Wednesday, May 31, 2006

carter out of touch on israel

Former President Jimmy Carter recently lashed out against Israel in USA Today. A former Carter employee, Ira Forman responded in Washington Jewish Week calling Carter's erroneous claims detrimental to Israel's and his own image.
Carter has long been known for his one-sided reading of the Arab-Israeli conflict. But even by Jimmy Carter’s standards, this article is breathtaking in its willingness to ignore facts, bend reality and invent history to fit a twisted analysis of the conflict.

He describes Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s unilateral withdrawal plan as one “which would take about half of the Palestinian West Bank and encapsulates the urban areas within a huge concrete wall ... .”

Where does he get this stuff? Olmert’s government has not produced any definitive unilateral withdrawal plan. However, every report of possible plans assumes that if there continues to be no Palestinian peace partner, then Israel will withdraw its population behind the security fence — taking in about 8 percent of the West Bank.

Moreover, it is astonishingly disingenuous to talk about concrete wall encapsulating Palestinian urban areas. Of the seven cities that the Palestinian Authority lists as having more than 100,000 people, only in Jerusalem will concrete barriers run through the middle of urbanized land.
The National Jewish Democratic Council points out that the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, still fervently supports Israel's endeavour. Pelosi and the majority of the Democrats continue to maintain voting records supportive of Israel. The Republicans tend to support Israel, as well. Rep. Pelosi spoke before Congress after Prime Minister Olmert addressed a joint session and spoke in favor of Israel.

We just heard on the floor of the House a speech that was a triumph of hope, optimism, and peace. Mr. Prime Minister, it was sad for us to hear you reflect upon Prime Minister Sharon - our thoughts and prayers are with him; our hopes and dreams are with you.

And those dreams as you say are not enough. We have to work to make the future better and to continue with what Israel strives for. Many of us believe that in the 20th century, many bad things have happened, but one of the great ones, a shining moment, was the establishment of the state of Israel. In recognizing the state of Israel immediately, President Truman not only identified our country with yours, he brought luster to our great country as well.

This is a commitment of values, a commonality of interests in terms of peace and democracy. You are a friend in the region, and a friend to the world. The cooperation that you spoke of, the hope, not hate, that you strive for, is a mission that we all share.

In a nutshell, President Carter doesn't know what he's talking about on this issue. In other ares, he may be an expert, but his claims about Israel hold no water. Ira Forman is the executive director of the NJDC and served as field director for the 1976 Carter-Mondale campaign in Ohio. Forman admits that Carter is a reputable individual with flawed views on Israel.

As someone who once worked for Jimmy Carter, it brings me no pleasure to criticize the former president. His commitment to such praiseworthy projects as Habitat for Humanity brings much credit to his post-White House years. No one disputes his right to criticize Israel. Few pro-Israel activists will argue that Israel is always right.

President Carter unfairly damages Israel's worldwide image when he resorts to distortions and falsehoods about her actions. He damages any realistic prospects for reviving the peace process when he ignores the deeply dysfunctional nature of Hamas ideology and policies. But perhaps the most tragic outcome of his charges is the damage it does to his own reputation and legacy.

President Carter should continue in his great works that have established his reputation as a fantastic post-presidency president. Unfortunately, he is not really known as the go-to guy for foreign policy and it looks as if it needs to stay that way.

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