Israel and Apartheid: In Defense of Jimmy Carter

Nothing makes liberal American supporters of Israel more uncomfortable than the comparison between the circumstances it has imposed on the Palestinians and those that the apartheid regime imposed on black South Africans. That’s precisely why it is so important and commendable that Jimmy Carter has tempted the wrath of the Israel lobby and many Jewish-American liberals-in-denial by making that comparison — as he says, it’s time Americans took a look at Palestinian life and history, and as any good person of faith or basic humanity would, treat it as of equal value. The point being that Jimmy Carter had to write this book precisely because Palestinian life and history is not accorded equal value in American discourse, far from it. And his use of the word apartheid is not only morally valid; it is essential, because it shakes the moral stupor that allows many liberals to rationalize away the daily, grinding horror being inflicted Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Or preferably, to avoid discussing it altogether. As Carter notes:

For the past 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize policies of the Israeli government is due to the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices. It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defence of justice or human rights for Palestinians… What is even more difficult to comprehend is why the editorial pages of the major newspapers and magazines in the US exercise similar self-restraint, quite contrary to private assessments expressed forcefully by their correspondents in the Holy Land.

Indeed, you only had to look at the coverage of Carter’s book in much of the mainstream media, which focused less on the arguments he presented, than on the — entirely predictable — furor they caused.

Carter makes his intentions clear:

The ultimate purpose of my book is to present facts about the Middle East that are largely unknown in America, to precipitate discussion and help restart peace talks (now absent for six years) that can lead to permanent peace for Israel and its neighbours. Another hope is that Jews and other Americans who share this goal might be motivated to express their views, even publicly, and perhaps in concert. I would be glad to help with that effort.

This, too, is a welcome intervention. What Carter is doing is challenging a taboo. And as a well-established voice of peace and reason, it’s hard to brand him some sort of anti-Semitic Israel basher — although that hasn’t restrained hysterics such as Alan Dershowitz and Marty Peretz from doing so.

More disappointing, is the anxious rush to denounce him by such intellectually nimble figures as Slate’s Michael Kinsley
, flailing about in search of arguments to dispute the obvious. The apartheid parallel is invalid, says Kinsley, because

  • apartheid was founded on an ideology of racial superiority — Israelis teach their children to love everyone as equals whereas Arabs teach their children to hate Jews;
  • Israel has Arab citizens that are allowed to vote, but most Jews have been forced to flee Arab countries;
  • Israel doesn’t have Bantustans;
    and, this, my favorite:
  • “And the most tragic difference: Apartheid ended peacefully. This is largely thanks to Nelson Mandela, who turned out to be miraculously forgiving. If Israel is white South Africa and the Palestinians are supposed to be the blacks, where is their Mandela?”

    Some of these points are too silly to even bother refuting. Carter is careful, conceptually, to apply his apartheid analogy to the West Bank and Gaza, not to Israel itself. His perspective is hardly radical: He is simply setting out to show that despite the popular myth that the absence of peace is a result of Palestinian militancy and terrorism, in fact Israel has not yet shown a willingness to retreat to its internationally recognized boundaries (those of 1967), the basis of a two-state solution. BTW, Mike, apartheid only ended peacefully because the apartheid regime took an historic decision to reverse itself and accept the principle of black majority rule — Mandela’s propensity for forgiveness only came into play after that. And if that hadn’t happened, Mandela was committed to armed struggle as an essential component of the means of persuasion.

    Kinsley defines apartheid as white supremacism plus Bantustans, but that doesn’t really get it — the Bantustans meant little in practice; the majority of black people lived in the industrialized cities. And racial ideology was just that — ideology. It didn’t describe the lived experience of black people at all. The essence of the system, in fact, was that black people were ruled by an authority over which they had no control or say, like a colonized people, except that their colonizer lived within the same geographic space. (And actually, like many a colonizing power, the white regime was democratic as far as its own social base went, its governments elected and accountable, and governance based on the rule of law — except that its democracy and legality largely excluded black people.) The logic of the system was to physically deny black people access to the spaces occupied by the “colonizing” population, except to the extent that their labor was required — which, of course, was the whole point: It didn’t function very effectively precisely because it needed a vast urban black population to run the economy. Here, in fact, is an important difference between Israel and apartheid South Africa — Israel manages with very little Palestinian labor, and as a result the daily intimacy between black and white South Africans created by their economic interaction even at the height of the apartheid system is largely absent in relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. In South Africa, the fact that black people were driven off their land forced them into wage labor in a common economy; in Israel-Palestine Palestinians have been forced off their land in order to drive them out of a common polity and economy. That, I believe, means that the solution to the conflict in Israel-Palestine will be quite different to that in South Africa, at least in the near term.

    But the comparison with the essence of apartheid remains valid — in South Africa, black people lived under the control of a state over which they had no control even as they participated in a shared economy, on the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians live under a state over which they have no control which seeks to keep them out of a shared economy. But in both cases, they found themselves ruled by a state that denied them the rights of a sovereign people. Even now, after it has ostensibly withdrawn from Gaza, Israel still tightly controls Palestinian life there, determining whether the lights work and whether salaries are paid, who may enter and who may leave, and much of the time who will live and who will die. Sure, the Palestinians have an elected government (which the Israelis together with the U.S. are doing their best to subvert), but it isn’t allowed to govern — post-pullout Gaza, in fact, looks rather a lot like what the apartheid regime had in mind in its original Bantustan policy: A separate geographic state within which Africans could “exercise their political rights” while still remaining under effective sovereign control of the Pretoria regime. In the West Bank, Israel is the effective political authority, and there it creates restrictions on the movement of Palestinians every bit as odious — if not even more so — than those imposed on black people under apartheid. That’s because on the West Bank, Israel is not only maintaining overall sovereign control, as in Gaza, but is also trying to “cleanse” of Palestinians vast swathes of the best land illegally settled since 1967, and the networks of roads that connect them.

    Jimmy Carter wants American liberals, who’re passionate about Kosovo or Darfur, to consider the plight of the colonized Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, and discuss their own and America’s moral responsibility to those people. Kinsley and countless other commentators want to avoid doing that, which is why they need to convince themselves that the reason the Palestinians don’t have a state is that they don’t have a Mandela; that instead they had an Arafat — in short, that the Palestinians are to blame for their plight.

    I’ve written at length elsewhere about the bizarre habit of Americans of inventing their own Mandelas that have no relationship to the real one — suffice to point out for our purposes here that Mandela was a guerrilla commander who continued the armed struggle until the apartheid regime was ready to concede peacefully to the principle of black majority rule, so one wonders what, in fact, Michael Kinsley imagines a Palestinian Mandela would do. Parsing this question a few years ago in a column, I concluded thus: “Of course, the Israelis would be wrong to think a Palestinian leader who was more like Mandela would be more pliant. Quite the contrary. They’d find it a lot harder to conclude a deal with a Mandela, or any leader of more democratic bent than Arafat. But in the end, they’d be able to rest a lot more assured that such a deal would hold.”

    Curiously enough, when Nelson Mandela visited Gaza in 1999, he warned that in order for Israel to achieve peace and security, it would have to withdraw from all occupied territories, including the Golan Heights. “It is a realization of a dream for me to be here to come and pledge my solidarity with my friend Yasser Arafat,” Mandela said, and told the Palestinian legislature that “the histories of our two peoples correspond in such painful and poignant ways that I intensely feel myself at home amongst my compatriots.”

    And you’d think that more than two years after Arafat’s death, people would start to feel a little silly blaming him for the fact that there’s no peace — especially at a moment when the Bush Administration is doing its best to get Mahmoud Abbas to govern in exactly the ways it denounced Arafat for doing, taking personal control of finances and security forces, ignoring elected institutions etc.

    Jimmy Carter doesn’t say this, of course, but I have a strong suspicion that many — although far from all, and I’m not even sure who’s in the majority — Jewish liberals in America have an emotional block on confronting the ugly side of Israel. Let’s just say that if the occupiers and settlers of the West Bank and Gaza were Orthodox Christians, or Confucians or Muslims, I’d venture to suggest that the moral outrage over the plight of the Palestinians would be far more universal than it currently is. (Nor is this a uniquely American phenomenon — I’ve long marveled at the fact that people are who are capable of a strong, objective morally sound critique of just about every human rights abuse everywhere else in the world suddenly become evasive, or even turn into Avigdor Lieberman when the issue is the Palestinians.)

    Just don’t talk about the war… Menachem Begin, Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin feting South Africa’s unrepentant Nazi Prime Minister B.J. Vorster at the Knesset in 1976

    A digression: I’ll admit that growing up as a Jewish liberal in South Africa, I somehow managed to convince myself that apartheid had nothing to do with us, that Jews were somehow automatically in the anti-apartheid column — it was a lot easier to do this in light of the rabid anti-Semitism of the ruling National Party, whose leaders had actively sympathized with the Nazis. Even then, it wasn’t true; evidence to the contrary was everywhere: Israel was, together with Pinochet’s Chile, the closest foreign ally of the regime, and in 1976, it welcomed the unrepentant Nazi, Prime Minister John Vorster (who had spent time in an internment camp during the war after being captured running sabotage operations under the direction of the Nazi intelligence service) on a state visit, and even took him to Yad Vashem! Activists of my wing of the Zionist youth movement, the socialist-inclined Habonim, protested, and were told to shut up by the senior leadership of the SA Zionist Federation. The following year, one of the leading lights of the Likud-aligned Revisionist bloc that dominated the SAZF, Abe Hoppenstein, stood for parliament on the National Party ticket.

    Then, one of my early forays into campus activism took me, along with some friends, one afternoon, to Herzliah, Cape Town’s Jewish high school, to distribute leaflets explaining why black students were on strike across the city. Waiting for the final bell to sound to dismiss the students for the day, a fat, bald mustachioed man came lumbering towards me. I immediately recognized Brenner, my downstairs neighbor. We didn’t like each other much, but all I was expecting from him was his customary disapproving grunt. Then I saw the gun in his hand. “I’ll take those,” said Brenner, grabbing our leaflets. “Now, get in your car and follow me, and if you run away, I know where to find you…” He gestured at us with the revolver, while flashing his police reservist’s ID. He drove us down to Caledon Square, and delivered us into the hands of Captain “Spyker” van Wyk, a notorious security police torturer. “Spyker” quickly realized we were minnows and knew nothing of interest to him, and after six hours we were sent home with chilling warnings to stay out of politics. But the experience taught me that Jews were just as capable as anyone else of doing the apartheid regime’s dirty work — I later learned that the prosecutor who tried to have Mandela hanged, Percy Yutar, fit the same bill, trying to show the regime that some Jews could be “trusted” — after all, the three white men in the dock along with Mandela were all Jewish, too. (My kind of Jews!) I learned that there was nothing about inherited Jewishness that precluded anyone from doing evil; every Jew in South Africa faced inescapable moral choices.

    I have spent my subway commute this winter reading Paul Kriwaczek’s sweeping history Yiddish Civilization, a must-read and endlessly revealing tale of the years between the Roman Empire and the collapse of the heym. And one observation about early Jewish life in the Ukraine jumped out at me for its relevance both to the experience of Jews in South Africa, and of the Israeli experience, particularly after 1967.

    Kriwaczek, in a prelude to his explanation of the notorious Cossack pogrom of mid-18th century Ukraine, explains the fraught relationship between the Polish nobility, the Ukrainian peasantry and the Cossack warlords, and the way Jews were inserted into that complex and unfortunate web. Polish nobles who had feudal ownership over the Ukrainian villages began renting them to Jewish entrepreneurs. These frontier moneymen were now “owners” of the land and feudal labor of the Ukrainian peasantry, and were inclined, as market forces dictated, to extract as much surplus as they could. At the same time, Jews had long been used by the Polish nobles as their tax collectors and bailiffs, making them the on-the-ground presence of an oppressive feudal system under which the peasants chafed. It was a moral disaster, writes Kriwaczek:

    The alliance between ruthless Polish nobles and insecure Yiddish frontiersmen proved dangerous and destructive. The Jews now held a position that nothing in their background or religious law had properly prepared them for. They had been placed in authority over another people, of another social order, another culture and another religion, a people of whom the [Polish noble] magnates, the Jews’ masters, regarded as racially inferior and fair game for callous exploitation. Tragically, shaking off the restraining influence of the wise [Rabbinical] counsel of the West, the repeated warnings of the rabbis of metropoiltan Cracow, Posen and Lublin, the Yiddish businessmen who flocked to the colony came to reagard the peasantry in a similar contemptuous light.

    The parts I emphasized in italics could as well have been applied to many of the Jews arriving in already colonially-segregated South Africa in the first three decades of the last century. And, of course, to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

    Indeed, Jimmy Carter wasn’t the first person to raise the idea in my head that what Israel had created in the West Bank and Gaza is an apartheid situation. Back in January of 1979, when he was still in the White House, I was in Israel, living and working on Kibbutz Yizreel for about six weeks, fervently committed to making aliyah myself. Yizreel, in the Jezreel Valley, was home to a number of graduates of South African Habonim. And I vividly remember a discussion they started with us one afternoon, about the policy of building Israeli settlements in the West Bank that the new Likud government was encouraging. The South African-Israelis saw the continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as a disaster for Israel and for their own progressive version of Zionism. And they recognized that the settlements were a calculated strategy by Begin and Sharon to create “facts on the ground” that would make handing it back impossible. “And so,” one summarized, “you have a situation where Israel now has control over more than 3 million Palestinians. If it annexes the West Bank, they become citizens of Israel, and Israel quickly loses its Jewish majority. So that’s not an option. But the settlement policy makes it more and more difficult for Israel to envisage letting go of the territories. So what are you left with? An apartheid situation.” Of course. To anyone who had lived in South Africa, it was blindingly obvious.

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    69 Responses to Israel and Apartheid: In Defense of Jimmy Carter

    1. Steve says:

      Tony — I know there is a substantial body of opinion that your dec 13 post was your best ever, my vote goes for this one. Here’s my verbatim comment to a post on Candide’s Notebook entitled “You mean it’s not the same?”

      It’s far from my intention to deny the suffering of anyone, but to my mind you aren’t advancing the cause of resolution with general comparisons that may not be entirely appropriate. (I will add post-hoc that I agree with your point that the knee-jerk defenders of Israel are the ones who need to be persuaded of the similarities. And my gripe with many of the comparisons is more a result of genericization of apartheid rather than any specific analysis of the situation) The comparison may be appropriate if you consider Apartheid with a capital A as something distinct to apartheid with a small c – a system of exclusion and control by force based on group. Apartheid was a legal system that governed every human interaction between blacks and whites and systematically denied the vast majority of South Africans economic and political freedoms. The struggle against apartheid was one to free all South Africans from oppression and to create an egalitarian society, and indirectly a sustainable economic model. Israel is engaged in a campaign to simultaneously maintain the trappings of a democracy without incorporating the Palestinians while undermining both the territorial integrity and viability of a future Palestinian state. That in both instances, the injustice is clear and unequivocal and based on membership of a particular group to some degree justifies the comparison. But the reason why South Africa managed to remove Apartheid and still remain a functioning society is that it was not a struggle for nationhood as it is in the case of Palestine. Ultimately, most South Africans want to live in a just society. Israel’s wall, arbitrary roadblocks and slow suffocation of the Palestinian economy is not to perpetuate the notion of racial superiority – it’s to solve the need to have military control over a population that Israel has no interest in governing. It’s essentially the solution that a plurality (not majority) of Israelis support in favor of a negotiated settlement in the perceived absence of responsible Palestinian leadership.

      I’m often asked why I left South Africa, and for many years I’ve struggled with the answer. But I am pretty sure about the first time that the idea occurred to me. In 1988 I was part of the first March of The Living, an international tour involving thousands of young Jewish people from across the globe, culminating in a walk between Auschwitz and the Birkenau death camp. For one reason or another, I wasn’t part of the South African group, which turned out for the better. In the middle of the ceremony at Birkenau, some guy (a Capetonian I believe) unfurled the Vierkleur DESPITE being told by tour organizers that the flag as a symbol of apartheid couldn’t be displayed. The complete absence of any understanding that in fact the legacy of Birkenau dictated that Jews fight injustice was possibly the most infuriating moment of my life.

    2. Alex Morgan says:

      Tony, you need no compliments or flattery, yet I find myself compelled to commend you on your extraordinary moral clarity, objectivity and courage.

      It is people like you, who keep me from descending into complete misanthropy and pessimism.

      I think it bears particular stressing that you are Jewish. It is “easy” for Palestinians to advocate Palestinian causes, but it takes a different caliber of human being for a Palestinian to advocate justice for Israeli Jews when Israeli Jews are wronged.

      This ability to look past ones roots and to express solidarity with the “strangers” when they are wronged, is the highest expression of humanity.

      While I admire Carter for writing this book, some may still argue that “his skin is not in it”, being neither Jewish nor Arab.

      For a Jew to cry out at the injustice done to Palestinians, well, that to me is the very definition of what is best about the human race.

      And while there are those Jews who sadly allow other factors to influence their actions, instead of Justice, let it be known that there are plenty, such as Tony Karon, who rise above it.

      I may not always agree with Tony, or with Chomsky or any number of Jewish activists whose loyalty is first and foremost to Truth and Justice, but those are the people whom I hold in the highest regard.

      The German who defied Hitler by hiding Jews. The Arab who saves a Jew from an angry mob. The Jew who stands up and speaks the truth to his own. These are the people whose values will save our civilization, if it can still be saved. These are Jewish values, as I understand Jewish ethics – and I’m not a Jew.

      When Alan Dershowitz speaks to the Arab/Israeli issues, I think less of him. For all his brilliance as a lawyer, his shabby, narrow and parochial views twist that intellect into a pathetic and pitiful thing. I don’t think “typical Jew (or Arab, or Frenchman, or German), only arguing for his side” – I think “what a sad human being”.

      I do not advocate forgetting one’s roots, or not being appreciative of one’s culture. But I’m longing for the day when one’s ethnic and religious background is no more *politically* important than the color of one’s eyes. So many problems could be solved, if we just stopped thinking narrowly of who is a Jew, Arab, Anglo, Chinese etc, and thought of what is the best for all.

      Sadly, Tony, get ready for attacks from those Jews who do not *truly* understand Jewish ethics. And just as sadly, be prepared for disgusting piling on by Anti-Semites who again, are unable to understand that you are not Anti-Jewish, or Pro-Palestinian. You are, as everyone should be (but so few are) Pro-Truth and Pro-Justice, wherever that may lead.

      As a side note, I’m getting worried about you Tony. I hope your outspokennes does not imperil your livelihood. We do not have a press that’s 100% free from all political pressure, and that includes the NY Times. Carter doesn’t need to make a living. You do (unless you’re independently wealthy!).

    3. bob k says:

      Thanks for the courage to follow truth into areas that
      challenge the belief systems of much of mankind. What
      is the origin of the lockstep programming of the human mind? Cui bono? It seems that much religious teaching,
      media production and education is design to mislead or
      confuse the ones who search for truth. Your brief encounter
      with abuse of authority as a young man awakened the
      thought that reality isn’t always what it seems or what we are
      told. This happened to me when the USA tried to draft me
      to fight in Vietnam. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate
      your and the bloggers on this sites refusal to be silent or turn your heads. Bob K

    4. Tony, this is fascinating, and very valuable. However, I’m interested by what you write here:

      Curiously enough, when Nelson Mandela visited Gaza in 1999, he warned that in order for Israel to achieve peace and security, it would have to withdraw from all occupied territories, including the Golan Heights…

      Why on earth is this “curious”? Isn’t it, rather, “significant”?

      Also, I’d love to know more about what happened between 1979, with you “fervently committed to making aliyah [to Israel]” and today, when you’ve made “aliyah” to the heartplace of mammon itself… ?

    5. Bernard Chazelle says:

      Another amazing post by Tony. Does Time have any clue what a better magazine it would be if this blog was a Time fixture (I guess Tony is too radical… yeah, and someone who called antiwar voices a fith-column is not…)
      At least the advantage of going solo is that the comments
      are few in numbers but very high in quality (despite my best efforts to bring down the average).

      Here’s something else striking. On one level, Tony writes cogently, lucidly about events he witnessed personally and infers commonalities between situations that are based on simple, commonsensical principles (such as the fact that humans come in all shades of morality irrespective of their religion). There is nothing slightly radical, let alone extremist, about his analysis.

      And yet it will be denounced as such by many (often dishonestly by the likes of Dershowitz: By the way let’s not forget that when Dersh says that Israel is blameless, this is the same man who said that OJ was blameless and von Bulow was blameless… He knows a thing or two about blamelessness.)

      In their eyes, Tony’s unforgivable sin is that of empathy. Tony actually has the ability to put himself in someone else’s shoes.

      In Bush’s America that capacity to empathize is deemed suspicious — sometimes immoral. Esepcially if the empathy puts us in a bad light.
      Palestinian plight puts us in a bad light, so we are not allowed to empathize, but Darfur and Kosovo are ok.
      Empathy for Katrina victims is verboten, because it makes America look like third-worldish and Scroogean. So it’s forgotten.

      A world where empathy is immoral is a scary one.

    6. Tony says:

      Thanks all, for your kind words. Helena — on the use of “curiously enough” in that instance, that was in the (very Jewish!) spirit of sarcasm — having worked as an ANC activist for the best part of a decade, I was obviously not at all surprised by Mandela’s statements. On my journey from Zionism to New York City, I’m afraid it will have to wait for further postings — well, there’s a book I’ve been trying to write for ages — let’s just say that I came of age politically in a socialist-Zionist movement, but very quickly sensed the tension between those two aspects. And also that forced to choose between the two, I’d always choose the universal over the particular. By the end of my days in Habonim, they were calling me a “Bundist.” But the revival of the ANC’s mass struggle was getting going at that point (1980), and I knew my place — as Bob Marley once sang, “Who can stay at home, when the freedom fighters are fighting…” And, of course, on moving over into the ANC corner, I was delighted to find a (hitherto unknown to me) deep rooted tradition of Jewish activism in the national liberation movement. The choice between that and going to live on a Kibbutz (Tuval) that was explicitly being sold to us as a way of keeping a check on Palestinian population numbers in the Gallilee, it really was no choice at all…

    7. Tony says:

      New York, now that’s another story. Hardly aliyah, I came here on holiday and never left, finding it endlessly fascinating — perhaps, even still — because it simultaneously engages so many of the different layers of my identity. There’s no other place in the world where you can find yourself speaking yiddish with a Russian cab driver, discussing the day’s cricket scores with a Jamaican security guard, discussing the deteroriating situation in Somalia with an Ethiopian mailroom guy, talking on the phone with a colleague in Beirut and so on, all in the space of a single hour

    8. Tony says:

      If it was about Mammon, d’you think I’d be a journalist?

    9. Michael Allen says:

      Carter’s entire premise is flawed for many reasons. Most of which I will not go into as they are well covered elsewhere in the media.
      But briefly:
      His history of the 1967 war is at odds with all historical accounts, even those of the late King Hussein of Jordan.
      His account of the 2000 camp David negotiations under the Clinton administration is at odds with Bill Clinton’s memoirs.
      His accounts of various UN resolutions both mistate the actual wording of those resolutions and, he is incorrect in his various assertions of his interpretations as well as on who did, and who did not, accept those resolutions.
      This is just a very brief summary of a very few points that are the basis of Carter’s flawed conclusions.

      What is most damning about Carter’s erroneous conclusions is that he seems to have a complete mental block on the simple fact that the palestinians are under military occupation for the simple reason that they have not accepted peace with Israel.
      Carter ignores the fact that military occupation of a belligerent is formally recognized as legal under all international law inclusive of the Geneva Conventions and, that such an occupation under international law, continues until the hostile aggressor agrees to peace, and even beyond.
      Carter’s allegations about the plight of the palestinians, while rife with error and a propagandistic slant, totally ignores the fact that an occupied beligerent population is never granted the rights of the citizens of the occupier and, that life under occupation as a belligerent is harsh due to the behavior of the occupied.
      Life in occupied Germany and Japan was no walk in the park., and those countries had already agreed to peace once occupied. In both those countries there were roadblocks, ID checks, lines, short rations, and misery.
      Not due to the occupier, but ultimately due to the prior behavior of Japan and Germany that led to that occupation.

      The difference, of course, was that Germany and Japan knew that the road to being occupation-free was by abiding by the peace treaties signed, and getting on with a non aggressive life.
      And as we all know, the stated goal of the palestinians is still the destruction of Israel and the genocide of its people.
      Not once mentioned by Carter in his book, which I have read.

      Carter’s tome is a work flawed in concept, facts, and conclusions, and is more suitable for labeling as fiction.

      It’s sad that Carter has chosen to put forth this polemic, which ay well lead, not to peace, but to even more bloodshed.

    10. Steven says:

      Hi Tony. I found your discussion of the Carter book really compelling. As a member of Not in My Name (Cape Town) I find this kind of critical engagement extremely valuable.

      Aluta continua

    11. Steven says:

      Michael Allen’s polemic demontrates all the problems of partisan ‘commentary’….

    12. Pingback: Lumbering » Blog Archives » "Lumbering through a quirky swamp"

    13. Jorge says:

      Once we learn to deal with all nations like they HAD the bomb, then we will begin the path towards peace. The BOMB brings respect from those who would otherwise steal raw materials from a country and leave the people to suffer at the hands of their rulers – with whom business leaders have agreements supported by “international law.”

    14. Jorge says:

      Oddly enough, after reading Tony’s posting, it clarified some questions I had about my Christian faith.

      I won’t go into that – because I’m not an evangelist – except to say that I am at peace with my long-held opposition to the State of Israel as it is currently constituted. Christians throughout the world seem to have trouble – as I have – denouncing Israel because of a long held belief that Israel was given to the Jewish people. This is the 10000 lb gorilla that no one wants to mention.

      This belief would appear to contradict Jesus’ suggestion that He doesn’t want to have anything to do with this world. He’s about love and peace and heaven. Yet Christians want Jews to be able to hold on to a piece of land they consider “holy.”

      If we throw out this entire (“religious”) discussion as Tony and everyone one else seems eager to avoid, then we deal with the strict merits of the case. Does one people have a right to displace another? The answer seems to be “yes, we do it all the time.” At which point all of those arguments based on “international law” and “reason” are ground to dust. This isn’t about any of that. This is about “might.” And right now, the Israelis and the U.S. have it. And the Muslim world wants it. And the Chinese may want it one day. And it will be a constant struggle for eternity. It’s that simple. And that tragic.

    15. S Anvar says:

      Dear Tony,
      Ever since the controversy about Carter’s book began, I have been checking your blog. I might sound cliched when I say “we need more people like you”. However that is the truth. Allow me to repeat Alex Morgan’s earlier comment, which put it more precisely. “For a Jew to cry out at the injustice done to Palestinians, well, that to me is the very definition of what is best about the human race.

      And while there are those Jews who sadly allow other factors to influence their actions, instead of Justice, let it be known that there are plenty, such as Tony Karon, who rise above it.”
      Keep the good work going. Also as someone else pointed out ensure that you are financially safe.

    16. bob k says:

      Your comment that the choice between the universal and
      tribalism of the kibbutz was easy seems to indicate that your spiritual leanings might be christian as this is exactly the message Jesus brought mankind two millenium ago.
      Love and empathy for men and women of all races, ethnicity, and creeds is the timely message of Jesus and not the tribal identity of a “choosen people.” This is the
      ancient heart of the conflict in the Middle East.
      Bernard Chazelle’s observation that empathy is immoral
      is right on point. John Dean discusses this problem in
      “Conservatives Without Conscience.” This men are too
      civil to say the truth. The dictionary definition of psychopath
      is to lack a conscience or to be incapable of empathy.Is the
      problem of war and suffering on this planet the result of many of the elites of government and business actually
      being psychopaths preying upon their naive followers to
      carry out their own self-serving agenda at the expense of
      all of us who feel a universal good will to man? Is this actually a war of the psychopaths against the rest of mankind with normal feelings of universal empathy and peace toward others?
      This reminds me of Matthew 10:16. “…behold, I send
      you as sheep in the midst of wolves, be ye therefore wise
      as serpents and harmless as doves.” Thank you and
      have a safe and joyful New Year. Bob K

    17. Fran Freidman says:

      BRILLIANT job, Tony. I’d heap some more praise here but it’s early AM and I have to email a link to this column to everyone I know before I go to bed.

      Someone get this into Dershowitz’ inbox. And Peretz’. And the odious Kinsley.

      BTW, Tony, did you know that Ben Gurion despaired that Begin would become Prime Minister. He warned after the 1967 war that if it were to come about, “it would be the death of Israel.” Ben Gurion despised Begin and Shamir deeply, but he was obsessive in his hatred for Begin.

    18. richard vajs says:

      The only way, Palestinians will be free is through armed conflict. Apartheid in America ended after the 1960s riots; in South Africa after the Sowet riots, not because of any epithany on the part of the oppressors. These riots threatened the whole economic structure of the oppressors plus enlisted the disapproval of the whole world. The reason Israel continues on is because America (the Israeli Lobby) softens the economic effects through massive aid and prevents criticism of Israel to originate in the mainstream press. But the Intifada is working slowly. The tipping point is approaching.

    19. Randy Scott says:

      Let me say firstly that I enjoyed and agree with your analysis of Carter’s book and the artifically-generated teapot tempest of criticism that dominates all public discussion of it. I write because I was stunned to see how “liberally” you use the word “liberal” to refer to people that us liberals would normally think of as “conservatives”. Frankly, I don’t think the word has any intrinsic meaning any more.

      The mainstream corporate media, especially that branch of the entertainment industry which calls itself “journalism” on television, uses “liberal” to refer to anyone that disagrees with the Bush regime and the zionist agenda, which would qualify you to be a “liberal” for defending Carter & daring to suggest that there’s something wrong with Israel. Meanwhile, virtually all of Latin America use “liberal economics” to refer to the “laissez-faire” corporate agenda which places profits above the intrinsic value of human life.

      Having spent my childhood in the ultra-conservative, white-supremacist Protestant Christian churches of the American southern states, I am baffled to see zionists being called “liberal”. Had you simply substituted the word “zionist” in it’s place I would have enjoyed your article without finding anything to criticize.

      I’m not trying to defend my right to call myself “politically & socially liberal” – I’m just pointing out that the word doesn’t seem to mean anything anymore, and wondering if you care to comment on your definition of it. If Bush and Cheney demand for themselves the personal freedom to commit genocide with impunity, in the interest of corporate profits, does that make them “Liberals”? Does Ann Coulter know about this?

    20. Ricardo Kolbe says:

      I fully appreciate ex-President J. Carters book also because since the days of Menachem Begin, PM (Irgun boss and later called a facist by D. Ben Gurion, PM) it became evident that Israel is not willing to give up the occupied Arab Palestine/including Al Kuds (East Jerusalem). You will certainly recall that when A. El-Sadat (Pres. of Egypt) visited the Knesset in 1977 he stipulated that he came to Israel for a comprehensive peace and not a separate one (with Egypt alone). During the negotiations Mr. M. Dayan MK made it
      clear that if A. El. Sadat would go on with his plan for a peace agreement that would include Arab-Palestine the negotiations would be stopped. In the end to avoid to come home empty handed A.El-Sadat gave in; a couple of years he paid the price of it-he was killed; a period called Cold Peace exsists now. Not much changed since then, Mr. B. Netanyahu (Likud)PM signed the Wye agreement with the PLO-Admin. to return 2% of occupied Arab-Palestine, with the help of the Clinton Admin.; 48 hours later being back in Israel he cancelled the agreement, with no valid reaction of Ms. Albright or Mr. Clinton. I don’t want to comment General A. Sharon’s PM policy on the occupied Palestine territories that’s simply a shame for the State of Israel, Apartheit did not only rule at that time in the West Bank unfortunately also in Israel inside the Green Line. However, the Labour party unfortunately and much to my regret, started this awful policy silently when Rav Aluf E. Barak PM ruled the country. The current Olmert PM (Kadima) simply goes along the Sharon lines, having no peace plan as can be seen in Gaza, the West Bank and Syria (Golan), with completing the “Berlin Wall”, daily unlawful killings of Pal-persons not liked, ignoring elected Arab Administrations, and striving for new settlements, having imprison approx. 2,700 Pals. without court decisions, starting a US sponsored war against Lebanon, all with the help of the Labour party.

    21. pastor maker says:

      “There’s no other place in the world where you can find yourself speaking yiddish with a Russian cab driver, discussing the day’s cricket scores with a Jamaican security guard, discussing the deteroriating situation in Somalia with an Ethiopian mailroom guy, talking on the phone with a colleague in Beirut and so on, all in the space of a single hour”

      Um, Tony…been there, done that, in Melbourne, Australia.
      Hate to break it to you, but immigration isn’t a uniquely New York experience.

    22. Tony says:

      Bob K — I’d say to cast empathy as an exclusively Christian quality is a little narrow, but thanks for the kind words

      Larb — I agree with you that the refugee question remains an integral part of the problem (see my previous post on Sandy Tolan’s “The Lemon Tree”). In principle, in abstract, I think a one-state solution would be preferable, but in the real world, I’m not sure that it’s plausible for the foreseeable future. If there is to be a two-state solution, I’d see that as a means, in the long run, to achieving a situation in which Jews and Arabs live together in democratic equality in a common society. I won’t pretend to have a clear answer, here, or a simple “line” as I would have had in the old days as a young activist. I’d be more inclined to put my faith in a process guided by principles – -my own view is that a single democratic state for Jews and Arabs is far preferable to separate Jewish and Palestinian states, but I think right now that’s an abstraction, and there are problems that need to be urgently addressed in the immediate situation. I’m accepting that the optimal solution is unlikely to come about in the near term…

      Richard — I’m afraid I can’t agree with you on South Africa — apartheid ended 18 years after the Soweto riots, and the armed struggle remained a minor part of the power equation throughout that time (heroic as it was, frankly, it was also singularly ineffective — the average survival time of a guerrilla entering the country in 1989 was 16 hours, so heavily infiltrated had the ANC’s armed wing become). The insurrectionary potential represented by mass action (largely unarmed) constituted a graver threat, although it would have taken many years. In short, the regime had adequately contained violent challenges; its collapse was brought about by mass action and international shifts such as the end of the Cold War. As far as the Palestinians go, the intifada has proved that armed actions confront the Israelis on the terrain where they are strongest, and actually serve to strengthen its position on the diplomatic front. As long as Israelis can be convinced by their leaders that they need to remain in the West Bank in order to protect themselves within the 1967 borders, they will continue to absorb whatever violent blows are struck against them. So I’m not sure that your argument holds up…

      Randy — yes, your use of “liberal” is in keeping with the way it is used in mainstream American discourse, but elsewhere it tends to mean center-right at best. I suspect that’s because McCarthyism in the US made terms like socialist and social-democratic taboo. I don’t think of myself as a liberal, really, more like a social democrat.

      To the rest of you, thanks for the props, I really appreciate the encouragement, I honestly do!

    23. HDuwaik says:

      Thank you for a daring article, I would’ve been more delighted to see the advocacy to one state solution.
      Hoping this is the start and more to come to break this taboo. Move On.

    24. bob k says:

      You are right. It is a contradiction to narrow empathy
      to a Christian quality. Bob K

    25. Aribrah says:

      I have been wondering for some time about the possibility of a Confederacy, say as in Switzerland, including two States or Cantons,one Israeli-Palestinian and the other Arab-Palestinian, both under a loose-political central Government in Jerusalem…and a constitution garanteeing the rights of whomesoever’s minority…present or to develop…
      Does that seem viable…sometimes over the 21st Century..?
      With shared P.D.F. reduced to common border control…

    26. John Clavis says:

      Thank you for an insightful and thoughtful commentary. I’ve watched Carter talk about his book for hours on C-Span. Everything about Jimmy Carter is devoted to peace and brotherhood. Yet for as long as I could remember, Carter has been a target for attacks and smears and insults. This is no different, except for the added vitriol he has received because of this book. It amazes me how vicious and angry and spiteful and hateful some people can get when you cross them on “The Israel/Palestine Issue”.

      As far as I’m concerned, Israel’s founding was conducted in such a clumsy and imperialistic way as to almost guarantee conflict. (You don’t build a house on sand and then wonder why it’s sinking!) Did they really think Jehovah was going to cover Israel with a magic shield to protect them from Arab attacks? Furthermore, did they think that shield would expand out to the West Bank as they built their settlements? I mean, I imagine a bulldozer driver, knocking down Palestinian homes to build more Jewish settlements, being caught on video camera and giving a shrug, as if to say, “Why is what I’m doing wrong?” Do they even know?

      Zionism is a form of nationalism. I understand nationalism as a phenomenon. But nationalism isn’t nationalism when your nation isn’t Israel, but America. The degree to which American culture is skewed to forbid even-handed discussion of Israel’s nationalistic efforts is truly disquieting. Why are so many Americans more emotionally and spritually dedicated to the well-being of a country OTHER THAN America?

      If Alan Dershowitz were writing Huffington Post editorials defending the genocide in Darfur or the sham elections in Egypt, we’d all say he’d lost his mind. Why the double standard?

      P.S. It is perfectly appropriate and in character for a Michele Malkin fan to make hateful remarks and then post a link to the MM website. Such people are perfect examples of the hatemongers that have become the life’s blood of the right-wing movement in America, and one of their causes is the zealous, one-sided nationalistic endorsement of Israel.

    27. Pingback: EFFin’ Unsound » Blog Archive » The Soft Bigotry of Not Being Prejudiced

    28. Tobey Llop says:

      It’s nice that Jimmy may be having second thoughts and writing a book to undo some of the damage he caused…

      Jimmy Carter, at Camp David, was the willing patsy to the joint blackmail of Sadat and Began, using my tax money and every Americans’, so those terrorists would stop bickering and play nice with the Palestinians. Israel reneged, of course, so all those billions in blood money extorted annually since the seventies should be returned to the American taxpayer with interest adjusted for inflation.

      Negotiating with terrorists, like the Israelis, is always a bad idea. Whenever Israel got greedy for more U.S. dollars, the Intifidata would heat up, and out would come the American taxpayer’s checkbook duly proffered by whatever crook was currently in the Whitehouse.. Finally it came to a point where the Isralie provoked “uprisings” couldn’t be cooled.

      Now disinformation from Israel controls American foreign policy – to wit, the felony invasion of Iraq.

      Jews are no more or less evil than anyone else. The special status they’ve gotten from the crafty manipulation of bogus guilt should be exposed and ended. How many people alive today had anything to do with the Nazi persecutions (which have led to the co opting of the thentofore good word, holocaust. Israel has been holocausting Palestine for decades, given more incentive to do so by Jimmy Carter. These facts may be disliked, but who can honestly dispute them?

      Now, don’t get me started on the Bush criminal gang sending the cream of American youth to be cannon fodder for a pointless and morally indefensible war against American interests and American values to create new enemies of America – substantially at the behest of guess who! All we had to do was buy the oil. The Iraqis can’t drink it!

      It’s nice that Jimmy may be having second thoughts and writing a book to undo some of the damage he caused…
      He could do a lot more. A lot more.

    29. Alex Morgan says:

      Wow, quite some conspiracy mongering going on! I hope they have a sale on tinfoil hats, there’ll be quite a few customers from amongst some of the posters here.

      I like how Arafat is demonized as someone who would stop at nothing less than total elimination of Israel. That goes along with the well known campaign of misinformation and hatred towards the Oslo process. Funny, but Oslo was getting pretty good results with Arafat, and things were moving in the right direction… until Rabin was assassinated. Oh, and who was it who was gunning for Rabin? If you move along the political spectrum, the further you moved right, the more they hated Rabin. No wonder to this day they hate the Oslo process… because it demonstrated that Arafat was the best bet for a peace partner amongst the Palestinians – not only because he was willing, but he had unique stature amongst the Palestinians as “Father of the nation” – a deal with such a man would have had pretty solid authority. Arafat was no angel – his corruption, his nepotism and cronyism, his total administrative mismangement – and none of his faults should be overlooked… but that should not distract us (and the Likudniks love this distraction tactic) from the fact that Arafat was willing and able to strike a peace deal with Israel.

      Yes, there were and are Palestinians who were opposed to all negotiation – indeed, the terrorist attacks by Palestinian factions against Israel after Rabin’s death, helped push Israel rightward. They do share some of the blame.

      But all the blame on the Palestinians? Hardly. The majority of the historical blame for the failed peace process is clearly at Israel’s feet. The Wye agreement farce – how come nobody talks about this amazing bald faced breaking of the agreement by Netanyahu? Spectacular!

      And Barak? He tried to stampede Arafat into an unacceptable position wrt. Jerusalem amongst others. if they were so close to striking a deal, then why did Barak break off the negotiations? Arafat was willing to go on to find some agreement. Why take your ball and go home? Perhaps, because Barak was unwilling to offer what would have sealed the deal – something close to the 67 green line.

      After that, it becomes just a joke. Sharon who deliberately provoked a war with the Palestinians with his Al Aqsa visit, well, that’s just icing on the cake. Israel decided for reasons I don’t understand, that the best thing for them is to declare a war against Arafat, to deliberately undermine him, to insult, belittle and strip of dignity the only man who had a George Washington-like stature amongst Palestinians. Who did they think was going to replace him? Someone who would give them a better deal? A Palestinian Benedict Arnold perhaps? How would such a figure – assuming he can be found – find the authority to make such an agreement stick with the Palestinian people?

      Who replaced Arafat would be in a weaker position – with less authority amongst Palestinians. Palestinians would fragment, virulent voices (such as Hamas) would come to the fore. How was that in the interest of the Israelis? How do you find a peace partner under such circumstances? Truly, the Israeli strategy baffles me.

      Do the Israelis imagine that somehow one day the Palestinians will say “uncle” and decide to just die quietly, or live like obedient slaves? Do they imagine the Muslim world would just be fine with the continuing oppression of Palestinians? I don’t get it. It was better to strike a deal with Arafat. Too late now. Of course, they can always make it worse, and no doubt will – to what end, I for one cannot imagine. Don’t Israelis care about Israel – not just for today, but for tomorrow and the future?

    30. Fran Freidman says:

      “All the while, if you read between the lines you will see how they are conspiring with the Zionist enemy to imprison the Palestinians in a ‘rump’ state just when the State of Israel is about to collapse under the pressure of a nuclear Iran.”

      Collapse under the pressure of a nuclear Iran? What are you smoking? Iran is not nuclear. No one, not anyone, claims that, except Israel claims they’re GONNA be nuclear soon … like tomorrow, or maybe yesterday, or after New Year’s. The CIA says ten years. Ditto the UN atomic energy org. Even Scott Ritter and Seymour Hersh. But Israel is playing an unrelenting game of ‘let Mikey do it’ hoping we’ll go bomb Iran for their pan-Israel aspirations ASAP. With of course our guns, our money, our sons.

      And this is rich ….
      “Is there any one who thinks that the Palestinians will possess any time soon the political skills necessary for the construction of a multicultural liberal democracy? Would Israelis accept less?”

      Why … why … would Palestine want a ‘multicultural liberal democracy’? Under what known lines of logic should that be a goal? I’d bet the private Palestinian citizens who, so far, have had 39% of their private-owned land ripped off and declared Israeli land (NYT from Israel government docs) and the 40% Israel intends to rip off (again, NYT from Israel government docs) given back to them. Israel could start with that democratic idea first.

      And BTW, Abbas is not a leader of the moderates in Palestine. He was corrupt, and why Hamas was voted in a year ago under the quaint action of a democratic vote. Hamas offered at the time to acknowledge Israel (NYT) but was rebuffed by Israel. Of course, that was January-February, the timeframe when Israel usually gets its lump sum billions from us.

    31. Fran Freidman says:

      “Carter’s Real Sin is Cutting to the Heart of the Problem

      The Ludicrous Attacks on Jimmy Carter’s Book


      “(…) From its initial encounter with Palestine the Zionist movement confronted a seemingly intractable dilemma: How to create a Jewish state in a territory that was overwhelmingly non-Jewish? Israeli historian Benny Morris observes that Zionists could choose from only two options: “the way of South Africa”–i.e., “the establishment of an apartheid state, with a settler minority lording it over a large, exploited native majority”–or “the way of transfer”–i.e., “you could create a homogeneous Jewish state or at least a state with an overwhelming Jewish majority by moving or transferring all or most of the Arabs out.” (2) (…)”

    32. Pdan says:

      @ Alex

      I agree
      “… Arafat was no angel – his corruption, his nepotism and cronyism, his total administrative mismanagement – and none of his faults should be overlooked…“

      I wrote

      “So while blaming Israeli perfidy, he had quietly sabotaged the process at least as much as Natanyahu.”

      To me this means that I am not blaming only the Palestinians, nor only the Israelis.

      I Disagree

      “…Arafat was willing and able to strike a peace deal with Israel…”

      He was both unwilling and unable to control the militant factions.

      He denounced the terrorist attacks-meaning he could not stop them.
      He praised the terrorists-meaning he did not want to stop them.

      @ Fran

      “…Collapse under the pressure of a nuclear Iran? What are you smoking? Iran is not nuclear. No one, not anyone, claims that, except Israel claims they’re GONNA be nuclear soon…”

      While Israelis fear the possible prospect of a nuclear Iran, Hamas and the militant groups are hoping for it. They all want a single Islamic Palestinian State on the pattern of the Iranian “Republic”. Any concession from Israel is touted by them as proof that their terrorist attacks are working, and such a single Islamic state is achievable.

      When I asked the question

      “Is there any one who thinks that the Palestinians will possess any time soon the political skills necessary for the construction of a multicultural liberal democracy? Would Israelis accept less?”

      I was referring to the single state solution. Yes, I agree that such a single Palestinian state in place of the State of Israel would not be acceptable to the Israelis.

      “And BTW, Abbas is not a leader of the moderates in Palestine. He was corrupt, and why Hamas was voted in a year ago under the quaint action of a democratic vote. Hamas offered at the time to acknowledge Israel (NYT) but was rebuffed by Israel.”

      As far as I know there have been no corruption by Abu Mazen himself. Fatah was rejected on the basis of corruption under Arafat. If you have any evidence to the contrary, please feel free to supply.

      As for negotiating with Hamas, Haniyeh refused to reign in the terrorists at the time and unequivocally stated that the terrorists had the right to pursue their attacks. This at the time when he was claiming that Hamas was observing a truce with Israel

      The outlook of Carter and his charge of “Apartheid” is simply outdated. While his endorsement of the two state solution and his condemnation of terrorism is heartening, his suggestion of unilateral withdrawal by Israel is a prescription for disaster as, it would only empower the militants who want an Islamic state in place of Israel all that much more.

      Today the “political wing”s of neither Fatah nor Hamas can control the militants. No meaningfull negotiation can take place with any Palestinian faction until a civilian authority can assert control over them.

    33. Tony says:

      Pdan, your pontificating is starting to annoy me, because you’re clogging up the comments box and, frankly, much of what you say is misleading or poorly informed, but poses as if it’s more than that — “Fatah was rejected on the basis of corruption” (No, that’s what Condi says, and you can believe it if you like, but Palestinian opinion polling makes clear that it was a political repudiation as well). Your comments on Haniyeh are just the sort of twaddle that passes for perspective in places like the New York Post, i.e. that don’t go beneath the surface of rhetoric. I don’t have the time to respond in great detail — and as I’ve said, I sometimes get the feeling you’ve been sent here to keep me busy by the Hasbara industry.

      Your earlier comments: “I presume that this site is for dialogue, and as such it is only valuable when it provides a platform for a diversity of opinions. Please correct me if I’m wrong.”

      Actually, this site is a platform for my opinions and analysis, which I’m quite happy to discuss and debate within reason. If you’re looking for a consistent platform for your own opinions, you really ought to get your own site.

    34. bob k says:

      Pdan may be right. Given leaders like Sharon and Arafat
      with personal agendas negotiation is impossible and the
      iron law of war is in effect. The land of cinders will belong to the last survivors and their traumatized children. What a legacy.Like Alex I have only questions, “Don’t the Israelis care about Israel? ” Perhaps the question should be, “Do Zionists care about the Jews?” Do Zionist leaders care about Zionists? Do Christian Zionists care about Jews?
      Perhaps Zionism is a method to reassert control over Jews
      who are assimalating into communities outside the ghetto.
      Is Israel just a large ghetto? Somewhere in these questions
      lies the truth. We may not like what we see. Mossad’s motto
      is “wage war by deception.” Who can an honest man trust in
      a world of war and lies?

    35. Alex Morgan says:

      It so happens that I’m just reading a book about Kafka (“Kafka – The Decisive Years” by Reiner Stach), and it’s yet another reminder of how Zionism was a very active movement amongst the European Jews before, during and after WWI. It bears repeating: Zionism and the desire to establish a Jewish state in the ME certainly predated the Holocaust. That said, European Anti-Semitism was unquestionably a powerful motivating factor.

      The Holocaust was clearly a tipping point, and I don’t think it’s impact has been played out yet. All the measures we see Israel take, and the support (overt and covert) that large parts of the Jewish diaspora give to Israel, can be traced at least in part to that horrific history. So, whenever I read about a particularly cynical or involved plot by f.ex. the Mossad, I always ask myself: can you really blame them, from a human perspective (as far as motivation), given this history?

      When you see your people persecuted with such a singleminded objective as total elimination, for no other reason than ethnic background (where cultural background, political loyalties, personal history etc. count for NOTHING), and when that happened in relatively civilized parts of the world (1930’s and 1940’s Europe), you can be forgiven for taking extreme measures to assure that it can never happen again. Hence, anything Israel and the Mossad do, I can understand for a human perspective.

      However, that still does not mean that what they do is rational even from an enlightened long-term self-interest point of view. I continue to think that things have gone horribly wrong in Israel since Rabin’s death. Israel seems headed down the road of national suicide. I hope they can stop before it’s too late.

      Wrt. Pdan – anytime anyone seriously discusses the ME, a certain contingent of net-savvy folks is ready to spring into action, and I think this is just another example. Why? Well, see what I wrote above as an explanation (“we must fight to put out the fires wherever they are, for ideas is where the battleground is in the big scheme of things… the Holocaust must never happen again, and so every measure is justified: lying, misinformation, misdirection and derailing.”)

      Wrt. Arafat – sorry, we must draw a sharp line between the man and his policies vis a vis Israel. As a man, he was corrupt in financial matters and corrupt and inept in the administration of Palestine. But that says NOTHING about him as a partner for peace. It is the right wing in Israel (and their minions elsewhere) who loves to intentionally confuse the two. Think of it as about a sports figure: off the field they may be the worst, but we are discussing their ON FIELD performance.

      And Arafat was really moving credibly along during Rabin’s peace process. The history is there for all to see. The levels of cooperation between the special services of Israel and the PA was quite amazing. The majority of Palestinians in polls were willing to live in peace with Israel – in numbers and percentages never again matched. Did Arafat control all terrorists and factions? Of course not. But which country controls ALL criminal opposition? Certainly not Israel: they couldn’t even prevent the assassination of Rabin by a movement that was under observation. Why do we hold the Palestinians to some standard of totally unrealistic perfection that we hold nobody else to? Arafat was demonstrably making progress with Rabin – this is well documented… he was highly effective. And that is why the right in Israel assasinated Rabin. And ultimately, they decided to finish off Arafat (after the Al Aqsa deliberate provocation by Sharon).

      The strategy was clear: total elimination of any possibility that Arafat could ever again be in a position to negotiate peace with Israel. The policy was to essentially wage war against Arafat, isolate, undermine his authority, continuously work to make him seem not to represent the Palestinians – a campaign both in Palestine and abroad (with U.S. fully cooperating).

      In this, Israel succeeded. The fact that Arafat was also inept and corrupt in running the PA, of course helped. Even so, he was still personally respected in the territories until the day he died. But once he died, there was really nothing left of the PA – it was seen as corrupt and impotent. The Palestinians turned to Hamas not just because of the corruption of the PA, but also because Israel demonstrated so abundantly that the PA is really impotent and not capable of getting anything out of Israel… “look how Israel treated even Arafat! Time to look elsewhere.”

      The truth is that the way of compromise and negotiation as the PA did, was getting nowhere with Israel (it was a humiliation and a farce), and so the Palestinians decided to try their luck with Hamas, who at least couldn’t be pushed around as much with zero in return.

      And after all, that was the right-wing Israeli goal all along – to undermine and destroy the PA… Hamas was an inevitable result… and let us not forget the Israeli secret services who has a PART IN CREATING HAMAS, as a way to undermine the PLO since the very beginning.

      The only question still remains: why does Israel think this is in their long-term interest? Why wasn’t striking a peace deal with Arafat better? Do they really think that Palestinians can be physically eliminated, or subjugated forever? Do they think that the Muslim world will allow such a state of affairs forever? What’s the long range plan?

      And once

    36. jeremyb says:

      Only today did I get around to reading your thoughtful, well-informed and nuanced piece Tony. All power to your pen!

    37. Gerry says:

      Jimmy Carter is to be commended for his courage in writing what no author, outside of the Harvard Paper.
      It is to the detriment of the United States, the country of which I am proud to be a citizen, but sadly, admit that this great country has not had the fortitude to keep the playing field level.
      May we change our ways, and our attitudes soon, or the dawn that is breaking will not be bright.
      God bless America.

    38. Kathy says:

      As a white conservative christian who’s most cherished beliefs have been trashed for 40 years by liberals-a great number of them being catholics and Jews , all I can say is “Boy am I enjoying this spectacle”

    39. Henry Norr says:

      For several weeks now has been running the full, 1636-word text of a totally negative review of Jimmy Carter’s “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” on the page where it lists the book .

      Because this is totally out of line with their normal format and in contradiction to their self-interest in selling copies, and because their CEO, Jeff Bezos, has flatly turned down requests from me and other customers for more balanced treatment of the book, it seems clear that this is either a deliberate political statement on the part of Amazon’s leaders or an abject concession to pressure from Zionist zealots. Whatever you think of the Carter book, its publication is an important event, and it’s unacceptable for Amazon to be trying to discourage sales of it.

      Since the letters didn’t work, I’ve created an online petition protesting what Amazon is doing and threatening to cancel my account there. It’s at . I hope you’ll not only check it out and sign it, but also pass along copies of this message or one of your own to friends and family and to all possible e-mail lists.

      If you agree that Amazon is out of line on this, but you’re uncomfortable with anything in the petition, or you’re not willing to pledge to close your account, or you don’t have an account to begin with, you can send your own message directly to Bezos at

      In fact, even if you do sign the petition, it wouldn’t hurt to send him e-mail in addition.

      In just a few days, the petition has already garnered more than 7,500 signatures, and the number rises by the hour. Please add your name, and please spread this message (or one in your own words that points to the petition) as widely as possible.

    40. Harrison says:


      I failed to see where you mentioned that the Carter Center took $10,000,000 from the Saudis (yes those despots who fund international terrorism) and has never criticised those same Saudis for their rampant human rights violations. Sure, Carter is not biased.

      I have real doubt in a so called historian who states in his book that the Jordanians were attacked first by the Israelis in the Six Day War. Come on Carter, it is undisputed fact that Israel pleaded with Jordan not to attack and that Jordan ignored that warning and initiated hostilities.

      Carter’s complete ignorance of the facts is simply astounding. Thank God he was only President for one term.

    41. Tina says:

      Jimmy Catrter is very typical of the extreme left.

    42. lolaone says:

      jeremyb….I COULDN’T AGREE more. you said it better than i ever could! thanks,lolaone

    43. GAVIN says:

      I was so relieved to read your post. It is refreshing to reminded that no one culture or nation has a better ‘moral compass’ than their neighbours. It is refreshing that you can illuminate the true universal basis of decency and that you can show a depth of the jewish culture in its many layers. Reading your post let me take a much needed step back from the fog of anger that I feel when thinking of the self destructive right wing which has been in power both in the US and Israel for too long now. (that is not to diminish the role of the blinded liberals who enable this continuing crime) . PS do the bullies who try to force a singular view of Jewish superiority really think that they arestrengthening their culture?…. I think any reasonable observer knows that they, Like the Neocons in the US are hastening the destruction of that which they profess to love.
      I will look for more of your writings. Thanks

    44. Van Dola says:

      Your sincerity and exposure to so many environments cannot automatically validate many of the points that your are making. I was in South Africa when you were growing up and I also recall being 6 feet away from John Voster at the Wailing Wall. I also remember what Aparthied was like, not as a teen growing in Cape Town but as a person who entered the location without permit and associating with activists for which I also paid a price. I bet my file with Boss is bigger than yours. Frankly many of the things that you say are right but it is senseless to compare and use the concept of Apartheid in the context of Israel. After the war (WW2) he Afrikaners had a choice of making a peaceful transition to an agreeable co-habitation and when Mc Millan came and spoke of the Winds of Change, they told him to take a hike, this is why SAF is in the state it is today. You cannot walk down the streets of downtown Johanesburg no more!
      The whites took the high road for economic benefits for the Volk. The native population did not susbcribe to the protocols of hatred and to an ideology of elimination as the Arabs do. One nation had many choices another did not. What is most upsetting about the Carter book is not his lamentations about the indifference to the plight of the Palestinians for which his Arab Patrons reward him annually, financing his foundation, something you ignored, it is the total inaccuracy, the lies and the unsubstantiated twisted rewrite of events. You know that he is not a scholar nor a historian. The man is a paid hooligan with a veneer of God spoke to me! Before you publish these pompous takes (you are a gifted writer) it is best that unlike many other shallow and mindless Time reporters,you took a tour and read some of the more scholarly works written by others (maybe check the exhaustive new take in the Middle East Review by Mr. Steyn explaining his reasons for leaving) or Mr. Laski (American Thinker) who also took the time to consider the fantasies of Carter. Just because you grew up in Cape Town that does not automatically make you an expert on world affairs. If I could be of help here, I believe it is the bad influence of Time Magazine that got you into this vortex of believing that you are so special. You need to get over yourself! One becomes very self assured and quickly out of touch when working for Time. Time had its perverts, born again, and is now on its final passage to extinction. You could make yourself discredited and out of a job (this week they announced 300 will be gone) if you go on the road of shoddy and mindless journalism. It is good to read what others have to say before jumping the gun!

    45. B Free says:

      The Holy Land is too twisted for a one word-description.

      It is a dark chapter in human development.

      The shallow theologies of the 3 faiths led to a river of blood.

      The only very painful solution is to give up on these failed faiths.

    46. John Wannenburg says:

      A truly excellent analysis. As a South African I have for years been concerned at the similarity between the values of the Israeli Government and the apartheid government – especially when it comes to the value attached to a Palestinian’s life versus that of an Israeli citizen. If one Israeli is killed or kidnapped, Israel doesn’t rest until retribution is extracted to the fulles extent. They invaded a sovereign country because three Israeli soldiers were kidnapped. There is scant respect for human life on both sides of this spectrum.

      Also, it is interesting that in today’s BBC News, one of the UN’s Special Rapporteurs, John Dugard, describes the Israeli Government as being designed to dominate and systematically oppress the occupied population.

      Mr Dugard is a South African professor of international law assigned to monitor Israeli human rights abuses. I think he was linked to Wits. He has extensively studied apartheid in South Africa and has compared it to what he saw under Israeli rule.

      I am delighted that more and more people are willing to express rational thought in the face of the pro-Israel lobby.

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