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Tuesday, January 23, 2007


The latest attack on Jimmy Carter

There have been numerous attacks on Jimmy Carter's new book, Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid. The latest, by Deborah Lipstadt, appeared in the Washington Post on Saturday, but I only read it today when it appeared in my local paper, the San Jose Mercury News. Lipstadt's main criticism seems to be that Carter didn't discuss the Holocaust sufficiently. Anyway, there's lots one could say about her article (and other criticisms which have preceded it), but here's what I chose to say in a letter to the Post and the Mercury News (I've added a couple hyperlinks which were not in the letter):
Deborah Lipstadt accuses Jimmy Carter of invoking an "anti-Semitic canard" by claiming it is "political suicide" for a politician to advocate a "balanced position" on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. This is a rather curious claim considering the torrent of criticism unleashed on Carter, a retired politician. But we don't have to imagine what would happen if Carter were running for office. We need only remember Cynthia McKinney, one of the small handful of Congresspeople ever to voice support for the Palestinian people, defeated in 2002 in a campaign in which Jewish groups from all over the country contributed nearly half of the money to her primary opponent. Jewish groups also took credit for the defeat of "anti-Israel" Rep. Earl Hilliard that same year.

"Anti-Semitic canard" ("false or baseless")? Or fact that supporters of Israel like Lipstadt wish to browbeat others into denying?

Lipstadt also takes Carter to task for "bemoaning" the "tremendous intimidation in our country" on this topic, citing Carter's appearances on various shows in support of his book. The fact that years of absence in the mainstream media of any voice similar to Carter's (much less a more radical voice) seems to have escaped Lipstadt's attention. Just a few months ago, for example, another important book was published on this subject, a book entitled "One Country" by Ali Abunimah, the editor of the website Electronic Intifada. Outside of C-SPAN's "Book TV," no prominent U.S. newspaper has yet reviewed Abunimah's book, nor has he appeared on any other talk shows to discuss his unique and informed perspective.

Other books favorable to the Palestinian cause have met similar fates. Only the prominence of a Jimmy Carter could break through the intimidation that Lipstadt wants to deny exists. It's unfortunate that the Washington Post has contributed to that intimidation by publishing this baseless attack on a courageous man.

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