Jimmy Carter has written a new book, called A Full Life. The Israel Palestine issue is coming up of course in press coverage, with the usual talk about Carter’s title for his 2006 book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. Carter has defended his use of the term by pointing out that Palestinians have no rights. And press coverage has been surprisingly favorable to Carter.
Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times today tries, a little bit anyway, to remove the smear of Carter:
The press and chattering class have often been merciless to Carter. Early on, cartoons mocked him as a country rube using an outhouse or associating with pigs, writers pilloried him as a sanctimonious hick, and in recent years it has been common to hear that he’s anti-Israel or anti-Semitic (This about the man whose Camp David accord ensured Israel’s future!).Now that Carter is 90 and has been an ex-president longer than anyone in history, it’s time to correct the record.Now that Carter is 90 and has been an ex-president longer than anyone in history, it’s time to correct the record.
Brian Lehrer interviewed Carter on WNYC two days ago and was very positive toward the former president, given the New York audience. “Even if you don’t agree with all of President Carter’s views, like on Israel or whatever, he is been admirable… in the way he has used his post presidency for good all over the world the way he sees it.”
During the interview, Lehrer asked Carter why the response to the Palestine book was so “painful…. Were you surprised that such a title would bring condemnation?”
I really was because i was very careful not to mention Israel. And the rest of the title said, Peace Not Apartheid…. and I’ve always regretted very deeply the alienation of some of my previous supporters in America and some of the folks in Israel that appreciates that I brought them peace with Egypt, but the use of the word apartheid was I think distorted and to my grievance.
So you’d write the same book again, with a different title, Lehrer asked. Carter:
Ahh– I probably would if I had to do it over again. I would make it more clear. I’m willing to point out, If we did have peace and justice for the Palestinians, there would be no need for apartheid or depriving the Palestinians of a full citizenship rights within their own government.
Lehrer jumped in to say that Hamas has rejected Israeli offers, and Israelis would say Hamas is opposed to Israel’s existence, committed to its destruction. Carter pointed out there is plenty of blame to go around, but he stressed Israel’s responsibility. Carter:
I think though now that the Netanyahu government, particularly the newly reconstituted government, since he was reelected, has rejected a two state solution completely. And every nation on earth so far as I know supports the two state solution, including the United States and the United Nations and so forth, except Israel. So I think that has been the final nail in the coffin, at least for the time being. And because of the Israelis’ rejection of a two state solution, the United States has basically withdrawn for the first time in modern history from the role of an interlocutor or mediator.