Carter’s Rogue Diplomacy Hinders Peace

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jimmy Carter vented his anger against Israel again last Thursday, giving the Jewish state a birthday present penned in poisoned ink ("Innocents caught in the crossfire," @issue). While friends throughout the world congratulated the country on countless achievements in 60 years, Carter focused on one tragic problem, on which he stands out for his one-sided approach.

Palestinians in Gaza are suffering, but Carter prolongs their pain. He says that Hamas are men of peace, just elected officials wrongly attacked and imprisoned for no reason. He mentions that "rudimentary" rockets from Gaza have rained down on Israeli towns with no military targets, killing 13 civilians and completely disrupting life. He finally got around to condemning these as "abominable acts of terrorism," after long refusing to use the word.

What didn't he say?

Hamas happily claims responsibility for the murders of hundreds of Israeli citizens over the years. Israel sometimes tragically kills civilians, because combatants hide among them. Hamas targets noncombatants.

Hamas seized control of Gaza last year, after Israel's withdrawal, through vicious attacks on moderates in the Palestinian Authority, so the P.A. condemns them, just as Israel and the U.S. do. Most nations, including Arab ones, call Hamas terrorists.

Yet Carter met with them last month and emerged declaring they would recognize Israel's right to exist. Perhaps his reckless rogue diplomacy had for once accomplished something? I thought, wait till tomorrow.

It didn't take that long; in a few hours Hamas responded: They would never recognize Israel. Did Carter lie to the world? Maybe, but I prefer to think he was lying to himself, as he has foolishly done before.

As president, he praised the shah for making Iran "an island of stability" because of "the love which your people give you." Iran was soon our implacable enemy. He toasted Poland's Stalinist henchmen as "enlightened leaders" protecting human rights. He said of Ceausescu, later executed for his savage rule of Romania, "Our goals are the same . . . enhancing human rights."

Post-presidency, Carter consistently undermined our nation's foreign policy. He fawned on Nicaraguan ruler Daniel Ortega; Ortega himself now repudiates what he did back then. He lobbied in the U.N. Security Council against the U.S. plan to free Kuwait, and urged our Arab allies to abandon us days before the war. National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft said, "If there was ever a violation of the Logan Act, prohibiting diplomacy by private citizens, this was it."

But he's a nonpartisan underminer. On President Bill Clinton's watch, he visited war criminal Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and opposed American military intervention, which would soon halt ethnic cleansing. He visited Kim Il-Sung, the dictator Stalin picked for North Korea, and called it "tragic" that the International Atomic Energy Agency had (correctly) reported violations. Carter helped give them a 10-year breathing space to build their nuclear weapons program.

Overall, Scowcroft said, "his political judgment was just awful." But it was consistent: He coddled dictators. During his recent visit to the Middle East, Carter told the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, "When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that's the dictator, because he speaks for all the people."

Also last Thursday, Yossi Beilin, Israel's leading dove, explained reality in a BBC interview: "Hamas says, 'We will never have peace with Israel, we will never recognize Israel, and we will never negotiate with Israel.' So, we cannot impose ourselves on a partner which doesn't want to talk to us, especially when the PLO is the official partner of the Palestinian side.

"What we have to do with Hamas is to have a cease fire with them . . . through a third party. . . . It is far from what I envisioned in the past. But right now, we were imposed by the Americans to include Hamas in the elections two years ago. It was a huge, huge, crazy mistake of President Bush." Still, Beilin is optimistic about peace in the near future with the P.A. and Syria.

Actually, that election was a huge, huge, crazy mistake of Carter's, endorsed by President Bush —- part of Carter's plan to bring democracy everywhere, ready or not.

There will be a Palestinian state, period. There will be peace. But it will not include active terrorists. It will embrace the people of Gaza once they outgrow Hamas. And meanwhile Jimmy Carter should get out of the way.

Jimmy Rides Again

Atlanta Jewish Times

The former President has warmed up to dictators since he was in the White House, so his “negotiation” with Hamas is no surprise.

Ramblin' Jimmy Carter, once the top lawman in Washington, has ridden out of Plains again, one lone cowboy against the sunset in the Wild (Middle) East. His saddle bags were empty – since he deputized himself, no one stuffed his diplomatic pouch. But he had a few tricks of an old rogue diplomat in his pockets as he faced down every bad guy for miles.

Or did he just cozy up to them? That was what it looked like to Americans. Even Barack Obama condemned him. As for Israel, it gave him a historic snub, having him meet with Shimon Peres, the ceremonial president, instead Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or anyone else with power.

But he sure did meet some bad'uns.

Khaled Mashaal, for instance.

He is wanted for terrorism against Palestinians and Jews. Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, won't meet with him, but Carter will.

Mashaal is committed to Israel's destruction, as the Hamas charter calls for. He claims responsibility for suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and is "credited" with the kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. He called Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad courageous for denying the Holocaust and promising to "wipe Israel off the map."

Carter met with Mashaal for seven hours, while Hamas, under his direction, attacked Israeli civilians with rockets launched from Gaza. Hamas also recently attacked Nahal Oz, which supplies Gaza with gasoline, and the Keren Shalom crossing, a main supply point for humanitarian aid.

Carter also met at length with Bashar Assad, who did collaborate with North Korea to build a weapons-grade nuclear reactor in Syria, which Israel destroyed.

Carter told Ha'aretz he didn't mind the refusal of Israel's elected leaders to meet with him because they don't speak for Israelis. "When I go to a dictatorship," he said, "I only have to talk to one person, and that's the dictator, because he speaks for all the people." Huh?

Oh, I forgot. Carter's an expert on this. He toasted the "enlightened leaders" of Stalinist Poland and claimed that they preserved human rights better than other Europeans. He met with Nicolae Ceausescu, the vicious Communist dictator of Romania, and said, "Our goals are the same. … We believe in enhancing human rights."

He met with North Korea's Kim Il-sung while that tyrant was murdering countless thousands of his people and building nuclear arms. Carter found the Korean people supportive of Kim's savage regime. He has been an obstacle to freedom. He has undermined the foreign policy of the United States since his defeat in 1980.

No wonder that Ari Shavit, a Ha'aretz journalist writing April 24, called Carter the "new hero" of "the suicidal left," "perceived by most Americans as a self-righteous fool." He added: "There is no zealous thug that Carter will not embrace, no Third World terrorist that he will not try to appease."

Nor is it surprising that Ha'aretz columnist Shmuel Rosner said Carter "is nothing but a nuisance," that his claims are "based on lies," and that "it is possible to ignore him … and still continue to work for true peace."

Carter announced proudly after his meeting with Mashaal that Hamas was ready to recognize Israel. For a fleeting moment I almost believed him. Then I remembered his history and asked myself, "Is Jimmy lying, or is he just dumb enough to believe Hamas' lies?"

I waited to hear what Hamas would say the next day, but I didn't have to wait that long. Within a few hours, Mashaal made Carter look like a fool by declaring Hamas would never recognize Israel.

I favor a Palestinian state in the West Bank and (eventually) Gaza, with borders only a little different from those of 1967. I favor huge international investment in the economic and political success of such a state. I favor an immediate end to settlement expansion. I favor a determined pursuit of the Annapolis peace process. I just happen to think that the puerile, attention-grabbing, rogue diplomacy of our former president pushes all those goals further away.

Well, Jimmy, yuh sure did stir up a hornets' nest o' trouble. But that's your specialty, ain't it? Next time you ride out, maybe you should ride west. I hear tell there are bad guys aplenty in the Dakota Badlands and along the Rio Grande. I'm sure they'll be glad to meet with you and pull some good old American wool over your eyes. On the way there, you can use your rose-colored glasses to protect your eyes from the waning sun. And don't forget the blinders for Old Paint.

Old cowboys never die. They just look sillier and sillier in the saddle.

Israelis and Palestinians: Standing at Crossroads

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

We can't expect miracles from one meeting in Annapolis, but it's a pivotal step toward lasting peace in the Middle East.

The Israelis and Palestinians are at a historic crossroads, and it will be tragic for both peoples if they do not leave it walking side by side.

This one, like several before, is in the United States—at Annapolis, where this week Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet not just bilaterally, as they often have recently, nor even through the increasingly active diplomacy of Tony Blair and Condi Rice, but under the umbrella of international concern. Egypt, Jordan and now even Saudi Arabia will attend.

All members of the "Quartet" —the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia —have a stake in the outcome, but nothing like that of the people who must share a piece of land not much bigger than New Jersey between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Neither people really wants to do this. Each must give up dreams held for centuries. Israelis must leave land the Bible says (and archeology confirms) Jews were formed in. Palestinians must give up places their grandparents owned and the hope of universal return. But if they do not make these sacrifices, they may not have as good a chance for many years.

History makes strange bedfellows. Olmert and Abbas were pushed together by Hamas, whose violence threatened them both. Hamas came to partial power through an election that should not have been held. As we have learned to our sorrow there and elsewhere, democracy means more than voting booths and ink-stained fingers. It means the rule of law, for which Hamas has no respect. So it attacked and destroyed in Gaza the people it was supposed to be sharing power with, Palestinians all.

That civil war last spring showed what Hamas really was —in case its medieval abuse of women and thorough embrace of terrorism hadn't convinced us —and the world turned to the flawed but reasonable West Bank Palestinian Authority. Peacemaking and nation-building have proceeded apace. Tony Blair, retiring as Britain's prime minister, set up shop in Jerusalem; his quiet, aggressive, balanced and professional diplomacy on behalf of the Quartet —essentially the world —has brought the parties closer than they have been in years. For the first time, over many Jewish objections, Israel has put the division of Jerusalem on the table —a huge concession and a major step toward peace.

Neither Abbas nor Olmert is popular with his people. Neither controls the elements on his side that are implacable enemies of peace. Both have been incompetent and corrupt. But for now, these flawed men are the best hope.

Olmert released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners weeks ago, and is releasing another 400 this week. True, Israel is holding thousands more —nothing like the proportion of African-Americans held in our own prisons, but still too many. More will be released. Olmert also has transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to Abbas's government. True, they were owed it, but Israel could not dole it out to terrorists sworn to destroy her.

Those terrorists are now largely confined to Gaza, and the world at large —not just Israel —will leave them there for now. When the West Bank begins to look like a viable Palestinian state, the Gazans will join it.

American and European leftists snipe wildly from afar. Ignoring reality, they say there have been no efforts toward peace. Believing Iranian propaganda, they see Israel as the Goliath, while on the map it's a tiny David in a vast Islamic world. Twisting U.N. resolutions, they claim that Israel must first withdraw to its 1967 borders —something U.N. votes have always left to later negotiations.

Israel will give up many settlements. Jewish soldiers will drag Jewish settlers out of the West Bank as they did in Sinai in the 1980s and in Gaza two years ago. Some densely settled territory adjacent to Israel that was once part of Jordan will stay in Israel, and the Palestinians will be offered parts of Israel densely settled by Israeli Arabs.

Today, Israeli Arabs —though second-class citizens at least as disadvantaged as African-Americans —would rather remain Israeli. (Think about that undisputed fact and what it says about Israel.) But if enough hope can be generated in the new Palestinian state, they may come to feel differently.

Meanwhile Israel's other Arab neighbors have joined with her to build Palestine and energize the region. Jordan, the PA and Israel, with Germany and Japan as investment partners, are jointly planning to build Jericho into a vibrant Palestinian city, and to expand agriculture and industry in Jenin and other Palestinian areas. The Left has not explained why, if Israel is so evil, not just the United States but the EU, the United Nations, Russia and a number of Arab nations support the ongoing, slow but real path to peace.

Over decades, violence can become a bad memory. The hated fence can come down, and it will matter less who is on which side of the border. Sites all over the Middle East sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews can be accessible to all. And the hope for the future generated by growing prosperity can turn even young men's troubled souls toward lasting peace.

Current events are just first steps; we can't expect too much from one meeting, however important it may be. There are always countless obstacles to peace. But discouraging talk can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The first steps must be taken now. It all begins very soon at Annapolis.

Jimmy Redux

Atlanta Jewish Times

Carter may repeat his tall tales about Israel, but they’re still not true and they still don’t matter.

Is Jimmy Carter up to his old tricks? Last month on the shows of Larry King, Wolf Blitzer and Joe Scarborough, he seemed a new ex-president, hawking a new book on his work with the Carter Center. He's a book-a-year man now, and as any author can tell you, that kind of quantity isn't good for quality.

He seems cheerful yet chastened, trying to rehabilitate his image and that of the Carter Center, with no desire for more of the fight he faced last year. These three interviews dealt only a little with Israel. They were mostly light in tone, friendly – in King's case, worshipful – and focused on the Carter Center's good works.

Make no mistake: Some of those works are good. Jewish audiences ask me why I call Carter a good man despite his vicious attacks on Israel and its supporters. Well, hundreds of thousands of Africans are not blind and millions around the world don't have yard-long worms crawling out through painful sores in part because of him.

But in foreign policy he has always shown stunningly poor judgment, and the Carter Center has never detached itself from his views.

His harebrained international schemes go way back. As president, he declared we should fight fire not with fire, but water, and this Neville Chamberlain-like attitude defined his presidency and his life. Actually, he fought fire with sugar water; he rarely met a dictator he couldn't praise.

Shortly before the shah of Iran was overthrown by Islamists, President Carter toasted him, calling Iran an "island of stability" because of "the love which your people give you" – this to one of the world's most hated rulers.

In the October interviews Carter still bragged of putting 75 American diplomats in Iran, omitting that they were kidnapped by terrorists and that 52 of them were held hostage for 444 days.

The shah toast was one among many. As president, Carter called Yugoslavian dictator Josep Tito "a man who believes in human rights" and "has led his people and protected their freedom." After Tito, Yugoslavia was primed for civil war.

Visiting Poland, Carter toasted its "enlightened leaders" – Stalinists all – and said, "Our concept of human rights is preserved in Poland … much better than other European nations with which I am familiar." Carter's familiarity with Europe left something to be desired; fortunately, the heroes -including Pope John Paul II – who created a new Poland knew better.

Of Nicolae Ceaucescu, the savage Communist autocrat of Romania, Carter said: "Our goals are the same. … We believe in enhancing human rights."

When Ronald Reagan – Winston Churchill to Carter's Chamberlain – brought the Communist dictators down, the world learned how vicious and brutal were the people Carter had adored.

His foreign bungling continued after his presidency. He posed with Nicaraguan strongman Daniel Ortega, who now repudiates almost everything he stood for when Carter fawned on him.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait on the first President Bush's watch, Carter began systematically undermining U.S. government policy, something ex-presidents of both parties have avoided for excellent reasons.

In speeches and articles, he attacked America's bid for U.N. authorization to fight Saddam Hussein. He wrote to the heads of Security Council nations, urging them to reject the United States and give "unequivocal support to an Arab League effort," which would not only solve the Kuwait problem, but "at long last also force Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories."

Only Cuba and Yemen voted his way.

Brent Scowcroft, then the national security adviser, called Carter's letter "unbelievable. … If there was ever a violation of the Logan Act, prohibiting diplomacy by private citizens, this was it."

But there was more. Just days before the war, Carter wrote to the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria, urging them to abandon their American ally. Some would call that treason. But these countries and others followed the U.S. lead; 34 nations conducted one of the most successful military operations in modern history.

This was but one milestone in Carter's effort to undermine our nation's foreign policy under Republican and Democratic presidents. He visited Yugoslavian dictator Slobodan Milosevic and garnered the despot's praise for having "understood the situation in our country" and for predicting that American military intervention could do no good. Intervention worked, and if it had occurred earlier, many more innocent people would have been saved from Milosevic's genocidal campaign.

It was in North Korea that he most undermined President Clinton. Kim Il-sung, Stalin's hand-picked tyrant, hosted Carter, who called it "tragic" that the International Atomic Energy Agency had (accurately) reported that North Korea was violating its nuclear nonproliferation commitments.

Carter found the North Korean people open, friendly and supportive of Kim's cruel regime. This was surreal; Kim is known to history as one of the 20th century's worst human rights violators.

Carter cut a private deal with Kim, called a news conference and bragged, "That killed the sanctions resolution." Clinton felt forced to acquiesce. The result was fine – for North Korea. It shut down its public nuclear weapons program and started a secret one, ultimately testing nuclear bombs and long-range missiles.

We now know the North Koreans were building Syria's nuclear capability too. Meanwhile, on Oct. 30, 2006, a report by Elie Wiesel, Vaclav Havel and the former prime minister of Norway stated that North Korea's actions against its own people "fall clearly within the definition of 'crimes against humanity.' "

In the end, new sanctions and aggressive diplomacy made the North Koreans cooperate, and we may actually get a non-nuclear Korea, no thanks to Carter.

I won't repeat what we all know about the damage he has done in the Middle East. After many resignations, the Carter Center Board of Councilors and its Middle East policy programs are almost Jew-free.

But Carter doesn't matter, and he knows it – a fitting punishment for naïve meddling in one foreign problem after another.

Tony Blair, twice the statesman Carter ever was, is the internationally recognized Middle East peacemaker. He matters. Condi Rice matters. Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas matter. The international community's nearly universal rejection of Carter's friends in Hamas-run Gaza matters, as does its embrace of Abbas' moderate Palestinian Authority, the heart of the future Palestinian state. The cooperation of Jordan and other Arab nations with Israel's renewed efforts to make peace matters. Israel's release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and hundreds of millions of dollars to Abbas' government matters. Jimmy Carter matters not at all.

He keeps sniping from the sidelines, mouthing bizarre assertions: that his book on Palestine is "totally accurate"; that "nobody has challenged its major claims"; and that there has been "not one day of peace negotiations in seven years." Let me translate: There has not been one day of peace negotiations involving ME!

In the wide-ranging Wolf Blitzer interview, he denied that there is genocide in Darfur, denied (after admitting ignorance) that the Syrian facility struck by Israel was nuclear-weapons-bound, and again denied any mistakes in his book about Israel.

In the Carter Center's disease programs, he took the advice of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention heroes like William Foege and Donald Hopkins. In foreign affairs he has followed his own flawed judgment, casting caution and sometimes loyalty to the winds.

Fight fire with water? Sure, but the worst fires are forest and grass fires, and sometimes those have to be fought with fire too. Carter wields a spray can of syrup while forest fires rage. "Peace in our time!" he keeps saying in one way or another, waving paper assurances from despots as reliable as Hitler. Think of him as a soldier in the fight against disease who also happens to be a foreign policy fool.

The Boycott: It’s Over, and We Won

Atlanta Jewish Times

A union of British academics tried to boycott Israeli institutions but it backfired and ended in humiliation for them.

In May, the University and College Union (UCU) of Britain voted to boycott Israeli institutions of higher learning, a violation of the basic principles of higher education and intellectual inquiry. On Sept. 28, the same union's strategy and finance committee called it off on the grounds that "a boycott call would be unlawful and cannot be implemented." This humiliating reversal ends the infamous boycott.

We ought to thank the UCU for a great gift to Israel's cause. Because in just the four months or so between the boycott and its abandonment, it caused an unprecedented outpouring of sympathy for Israel's boycotted academies from America's university and college presidents.

In a full-page ad created by Lee Bollinger of Columbia University, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee and published in The New York Times on Aug. 8, 286 leaders of U.S. academic institutions signed a strongly worded petition against the boycott. It read in bold letters: "Boycott Israeli Universities? Boycott Ours Too!"

By Sept. 25, 160 more institutional leaders had signed on, for an astounding total of 446.

Some people seem to be under the misconception that the ad proposed a counterboycott. It did nothing of the kind. It dramatically invited the UCU to put the signatory institutions in the same category as the UCU sought for the Israeli academic world.

The 446 university and college presidents who signed the petition included the majority of presidents of the top 20, 30 and 50 national universities, according to U.S. News & World Report, the majority of the top 20, 30 and 50 liberal arts colleges, and all four named "top public universities."

In Georgia, we can be proud: The ad was signed by the presidents of the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Oglethorpe, Agnes Scott, Kennesaw State, Spelman, the University of West Georgia, and Augusta State.

That did leave out Emory, my institution. None of the signatory Georgia institutions can match Emory for its Jewish population of students, alumni and potential donors. Yet all Emory President James Wagner saw fit to do was to write a letter saying academic boycotts are not in the spirit of university inquiry.

That is a weak message. A far stronger message was sent by his refusal to sign the petition. It is an irreversible embarrassment.

In the South, the petition was signed by the presidents of Vanderbilt, Clemson, Furman, Washington University of St. Louis, Tulane, Louisiana State, Florida State, the University of Miami, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, and the Universities of Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisville, among others.

Elsewhere, it was signed by the presidents of Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Cal Tech, MIT, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, the four top branches of the University of California, the Universities of Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Massachusetts, numerous Christian colleges and seminaries, and hundreds more.

Some good universities and colleges are not represented, but they are a minority in all categories, and in Georgia, except for Emory, we have just about a clean sweep.

An estimated one-third of Emory's student body is Jewish, and therefore a third of alumni and of potential donors to Emory soon will be. Most of the institutions named above cannot say the same, yet they wanted to say not just the obvious – "Boycotts aren't nice" – but the bold and symbolically powerful – "Boycott ours too!" They stood on principle. Emory missed its chance.

The boycott galvanized the leaders of American higher education and showed the world how strongly they felt. Academic freedom, Israel and the Jewish community have all scored an important victory.

Emory Gets an F

Atlanta Jewish Times

Jimmy Carter claims he wants debate, but has refused to debate anyone. What is Carter afraid of?

Emory University seems set to fail a crucial exam Feb. 22, when Jimmy Carter is due to appear with the university's complete official support before a tame audience of ill-informed, adoring students, shielded, at his own insistence, from grown-up criticism.

In a similarly staged and sanitized event at Brandeis, Carter finally apologized, calling a passage in his book that condones terrorism "improper and stupid." It was too little, too late.

His book and media blitz are rife with statements that need apologies. For example – on Al-Jazeera, no less – he baldly stated that rocket barrages against homes in Israel are not terrorist acts.

But his whole vindictive, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish campaign encourages terror. In his book and in many self-serving events propelling it toward the top of the best-seller lists, he absolves Arabs from any responsibility in the tragic impasse, blaming Israel alone, proclaiming that as soon as Israel has made enough one-sided concessions, all will be well not only in Palestine, but throughout the Middle East.

All who know the facts consider this ridiculous. Respected syndicated columnist Tom Teepen wrote recently that "to anathematize Israel," Carter "dodges, ignores or even twists history to serve that agenda."

Dennis Ross, Bill Clinton's chief envoy in the peace talks of 2000 – when Israel offered at least 95 percent of the occupied territories as an opening offer, flatly rejected – wrote that Carter is trying "to rewrite history" and that "peace can never be built on these myths."

Ethan Bronner, the deputy foreign editor of The New York Times, called the book "a distortion."

Even Palestinians are far more fair than Carter. A January poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that 25.6 percent of Palestinians blame Israel for their current crisis, while 54.5 percent blame Palestinian or Arab factions or leaders.

Carter blames Israel, only Israel.

Deborah Lipstadt, Emory's distinguished Holocaust historian, wrote in The Washington Post that Carter "ignores a legacy of mistreatment, expulsion and murder committed against Jews" and that his "minimalization of the Holocaust" gives comfort to deniers and misses the point of Israel's existence.

Veteran Congressman John Conyers, a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Carter's "apartheid" libel "does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong."

Also on Al-Jazeera, Carter claimed that "most of the condemnations of my book came from Jewish-American organizations." Is this another "improper and stupid" wording? It is certainly false, as the quotations above and countless others prove, but not all falsehoods are honest mistakes.

Carter invigorates America's worst elements by insinuating that Jews control Congress and the media. Stormfront, the oldest white supremacist Web site, wrote: "I see the whole world beginning to sense the end of Jewish political power. That's why Mel [Gibson] and Jimmy Carter are saying and doing the things they are. … Now who is afraid of the big bad Jew?"

Stormfront added: "We need to encourage Jimmy in any way we can."

Another racist Web site, the Vanguard News Network, quoted one of Carter's insinuations and said, "Translation: 'The United States has a Zionist Occupied Government.' Amen."

Mark Weber, an infamous Holocaust denier, calls Carter's book a great achievement, showing "the growing awareness of Zionist-Jewish power."

We can't blame Carter for his admirers, you say? He has played right into their hands.

To get an idea of what Carter thinks, go to the Simon Wiesenthal Center' s Web site. You will find a brief note to Rabbi Marvin Hier in Carter's handwriting, dated Jan. 26, in response to a petition signed by 25,000 Jews. The Carter response reads in full, "To Rabbi Marvin Hier: I don't believe Simon Wiesenthal would have resorted to falsehood and slander to raise funds. Sincerely, Jimmy Carter."

This astounding smear against one of Jewish Americans' most revered institutions attempts to hijack Wiesenthal's memory and accuses a leading rabbi of lying to get money. That is Carter's response – on the official stationery of the Carter Presidential Center – to the opinions of 25,000 Jews.

Is Jimmy Carter anti-Semitic? His statements certainly fall within many definitions of anti-Semitism, and they strongly encourage hatred of Jews. It has been many decades since an American of Carter's stature has faced this question; it will lie like a long shadow across his legacy.

Emory University may now fall under the same shadow. By Carter's own demand, faithfully followed by Emory's leaders, Carter will have the stage to himself, with pre-picked softball questions, no follow-up questions and no exchange with experts. He shrank from debating Alan Dershowitz at Brandeis, and he has refused to debate Ross or anyone else at Emory.

Yet he will have the university's seal of approval, being introduced by President James Wagner and moderated by Provost Earl Lewis.

In the latest outrage, Gary Hauk, an Emory vice president and deputy to the president, wrote to the entire faculty to ask us to consider excusing students from classes to attend Carter's self-serving political exercise. In other words, Carter's errors, distortions and insinuations about the Jews take precedence over the normal teaching functions performed by hundreds of dedicated professors in every field of knowledge – this at a university whose student body is one-third Jewish and that is constantly trying to raise money from Jewish alumni.

Even at Brandeis, recent reports say major donors have withdrawn support because the university gave Carter an open platform to air his distortions without criticism.

But Brandeis, seen as a Jewish institution, cannot be accused of coddling anti-Semitism. Emory can. A university's central purpose is the search for truth, and Carter has distorted the truth with impunity. If he appears at my university without qualified, expert criticism, Emory will deserve any condemnation it gets.

Carter’s About-Face Betrays Jews, Christians

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A one-time honest broker is now a biased advocate and an obstacle to peace.

We are in that season when Jews celebrate one of their few successful rebellions against oppression. Christians celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. How ironic, then, that Jewish-Americans are embroiled in a grim struggle against a Christian former president who is tainting our holiday joy.

A former president whose legacy has rested on bringing about peace between Arabs and Jews has turned his back on that to become a partisan. A man whose Christian values made him see both sides in a tragic conflict has become blind to one side's suffering. A man who walked in paths of peace has now become an obstacle to peace.

For me, it means the loss of one of my greatest heroes. I have never allowed a snide remark about Jimmy Carter's "failed" presidency to pass without contradicting it. I have said countless times that he is the greatest former president, setting a new standard for that role.

I don't recognize Carter any more. I am afraid of him now, for myself and for my children. He has not just turned his back on the balance and fairness that all peacemaking depends on. He has become a spokesman for the enemies of my people. He has become an apologist for terrorists.

At this holiday season, Jews remember a time when our existence was threatened in our homeland; it is threatened again now. Christians remember the birth of a baby boy long dreamed of, to a Jewish mother who had to flee from terror to protect him. Jewish mothers shrink from terror in the same place today.

Carter hates the wall their leaders have built to protect their children. I hate it too, and so do most Israelis. But the simple fact, disputed by no one, is that it has saved hundreds of innocent Jewish lives. It will come down when our enemies give up terror and acknowledge our right to live as a free people in our homeland.

Carter calls the Hamas leaders men of peace, a claim that flies in the face of every known reality. He wants Israel to back down unilaterally, to believe the promises of people who are its sworn enemy. Israel withdrew from Gaza just last year, removing Jewish settlers by force. The result was relentless rocket attacks and the killing and kidnapping of Jewish soldiers within Israel.

I have read with shock and sadness Carter's biased, harmful book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid." I have watched as Carter was interviewed in the media. He told CNN's Larry King that President Bill Clinton and envoy Dennis Ross were misrepresenting their peace efforts in 2000, insisting that only he knew the truth, even though they were there and he was not.

When Soledad O'Brien of CNN, showing deep concern about the severe criticisms directed against the book, asked him how he would respond, he laughed. He has not once answered the many specific criticisms except to say, again and again, that his book is completely accurate.

He has said or hinted repeatedly that Jews control the Congress and the media, a classic anti-Semitic slur. It seems that Cuban-Americans can speak up on Cuba, Irish-Americans can support the IRA, Mexican-Americans can lobby on immigration law, but when Jewish-Americans speak our minds about Israel, we don't deserve the same constitutional protections and a former president can try to silence us.

Carter has changed. Something has happened to his judgment. I don't understand what it is, but I know it is very dangerous. At a minimum, his legacy is irrevocably tarnished, and he will never again be a factor in the quest for Middle East peace. At worst, he is emboldening terrorists and their apologists in the Arab world, encouraging them to go on with their terror campaign and refuse even to recognize Israel's right to just exist.

We know what happens when the right of Jews to exist is denied, but Carter has forgotten. The "Historical Chronology" at the beginning of his book starts with Abraham and grows more detailed in modern times. But between 1939 and 1947 there is . . . nothing!

In the text, the history of Jewish suffering is accorded five lines, and the Holocaust is barely mentioned in passing. But as both Hanukkah and Christmas remind us, Jews are history's most persecuted people, and Israel, where we started, is our last, best refuge. Carter's bizarre book is a poisoned holiday gift for Jews and Christians, and a danger to Jews throughout the world.

Eye on Lebanon: Optimism Should Be Response to War

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With luck, a tragic war may lead to a more stable region and a setback for the forces of terror.

The press in Israel reported this week that Egypt is increasing its supply of palm leaves to the mostly Jewish country to meet the demand for lulavs, the bundle of four plant species used in the forthcoming holy days.

So? Well, not so long ago Egypt was Israel's archenemy, sworn to destroy it and trying every chance it got. But thanks to a handshake on the White House lawn under Jimmy Carter's gaze, Egypt has changed from existential threat to active trading partner. As for Jordan, once a hotbed of terrorism, the joint economic and technological projects with Israel are too numerous to mention.

After a costly monthlong war, a question mark hangs over the Middle East and the world that could be answered with hopelessness. It doesn't have to be.

Yes, Hezbollah is still strong in Lebanon — and don't forget, these are the very same people who killed 241 U.S. servicemen, mainly Marines, in 1983, including five Georgians.

That barracks bombing was the biggest one-day death toll for our Marines since World War II and the deadliest terrorist attack until Sept. 11. So Israel is fighting our enemies, too.

It's also true that Iran, the real power behind these terrorists, is as strong as ever, and (unlike Saddam Hussein) close to going nuclear. When Adolf Hitler said he would get rid of the Jews, neither the Jews nor the world believed him. Now we take these things very, very seriously.

President Ronald Reagan called the Lebanese terrorists "cowardly, skulking barbarians," but he was blocked by some in his administration from taking timely action against them. Those who think Israel should not have responded the way it did in Lebanon should listen to Osama bin Laden's tapes from the '80s and '90s. He said the Marine bombing proved the United States would not stand up to terror, and he went on to kill thousands of Americans.

Still, as many in Israel say, you make peace with your enemies, not your friends. Israelis are a bit discouraged right now because the victory in Lebanon was not decisive enough, and they fear that it will have to be done all over again. But some very important things have changed.

Hezbollah suffered substantial losses. It never allowed its fighters to be shown during this war, even on Arab TV, alive or dead. We were only allowed to see civilian casualties. But the terrorists were there, and they were killed in substantial numbers. The small portable rockets never stopped, but the larger, much more dangerous missiles were destroyed by Israeli planes. And the supply routes that allow Hezbollah to stock and restock weapons were severely damaged.

Most important, the balance of forces has been changed. Ever since the days of the Marine barracks bombing, the Lebanese army was too afraid of Hezbollah to deploy in the south or the east, so Lebanon left a large portion of its own land to be controlled by Iran's terrorist clients. Now 15,000 Lebanese army troops are where they should have been all along, protecting and stabilizing the entire country.

But no one thinks this alone will do the job. That is why the U.N. Security Council made the cease-fire hinge on the deployment of an equal-size international force, with the skill and courage to really protect Lebanon and Israel from terror.

Will this work? Ask the French. After beating the drum for a strong international peacekeeping force, led by them, they initially offered to provide — count them — 400 soldiers. They have now increased that offer to 2,000.

Fortunately, other nations are stepping up to the plate. Italy has pledged 3,000 troops, and multilateral negotiations in Brussels are focused on building this force up properly.

In the past five years, we Americans have learned that it is hard to defeat people who claim to love death. Like us, Israelis love life, and so do most Lebanese.

If the international community puts its power where its mouth is, Lebanon may soon be free of Iranian-sponsored terror and become a partner for Israel, just as Egypt and Jordan did. That could be the lasting legacy of this latest Lebanon war.

Mideast Can Follow N. Ireland’s Example

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

If peace can trump hatred in Northern Ireland after centuries, there is hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

It was a blessing to join my daughter for St. Patrick's Day in Northern Ireland. One surprise was a TV news story about the festival in Savannah. What fascinated people in that strife-torn country was that Savannah's Catholics and Protestants celebrate together.

People in Northern Ireland would have to be fascinated, since for centuries they have not found the unity these upstart Americans take for granted.

My previous visit to Northern Ireland, in 1998 for a conference in Derry on the social science of peace, took place during the week the Northern Ireland Assembly met for the first time. This put fierce enemies in the same room, and it was marred by a walkout. Worse, the next night, synchronized bombings damaged Catholic churches in eight locations around the country. No one was hurt, but clearly there were still forces against peace.

Tragically, there were more bombings, once as recently as September. But overall the peace held; the assembly has survived. We met with a senior republican, toured North Belfast and attended an inquiry into Bloody Sunday. Everyone we spoke to said the time for violence is over.

The Emerald Isle is prospering. Bill Clinton and George Mitchell, American peacemaker-heroes, are revered for their role in healing the old rift. But above all, people in Northern Ireland are tired of a life tinged with fear; they are bored with hatred. They care far more about having a civilized life than about their religious differences.

As an American Jew who loves Israel, I could only watch sadly from my safe Irish haven as the Middle East burst into flames; now the fire is blazing. Back in July when I visited there I saw signs of hope; today it is almost gone. To put things in perspective, half as many people have been killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past 18 months as in the whole modern history of the Northern Irish Troubles. Twice as many Jews died in Israel's war for independence alone when it was nearly killed in its cradle by six invading Arab armies as the multigeneration Irish total of around 3,000.

There are parallels, to be sure, but the Middle East conflict is fiercer, the region far less civilized than Ireland. Too many on both sides are not yet ready for peace. Palestinian terrorists destroy pizza parlors and discotheques, supermarkets and seders, not military targets, in a terror campaign unprecedented in history.

But Jewish settlers continue to build illegal extensions of their settlements, adding to Palestinians' loss of hope. The fanatical acts on the two sides are hardly comparable, yet both help to sustain the endless war.

At Camp David in 2000, Yasser Arafat rejected an offer of more than 90 percent of the land he wants, yet he wouldn't even negotiate from that as a starting point, a place from which to work toward a free, coherent state. Israel's government can in time remove many settlements; it can control its few extremists. But Arafat can't or won't control his, and their actions echo Sept. 11 every day.

No one who knows Israel thinks it can stand by while hundreds of women and children are murdered. The Nazi shadow is too long there. And anyway, what nation would just stand by?

Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are Israel's al-Qaida, and they will be hunted down in much the same way. As for those who harbor terrorists, they must be viewed as enemies. Right now, peace seems a vain dream. But it was not so long ago that things looked very bleak in Northern Ireland. One month a bomb went off near where Catholic children walked to school, yet the next month the IRA laid down thousands of weapons. Men who had given their lives to violence now dedicate them to peace.

Yitzhak Rabin, murdered by a Jewish fanatic for seeking peace, said, "You don't make peace with your friends; you make peace with your enemies." Israel today calls Arafat its enemy, but ultimately it must make peace with him or someone like him. We may still cherish the hope that the Middle East will some day follow the Irish example. In the end, there is no other way.

Jews, Arabs Haven’t Lost Compassion

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voices of sympathy on both sides bring hope to a land fraught with conflict.

A week ago I returned from two intense weeks in Israel, a personal fact-finding tour combined with visits to old friends. I felt the tension, of course, but I also found sources of hope.

The first phone call I received was from a young Palestinian friend who works for a prominent figure in his people’s leadership. He is from a centuries-old Muslim family in Jerusalem, with homes in the Old City and in even more ancient Jericho. I saw their generations-old deed to land on the Mount of Olives, now occupied by a Jewish cemetery. I picked up the phone in my rented apartment to hear his remarkable first words: “Welcome home.” “How is this my home? You can welcome me to your home.” “You also have ancient roots here. It’s your home too.”

The next day I was with Louie Williams and Susan Lourenco, a formerly English couple who live in Jaffa, in a uniquely integrated Arab and Jewish community. Louie moved to Israel in 1950, fought in several of its wars, and served as a lifelong spokesman for the Israel Defense Force, even authoring its official English-language history. But now he and Susan spend their days fighting alongside their neighbors for Arab rights. They go to court and to demonstrations to end the unfair treatment—including summary arrests and police brutality—that since the start of the current troubles has blurred the distinction between Arabs in Israel and those outside. This threatens to destabilize the generations-long loyalty to Israel shown by its one and a half million Arab citizens.  I sat with Louie and his friend Omar, whose sons were wrongly arrested and detained, and heard about their common fight for equality under the law.

A day after that I was with other friends–sabras, or native Israelis—at their home in Binyamina. Michael, a software engineer and former helicopter pilot, told me that the Camp David offer made to Arafat by Israel was undignified and could not have been accepted. Pazit, a clinical psychologist, finds that almost all her patients suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, lingering mental damage from past wars, constantly reactivated by new attacks and threats that rub salt in their hearts’ wounds. A combat veteran, she has them too. Yet she raised the shade and pointed just past her backyard, into the West Bank. This was Israel’s narrow waist before the 1967 war, five miles from the Arab artillery to the sea. “You see that?” she asked emphatically. “I am ready to give that back tomorrow, if we have peace.” “You are ready to have Palestinian guns in your backyard?” “Of course. What’s the matter, if we have peace? The French villages next to the German border aren’t worried. They were at war not so long ago, but now they have peace. That’s what peace means.” A few days later, after she and her son missed by a few minutes being killed by a suicide bomber, she repeated the same thing.

With David and Malka, I expected only intransigence. David and I went to high school together, but he became what most Jews would call ultra-Orthodox, and now has a grey beard that extends from his ready smile down to his waist. He teaches Greek but practices strict Jewish law. Malka is a convert, equally religious, a mathematician and novelist, who writes as Rachel Pomerantz. Her next book is on the social and cultural history of Israel, and she has studied with Arabs to learn their history. She too decries the treatment of Israel’s Arab citizens and openly criticizes the national anthem—Hatikvah, “the hope,” which sings of the two-thousand-year yearning of Jews for their homeland. “I have said for twenty-five years that the anthem has to be changed,” she said. “I don’t see how anyone can expect an Arab citizen of Israel to sing that song.”

Even in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Michmash, viewed by many as an obstacle to peace, I found openness and sympathy. My host Elli Wertman, a brilliant, sensitive physician in his fifties, chanted the Sabbath morning services. In the mishebeyrach, a prayer for those who are in trouble, he listed the names of Israelis kidnapped from their border station by Hizbollah operatives in Lebanon. Among them was “Omar ben ?Nidraa,” a Bedouin Muslim enrolled in the Israeli army. Here in this synagogue in the embattled West Bank, Orthodox Jewish men swaying in prayer shawls asked God for the safe return of an Arab-Israeli soldier. Later I talked at length with a younger man in the settlement, a stockbroker and father of five small children. He said that the Jewish treatment of West Bank Arabs had been completely unacceptable. “As Torah Jews, we should never have allowed children to be sick and hungry in our midst. Of course they are angry. We committed a sin, and now we are paying the price.” The price, he estimated, is the death of one Jewish settler every day.

Of course, these are not the only kinds of voices. There is enough hatred on both sides to produce the current headlines. But these women and men showed compassion and understanding for the plight of those who are supposed to be their adversaries. My daughter Susanna, who works in preventive diplomacy and who guided me on a tour last year through the Palestinian world, has taught me that ethnic hatreds are based in large part on wounds. At the root of hatred, look for hurt, humiliation, grief.

But as Debbie Wertman, a wise psychotherapist who lives in Michmash, said, “Yes, there are wounds, but there are also goals.” And the goals are often in conflict. Can the voices of compassion be heard above the din? Can justice prevail over anger?

There are positive signs. Ariel Sharon, a lifelong warrior who some call a fascist, has resisted right-wing pressure and continues his policy of restraint. Naïve observers are appalled by helicopter gunships. But these have been used in exquisitely targeted retaliations based on superb intelligence, and have eliminated some of the worst Palestinian terror cells with minimal loss of innocent life. Yasir Arafat, for decades a terrorist himself, has decried suicide bombings and so far has refused to incite revolution. But more must be done on both sides.

In a despicable act of barbarism two weeks ago, Jewish terrorists murdered a Palestinian family, including a baby, in cold blood. Will Israel capture and punish these murderers, as it has long insisted Arafat must do with their more numerous Palestinian counterparts? Will Arafat, for his part, rouse himself from his slumber and take simple steps to end or at least diminish the growing terror from his side?

Israel is not alone. Hundreds of violent deaths have occurred recently in Kashmir, China, Jamaica, Algeria, Spain, Northern Ireland, and even Yorkshire, England. In all these cases ethnic hatreds played a role. But the Middle East gets disproportionate attention, and Israel exaggerated, reflexive condemnation. We need to have patience. And we need to remember that even among the Middle East’s embattled, wounded peoples, there remain many open minds, many voices of sympathy.