A Reply to Jimmy Carter
By Rachel Neuwirth
In recent years, former President Jimmy Carter has shown a growing animosity toward Israel. Just this past January, at the Herzliya Conference, President Carter must have astounded his audience when he declared that “you can’t have a Palestinian state living in peace and dignity if it is filled with Israeli settlements.” Doesn’t he know that Israeli Jews have been trying to live in peace and dignity in their state even though their country is filled with over a million Arabs?
Ignorance of the facts or mischievous assertions?
Three months later, in an article published jointly in Pakistan’s Daily Times and Israel’s Haaretz, President Carter made another blunder, most likely intentional:
“The unwavering US position since Dwight Eisenhower’s administration has been that Israel’s borders coincide with those established in 1949, and, since 1967, the universally adopted UN Resolution 242 has mandated Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories.”
No one in his right mind would read UN Resolution 242 in those terms, implying a return to the 1949 armistice line.
But Jimmy Carter’s latest article – published in USA Today on May 15, 2006, with the provocative title ”Israel’s new Plan: a Land Grab” – is definitely a tour de force of innuendos, half-truths, distortions and blatant lies. It is said that putting someone to shame, especially a world-renowned individual, is neither fair nor elegant. But when a former President of the United States manages to include two major errors in his introductory paragraph and then goes on with a crescendo of distortions, perhaps we should dispense with the usual niceties accorded to his rank.
President Carter either doesn’t know what he is talking about or, worse, is knowingly and shamelessly peddling falsehoods. He introduces his article with phrases like “the Palestinian West Bank” and the “the internationally recognized boundary between Israel and Palestine.” When did the “West Bank” become Palestinian? Even UN Resolution 338, written as late as 1973, and all the preceding UN Resolutions, never mention the word “Palestinian”. No such international recognition was ever granted, as clearly shown in UN Resolution 242. These allegations by President Carter are nothing short of deceitful since they imply, wrongly, that Israel took over territory rightfully belonging to another nation.
He then goes on to further mislead the uninformed by saying that
“the only division of territory between Israel and the Palestinians that is recognized by the United States or the international community awarded 77% of the land to the nation of Israel.”
This, from a former U.S. president, who should know (and probably knows) that no such ratio was ever recognized and that, in fact, the international community allocated in 1922 the entire territory between the Jordan River and the sea to the future Jewish State. It is also ironic that President Carter views the Gaza Strip (where there have been no Jews since August 2005) as a “politically and economically non-viable region.” Gaza may be considered an experiment in Palestinian self-government which is failing owing to strife within the Palestinian community, but there is no inherent reason why small populous territories cannot be viable. Look at the success of Singapore.
Perhaps the former president could explain how “Palestine” could be made more viable when the same Jew-free status is extended to the West Bank.
President Carter is obviously against the Olmert Plan of partial disengagement from the “West Bank.” He is not the only one to oppose this plan. But if Carter finds it unacceptable, Probably it is because he still clings to the widely discredited Oslo-type paradigm which has only brought bloodshed since its inception. The provisions of the Oslo Accords and the later Roadmap routinely have been breached by the Palestinians, who have shown time and time again that their real objective is not to create a viable state but to destroy Israel in whatever number of phases it would take following successive territorial concessions. The present situation in Gaza, with its simmering chaos and the rocket attacks against Israel, is a corroborating proof of the Palestinian strategy.
President Carter would make us believe that “the nation of Israel was founded [by] U.N. Security Council resolutions.” This assertion is simply astounding. Like many of his Arab supporters, President Carter’s historical horizon seems to be conveniently limited to 1967 or, at best, to 1948. It is hard to believe that a former world leader of this stature would be so ignorant of history.
For President Carter, any partial withdrawal from the “West Bank” is tantamount to “confiscation and colonization.” Of course, having established at the outset that “Palestine’s internationally recognized boundaries” would be violated by such a partial withdrawal, why is he talking about “colonization” – like the Belgians in Congo, the British in India, or the French in Indochina? How could anyone expect truth resulting from a wrong premise? I cannot understand how President Carter can lower himself to the same scurrilous abyss as Israel’s worst detractors.
The proposal put forward by President Carter is to engage in “good-faith negotiations” with Mahmud Abbas, even though the “recently elected Hamas legislators will never recognize nor negotiate with Israel while Palestinian land is being occupied.”
Negotiating in “good-faith” with a democratically elected terrorist government that is neither prepared to “recognize” Israel nor to “negotiate” with it? Only in President Carter’s mind can such a contradiction in terms thrive. And he then tells us that Hamas would be prepared to “recognize and negotiate” when “Palestinian land is no longer occupied”. What is there to negotiate, then?
President Carter apparently never reads the Arab press. Less than a month ago, Moussa Abu Marzuk, deputy-head of Hamas declared:
“One of Hamas’ founding principles is that it does not recognize Israel. We [participated in] the elections and the people voted for us based on this platform. Therefore, the question of recognizing Israel is definitely not on the table unless it withdraws from ALL the Palestinian lands, not only to the 1967 borders.”
The will of the Palestinian people who elected Hamas is clear; Hamas’ objectives are clear; their statements in Arabic are clear; their actions on the ground are clear; only President Carter is deluded, consciously or not.
Deluded, indeed, when he assures us that “a substantial number of Israeli settlers [could be] undisturbed on Palestinian land.” The last time “settlers” (read “Jews”, since illegal Arab settlers in far greater numbers are never mentioned) were living in so-called “Palestinian land” was before 1948, and they were certainly not undisturbed. Up to 1967, every Jew living there had been either murdered or expelled. Even their graves were not left undisturbed. Why should we expect anything different now or in the foreseeable future? It is also interesting to note how this statement squarely contradicts his own earlier warning against “settlers” at the Herzliya Conference (see above).
In his closing remarks, President Carter ominously parrots a well known piece of Arab propaganda. The Israeli-Palestinian situation, he tells us, is“one of the major causes of international terrorism…that could precipitate a regional or even global conflict.”
In that, he is unison with Amr Moussa, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Noam Chomsky and other luminaries of the far left, not to mention those enlightened Europeans who believe that Israel is the predominant threat to world peace, as shown in a 2003 poll. But the onus is on President Carter to demonstrate that Israel is directly or indirectly responsible for the Islamic terrorism that has been rampant for the past decade. Let us not forget: Paris subway, 1995; Nairobi and Dar-es-Salam U.S. embassies, 1998; Manhattan Twin Towers, 2001; Bali nightclub, 2002; Istanbul synagogues, 2003; Riyadh western compound, 2003; Casablanca hotel and Spanish club, 2003; Madrid train, 2004; London subway, 2005; Iraq kidnappings, beheadings and internecine bloodshed since 2003; Amman wedding party, 2005, and the multiple bombings and bloody terror attacks in India.
Blaming Israel for these events certainly takes a twisted mind intent on perverting reality in a most despicable way.
President Carter’s many interventions in the world scene since the end of his presidency have not been free of controversy. He has been often criticized by both sides of the political spectrum. But on the Arab-Israeli conflict his positions have been routinely against Israel for the past few years and in favor of its enemies, in spite of glaring evidence.
(Thanks to Salomon Benzimra for his contribution to this article.)