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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Jimmy Carter is under fire

By Ardain IsmaCSMS Magazine Staff WriterFormer president Jimmy Carter’s latest book titled Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid has been drawing a lot of criticism coming from all sides of the conservative spectrum. From orthodox Jews to hardcore southern Christian conservatives to reactionary ideologues, Carter is being vilified for his “impertinence” with regards to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “I have been called an anti-Semite, a bigot, and a friend of terrorism,” he said last week while celebrating his 30th anniversary of his inauguration as president.   Last Tuesday, Jimmy Carter admitted at a historically Jewish college that his new book on the Middle East has “caused great concern in the Jewish community.”            In fact, this surge of criticism over the release of the book has been going on for some time. The uproar became full blown last month when 14 members of an advisory board at the former president’s international-affairs think tank, the Carter Center, resigned in protest.            The beleaguered former president is struggling to keep the mounting of criticism at bay by reminding the public of his past efforts to bring peace to the Middle East. “With my use of apartheid, I realize this has caused great concern in the Jewish community. The title makes it clear,” Carter said. “I can certainly see now it would provoke some harsh feelings. I chose that title knowing that it would be provocative, but in the long run it has precipitated discussion and there has been a lot of positive discussion,” he continued.            This prompted me last weekend to take a closer look at the book. What does Jimmy Carter really say that triggers such an avalanche of protest from the conservative ruling class? In fact, I searched through the book at close attention in hope of finding a never-revealed-before secret that could easily expose even further Washington’s raw backing for the brutal repression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli war machine.            Going in to Barnes & Noble, where I purchased the book, I thought I was about to uncover the smoking gun that would put to rest, at least in the mind of many still undecided people, all doubt about Israel’s inhuman treatment of its Arab neighbors. Honestly, I was under the impression that Carter, who was president of the United States and therefore was in the middle of US foreign policy secrecy, had dropped a bombshell. It was wishful thinking.            The former president revealed nothing new, certainly not for watchers of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The book, which focuses solely on the Palestinian deprived conditions, pleads for merci for what Carter calls “the endless suffering of an occupied people.” Jimmy Carter agrees that Israel should pull it troops back to the pre-1967 line—the so-called green line—in order to give the Palestinians a chance to govern themselves. To support his arguments, Carter goes on to enumerate the many social injustices that the Arab masses are being subjected to, both in the Gaza strip and in the west bank of the Jordan River. Political assassination, collective punishments, sustained humiliation of Palestinian leaders, closure of Palestinian schools etc…are part of the Palestinians’ daily ordeal.                 Nothing, apart from what we already know, was revealed. And if Carter is being chided, it is not because he has put any one on the spot. It is rather because the hawks, both in Washington and in Tel Aviv, believe that Carter’s prestige behind the book might be used as catalyst to trigger a new round of international diplomacy in favor of the Palestinian cause. Here, Carter’s moral prestige is being under attack, not the book itself, which in fact brings nothing new other than what we already know.            The barrage of criticism has once again exposed the reactionary nature of the American ruling elite, its arrogance, its nonchalance, its egocentrism and its dominant culture mentality fore-grounded in the premise that the world must be ruled under the guidance of American power and values.            For nearly forty years, Israel has been holding 2 million Palestinians hostage, pouring Jewish settlers into the occupied territories to create facts on the ground and to effectively turn Palestinian cities into pieces of cheese eaten by rats, thus making any future Palestinian State irrelevant. “They [the Palestinians] will never allowed to connect their towns in the territories,” Ariel Sharon said once upon a time.                                        Reactionary Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who gained fame as defense lawyer during the OJ Simpson trial, had hoped to challenge Carter during a presentation at Brandeis University, in the Boston suburb of Waltham. Brandeis is a secular university founded by American Jewish leaders, and about half of its 5,300 students are Jewish. The school is named after Louis Brandeis, the first Jew on the Supreme Court and a robust defender of the right to free speech.                 Dershowitz, who is Jewish, was told he would not be allowed inside. He was to speak following Carter’s appearance. The university originally invited Carter on the condition that he debate Dershowitz, a critic of the book. But Carter said he would only visit the campus without conditions. He later accepted an invitation from a committee of students and faculty to speak without taking part in a debate.            But prestigious MIT professor Noam Chomsky, who wrote Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance, explains that the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is nothing but another branch of the US army offshore. Chomsky, who is himself Jewish, agrees that the United States holds the key to ending the suffering of the Palestinians.                                 However, the persuasive nature of the book has made Carter a strategically compliant writer, rather than making him an authentically engaged one. Carter, 82, seems to be embarking upon a mission to redeem himself from all the wrongs that he had been part of during his long career as a politician. One can safely say that Carter’s book is purely an act of contrition.            Long after he left office, Jimmy Carter worked as the unofficial ambassador—a minister without portfolio—traveling around the world certifying CIA tempered elections on behalf of the United States. Nicaragua is a prime example when Violeta Chamorro defeated Daniel Ortega in 1990 in what was then revealed as the counterrevolution’s victory—a victory that came after the Nicaraguan people were told to either vote Daniel and die or vote Violeta and live. Jimmy Carter was the first one to phone then president Bush senior to inform him about the victory.             Nonetheless, Carter’s book is one to read for it offers an opportunity to readers who have not yet been exposed to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Also see Commercial success or literary lust: the dilemma facing many of our promising authorsNote: Dr. Ardain Isma is also a novelist and chief editor of CSMS Magazine. You can read a synopsis of his latest novel “Alicia.” Click herehttp://www.themulticulturalgroup.com/books.html

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