upsurge in the Democratic party at the polls. Surely, releasing this book prior to that, might have jeopardized the Democratic candidates chances for a victory. He aims his diatribes against the Jewish lobby to Christian evangelicals, whose support of Israel has been unwavering. He implores them to reconsider and re-think their position on Israel and points out the secular nature of the Israeli government and its lack of religious committment. He mentions nothing of the religious devotion and committment of the Jewish settler movement as well as other Orthodox religious organizations. He also chides President Bush for not forging ahead with his "Roadmap To Peace" and for his support for Israel.
Carterís book can be summed up as an ill conceived and egregious attack on Israel and the Jewish people. It is a shoddy attempt to present his own biased and anti-Semitic views in the form of an intellectual treatise. This book couldnít be farther from anything pretending to be intellectual in nature. The Arab propogandists of the world must be thrilled. After all, an ex-president of the USA touting their line is something money canít buy.