Jimmy Carter A Victim Of
Fake Evenhandedness

Terrell E. Arnold

Senior Foreign Service Officer (ret) of the US Department of State whose immediate pre-retirement positions were as Chairman of the Department of International Studies of the National War College, and as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency Planning
According to the Associated Press, on Thursday fourteen members of the advisory board of the Carter Center resigned, saying that the former President had abandoned his "role as broker" to become "an advocate for one side". Their complaint was that in publishing his best selling book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid", Carter unfairly criticized Israel.
If one takes the concept of "fairness" seriously, and actually takes on board the factually well-established truths of Carter's book, the complaining board members are spouting arrant nonsense. However, it is worth looking closely at what they are doing.
Part of their publicity gambit has to be that they are trying to restore the historic practice of deceiving Americans about what goes on in Palestine. For more than half a century the Israelis have gotten away, in the United States, with the complaint that they are the innocent victims of Palestinian terrorism. On that basis, the continuous Israeli practice of expelling and/or killing Palestinians, taking their land, putting them in prison without charge, and in general making life miserable for them is largely not mentioned in American mainstream media. What media do mention is attacks by Palestinians, including the lobbing of primitive rockets into Israeli border areas and periodic suicide bombers who blow themselves up on crowded streets or buses.
Either the resigning board members lacked the courtesy to read Carter's book, or they chose to ignore his actual text. Reference to the Palestinians, their violent reactions to Israeli repression, the positions of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the militant group Hamas are clearly and unemotionally reported. Carter's cataloging of the Israeli actions that led to his book title, including the details of land grabs, harassment, confinement to smaller and smaller areas of Palestine, the meandering wall, Carter is meticulous and accurate. His book is actually a carefully developed picture of his experience with the situation, the Palestinians and the Israelis, and an informed appraisal of subsequent developments.
In the end, Carter's judgment that the Israelis are practicing apartheid is well documented. Palestinians mostly are treated as subhuman, and there are no apparent restraints on the conduct of Israel Defense Force personnel in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Because of IDF treatment, which is official policy of the present Israeli government, the Palestinians live in an open prison that shrinks a little every day as Israeli settlers spread out, "Israeli only" highways encroach on villages, fields and orchards, and the wall redefines the border by taking more land.
Resigning board members obviously have chosen to ignore the reviews of a number of Israelis who have praised Carter's book. In at last one instance, the writer said that Carter had only reported what every Israeli knows to be the truth. And the pattern goes on. Yesterday, for example, Uri Avnery, leader of the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom, reported "As from next Friday, Israeli drivers will be forbidden to take Palestinians in their cars in the West Bank." That, he says, "stinks of Apartheid." The term is on the consciences of Israelis, as it should be.
Carter's book was the high point of a year in which the carefully controlled censorship of information about Palestine to Americans began openly to come apart. The process was thoroughly launched when two American scholars, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt wrote an article called "The Israel Lobby" to expose the practices of such groups as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee both to manipulate American policy and suppress any flow of information likely to be critical of Israel. It might be said that this article and the public debate that followed its publication created a climate for the release of Carter's book.
In the meantime, a free-wheeling flow of information about developments in the Middle East was already well established on the Internet. It began to creep into mainstream American media, but the flow is still very limited, because the outrage of Israel supporters has proven easy to turn on, and threats of withdrawing advertising or other retaliation have been delivered to offending media.
There is still much for Americans to learn about Palestine. Critical to American interests is a clear understanding of the roots of international terrorism. Since 9/11 the Bush administration has focused in monomaniac fashion on al Qaida. But the basic message of that group's founder, Osama bin Laden, who may or may not still be alive, is that the treatment of the Palestinian people by Israel is the core global driver of international terrorism.
The history of the problem shows the truth of this observation. The flowering of international terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s was centered on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Most of the Middle Eastern terrorist organizations of that period had their roots in Palestine. That included a half dozen or more groups such as the PLO, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two offshoots of that organization, plus the group called May 15, the Abu Nidal group, and others who were sympathetic though not of Palestinian origin.
While some of those groups have gone by the board due to death or "retirement" of their leaders, the bulk of Middle East terrorism is still rooted in Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. Their principal grievance is the repression of the Palestinian people and the continuing confiscation of the Palestinian homeland by Israel.
It is a tribute to the mindset created by decades of subtle censorship of all faults Israeli that a group such as Carter's fourteen board members simply rejects reality. Moreover, they have resorted to the usual strategies: If you cannot discredit or censor the information, kill the messenger. If you cannot kill the messenger, discredit him and/or disassociate yourself from him. Severe shame sanctions have been invoked on Jews in America and even in Israel to prevent discussion of this subject, and Zionist treatment of the Palestinians has been spiritually devastating to many Israelis.
Unfortunately, if all that fails, the strategy in a number of countries has been to pass a hate crime law that keeps people from talking about it. Such a bill comes periodically before the US Congress. The aim is not to achieve any real evenhandedness or fairness, but to induce silence. It would be a travesty of American law and liberties if it ever passed, but Israel supporters keep trying, and the morality, as well as the soul of Israel shrivels a little with each attempt.
The writer is the author of the recently published work, A World Less Safe, now available on Amazon, and he is a regular columnist on He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US Department of State whose immediate pre-retirement positions were as Chairman of the Department of International Studies of the National War College, and as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency Planning. He will welcome comment at



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