Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards. If you disgrace yourself, you can always write a book."
- Ronald Reagan
SO JIMMY CARTER wrote a book and it's called "Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid."
In it, the globe-trotting, sanctimonious moralizer - whom I had admired only as an ex-president - erases the line between honest criticism and dishonest advocacy. It's so Arabcentric, Carter ought to be wearing Yasser Arafat's kaffiya.
Carter heaps blame on tiny, terror-tortured Israel for the unrest with its massive Arab neighbors, while blaming the U.S. for being "submissive" to Israel. When he insinuates that Jews - 2 percent of the U.S. population - control the government, the media, Wall Street, etc., it's the hoary anti-Semitism you expect to find on a KKK Web site, not in a book by an American president.
In interviews, Carter said his purpose was to ignite public discussion about America's Mideast policy.
Instead, he touched off a raging debate about the truth and honor of his book.
American Jews, and other friends of Israel, have attacked Carter's book as being so one-sided and so awash in half-truths and quarter-truths as to approach actual anti-Semitism. He might have expected that.
He might not have expected some of his friends would rip the book.
A devastating rebuke came from Dr. Kenneth Stein, of the democracy-promoting Carter Center, founded by the former president. Resigning in disgust as a Middle East Fellow in December, Stein wrote that Carter's book "is replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments."
Stein sat in on some Carter meetings with Mideast leaders "and my notes of those meetings show little similarity to points claimed in the book."
Summing up, Stein said, "Being a former president does not give one a unique privilege to invent information."
Last week, 14 members of a Carter Center advisory board resigned to protest the lopsided book. Some had served in the Carter administration.
Another former admirer, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, criticized Carter's command of the facts, his tilted analysis and even his tone.
Having ignited the discussion, Carter declined Brandeis University's invitation to debate the book with Dershowitz.
"There is no need for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine," Carter told the Boston Globe.
In that dismissive quote, Carter dropped the mask of humility to reveal the cold face of arrogance.
If Dershowitz's schooling doesn't impress Carter, will he listen to someone with impeccable credentials?
Dennis Ross, President Clinton's envoy to the Middle East, wrote in the New York Times last week about what appeared to be Carter lifting two maps from Ross' book, "The Missing Peace."
Ross doesn't care about the use of the maps, but wrote that "Mr. Carter's presentation badly misrepresents the Middle East proposals advanced by President Bill Clinton in 2000, and in so doing undermines . . . efforts to bring peace to the region."
In reading the book, several "tells" signaled Carter's bias to me.
* When blame falls on Arab
shoulders, Carter's tone is often passive, such as reporting in 2000, "Peace negotiations at Camp David break down," without saying Arafat had rejected a deal that gave him more than 90 percent of what he wanted. But when a second intifada breaks out, Carter casts specific blame on Jews, by writing it began "After Ariel Sharon visits the Temple Mount."
* In one historical passage Cart-
er writes, "Although Christian and Muslim Arabs had continued to live in this same land since Roman Times . . . "
Astonishingly, Carter omits that Jews lived on that land before there was either Christianity or Islam and always had a presence there.
Does this small slip reveal Carter's Juden frei [Jew-free] state of mind?
* Carter doesn't explain that
when the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hamas and Hezbollah "are seen to be struggling against Israeli occupation of Palestine," the terrorists define "Palestine" as Israel, not just the West Bank and Gaza.
Carter's dishonesty extends to using the word "apartheid" in the title. That is an insult not just to Jews, but to the millions of South African blacks who lived under its terror.
Carter eventually explains he doesn't mean that kind of apartheid; he means economic apartheid, and the terrorist-thwarting wall between Israel and the occupied territory. He well knows that Arabs living among Jews in Israel are citizens and have greater freedom than Arabs in any Arab state. But he doesn't say that.
Carter catalogs every Jewish abuse, but soft-pedals suicide-bombing Muslims. Using a classic double standard, he blames Israel for not living up to the highest standards of democracy while not demanding the Palestinians live up to even the lowest.
That's why some feel Carter's book approaches anti-Semitism. That's why I agree with them. *
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