An op-ed by Professor Alan Dershowitz: From Jimmy Carter, a book-length smear on Israel

December 4, 2006

Alan Dershowitz

Professor Alan Dershowitz

The following op-ed, From Jimmy Carter, a book-length smear on Israel by Professor Alan Dershowitz, was published in the National Post on December 2, 2006.

Sometimes, you really can tell a book by its cover. Jimmy Carter's decision to title his new anti-Israel screed Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (Simon & Schuster, 288 pages) tells it all. The former U.S. president's use of the loaded word "apartheid," suggesting an analogy to the hated policies of South Africa, is especially outrageous, considering his acknowledgment buried near the end of his shallow and superficial book that what is going on in Israel today "is unlike that in South Africa -- not racism, but the acquisition of land." Nor does he explain that Israel's motivation for holding on to land it captured in a defensive war is the prevention of terrorism. Israel has tried, on several occasions, to exchange land for peace, and what it got instead was terrorism, rockets and kidnappings launched from the returned land.

In fact, Palestinian-Arab terrorism is virtually missing from Mr. Carter's entire historical account, which blames nearly everything on Israel. Incredibly, he asserts that the initial violence in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict occurred when "Jewish militants" attacked Arabs in 1939. The long history of Palestinian terrorism against Jews, which began in 1929, was motivated by religious bigotry. The Jews responded to this racist violence by establishing a defense force. There is no mention of the long history of Palestinian terrorism before the occupation, or of the Munich massacre and others inspired by Yasser Arafat.

A mere listing of all of Mr. Carter's mistakes and omissions would fill a volume the size of his book. Here are just a few:

It's obvious that Mr. Carter just doesn't like Israel or Israelis. He lectured Golda Meir on Israeli's "secular" nature, warning her that "Israel was punished whenever its leaders turned away from devout worship of God." (Does Carter really think that Israel should become more religious, and that this would increase the chances for peace? Or would he criticize Israel even more strongly if it accepted his parochial advice?)

He has little good to say about any Israelis -- except those few who agree with him. But he apparently got along swimmingly with the very secular Syrian mass-murderer Hafez al-Assad. Mr. Carter and his wife Rosalynn also had a fine time with the equally secular Arafat, a man who has the blood of hundreds of Americans and Israelis on his hands: "Rosalynn and I met with Yasir Arafat in Gaza City, where he was staying with his wife, Suha, and their little daughter. The baby, dressed in a beautiful pink suit, came readily to sit on my lap, where I practiced the same wiles that had been successful with our children and grandchildren."

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is so biased that it raises the question of what would motivate a decent man like Jimmy Carter to write such an indecent book. His authorship of this ahistorical, one-sided brief against Israel forever disqualifies him from playing any positive role in fairly resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. That is a tragedy because the Carter Center, which has done much good in the world, could have been a force for peace if Jimmy Carter were as generous in spirit to the Israelis as he is to the Palestinians.