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Jimmy Carter believed he lost a second term because he opposed settlements, alienating Jews — Eizenstat

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When George H.W. Bush died last year, we revisited the idea that he was a one-term president in part because he vigorously took on the Israel lobby over settlements in 1991, and paid a price. Even Tom Friedman said that was the political lesson of the Bush presidency for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, neither of whom did much to oppose settlements.

And everyone knows that settlements bedeviled the Obama presidency. “It is time for these settlements to stop,” Obama declared in Cairo, till he faced reelection, and reversed course two years later under pressure from Netanyahu and Jewish organizations, and vetoed a settlements resolution at the U.N. And then he reversed course again– and in one of the last acts of his presidency, Obama allowed an anti-settlements resolution to go through in December 2016 (a move that Donald Trump sought to undermine by reaching out to the Russians).

What I did not know till I read the new book, “Jimmy Carter, The White House Years,” by his former top domestic policy adviser Stuart Eizenstat, is that Israeli settlements also bedeviled the Carter administration. From the beginning of his presidency in 1977, Jimmy Carter determined that the settlements were an obstacle to peace because they stood in the way of a Palestinian homeland, which he wished to help establish in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Carter and his secretary of state Cyrus Vance and national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski repeatedly hammered the Israeli government to end Jewish colonization or at least freeze it.

Carter failed miserably in this aim, overwhelmed by a new force he had not accurately reckoned: American Jewish organizations. “I will commit suicide before I abandon Israel,” Carter promised Jewish congressmen when they met with him to express concern about his policy. But Carter could not abandon a parallel commitment to Palestine; and Eizenstat says that Carter believes that taking on Israel and its American lobby cost him his job.

“From the New York primary [in March 1980] onward, I believe Carter was left with the view that New York Jews had not only defeated him in the primary but were also a factor in his loss in November,” Eizenstat writes.

As Eizenstat states bluntly, Israel relies on the lobby as a sort of foreign ministry, a relationship “unique in the annals of diplomacy.” And other politicians heeded Carter’s experience:

It is even clearer in the decades since, that progress on these same intractable issues with which Carter was struggling forty years ago can come only with a president willing to take enormous domestic political heat and plow ahead. None have done so since with the same combination of his grit and determination—indeed, perhaps because of the political wounds he suffered.

The story of Carter’s repeated and bitter clashes with Israel and its American Jewish lobby is told with meticulous care by the Washington lawyer. And Eizenstat cannot be impeached because he is himself part of the lobby. He served as Hillary Clinton’s liaison to the Jewish community during her 2016 campaign, and after meeting with Netanyahu, per Wikileaked emails, he pressed Clinton to promise that she would welcome Netanyahu soon after she took office so as to repair the damage Obama had done, and conveyed to the campaign Netanyahu’s advice on fighting boycott (“Attack, attack, attack”).

His book came out last April but has gotten no attention for these revelations. Just as the running theme of Ben Rhodes’s White House foreign policy memoir has been ignored: Obama fought the lobby at every turn, to the point of anguish that he was being called an anti-semite for pushing the Iran deal: “Come on… This is aggravating… This isn’t about anti-Semitism… They’re trying to take away our best argument, that it’s this or war.”

Last month in the New York Times, Michelle Alexander wrote that the Israel lobby’s power is “well-documented.” Maybe it is: but only in books like this and transgressive websites. If the mainstream reported on Eizenstat’s book, they would be forced to acknowledge that for 50 years the Israel lobby has nullified American policy on an important Middle East issue, Israeli colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, thus destroying the possibility of a two state solution. The occupation is an American Jewish achievement.

Stuart Eizenstat, on German television in 2013

The greatest service I can provide is to pass along Eizenstat’s narrative in depth.


I. The Jewish Community Becomes Alarmed in the First Months of Carter’s Presidency When He Speaks of a Palestinian Homeland

Throughout his presidency Carter had greater sympathy for the Palestinians than the Israelis for the same reason that he expressed sympathy for them in his famous 2006 book: they are the victims. The political outsider and former peanut farmer and Navy officer appeared to like his Arab interlocutors, such as Anwar Sadat, more than Israeli ones, such as Moshe Dayan and Menachem Begin, and he was capable of Biblical commentary about Christ’s killing that left Jews cold.

Eizenstat, a religious Jew and Atlanta lawyer, had signed on to Carter’s campaign and helped him to articulate positions on Israel that would gain him support and funding from the Jewish community. He writes that Carter flipflopped on those promises. After reading a Brookings Institution report on Israel and Palestine that urged a return by Israel to the ’67 borders and political sovereignty for the Palestinians either in a state or as part of Jordan, in exchange for Israel’s recognition by Arab countries, Carter bought into these findings “whole and entire,” even if such plans had to be imposed on the Israelis, Eizenstat says– although these stances “could not have been more different from the campaign positions I had helped craft for him as a candidate.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski

Carter also bought into Brzezinski’s realist view that the Palestinian problem was hurting the U.S. “[T]he conventional wisdom of American experts on the Middle East was that the central problem of the region was the relations between Israel and the Palestinians, and by extension that normalizing them would resolve many of the region’s disputes.”

But Carter underestimated the power of the Jewish community. In the ’70s, Jews overcame anti-Semitic discrimination to assume roles in the U.S. power structure; and the 1967 and 1973 wars galvanized American Jews on Israel’s behalf; and the result was that the Israel lobby emerged as an important factor in politics. When the president criticized the Israeli settlements, the lobby swung into action and often echoed Israeli government talking points.

Eizenstat writes that the lobby exercised its power chiefly through the Congress, and serves as a kind of foreign ministry.

[There is a] special triangular relationship among Israel, the America Jewish leadership and the Congress… effectively applying pressure on the presidency to modify U.S. policy to Israel’s benefit. This is unique in the annals of diplomacy. There are other countries, such as Britain, that have a favored relationship with the United States but exert their influence through traditional diplomacy rather than relying heavily on a domestic American constituency and lobbying Congress. For a vulnerable, small country like Israel, surrounded by enemies, perfecting this unusual brand of political diplomacy was essential. While it existed to a limited degree before the Carter administration, it was honed to much greater use during our term in office. Since then it has only grown in dimension and intensity to be one of Washington’s most effective lobbies.

“Carter was to discover this through painful experience,” Eizenstat states.

One delusion the White House had was that because Israel had elected a rightwing Prime Minister in May 1977 — Menachem Begin — Carter would be able to “mobilize on behalf of a settlement a significant portion of the American Jewish community,” as Brzezinski put it.

Eizenstat flatly informed Brzezinski he was wrong: “Jewish groups would rally to Begin’s views as a demonstration of their unyielding support for Israel.”

And Eizenstat was right:

“[S]oon enough the administration’s positions would unite the American Jewish leadership behind Begin.”

Eizenstat says that the White House did not appreciate that American Jews had come to feel that loyalty to Israel was a proof of Jewish identity– and vicarious power.

What Carter and Brzezinski did not fully understand was that support for any incumbent Israeli government was the ultimate litmus test of Jewish identity for mainstream Jewish leaders. It remains so, even when sorely tried by Israeli politicians. Many leading American Jews fear that publicly undercutting Israel’s leaders would weaken Israel itself and impair their own ties to the Jewish homeland and the Israeli leadership, which is a symbol of their clout.

Still, Carter stuck by his principles, an “unscripted commitment to a Palestinian homeland.”

In June 1977, Morris Amitay, the head of AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), met with Eizenstat; Carter’s top political aide, Ham Jordan; and Carter’s liaison to the Jewish community, Mark Siegel. Jordan later typed out a long memo on the “Jewish lobby” to Carter, locking the only copy in his office safe.

Jordan wanted to take the president’s head “out of the clouds” and demonstrate to his boss the political impact of his policy. “Ham began by pointing out that American Jews vote in greater proportion to their size than any other group; they are predominantly Democratic and have remained so despite economic and educational advances that traditionally lead other groups to change parties. And in key states like New York, the influence of Jews in primaries is often decisive,” Eizenstat related.

Hamilton Jordan and Jimmy Carter in the White House.

Jordan went on to point out that Jews were financially very generous: “70 of the 125 members of the Democratic National Council were Jews who constituted more than 60 percent of the large donors to the Democratic Party.” The 2006 book “The Israel Lobby” by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer contains other crucial details from the Jordan memo: Over 60 percent of Nixon’s 1972 campaign funds came from Jewish donors, as well as over 75 percent of Humphrey’s 1968 campaign funds and 90 percent of (neoconservative) Scoop Jackson’s 1976 primary campaign funds. And even though Carter had been a long shot, about 35 percent of his primary funds were from Jewish donors.

Then Jordan “described the importance of AIPAC” — “a strong but paranoid lobby,” Jordan wrote, “concentrating the political force of all major Jewish organizations on Congress in defense of Israeli interests.”

“Their collective mobilizing ability is unsurpassed in terms of the quality and quantity of political communications that can be triggered on specific issues perceived to be critical to Israel [and without a] political counterforce that opposes the specific goals of the Jewish lobby.” He also ranked the one hundred members of the Senate according to their support for Israel—only three were “generally negative.”

You will notice that there is not a word here about Christian Zionists. They are not a factor on the Democratic side– weren’t then, aren’t now.

Jordan also told Carter he had used words like “homeland for the Palestinians” without “reassuring elaborations.”

“The cumulative effect of your statements on the Middle East and the various bilateral meetings with the heads of state has been generally pleasing to the Arabs and displeasing to the Israelis and the American Jewish community.”

Carter accepted Jordan’s Rx: to do outreach to the Jewish press and Congress and Jewish leaders.

“The problem was that the policy did not change, and there was no real effort to take into account American Jewish concerns,” Eizenstat says. “I sensed that Brzezinski, Vance, and to a degree Carter himself saw domestic outreach as a nuisance, and felt that foreign policy in general, and the Middle East in particular, should be insulated from domestic politics. … And the president’s lack of political sensitivity was sometimes breathtaking.”

Israeli leaders were able to rally and script American Jews. Begin’s emissary and former Irgun comrade Shmuel Katz came to the States and in a meeting with Reform Jewish leaders said that the pressure to leave the West Bank was a recipe for war and: “We are confident that the Jewish community in America will stand out courageously and challenge its government if it becomes necessary.”

Eizenstat says, “he was right.”


II. Mondale Tries to Put on the Brakes

Even as some in the administration, including the politically-sensitive vice president, Walter Mondale, “tried to calm the Jewish community, it was not clear that the president had fully internalized the domestic political dangers,” Eizenstat writes.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale

Mondale called Eizenstat to his office in June 1977. Unlike Vance, Carter and Brzezinski, “the vice president believed that foreign policy and domestic politics could not be separated, because the former required support of the latter to be effective.” Mondale poured out his frustrations, Eizenstat writes. “Stu, we will be in bad shape politically if he gets on the outs with the Jewish community, which is about to blow up over the president’s positions on Israel.”

Mondale felt Carter “hadn’t brought along the Jewish community.”

But Carter didn’t see it the same way. In a prefiguring of George H.W. Bush’s 1991 complaint that he was one lonely guy taking on 1000 lobbyists over settlements, Carter was “angered by what he saw as the Jewish leadership’s ‘irrational lobbying.’”

Eizenstat then tried to get a letter signed by senators supporting Carter. But that died “after Humphrey withdrew as a signatory to the proposed letter; AIPAC’s lobbying had succeeded.”

Jordan was panicked. “[W]e have galvanized public opinion in Israel against us and – I am afraid—alienated in a permanent way the American Jewish community.”

And all of this just through declarations of policy! The fear was that the United States was trying to impose a plan that would force Israel back to its 1967 boundaries to create a separate state for the Palestinians on the West Bank.


III. Carter Blindsides Israel by Announcing an International Peace Conference to Give Palestinians a Voice.

In July 1977, the White House convened an important meeting with Jewish leaders, about 50 from across the nation, led by Rabbi Alex Shindler of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Mondale, Vance, and Brzezinski sought to assure the leaders that nothing would be imposed on Israel.

“The Jewish leaders responded by accusing us of being too lax in our definition of peace with the Arabs… Mondale retorted with great conviction that the administration did not expect Israel to withdraw from the territories it acquired in the 1967 war without assurances of real peace. … Shindler remained unpersuaded and complained that Israel had little room for negotiation.”

Carter came in for the second hour of the gathering so as to “assuage the apprehensions that he was working against Israel’s interests.” He said he would work with Begin, work to strengthen Israel’s esteem for Begin, and promised that he would not dictate a plan.

“But in words no other president has used before or since, he described the problems of the Palestinians as ‘a cancer which needs to be healed. They need a home and a redress of wrongs.’”

Shindler was dubious. “[Your] words are not perceived as you intended them to be… We are nervous; this leads to a toughening of the Israeli backbone.”

The Jewish leaders were followed that month by Begin himself, on his first visit to the U.S. as prime minister. Meeting Carter and other officials in the Cabinet Room, he “launched into a historical tutorial unlike anything that any Israeli leader had given to a U.S. president. It was a detailed history of grievances.”

Shades of Netanyahu lecturing Obama 34 years later, Begin went on for a half hour, pulling out a map of the country to show the “perilous geography” and lecturing about European discrimination against Jews, the British conduct in Palestine, Arab attacks, and the heroic defense by Israelis “as if he were addressing a class of uneducated students.”

Carter cited UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) as the basis for negotiation. He saw them as a path to a Palestinian homeland linked to Jordan “rather than … an independent state.” He sought Israeli withdrawal from West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan “with minor modifications,” conditioned by security not settlements.

But Begin dug his heels in on the idea of leaving the West Bank. Eizenstat says Carter was prescient in “bluntly telling Begin: ‘New settlements on the West Bank might prevent the peace conference itself, as it will foreclose negotiations in the future.’”

Begin cited Jabotinsky. “We cannot prevent Jews from building on land in the original land of Israel of the Bible.”

Carter begged for a freeze as a sign of good faith. But Begin refused.

The encounter left Carter annoyed and exasperated. He spoke to Eizenstat in August 1977 and said of Israelis: “They do not want peace.” He also said that Israel had “misled” him on relations with South Africa and the nuclear program, a collaboration that he knew from “intelligence data.” That alliance has since been amply documented.

The president continued to butt heads with Israeli officials over the coming months. Carter wanted to give Palestinians “a voice in their own future.” But Israelis were deadset against such a thing. Ambassador Ephraim “Eppie” Evron and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan met Carter and didn’t like him. Evron commented on his “very artificial smile.” Dayan rejected Carter’s plans “as possibly leading to an independent Palestinian state.”

The Israelis cited several private written commitments by previous administrations to Israel, including a promise by Nixon to Golda Meir in 1970 that there would be no Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories till there was total peace with Arab countries and Nixon and Gerald Ford assuring Israel that it would get “advance consultations” before the US made “any major decision.”

Then on October 1, 1977, the U.S. blindsided Israel. The White House and the Soviet Union announced a Geneva conference on the Middle East with the obvious intention of declaring a superpowers’ plan for peace.

Some staff rebelled. Jordan was enraged. Mark Siegel almost swerved off the road he was so shocked to hear the news.

“[A] firestorm arose, orchestrated by Dayan. The American Jewish leadership went into open war against the president in ways rarely seen before or since…. The casus belli was not just the lack of prior consultation with Israel but an elevation of the interest of the Palestinians into ‘legitimate rights’…”

The Conference of Presidents sent a telegram to Vance decrying “an abandonment of America’s historic commitment to the security and survival of Israel.” While AIPAC warned that “the U.S. is devaluing commitments to Israel” and it organized a letter writing offensive in Congress.

Mark Siegel told Eizenstat in an interview that the announcement drove “Jimmy Carter’s stock in the American Jewish community substantially below any U.S. president since the creation of the state of Israel, and I’m including… Eisenhower’s stock.” He reminded Jordan of the number of states Carter won with strong Jewish support and concluded, “The talk in the American Jewish community is getting very ugly. The word ‘betrayal’ is being used more and more.”

Carter did not understand the reaction. He had a meeting with two Jewish aides, Eizenstat and White House counsel Bob Lipshutz, to ask why Jews were so upset. Eizenstat said he shared the concern that Palestinian participation in the conference “could be seen as a precursor to an independent Palestinian state on Israel’s border.”

Carter had to meet with Jewish congressmen on October 6. He said he should have briefed Congress in advance but said, “I will commit suicide before I abandon Israel.”


IV. A Superpower Caves to a Small State

“What happened next represented an embarrassing U-turn by the president,” Eizenstat writes. “One of the world’s two superpowers bowed to unprecedented domestic pressure reflecting the views and interests of a small state that was dependent upon the United States for military, political, and diplomatic support. This reflects the unusual relationship that existed for decades and continues today between the world’s strongest democracy and one of its smallest, if sturdiest, dependent states, and we were about to get a painful demonstration of how that worked.”

Ed Koch in 1983, at left, shaking hand of some joker. Woman at right is Ivana Trump.

On October 4, Carter went to the UN Plaza Hotel and was “ambushed at the helipad” by Ed Koch, then a congressman, soon to become New York’s mayor, angrily protesting the joint declaration. Carter then went to an all-night negotiation at the presidential suite of the hotel with Vance, Brzezinski, and Dayan. As the president walked in, Dayan  said, “I think you have a problem on your hands, Mr. President. And I can perhaps help you out with it.” (As the policy aide/scholar William Quandt later told Eizenstat.)

Carter said, “What do you mean?”

Dayan said, “Well, obviously many people are upset by the October 1 statement. Many of our friends are upset by it…’” . But if they were to release a statement amending the original statement, “[I think] that I could help you politically.”

Moshe Dayan

Eizenstat is honest about what hubris Dayan’s comments represented.

This was an amazing intrusion into domestic politics by a foreign minister, even from a friendly country. But it had clearly been based on Israel’s assiduous cultivation of American Jewish groups and Congress, and left no doubt how closely Middle East policy is intertwined with domestic politics…

It is difficult to imagine the foreign minister of any country being as blunt to the leader of its major benefactor, and the president bristled at this threat. He said Israel’s case could be damaged in the U.S. by such actions, leaving Israel “isolated” and would “cause a cleavage that might be serious.”

Carter said Israel was “by far the most obstinate and difficult” of countries the U.S. had to deal with in the Middle East. Still: “Dayan did not yield.”

But early the next morning, Dayan got his wish. Jody Powell released a statement on behalf of Carter and Dayan saying UN Security Council Resolutions 338 and 242 remained the basis for resumption of the Geneva conference “and that all the understandings and agreements” between the US and Israel remained in force; we won’t do anything without consulting you.

“[T]he fact remained that the president of the United States had reversed himself under intense pressure, hurting his credibility with both Israel and the Arab states… “

Eizenstat reflects that Carter had had to “tie himself into knots to reassure Jewish members of Congress.” Including that suicide comment. “Nevertheless we knew we were in deep political trouble.” Jordan was in despair over the “deteriorating relationship with the Jewish community,” and Mondale blasted Brzezinski’s role.

Carter compounded the problem when he sought to support an Egyptian resolution in the UN General Assembly condemning settlements as an obstacle to peace. Ham Jordan and Mondale were against it “on the basis of domestic politics.” Several aides “weighed in against the public condemnation of Israel” in a meeting with Carter in late October, proposing an abstention. Eizenstat says that the only vote against Israel at the UN by the US was during the ‘56 invasion. But Carter wanted to do so again:

“The president was so adamant that they were illegal, and so determined to show Egypt and the Arab world that he was not in Israel’s pocket, that he was willing to take the political heat at home and risk further straining relations with Israel.”

That, says Eizenstat, was the quintessential Jimmy Carter, wanting to do the right thing no matter what. But ultimately the aides prevailed. The U.S. abstained.


V. Even Alan Dershowitz Fears the Consequences of the Lobby’s Over-Reach

The biggest foreign policy achievement of the Carter administration was the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt signed in 1979. As Egyptian President Anwar Sadat launched that process with gestures toward Israel, and at last flew to the country in November 1977, Carter insisted that Palestinian autonomy must be part of a deal.

Menachem Begin’s vision of Palestinian autonomy “involved a kind of amputated Palestinian entity,” Sadat’s minister of state Boutros Boutros-Ghali wrote of initial meetings between the Egyptian and Israeli leaders. Walter Mondale cracked that you couldn’t even sell that in D.C. to people who sought home rule. But forty years later, of course, Israeli leaders are still talking about amputated Palestine and American leaders take them seriously.

What never changed in the administration, Eizenstat observes, was Carter’s “willingness to stake out positions that opposed Israeli policies.” Carter assured Sadat he favored Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories “completely” “with minor adjustments” and “self determination of the Palestinians short of an independent nation.”

In January 1978, Carter sent Begin a strong message criticizing settlement expansion as “an obstacle to peace.” And later that year when he gave a speech to the Jewish community to assure them of his commitment to Israel’s security and “opposition to a Palestinian state,” Eizenstat writes, the speech only created trouble when Carter referred to the “legitimate rights” of the Palestinians.

Sadat was willing to compromise and thereby help Carter with American Jews. The president wrote in his White House diaries that when he met Sadat at Camp David in February 1978, Sadat said he had “decided in one fell swoop to accomplish all these Israeli desires and get the U.S. Jew lobby (as he referred to it) off my shoulders.”

But Begin didn’t budge. He didn’t have to; he had the lobby. Compromise by Begin, Eizenstat says, “was made even more difficult by Israeli pressure that was exerted through American Jewish leaders.”

The administration sent repeated messages to the Israelis that they should stop settlements. Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz quoted Brzezinski in a cable back to Israel: “ISRAEL SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO GET AWAY WITH IT.”

Eizenstat relates that there “probably has not been a more confrontational meeting” between friends as the one in the Cabinet Room on March 22, 1978 at which Carter, Mondale, Brzezinski, Vance and Eizenstat met with Begin, Dayan, and Dinitz.

Carter said Israel was refusing to adhere to 242. And the U.S. sought “a voice for the Palestinians in their political future.” In a pointed echo of the Arab League’s three No’s in Khartoum in 1967, Carter cited Israel’s six No’s, all involving the refusal to countenance Palestinian self government and a halt to settlements.

Begin countered, “We won’t agree to halt settlements during the negotiations, we have the right to settle there.”

Alan Dershowitz

Amazingly, even Alan Dershowitz was alarmed by the Israeli stiffneckedness and the American Jewish support. He called Eizenstat and warned, “We’re creating the wrong [American] Jewish leadership, who are knee-jerk for whatever the government of Israel does.”

The mistrust was building, Eizenstat writes:

I explained to Carter that American Jews’ nervousness about our Middle East policy was rooted in the bitter memory of American inaction while millions of Eastern European Jews were murdered during World War II, and he made it clear that he understood. But it was also difficult for American Jews to  understand Carter’s strategy of enhancing Israel’s security by trying to build bridges to moderate Arabs and the Palestinians.

P.S. It was during his visit with Begin that Carter announced a commission to establish an American memorial to the Holocaust.


VI. Camp David Accords Between Egypt and Israel Leave Palestinians Out in the Cold

At this time, the Carter administration further alienated American Jews by having a pitched battle with AIPAC over selling fighter jets to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Siegel quit over the F15 fighter sales, while the good cop in the administration, Fritz Mondale, went to Jerusalem at the end of June 1978 with US Jewish leaders, shmoozing them on the flight by serving lox, bagels and blintzes.

In a story that would anticipate Obama’s struggles with the American Jewish community, the LA Times reported that Carter’s policies were “having a corrosive impact on American Jewish opinion… A prominent Jewish businessman and campaign supporter of the president warned the White House that unless conditions changed for the better by 1980, ‘Jewish resources would be used to support a challenge to the President’s nomination.’“ That happened to Carter, but not Obama.

Carter hired a former AIPAC president, Ed Sanders, as an adviser on the Middle East, and meantime put all his personal and political capital on the line to convene Camp David talks, out of a sense of personal obligation to Sadat. Carter feared another war, and Sadat had told Carter he would have to have a war “to bring the Israelis back to the negotiating table.”

Sadat was willing to compromise even on Jerusalem to get a deal. Begin wanted one city indivisible, the capital of Israel. Begin ultimately allowed the US to fudge, saying that the American position on Jerusalem remained the same as the one previously set forth by US ambassadors to the U.N. but without spelling that out. Though UN resolutions said Jerusalem was occupied territory.

Carter pressed forward for promises of Palestinian autonomy, including passports in the name of Palestine and elections about  the Palestinian future with all Palestinians voting from West Bank and abroad. Carter was encouraged by Vance, of whom Eizenstat said in contemporary notes, “Vance was very pro-Arab. Vance was impossible on this issue.” But other members of the administration stymied the president’s vision of autonomy. “It will be a disaster,” the vice president said.

Begin alienated Carter with what the president saw as bad faith. In draft language of the agreement, Palestinian “autonomy” was to be negotiated over 5 years and there was to be a settlement freeze during that period. But Begin ultimately interpreted the freeze as being for only 3 months— the period of negotiation for the Egyptian portion of the talks.

[T]he misunderstanding would sour the relationship between Begin and Carter for the balance of Carter’s term as president and, I believe, colored his relationship with Israel for the rest of his life…

“[H]e broke his promise,” Carter said.

Eizenstat acknowledges that Palestinians “were the biggest losers” of the accord. Egyptian officials rebelled over Sadat’s compromises, and one resigned; but Egyptian ambassador Abdel Raouf El Reedy told Eizenstat in a 2013 interview that Sadat washed his hands, saying: “[W]e have done for Palestine all that we could, but this problem will never be solved.”

Meantime, Israel demanded $3.3 billion from the U.S. to help it relocate  a military base from the Sinai to Israel. Eizsentat never saw Carter hit the table with fury as he saw him do so now. He said he would not “allow Israel to ‘buy peace’” and he felt Israel was trying to “extort money” from the U.S.


VII. Egyptians and Israelis Sign a Deal, as Begin Jokes About Blowing Up the King David Hotel.

Carter acknowledged that “we’ve done nothing but lose politically” by opposing settlements, but he continued to pressure Begin to the point that Begin feared “a total break with Washington” over the settlements and Palestinians.

Still, the Israeli government expanded settlements in the West Bank even as negotiations on an Egyptian accord continued.

“Israel’s West Bank settlements became the third rail of Middle East diplomacy. It is possible that Carter could have resolved the dispute if he had been elected to a second term, but he was not. Ronald Reagan did not engage himself in the Middle East.”

Carter then extended himself by going to Israel in March 1979. In a meeting in the Presidential Suite of the King David Hotel, Begin bragged to Carter about blowing it up in 1946. “I’ve always liked the King David Hotel. You know, I blew it up once, using explosives in milk canisters.” He enjoyed the joke, smiling as he concluded, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to do it again.”

The emerging deal with Egypt included an energy agreement giving Israel access to U.S. oil at market prices if Israel could not meet its demands in the international markets, “a pledge the United States had never made before  (or since) to any other country.” And Carter wanted to announce it before the election because “his Jewish support [was] lagging,” Eizenstat writes.

Protesters in Lafayette park chanted PLO, PLO, during the signing ceremony on March 26, 1979.

26 Mar 1979, Washington, D. C., USA — Egyptian President Anwar as-Sadat, US President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin shake hands at the signing of the Camp David accords, a peace treaty signed by Sadat and Begin. Washington, D. C., USA, March 16, 1979. — Image by © CORBIS

VIII. Carter Loses the 1980 Election.

Carter lost in a “landslide, in the process garnering only 40 percent of the Jewish vote, the lowest percentage of any Democratic president in modern times.” How did that happen? Carter seemed “somewhat alien to his Jewish supporters” and managed to have a “series of botched diplomatic decisions about U.N. resolutions on Israel” that made matters worse, Eizenstat writes.

There was also the controversy ending Andrew Young’s tenure as Carter’s ambassador to the U.N.

Andrew Young

Young had been elected to Congress in 1972. With Eizenstat’s help, Young had “developed a strong position on Israel that appealed to the influential Jewish community in Atlanta, and he carried this with him to Congress, where he compiled an impeccable pro-Israel voting record.”

But as ambassador Young held an informal meeting with Zehdi Labib Terzi, the PLO representative to the U.N. and a professor of English literature at Columbia, in the summer of 1979. He thereby “broke an official rule established by Henry Kissinger as secretary of state… agreeing with Israel that the United States would not negotiate with the PLO. Carter renewed this pledge during his election campaign to hold on to the Jewish vote, and Congress formalized and broadened the diplomatic ban in 1976.”

Eizenstat suggests that the Israelis leaked Young’s meeting. “No one knew better than Dayan how to rouse the anger of American Jewry” when it came to the Terzi meeting, Eizenstat says.

Young resigned and was replaced by Donald McHenry. And in March 1980 a Security Council resolution calling for the dismantling of settlements went through with U.S. support. “Vance and the president himself were looking for an opportunity to send a strong signal to Menachem Begin about the impact the expansion of settlements was having on talks about autonomy for the Palestinians.”

The White House believed all Jerusalem language was removed from that resolution, Eizenstat says; but it wasn’t. UN SC 465 contained numerous references to Jerusalem—and it was adopted three weeks before the New York Democratic primary.

The campaign staff in New York was in revolt, Mondale told Carter; workers were literally walking out of headquarters. “[Mondale] was livid and ‘discouraged,’ accurately forecasting it has ‘revived Kennedy’ and would cost Carter the New York primary…. Mondale was like a man possessed [saying,] ‘We’ve got a firestorm.'”

Carter disavowed the resolution, but Mondale blamed Vance, and Rosalynn Carter said Cy Vance had not a political bone in his body, for he testified to Congress and said that it was administration policy.

The damage was done. Previous to New York, President Carter had swept nine states across the Midwest and south and only lost Massachusetts. He had won Illinois, winning 70 percent of Jewish Democrats, and held a 20 percent lead over Kennedy in polls. It was reported that Kennedy was planning to withdraw after the New York primary. But: “In the primary we suffered massive Jewish defections.” And Kennedy won New York by 59 to 41 percent.

The opposition to settlements in a key UN vote had caused Carter’s alienation from the American Jewish establishment, Eizenstat says. “The howls of outrage from Israel, AIPAC and major American Jewish leaders reached their highest octave…. At a White House staff meeting on March 24, Carter complained, ‘The Jewish community has never given me a break, even when Begin is at the far extreme, and other Israelis agree with me.'”

Carter prevailed over Kennedy at the Democratic convention in New York; but in the general election Carter received “the lowest percentage of support from the American Jewish community of any modern Democratic presidential candidate” – 45 percent, down from 70 percent just 4 years before (Reagan and John Anderson split the remainder, 39/15).

Carter even paid for the historic peace treaty he had brokered between Israel and Egypt at Camp David. The president had “to push both sides, and the Jewish community didn’t like the fact that he had pushed Israel,” the president’s political guru the late Ham Jordan later said. Eizenstat writes:

“From the New York primary onward, I believe Carter was left with the view that New York Jews had not only defeated him in the primary but were also a factor in his loss in November. He was also hurt by bitter opposition over the U.N. vote from New York City’s egocentric Jewish mayor, Ed Koch, even after Carter had literally saved his city from bankruptcy.”

Ham Jordan said some of the opposition was cultural, a suspicion of Carter as a southern Baptist.

Begin also contributed to that dislike. “[A]lthough he spoke graciously about Carter from time to time, he continued making statements to try to rally the Jewish community to him in the peace process. Truly, no good deed goes unpunished.”


The Carter presidency is justly legendary. His devout push for Palestinian autonomy launched a two-state peace process that has failed for more than 40 years now (more than 70 going back to U.N. Partition), foiled by the Israeli government working with American Zionist leaders.

The lessons of Carter’s political downfall are with us to this day. He was in the White House during the arrival of the Israel lobby as a force in U.S. politics. The press’s willful ignorance of its power is of course a component of its effectiveness. Though that may at last be changing, witness Michelle Alexander’s piece in the New York Times saying that she was at last willing to suffer the career consequences of bucking the lobby.

Carter’s failure to obtain anything for Palestinians has been his cross to bear since he left office. He has acquitted that debt honorably. His statements on Palestinian conditions and the Palestinian future are noble, and earned his latter-day excommunication from the Democratic Party. The progressive base of the party and its young heroes are sure to honor him.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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82 Responses

  1. Ossinev on February 7, 2019, 1:21 pm

    “I’ve always liked the King David Hotel. You know, I blew it up once, using explosives in milk canisters.” He enjoyed the joke, smiling as he concluded, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to do it again.”

    Scumbag.All that respect for those who were massacred , those who were grievously injured and their grieving families – including Jews. Sums up the obscenity which is Zionism.

  2. Boomer on February 7, 2019, 6:01 pm

    Interesting. Thanks for this. In general terms, it’s nothing new or surprising, but the details are important and, at points, amazing, infuriating, tragic.

    On another recent development, I see that we will be paying out reparations relating to Jewish people deported from France during WWII. I wonder when Palestinian victims of the Nakba will receive reparations?

    Excerpt from news report:

    “The State Department announced on Wednesday that additional reparation payments would be made to victims of the Holocaust as part of its claims program covering in part Jewish people who were deported by France during World War II.

    “Within the next few days, all individuals whose claims were previously approved will receive a letter from the Department notifying them that they will receive an additional payment of 97 percent of their prior approved claim amount,” the State Department said. “This amount is based on the funds remaining for approved claims.”

    “While no payment can provide complete justice for all who were impacted by deportation from France, we hope those affected by one of history’s darkest eras will receive some additional relief from these further payments,” the U.S. government said. “The Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser, through its International Claims and Investment Disputes Office, has administered the Holocaust Deportation Claims Program since its inception.”

    • Jon66 on February 7, 2019, 7:24 pm

      “I see that we will be paying out reparations relating to Jewish people deported from France during WWII.”
      I didn’t know you were French. The US govt is distributing French funds.

    • affinity292 on May 19, 2019, 9:25 pm

      Bush Absolutely did not lose his second term chances because of Israel nor taking on the settlements. It was pretty well known at the time he lost it b/c he was seen as having “lost” to Saddam Hussein AND he had “No New Taxes” mantra followed by new taxes.

  3. Kay24 on February 7, 2019, 6:48 pm

    President Carter is the only brave ex- president who has been open in his criticism of the Zionist’s occupation, and very strong in his condemnation of the illegal settlements. No other president has had the courage to be so steadfast in his opposition to it. President Carter is a brave man.

    An article by Juan Cole showing exactly who should be afraid of caravans bringing terror and violence for the indigenous people. These evil people carry weapons too, unlike the asylum seekers who come to the US.

    • Marnie on February 8, 2019, 4:40 am

      President Carter had to have known this would end his political career and it did. I don’t think he was falling on his own sword as much as I think he was throwing down the gauntlet, perhaps in the hopes that politicians would find their spines and pick it up. It didn’t happen and in fact the opposite did. Washington became more entangled, willingingly or unwillingly, to forget the country and the people they were elected to serve and instead denigrate themselves in the service of the zionist state and its bloodthirsty god. I hope that President Carter will give his blessing, even silently, to Rep Ilhan Omar and Rep Rashida Tlaib in their heroic efforts to bring the people of Palestine to the people of the united states and to the koolaid drinking, adelson/AIPAC backed men and women on capital hill who are forever in my mind the whores of babylon, pimped by the racist muderous thug ‘state’ of israel.

    • Misterioso on February 8, 2019, 9:58 am

      @Kay 24, et al

      For the record re President Jimmy Carter:
      In accordance with the peace treaty it signed with Egypt in March 1979, Israel withdrew from the Sinai. However, as well as reneging on his promise of “full autonomy” for the Palestinians in the occupied territories, P.M. Begin ignored his pledge to U.S. President Carter during the 1978 Camp David Accords to cease the construction of illegal settlements in the occupied territories. They continued at an accelerated rate.

      Under the terms of the 1978 Camp David Accords Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin also agreed to comply with UNSC Resolution 242, which is based on the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention, i.e., “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war…”

      Regrettably, Israel reneged on its commitment. To quote President Carter: “When I became president, I immediately elevated my goals to bring a comprehensive peace to this land and I devoted a great deal of my efforts to the process. At that time there had been major wars here, four times in 25 years, between Israel and her neighbours. Egypt was the most formidable, so I negotiated between [Anwar] Sadat (former Egyptian president) and [Menachem] Begin (former Israeli Prime Minister) and concluded a treaty in April of 1979, which has never been violated. At the same time we orchestrated terms for the resolution of the plight of Palestinians in what was called the Camp David Accords. In that agreement, Begin, on behalf of the Israeli people, agreed to comply completely with United Nations Resolution 242. He agreed to the full withdrawal of all political and military Israeli forces from the West Bank and Gaza. This was presented to the Knesset and the members of the Knesset voted 85% to approve the Accords. Since then the situation has deteriorated.” (From the text of comments delivered by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on 10 January, 2005 at a meeting organized by the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). In short, Begin ignored his commitment to Carter to “comply completely with United Nations Resolution 242.”

      President Carter also stated the following at the 10 January 2005 meeting of the EAPP: “More recently, we’ve seen an abandonment of the fair and objective and balanced role of the U.S. government in the negotiations between Israel and her neighbours and sometimes enemies. Lately, in particular, our president [George W. Bush] has totally complied with the desires of the Israeli Prime Minister to the detriment of the Palestinians and the detriment of their hopes for the future.

      “I personally think that Yasser Arafat did the best he could for peace. Not many of my countrymen agree. I knew him quite well. He took a heroic action in the Oslo agreement for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. For the last 3 ½ years, as the elected President of the Palestinian people, he was kept in prison in disgrace and still expected to command the full authority of his people and he was held responsible for acts of violence.”

      NYT op-ed, Nov. 28/16 “Jimmy Carter: America Must Recognize Palestine”®ion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0

      • Jon66 on February 8, 2019, 11:01 am


        “In that agreement, Begin, on behalf of the Israeli people, agreed to comply completely with United Nations Resolution 242. “

        That is not what the accords actually said,
        “The negotiations shall be based on all the provisions and principles of UN Security Council Resolution 242. “

      • Talkback on February 8, 2019, 1:45 pm

        @ Jon66

        “That is not what the accords actually said, …”

        What’s the difference? Is this just another interpretation which is not in “good faith”? Like Israel’s false interpretation of the Geneva Conventions regarding its applicability?

      • Shingo on February 8, 2019, 4:11 pm

        That is not what the accords actually said,

        Israel had already accepted UNSC242 so you’re argument is moot

      • Jon66 on February 9, 2019, 9:35 am

        The point is that if Carter said that he is mistaken. If the quote was irrelevant to the argument then it shouldn’t have been used in the first place.

      • affinity292 on May 19, 2019, 9:27 pm

        UN SC Res 242 does NOT require settlements to stop NOR state that the land in question belongs to Palestinians. It is disputed. The authors of 242 have been very clear during the debates before the vote and since.
        Arab states wanted the wording changed to reflect the interpretation you suggest. But, the authors of 242 refused and said why, the land in question was illegally seized by Jordan and Egypt and before that had belonged to Ottoman empire. So, it belonged to no state until all parties peacefully negotiated final status borders.
        In fact, Palestinian attack on Israelis is a violation of 242 which requires peaceful negotiation.

  4. wdr on February 7, 2019, 7:06 pm

    Carter lost in 1980 for three reasons, none of which had anything to do with Israel. First, Americans were being held hostage by Shi’ite fanatics in Teheran for 444 days, with Carter utterly powerless to
    get them released. Your site blames Israel for his loss, but totally ignores the Iranian hostage crisis- one can draw one’s own conclusions about your biases. Secondly, the US economy under Carter was awful, with the US losing its economic lead to Japan, and “stagflation” at its worst. Carter, again, was totally unable to deal with this. Thirdly, Carter was running against Ronald Reagan, who would have defeated literally anyone he ran against, and was about as close to being an unbeatable politician as there has been in recent decades. Carter went back to the obscurity from which he emerged- he was a political mediocrity who was not suited to be President, and was a near-failure. Your site’s blaming of his Israel policies for his loss is nonsense.

    • Donald on February 7, 2019, 8:46 pm

      I agree the post is overstated. Your own biases are blatant and ridiculous, but it is true that Carter lost in a landslide because of stagflation, the Iranian hostage crisis and the idiotic charm of that halfwit Ronald Reagan. Carter’s clash with the Lobby played a role but well behind these other factors.

      Carter hardly went back to obscurity. That is your own absurdity coming out.

      • Jon66 on February 8, 2019, 8:32 am

        I think you dismiss Reagan too quickly. It is fashionable now to say that the demise of the Soviets was inevitable, but that was certainly not the consensus in 1980. Detente was the plan and Reagan was one of the few who realized that with the right strategy they could be defeated.

      • oldgeezer on February 8, 2019, 9:38 am

        “It is fashionable now to say that the demise of the Soviets was inevitable, but that was certainly not the consensus in 1980. ”

        I disagree totally. It was widely known that Russia was failing and disintegrating. Your consensus was nonexistant and the collapse foreseen

        While the US seems to exist in it’s own bubble Ronnie was generally a laughing stock around the world, like Bush II and Dump.


        Carter is one of the best known and most respected modern day US presidents. Probably second to Clinton although I would not personally put them in order.

        But obscure?? LOL…. not even close to being obscure.

        Glad to know that the criminal, even treasonous, activites of Iran/Contra didn’t have any impact.

      • Mooser on February 8, 2019, 12:03 pm

        ” Detente was the plan and Reagan was one of the few who realized that with the right strategy they could be defeated.”< "Jon66"

        As goes the Right, so goes the all-rightnik.

      • Shingo on February 8, 2019, 4:16 pm

        It is fashionable now to say that the demise of the Soviets was inevitable, but that was certainly not the consensus in 1980

        There’s consensus and then there is propaganda. It is well established that the Hawks and neocons in Washington hyped the military threat posed by the Soviet Union in order to ramp up spending and militarism. This was done for public consumption

      • RoHa on February 8, 2019, 11:19 pm

        “It is well established that the Hawks and neocons in Washington hyped the military threat posed by the Soviet Union”

        One ploy was to point out that, in Europe, the Soviets had twice as many divisions as NATO.

        They refrained from mentioning that a NATO division was twice the size of a Soviet division.

      • Jon66 on February 9, 2019, 9:39 am

        The Soviets did invade Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

      • RoHa on February 10, 2019, 12:57 am

        In 1956 and 1968. (With the assistance of troops from Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary in 1968.)

        Note that both countries were members of the Soviet bloc, and members of the Warsaw Pact. (The Hungarians tried to withdraw.) The Soviets were carrying out a bit of regime change in countries they regarded as their special responsibility.

        At no time did the Soviet troops engage NATO.

        Nor did the Soviets double the sizes of their divisions.

      • Jon66 on February 10, 2019, 9:45 am

        The Soviets invaded sovereign states. I don’t think it was unreasonable for Western Europe to fear a Soviet invasion if the states were weak and the Soviets believed it was in their interest.
        Of course the actual text of the pact says,”The Contracting Parties declare that they will act in a spirit of friendship and cooperation with a view to further developing and fostering economic and cultural intercourse with one another, each adhering to the principle of respect for the independence and sovereignty of the others and non-interference in their internal affairs.”. An invasion because you dislike the govt would seem to be an interference.

      • RoHa on February 10, 2019, 8:50 pm

        “An invasion because you dislike the govt would seem to be an interference.”

        No disagreement there. The Soviets are not the only ones who do it, but that is no excuse.

        “The Soviets invaded sovereign states.”

        Sort of sovereign, but definitely on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain. Making them toe the Party line is a much lower order of interference than invading a NATO country.

        But even if was reasonable for Western Europe to fear a Soviet invasion, that is no excuse for the deceptive propaganda about numbers of divisions.

      • RoHa on February 11, 2019, 2:11 am

        I will add that those of us who lived outside the US were at least as scared of the US starting a war as of the Soviets starting a war.

        The Soviets seemed to be pragmatic and intelligent. The Americans seemed dim-witted and frighteningly religious.

      • echinococcus on February 11, 2019, 9:20 am


        We in the US were scared even stiffer, if you want to know: we could see close up what kind of beasts governed us and what kind of boobies swallowed the BS and voted them. The problem today is that we are dimmer-witted, way more religious, and led by the likes of John 66.

    • RoHa on February 8, 2019, 4:25 am

      “he was a political mediocrity who was not suited to be President, and was a near-failure. ”

      As far as I can tell, most US Presidents have been political mediocrities, and few have them have been good enough to be called near failures. Usually straightforward failures, utter failures, and complete disasters.

  5. JWalters on February 7, 2019, 7:52 pm

    Thank you for making this body of information readily available.

    In Carter’s book White House Diary he describes his never ending frustrations with Israeli stalling, dodging, and lying. He came to the blunt conclusion that they had no intention of making peace, and that they were intent on getting all the land, by whatever means necessary. And he watched candidate Reagan tack toward the Zionists and get their backing.

    “They’re trying to take away our best argument, that it’s this or war.”” – Obama

    There’s a good deal of information out there on the web in line with the idea that war profiteers took advantage of Jewish zealots to create a perpetual religious war. e.g.
    Certainly a relatively small bunch of religious zealots could not drag the world’s superpower around by the nose like Israel does with the USA.

    Tom Paine warned about war profiteers back in 1791. War may have been the ROI plan for Israel’s founding investors, given their experience at investing in wars. Like a Le Carre novel.

  6. brent on February 7, 2019, 11:10 pm

    This informative article should be read by all American, Israeli and Palestinian students of politics, international relations, and the Question of Palestine. It takes more than a President’s interest/desire to achieve a Peace in Jerusalem. So long as Israel is able to successfully characterize itself as the victim of Palestinian violence and intransigence, serious political headway will probably remain unlikely.

    Could be Trump believes he must achieve political leverage on both sides if he expects to achieve his “Deal of the Century”.

    • Citizen on February 8, 2019, 5:33 pm

      What would make Trump think he has gained political leverage on the Palestinian side by moving the embassy & cutting off all aid to the Palestinians, while signing off on a gift of $38 billion + interest in military aid to Israel?

  7. Keith on February 8, 2019, 12:35 am

    PHIL- “Eizenstat writes:I explained to Carter that American Jews’ nervousness about our Middle East policy was rooted in the bitter memory of American inaction while millions of Eastern European Jews were murdered during World War II, and he made it clear that he understood.”

    This is yet another example of Zionist Jews claiming that WWII was basically a big pogrom. The over 20 million Russians who died and the even greater number of Chinese casualties of no concern. It is all about the Jews. It is always all about the Jews. Non-Jews of no importance, tribalism on streroids.

    • Jackdaw on February 8, 2019, 10:00 am

      “It is always all about the Jews. ”

      In Keith’s head, anyway.

      • Keith on February 8, 2019, 10:22 am

        JACKDAW- “In Keith’s head, anyway.”

        You are claiming that I am a Jewish Zionist like you? Interesting.

      • Mooser on February 8, 2019, 12:08 pm

        “You are claiming that I am a Jewish Zionist like you? Interesting.”

        It is indeed. I often think you have an extraordinary confidence in Zionism and organized Judaism.

      • Keith on February 8, 2019, 2:38 pm

        MOOSER- “I often think you have an extraordinary confidence in Zionism and organized Judaism.”

        My confidence in organized Jewish power is consistent with Phil’s article. Does this mean that you agree with Hophmi that Phil and Mondoweiss greatly exaggerate Jewish Zionist influence?

      • Jackdaw on February 9, 2019, 1:04 am

        No fool. I’m stating, with complete certainty, that you are obsessed by Jews.

        Jews brought you to Mondoweiss, and now you need Jews like a junkie needs a fix.

        Jews. Keith.
        Jews. Jews. Jews.

      • Keith on February 9, 2019, 11:37 am

        JACKDAW- “Jews brought you to Mondoweiss, and now you need Jews like a junkie needs a fix.”

        Hophmi on steroids! Must be seen to be believed! Actually, I found your comment funny.

      • Mooser on February 9, 2019, 12:38 pm

        “Jews brought you to Mondoweiss, and now you need Jews like a junkie needs a fix.”

        Can’t blame him one bit. We are, after all, very interesting peoples, with diverse histories, well worth studying.

  8. Jackdaw on February 8, 2019, 1:36 am


    First, Reagan won 50.7% to 41.0%, which some might call a landslide.

    Second, third party candidate John Anderson got 6.6% of the vote, most of which would have gone to Carter.

    Third, Carter was not a very good campaigner. Reagan was a very good one.

    Fourth, Carter’s first term wasn’t much of a success.

    Fifth, a specific issue was the Iranian hostage crisis, which Carter was perceived as handling badly

    To wit, addled Jimmy Carter is blaming the Jews for his own failure.

    • bcg on February 8, 2019, 9:59 am

      @Jackdaw: I’ll let the historians argue about why Jimmy Carter lost. But he was absolutely right about one thing – ” From the beginning of his presidency in 1977, Jimmy Carter determined that the settlements were an obstacle to peace because they stood in the way of a Palestinian homeland, which he wished to help establish in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

      Tell us how this ends, Jackdaw.

      • Citizen on February 8, 2019, 5:38 pm


  9. Jackdaw on February 8, 2019, 10:02 am

    Oh, here’s another fun fact that utterly demolishes this trashy piece.

    Jews overwhelmingly voted for Carter in both elections.

    • annie on February 8, 2019, 10:26 am

      no, they didn’t.
      in the 2nd election, although they voted more than the national average (45 vs 41), 45% is less than 1/2 and significantly less than they voted for him on the first round (71%). also, they voted for him at a significantly less percentage than any other dem running for the office of president in the last century (cox 19% in 1920, because debs 38% was running on a socialist ticket). so where you come up w/ 45% as “overwhelming” is beyond me.

      • Mooser on February 8, 2019, 12:11 pm

        “Jews overwhelmingly voted for Carter”

        And since American Judaism is a grass-roots, ground-up operation, we never find any differences between the voting Jews and the donor-political class of Jews.

      • Jackdaw on February 8, 2019, 1:19 pm

        Guess what Annie.

        No one ever polled me about my vote or whether I’m a Jew.

        We both know that Jews overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

      • annie on February 8, 2019, 2:16 pm

        yes, we both know that. just not in that election jack. less than 1/2 is not overwhelming.


        we never find any differences between the voting Jews and the donor-political class of Jews.

        oh never never. all those $27 donations to bernie notwithstanding.

      • CigarGod on February 10, 2019, 3:03 pm

        I’m not sure why anyone responds to this guy.
        “Addled, fool, junkies, criminal, coward, tapeworm…”
        Those are just a few comments made by jackdaw in this one thread.
        Most people at this site show up out of concerns for justice…but not jackdaw.
        He doesn’t care and never will.
        There is no convincing someone like him.
        It is a waste of valuable time to try.

      • Mooser on February 10, 2019, 7:54 pm

        “There is no convincing someone like him.
        It is a waste of valuable time to try.”

        Very true. But on the web, sometimes it’s hard to tell a damning ideology from a diminished cognition. Very possible “Jackdaw” has got both, of course.

    • echinococcus on February 8, 2019, 11:36 am

      It would demolish the point made here only for someone who, like you, assumes that the overwhelming majority of Jews are Zionist criminals like you. But is that so?

      • Jackdaw on February 8, 2019, 1:21 pm


        You wouldn’t call me a Zionist criminal to my face.


      • Mooser on February 8, 2019, 2:54 pm

        “You wouldn’t call me a Zionist criminal to my face.”

        “Jackdaw”, you show us your face, and we won’t hesitate to call it like we see it.

      • amigo on February 8, 2019, 3:47 pm

        Jackduh .you would be absent from gunfight at the ok corral.

        Keyboard hero.l

      • Mooser on February 8, 2019, 5:47 pm

        “Keyboard hero.”

        I think it’s wonderful that “Jackdaw” has an outlet for his irritability and past-it-aggressiveness. We are probably saving the clouds over his gated outpost from being yelled at, or maybe even preventing assault or elder-abuse.

  10. Misterioso on February 8, 2019, 10:12 am

    Off topic, but important and deeply disturbing:

    More re “Israel, a light unto nations [not.]”

    “Israel media: Tel Aviv still arming Myanmar military despite allegations of genocide”

    Middle East Monitor, Feb. 6/19

    “Israel still maintains ‘warm ties’ with Myanmar and is downplaying human rights concerns, a new report by the Times of Israel has uncovered today. Despite allegations of genocide of Rohingya Muslims, the Zionist state continues to claim that it’s ‘first friend’ in Asia is safe to trade with and has continued to sell arms to Myanmar’s military while ethnic cleansing and genocide were taking place in Rakhine State.

    “Confirming its well-earned reputation for assisting some of the most brutal regimes in the world, Israel has been selling arms to Myanmar long after most Western countries banned such sales over concerns that weapons sold to the country were likely being used to carry out genocide.

    “The United Nations has described the plight of Rohingya Muslims as a ‘text book’ example of genocide. Its conclusion was repeated recently by the chair of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar who described the latest situation as ‘an ongoing genocide.’

    “In December the US House of Representatives effectively rebuked the Trump administration and overwhelmingly passed a resolution declaring that Myanmar’s military has carried out genocide against Rohingya Muslims.

    “A key committee of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum has said that it also found ‘compelling evidence’ of genocide by Myanmar’s military against the Muslim minority Rohingya. Describing the situation, the chairman of the museum’s Committee on Conscience, Lee Feinstein was quoted by the Times of Israel saying: ‘The Burmese military’s campaign against the Rohingya, especially the attacks of August 2017, has been deliberate, systematic, and widespread.’

    “Their position was backed by the Centre for the Prevention of Genocide. ‘We want to help set the historical record for the future and for the Rohingya who continue to be at risk of genocide today,’ the centres deputy director was reported saying.

    “In one of the latest reports compiled by the US State Department, which tallied atrocities in the Buddhist-majority country’s northern Rakhine State, it was found that violence against Rohingya Muslims was ‘extreme, large-scale, widespread, and seems geared toward both terrorising the population and driving out the Rohingya residents.’ Some 1.1 million Rohingya have fled Myanmar.

    “Despite the widespread condemnation, however, Israel remains on friendly terms with Myanmar and has remained relatively silent, said the Times of Israel. While admitting that they couldn’t confirm if Israel was providing training, intelligence and surveillance technology, the report found that Tel Aviv had allowed its arms companies to sell weapons to Myanmar’s military in autumn 2017, long after most Western countries had banned such sales. The Israeli firms are said to have refused to answer questions about their current sales.

    “David Tal, an Israeli historian who chairs the University of Sussex’s Modern Israel Studies programme, explained the Zionist state’s continued friendship with Myanmar saying: ‘A general trend of Israel’s foreign policy is to give priority to interests over values. Having good relations with Myanmar … I would assume is worth any moral price Israel accrues.’

    “The report traced Israel’s trend of assisting racist regimes to the country’s historical cooperation with apartheid South Africa and recent friendly relations with Viktor Orban’s Hungary and Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines.

    “As with Israel’s assistance to the White South African government – which installed an apartheid regime to control majority black South Africans – its ties with Myanmar has been a source of controversy and embarrassment. The Israeli government has repeatedly resisted full details of arms sales to Myanmar coming out into the public.”

  11. Rogelio on February 8, 2019, 10:54 am

    “David Tal, an Israeli historian who chairs the University of Sussex’s Modern Israel Studies programme,”

    I wonder if the University of Sussex has a “Modern Palestine Studies Program”?

  12. brwencino on February 8, 2019, 11:21 am

    I am 82 years old and I was very much there and part of the “Jewish Community” at the time (but, no longer). I can vouch for what this book says. I was naive enough at the time to be “gob smacked” when organization Jews supported Reagan over Carter for President. As a resident of California, I experienced first hand the utter disdain and hatred of Reagan in the Jewish Community when he was Governor of our State. He stood against everything the liberal Jewish community stood for. The revulsion of and attacks on him were as intense as that now against Trump in the liberal community. Then, when he ran for President, the big money Jewish donors made a deal with Reagan on Israel and supported him financially–never mind the Jewish vote one way or the other; money was the mother milk here. When I questioned those who I knew at the time, the answer was, “Israel is always the most important issue; Carter is an enemy of Israel and Reagan will be a friend; all other issues are of much less importance.” Not many believed this at the time and were not willing to be called the Anti-Semitic word to risk even making the inquiry. Times are changing-I hope!

    • Citizen on February 8, 2019, 5:48 pm

      Thanks for sharing; it’s easily believable.

      • Mooser on February 9, 2019, 1:27 pm

        “Thanks for sharing”

        An amazing comment. I’ve read it many times. “brwencino” is about two decades older than me. He remembers with exactness the political shift to the right.

  13. brwencino on February 8, 2019, 11:24 am

    I am 82 years old and I was very much there and part of the “Jewish Community” at the time (but, no longer). I can vouch for what this book says. I was naive enough at the time to be “gob smacked” when organization Jews supported Reagan over Carter for President. As a resident of California, I experienced first hand the utter disdain and hatred of Reagan in the Jewish Community when he was Governor of our State. He stood against everything the liberal Jewish community stood for. The revulsion of and attacks on him were as intense as that now against Trump in the liberal community. Then, when he ran for President, the big money Jewish donors made a deal with Reagan on Israel and supported him financially–never mind the Jewish vote one way or the other; money was the mother milk here. When I questioned those who I knew at the time, the answer was, “Israel is always the most important issue; Carter is an enemy of Israel and Regan will be a friend; all other issues are of much less importance.” Not many believed this at the time and were not willing to be called the Anti-Semitic word to risk even making the inquiry. Times are changing-I hope!

    • RoHa on February 8, 2019, 11:22 pm

      ‘When I questioned those who I knew at the time, the answer was, “Israel is always the most important issue; Carter is an enemy of Israel and Regan will be a friend; all other issues are of much less importance.”’

      Do I detect an anti-Semitic trope here?

      • Mooser on February 9, 2019, 12:45 pm

        “Do I detect an anti-Semitic trope here?”

        Whether it’s anti-Semitic or incorrect semantics, nothing escapes “RoHa”.

      • RoHa on February 10, 2019, 1:22 am

        Money does.

      • Mooser on February 10, 2019, 11:55 am

        “Money does.”

        I used to think there are more things in heaven and earth, “RoHa” than are dream’t of in your philosophy, but I guess not.

  14. James Canning on February 8, 2019, 11:40 am

    Rich and powerful Jews took out Jimmy Carter, to punish him for trying to do the right thing regarding Israel/Palestine. Some of them are keen to suppress free speech in the US, to ensure the right thing does not come to pass.

    • Citizen on February 8, 2019, 5:50 pm

      77 senators just legalized state anti-bds laws–ACLU did what it could to stop it.

      • annie on February 8, 2019, 5:51 pm

        citizen, doesn’t it have to pass the house first?

      • Citizen on February 8, 2019, 6:01 pm

        Yes, Annie. Some are trying to at least remove the danger to free speech.

      • RoHa on February 8, 2019, 8:35 pm

        Maybe it could sneak past at night, on the other side of the road, with its coat collar turned up and its hat pulled down low.

  15. Ossinev on February 8, 2019, 2:10 pm

    Meanwhile back here in the good old UK the Ministry of Strategic affairs have obviously instructed their operatives in and outside the UK Parliament to wheel out the Jeremy Corbyn and Anti – Semitism in the Labour Party corpse once again (yawn).
    BTW for “the stain of Anti – Semitism” instead think of the real stain of insidious Pro-Zionism.

    NB There are an estimated 270,000 Jews , Secular , Orthodox or otherwise(sic) out of a total estimated total Uk population of 66 million repeat 66 million.

    Forget Brexit,the crisis in the NHS , the crisis in UK schools,the crisis in Social Services. The only real crisis the only real threat in the UK is “anti – Semitism” aka “Anti- Zionism” and the protection of the only Racist Apartheid Colony in the Middle East must take absolute priority.

    For information the Luciana Berger Labour MP who is the subject of this (yet another )classic mountain/molehill crap is the same one who tweeted in response to the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent Palestinian men women and children in last May`s “March of Return”: “and devastation about the scenes at the Gaza border. They are horrific and it is vital that there is urgent restraint in order to immediately halt the loss of civilian life. The voices of those in Israel who advocate for peace must not be drowned out”

    Yes Ms Berger your fellow countrymen and women back in Israel especially the deployed , fully instructed and fully licensed snipers on the open air prison fence really must show more”restraint” when it comes to massacring and maiming innocent Palestinians.
    “According to Robert Mardini, head of Middle East for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), from more than 13,000 Palestinians have been wounded (as of 19 June 2018), the majority severely, with some 1,400 struck by three to five bullets.[41] No Israelis were physically harmed from 30 March to 12 May, then one Israeli soldier was reported as slightly wounded on 14 May,[9] ”

    Nothing quite matches the thrill of being a Ziosniper with licence to kill Palestinians at will.

    • Bumblebye on February 8, 2019, 3:57 pm

      Ossinev, if you pop over to visit Gilad Atzmon’s site he has an article from a few days ago which could go to this constant undermining of Corbyn by this particular section of the party – it’s a translation of part of a hebrew article which claims israel is first up to sign a trade treaty with the UK. Obviously it is not the first thing a Corbyn led govt would do.

      The closer we get to March 29, the harder some will fight their own party to ensure either there’s no election, or JC aint leading.

  16. CHUCKMAN on February 8, 2019, 2:11 pm

    Powerful stuff.

    Actually many understand intuitively and from many threads and bits of information the nature of the bizarre relationship between a nation of 330,000,000 and one of 8,000,000.

    But solid details from events like these is always helpful.

  17. Xpat on February 8, 2019, 2:32 pm

    The Jewish establishment does everything in its power to turn everyone else on the Jews. It’s remarkable that Jews are not hated for all this.

    “The occupation is an American Jewish achievement.”

    This is true not just as the Democratic story of Jewish donors and Jewish primary voters. This is also true from the Israeli and legal side of the story. As historian Anita Shapira has noted, the State of Israel was unable to provide the legal device for building the West Bank settlements. After all, the West Bank is not part of the State of Israel. So the Israelis colonized the West Bank under the aegis of Jewish Agency, the organizing body of all the world’s (Zionist) Jews. The Jewish Agency is a de facto arm of the Israeli state – as are all the Jewish establishment orgs around the world. Without American Jews there would be no West Bank settlements. The world’s Jews are unified in dispossessing the Palestinians.

    • Citizen on February 8, 2019, 6:00 pm

      Bobby Kennedy strove to make the Zionist Jews register as agents of the foreign state of Israel. she was killed while so striving and Johnson took over, promptly kicked Bobby’d quest in the garbage can & choked off proper investigation of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty. Johnson was a traitor to the country he led; his conduct was as ugly as he was.

  18. Ossinev on February 8, 2019, 6:14 pm

    Thanks for the information ref Gilad Atzmon. I think had heard of him before but I think more in a purely music context. What an eye – opener. I continue to be amazed at the scale of Zionist infifltration and pollution of British politics. Basic research came up with the following:

    The “complainer” in this absurd farce was a Martin Rankoff a so called CEO of a so called Listed Company in the UK called Likud !!! – Herut. Haven`t been able to find out what this company actually does,sells,promotes,produces. I wondered why but continued to follow the smear trail which led to:
    They have even taken to smearing one of their own for the teensiest bit of stepping out of the Hasbara line.
    The more I read/find out about the Zio anti – Corbyn smear campaign the more disgusted I am. It is more and more apparent that in the UK in particular with the distinct possibility of a pro – Palestinian Prime Minister in the near future that ZioCentral is fouling its undergarments
    and have instructed Zio Fifth Columnists including those within the Labour Party to pull out all the stops to prevent this.

    On the plus side the more desperate they become the more tedious and boring but also and most importantly the more open to scutiny they become and it is revealing as with the Al Jazeera Lobby expose the scale of Zio infestation in the UK body politic.

    Tick tick

    • Bumblebye on February 9, 2019, 6:17 am

      From the first para of the Likud Herut about us page:

      “We believe in the inalienable right of all Jews to live and settle in all parts of the Land of Israel and in the support of all government and community efforts and programmes directed to assist the maximum level of aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. ”

      They’re a bunch of extremists. Two of their members got a lot of airtime last year during one of the Labour antisemitism flare-ups and have now left the country.

      In his own way, Gilad is also a bit extreme – he used to post very far right articles and videos to his own website, made himself very controversial (he seems to like being so). The article i tried to point you at is from Feb 3 can be found at gilad(dot)co(dot)uk under the banner “writings”. Translation of part of a hebrew ynet article claiming israel is first up for a trade deal.

  19. Bennorius on February 8, 2019, 8:18 pm

    Thanks, Philip, for this excellent article, providing a wealth of detail and insights. It has strengthened my appreciation for President Jimmy Carter as a man of courage and principle. Israel’s refusal to listen to Carter will in the long run cost it dearly.

  20. brent on February 8, 2019, 10:37 pm

    My take at the time….. conventional wisdom said if Carter got the hostages out, he’d get re-elected. A covert move was made to William Casey, Reagan’s campaign manager, to deny Carter that success. Iran was persuaded not to work with Carter. The hostages were released at the same moment Reagan was being sworn in.

    Later Casey said something like, “Mr. President, I didn’t tell you earlier, but I made a deal with the Israelis. They own us because they can leak we traded the hostages for the Presidency. That’s how the Neocon take over unfolded. Rumsfeld, the ME envoy, Perles, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Jean Kirkpatrick at the UN, William Bennet, Secretary of Education, on and on and on… all vociferously pro-Israeli. Israel got everything but the State Dept., who they were able to dismiss.

    On the day Reagan entered his fourth quarter, when Israel now having more to lose than him, some obscure Beirut newspaper ran a piece about the Iran-Contra Affair. Next day, the story was front page in Paris, London, NY, LA, etc. and Reagan was captured fot his last two years.

    Begin was able to say to Sec. of State Rodgers, forget your peace plan, we’re not even going to discuss it with you.

  21. Sibiriak on February 8, 2019, 11:10 pm

    Bennorius: President Jimmy Carter … a man of courage and principle.

    Indeed, Carter was a good liberal Zionist, guided by Christian principles:

    Carter cited UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) as the basis for negotiation. He saw them as a path to a Palestinian homeland linked to Jordan “rather than … an independent state.

    Naturally, he opposed the illiberal, supremacist Zionism championed by Begin et al.

  22. Kay24 on February 9, 2019, 5:35 am

    Worthwhile watching if you have not seen Bernie Sanders speak about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza last year:

    A lone voice in Congress.

    • echinococcus on February 9, 2019, 9:15 am

      Is that the one where he approves the massacre of Gaza because “Israel”, he says, “has the right to defend itself”? The king of bipartisan Zionism.

      • Kay24 on February 9, 2019, 6:09 pm

        No it’s not, but what he says here, the latest speech, is worth it. He is taking a stand here.

  23. Sibiriak on February 9, 2019, 10:57 am

    Philip Weiss: You will notice that there is not a word here about Christian Zionists.


    Jimmy Carter is a devout Christian Zionist, albeit a liberal Christian Zionist, not a rightwing evangelical Zionist. His liberal Zionism is deeply rooted in his Christian beliefs:

    As a child, I was taught by my father every Sunday about the special status of the Jewish people in the eyes of God, and when I was governor of Georgia, I went with my wife and Jody Powell to the Middle East to learn more about Israel and its mortal threats from Arab neighbors. From the time I was a young submarine officer until I became president, I observed closely the four wars fought in the Holy Land. I visited Yad Vashem three times and wondered why there was not a public commemoration of the Holocaust in America. (Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, p. 248. Emphasis added)

    * * *

    It became increasingly clear that there were two Israels. One encompassed the ancient culture and moral values of the Jewish people, defined by the Hebrew Scriptures with which I had been familiar since childhood and representing the young nation that most Americans envisioned. , The other existed within the occupied Palestinian territorieswith policies shaped by a refusal to acknowledge and respect the basic human rights of the citizens.
    (Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, p. 112. Emphasis added)

    In his book, Carter condemns the current Israeli apartheid regime, but also rejects the option of a single state based on equal rights and universal citizenship, in large part because he believes such a state would mean the end Israel as a Jewish state:

    A forcible annexation of Palestine and its legal absorption into Israel, which could give large numbers of non-Jewish citizens the right to vote and live as equals under the law. This would directly violate international standards and the Camp David Accords, which are the basis for peace with Egypt. At the same time, non-Jewish citizens would make up a powerful swing vote if other Israelis were divided and would ultimately constitute an outright majority in the new Greater Israel. Israel would be further isolated and condemned by the international community, with no remaining chance to end hostilities with any appreciable part of the Arab world. (Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, pp. 214-215. Emphasis added)

    Carter quotes two individuals, one Palestinian, one Israeli, advocating a two-state solution which restricts the Palestinian right of return and protects the Jewish majority in Israel:

    Jonathan Kuttab, Palestinian human rights lawyer: “Everybody knows what it will take to achieve a permanent and lasting peace that addresses the basic interests of both sides: It’s a two-state solution. It’s withdrawal to 1967 borders. It’s dismantlement of the settlements. It’s some kind of shared status for a united Jerusalem, the capital of both parties. The West Bank and Gaza would have to be demilitarized to remove any security threats to Israel. Some kind of solution would have to be reached for the refugee problem, some qualified right of return, with compensation. Everyone knows the solution; the question is: Is there political will to implement it?”

    Dr. Naomi Chazan, professor at Hebrew University and former deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset: “I don’t think any difference now remains between the majority of Israelis and Palestinians in understanding that there has to be some kind of accommodation between both people. There are two possibilities on how to do it. To acknowledge and then to implement the Palestine right to self-determination, and to make sure that the two-state solution is a just and fair solution, allowing for the creation of a viable state alongside Israel on the 1967 boundaries, and if there are any changes, they are by agreement on a swap basis. And on the Israeli side, there is the need to maintain a democratic state with a Jewish majority, which can only be achieved through the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.” (Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, pp. 212-213. Emphasis added)

    • Keith on February 9, 2019, 3:43 pm

      SIBIRIAK- “Philip Weiss: You will notice that there is not a word here about Christian Zionists.”

      The following sentence reads: “They are not a factor on the Democratic side– weren’t then, aren’t now.” Taken together, I agree completely with Phil on this. Furthermore, I think there has been an attempt in comments elsewhere to downplay the influence of the Zionist Lobby broadly construed and to inflate the power of the Christian Zionists as a major force behind US Middle East policy. They are not. Christian Zionists only became visible after Menachem Begin began recruiting their support. They are effectively camp followers who support Jewish Zionism but have little impact on policy formulation.

      SIBIRIAK- “Jimmy Carter is a devout Christian Zionist….”

      I wouldn’t place too much emphasis on Carter’s public persona. His “devout Christian” morality, for example, was not evident in the actions of empire during his administration. The actions of empire more-or-less consistent with previous administrations. And, as Chomsky notes, the big Reagan arms buildup actually began under Carter.

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