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March 30, 2015 / 10 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jimmy Carter’

Video: White House Kitchen Goes Kosher

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

In honor of the annual White House Hanukkah celebration, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Director of American Friends of Lubavitch,  kashered the White House kitchen.  Shemtov – with the help of the White House kitchen staff and Chef Tommy Kurpradit, prepared the White House to host 550 guests for the annual celebration.

The  first conducted by President George W. Bush in 2001.

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, members of the House of Representantives and Senate, Supreme Court Justices, rabbis,  artists, astronauts, members of the military, Democratic activists and donors gathered in anticipation of Hanukkah at the White House on December 8, enjoying traditional foods such as latkes, jelly doughnuts and smoked salmon as well as new Jewish favorites such as sushi.

Guests were treated to a jazz rendition of “Rock of Ages” and a musical tribute to Jewish-American Composers by the U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra and lit a Chanukah menorah – a little early – which had been salvaged from a synagogue ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

President Jimmy Carter was the first to recognize Hanukkah, when he lit the National Menorah in Lafayette Park erected by Chabad-Lubavitch.  The first Hanukkah lighting ceremony at the White House was conducted by President William J. Clinton.

Time To Kick The One-Party Habit

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

For Jewish-Americans, the December date that lives in infamy is December 17. For on that day in 1862, Major-General Ulysses S. Grant issued General Order 11.

The order, which covered Grant’s military district in portions of Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky, declared that “Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the [Military District] within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.”

Those who dared to return would be “arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners.”

The order was countermanded by Abraham Lincoln before anyone was expelled. But it became an issue when Grant ran for president in 1868. How to justify the wholesale expulsion of an entire people? Grant asserted that he was furious over illegal smuggling of Southern cotton to the North and that “the order was issued and sent without any reflection and without thinking of the Jews as a set or race to themselves, but simply as persons who had … violated an order.”

This rather curious defense was apparently enough for America’s tiny Jewish community. In 1868, a majority of them cast their ballot for the Republican candidate for president – General Ulysses S. Grant.

Time has softened the hard choices facing Jewish Americans. It would be somewhat more difficult today for a candidate to win nomination after advocating a mass expulsion. But the Jewish practice of voting for candidates who work against Jewish interests lives on.

A politician could play out his career in a thousand arenas where working against his supporters is suicide and only one where it isn’t. But that one applies when he works against Jewish Americans. In the 19th and early 20th centuries this phenomenon worked to the benefit of Republicans like Grant. Since that time it has worked to the benefit of Democrats.

One of the first to benefit from this trend was Franklin Roosevelt. He and Harry Truman never drew less than 75 percent of the Jewish vote and sometimes gained as much as 90 percent of it.

How did Franklin Roosevelt repay the Jewish community? By obstructing the issuance of visas to Jewish refugees seeking to flee Europe. In June 1940, Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long ordered American consuls “to put every obstacle in the way [to] postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of visas” in order to “delay and effectively stop” all such immigration.

Roosevelt knew, however, how to grant entry to refugees when he wanted to. In August 1940 he exploited a loophole in America’s immigration law for British children, declaring them “visitors” who intended to return home.

The story of Roosevelt and the Jews grew even darker during the war. I am prepared to concede that any reasonable cost-benefit analysis argued against bombing the rail lines to Auschwitz. The Germans would have repaired them quickly and hundreds of hard-to-train flight crews would have been lost – flight crews that were needed to win the war. What I cannot concede, indeed what I cannot understand, is why Roosevelt didn’t simply announce to the world what was going on in Auschwitz. Eli Wiesel once said something that I recall hearing from many others when I was growing up: Roosevelt knew what was going on the camps, but the Jews didn’t. Why didn’t he go on the BBC or Voice of America – which everyone in Europe listened to – and warn them not to get on the trains? For that matter, why didn’t he warn the Germans that those involved in the killing would be brought to justice after the war?

A simple announcement like that would have cost the allies nothing and would have saved countless lives. Why didn’t he do it? This is one of those questions that have no answer.

* * * * *

Harry Truman has often been portrayed as a great friend of Israel because of his recognition of the Jewish state. In truth, this was an empty gesture that had little influence on events. What had far greater influence was the arms embargo he imposed against Israel. It was precisely because of that embargo that the Soviets tilted in favor of Israel and allowed Czechoslovakia to sell weapons to Jerusalem. The Czech arms deal was the decisive event outside the field of battle and it would have happened whether Truman had recognized Israel or not.

During the fighting that followed Israel’s declaration of independence, Israeli troops had Egyptian soldiers surrounded in the Negev. Truman demanded that Israel free the Egyptians without getting a peace treaty in return. The Israeli army also held a large chunk of the Sinai Peninsula as well as two villages in Lebanon. Truman likewise demanded that Israel withdraw immediately and unconditionally from both.

At the same time, Syria held three small pieces of Israeli territory. David Ben-Gurion asked that the Truman administration work with similar dispatch to bring about a Syrian withdrawal. If Israel was being forced to hand over Arab land in the Sinai and Lebanon, it seemed only fair that Syria be forced to hand over Israeli land near the Kineret. The Truman administration refused. It never pressured Syria, choosing instead to broker an agreement to have that territory, and other territory in Israel, left demilitarized.

In other words, the Truman administration took the position that the Syrian army did not have to withdraw from Israeli territory unless the Israeli army withdrew from an equal amount of Israeli territory. This outrageous double standard bedevils the region to this day because Syria now takes the position that in return for peace Israel must withdraw not only from the Golan Heights but from the demilitarized zone as well.

It’s true that Truman’s successor, Dwight Eisenhower, displayed similar hostility toward Israel following the ’56 Sinai War. But Eisenhower didn’t get 75 percent of the Jewish vote as Truman had.

In the 1960s a Jewish American could feel good voting for the Democrats. John Kennedy was the first American president to sell arms to Jerusalem. Yes, they were defensive arms only, and Kennedy’s Mideast record was troubling in several areas. But Kennedy did choose as his vice president Lyndon Johnson, who had been one of Israel’s staunchest defenders in the Senate. And when Johnson succeeded Kennedy as president, he maintained that close relationship; indeed, a plausible argument can be made that LBJ was the best friend Israel’s ever had in the Oval Office.

The Jewish people will forever owe a debt of gratitude to Johnson, as they do his successor, Richard Nixon, who came through for Israel when it mattered in 1973.

* * * * *

But in 1976 Democratic voters (not just Jews) should have been made to wear dunce caps and sit in the corner, having nominated for president Jimmy Carter instead of Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson and sending him to the White House.

In fairness, it should be said that even if Scoop Jackson had been elected, the Camp David Peace Treaty probably would have turned out the same: full withdrawal from Sinai in return for full peace, and agreeing to disagree on Jerusalem.

That doesn’t change the fact that Jimmy Carter treated Israel with nothing but unbending hostility. In his diary, Carter blamed Israel for every impasse, saw a Jewish lobbyist hiding behind every bush, and wrote that Sadat deserved the Nobel Peace Prize while Begin did not. The Israelis were particularly enraged by Carter’s insistence that a letter be included in the Camp David Accords stating that East Jerusalem was occupied territory that would have to be returned.

“Why,” Moshe Dayan asked in his memoirs, “was the Jewish Quarter in the Old City regarded as ‘conquered territory,’ held by us in contravention of international law? Simply because the Jordanian Arab Legion conquered it in 1948, destroyed its synagogues, killed or took captive the Jewish civilians who lived there? What was there holy about the military conquest by the Jordanian Army in 1948, and profane about our victory in the 1967 war – a war which also started with Jordan’s attack on Israel?”

None of that seemed to have fazed America’s Jewish community. At a particularly low point, the United Jewish Appeal honored Lillian Carter, Jimmy Carter’s mother, as its Outstanding Humanitarian of the Year. She declared, “I’ve never been around so many Jews before” – and got a standing ovation. Incredibly, Carter received a plurality of the Jewish vote when he ran against Ronald Reagan in 1980, garnering 45 percent to Reagan’s 39 percent. (Third party candidate John Anderson picked up the rest of the Jewsih vote.)

How fortunate that the American people could see what American Jews could not. The 1980s were a particularly difficult time for Israel. Those years witnessed the destruction of Saddam’s nuclear reactor, the First Lebanon War, the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, Israel’s economic collapse in 1985, the arrest of Jonathan Pollard, the leak by Mordecai Vanunu of Israel’s nuclear capability, and the First Intifada. I shudder to think what might have happened if even one of those events had occurred on Jimmy Carter’s watch. Ronald Reagan never wavered in his support.

As Moshe Dayan tells it in his memoir, there was only man in the Carter administration even more hostile to Israel than Carter himself. “What I resented most,” he writes, “was the part played by Vice President Mondale . I was disgusted.” In 1984, when Reagan was reelected to a second term with 59 percent of the general vote, Jews gave 67 percent of their votes to his Democratic challenger – Walter Mondale.

In more recent times, no one talked with greater emotion about Israel than Bill Clinton. He bid “shalom” to his chaver Yitzhak Rabin and never tired of quoting his pastor, whose dying words were “Don’t forget Israel.” I saw him tell the pastor story in New York City. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

One can only wonder, then, what Clinton was thinking in 1993 when Hizbullah started a border war with Israel. At a time during which Hizbullah had murdered more Americans than any other terror group – this was before 9/11 – Clinton decided to pressure his chaver Rabin into a cease-fire agreement after just ten days. He did the same thing in 1996 to Prime Minister Shimon Peres after just seventeen days. Hizbullah concluded that Washington would always come to the rescue. Not surprisingly, after each such rescue it went right back to shooting at Israel.

When Hizbullah attacked Israel in 2006, kidnapping Regev and Goldwasser and killing eight other soldiers, the group told Lebanon’s prime minister not to worry. The infidel Jews would bomb for a few days and then they’d be forced to stop.

What Hizbullah failed to take into account was that this time there was a Republican in the White House. George W. Bush reasoned that if other countries had the right to fight back, then Israel should enjoy that right as well. With no American pressure to speak of, the war lasted 34 days. It was the only war in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict that Jerusalem started on its own terms and ended on its own terms. When the guns fell silent, there was rubble piled high in Beirut and a new set of rules on the ground. The border between Israel and Lebanon has been almost totally quiet ever since.

The contrast between Clinton and Bush was just as stark with respect to the Palestinians. When Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Palestinians on Purim in 1994, the Clinton administration sprang into action. Despite the fact that Goldstein acted alone, the administration allowed the Security Council to condemn Israel and even set up an international observer force in Hebron to help protect Palestinians.

When Palestinians attacked Israelis in an organized fashion with claims of responsibility, the response from Clinton was of a different kind altogether. After Benjamin Netanyahu, in his first go-round as prime minister, opened the door to the Kotel Tunnels, Yasir Arafat started a mini-war that left dozens dead. Clinton blamed the episode on a startled Netanyahu and demanded concessions from Israel.

The same thing happened after Netanyahu announced new building in Har Homa. Arafat responded by emptying out Palestinian jails, a caf? in Tel Aviv was bombed – and the Clinton administration blamed Netanyahu. In September 2000, after the trumped up “provocation” of Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, Arafat almost certainly figured he was back in the driver’s seat. The next day he started the al-Aksa Intifada.

George W. Bush, derided by the vast majority of American Jews, stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself, granting Jerusalem the leeway it needed to win the war against Arafat’s suicide bombers. (Try to imagine the outcry if Israel had entered Jenin on Clinton’s watch.) Israel even hurried to finish up Operation Cast Lead in January 2009 on the last day of Bush’s administration. It had good reason to do so. A Democrat was about to assume office.

* * * * *

All of which brings us to Barack Obama. In December 2008 Israel offered the Palestinians the two-state solution once again, including an unprecedented offer to absorb thousands of refugees. The Palestinians said no, made no concessions and offered no counter-terms.

Obama assumed office a month later. The Great Man determined that the real problem was – what else? – the settlements! He then took a position that was even more anti-Israel than the Palestinians had taken. Until then, the Palestinians accepted the idea that Israel could build in the three settlement blocs. Obama demanded that Israel freeze building everywhere, even in East Jerusalem. The peace process has been in a ditch ever since.

A personal note: I am embarrassed to admit it now, but I was a Democrat myself for almost twenty years. I once hosted an event for a Democratic candidate that raised $25,000. It was Bill Clinton and his treatment of Israel that cured me once and for all. I am now a Republican. And I have all the zeal of the converted.

In a democracy, you get the government you deserve. The Jewish people have long deserved better. This Tuesday, we have an opportunity to stand with those who have stood with us. We owe ourselves nothing less.

Uri Kaufman is the author of “Low Level Victory,” scheduled for release early next year.

Help The Monitor Decide

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Beginning in 2005 the Monitor has awarded annual recognition to a Jewish individual who, by his or her statements, displays contempt for the Jewish people, disregard for historical truth, a desire to sup at the table of Israel’s enemies, or who otherwise plays into the hands of the enemies of Jews and Israel.

As can be imagined, such a decision is hardly an easy one, what with the seemingly inexhaustible supply of Jews given to fatuous and foolish pronunciamentos. We call our little honor the Henry Schwarzschild Award, named after the late civil liberties activist (he did in 1996) who, in the wake of the Israeli siege of Beirut in the summer of 1982, wrote a letter to the journal Sh’ma in which he renounced Israel, declared himself its enemy, and termed the creation of the Jewish state “a tragedy of historical dimensions.”

In the past the Monitor chose each year’s honoree with no input from readers. This year we’re inviting readers to send in their nominees, along with the offending quote(s) made by those nominees during calendar year 2008. The winner of the Schwarzschild Award is announced in January or February, so readers have until the end of the year to submit their suggestions.

The winner of the Monitor’s first Schwarzschild Award (for the year 2004) was Uri Avnery, the granddad of Israel’s hard-core Left. In an interview with Haaretz shortly after the death of Yasir Arafat, Avnery waxed lyrical about the wonderful qualities he’d found in the terror chief who championed and orchestrated the killing of countless men, women and children.

The second Schwarzschild Award went to ADL National Director Abraham Foxman, who, in a speech at the ADL’s national conference, tore into the Christian Right – Israel’s most faithful support group in the U.S. outside the Jewish community (actually, some would argue, more faithful than the Jewish community itself) for what he described as its efforts “to ‘Christianize’ all aspects of American life, from the halls of government to the libraries, to the movies, to recording studios, to the playing fields and locker rooms of professional, collegiate and amateur sports, from the military to SpongeBob SquarePants.”

The third annual Schwarzschild Award went to Michael Lerner, publisher of the far-left Tikkun magazine, who took offense at the widespread negative reaction among supporters of Israel to Jimmy Carter’s atrocious book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

“Jimmy Carter,” wrote Lerner, “was the best friend the Jews ever had as president of the United States…. Carter is speaking the truth as he knows it, and doing a great service to the Jews. It’s time to create a new openness to criticism and a new debate. Jimmy Carter has shown courage in trying to open that kind of space with his new book, and he deserves our warm thanks and support.

The winner of the Monitor’s fourth Schwarzschild Award was Haaretz editor David Landau, who told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel needed to be “raped” by the United States, adding, in sexual terminology too vulgar to repeat in a family newspaper, that conveying this sentiment to her had always been his fantasy.

Actor Ed Asner won the fifth annual Schwarzschild Award. A hard core leftist, Asner last year took up the cause of Israelis who refuse to serve in the IDF, penning an article that appeared on The Huffington Post and other left-leaning websites and blogs in which he approvingly cited the “courage” of Omer Goldman, a young Israeli woman who has already served two terms in an Israeli military jail for, in Asner’s words, “standing up to the government.”

Asner excitedly quoted Goldman’s observation that “the most dangerous thing in Palestine is the Israeli soldiers, the very people who are supposed to be on my side” and then offered his own bit of wisdom: “I find it hard to believe than anyone can look Omer in the eye and tell her that she has to risk her life and her future for Israel whether she wants to or not. It’s just not right. Especially during this time of year [Chanukah] when many of us are getting ready to celebrate a holiday about freedom….”

Who will be honored with the sixth annual Schwarzschild Award? Please help the Monitor decide.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

‘The Highest Office’

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

     The recent presidential election has caused terrible angst for some voters and incredible joy for others. However, American history has shown that no matter who is elected to the oval office, the fundamental principles of the country are sound, and life carries on. 

     Power in the United States regularly bounces from Republican to Democrat like a lively ping-pong game. Many new presidents are, in fact, elected as a protest vote against the previous regime. In a country that is governed by checks and balances, the volley of parties does not do permanent harm. 

    The United States staggered under the shock of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal and consequently elected Jimmy Carter. It was humiliated by Carter’s inept handling of the hostages in Iran and elected Ronald Reagan. It was scandalized by the shenanigans of Bill Clinton’s high-risk, inappropriate romances and elected George W. Bush. Yet, through it all, the nation remained strong.

    The people of America reeled under the attack of 9/11 and its aftermath. Perhaps everything that followed was not handled to perfection. It is very easy to be a Monday- morning quarterback. However, despite the mistakes of the president or officials in charge, our country has pulled through a terrible trauma. We are intact.   

   There seems to be a pattern to life, which belies the idea that we, alone, decide our destiny. Perhaps the answer is that we are not the sole arbitrator of what happens, despite our greatest efforts. Of course, we are mandated to do our best to put things in place.  However, it seems that man can never really hold the “highest office.”

    So hang in there. There are lessons to be learned. There are experiences to be had.  There is a lot to process.  Gam zu l’tovah, everything is for the best! 

Rebuked By The Jimmy Carter Fan Club

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

A couple of recent columns that were less than laudatory to the 39th president of the United States provoked some interesting reader responses. If laughter is indeed the best medicine, the Monitor ought to bottle this stuff.

Here’s an e-mail from Betty G., who says a friend e-mailed her one of the Monitor’s anti-Carter pieces and prefaces her remarks about Carter with a rant against Orthodox Jews for “ruining Israel.”

For the first twenty years or so of its existence, Betty explains, “Israel was a secular country which, while throwing a bone or two to the religious element on things like Sabbath observance and kashruth, was by and large defined by its vibrant, freethinking, secular populace. This has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades with the growth of the Orthodox and their increasing stranglehold over important Israeli institutions, including the IDF.”

As for Carter, the comic-book character Betty Cooper never swooned over Archie Andrews as embarrassingly as our Betty swoons over the liver-lipped scold from Plains:

“President Carter is my definition of a real man: Forthright, fair-minded, honest, of high moral character, and just plain good. He commands your respect. He has an air of masculine authority seasoned with an endearing trace of humility. When I see him on TV, I can swear there’s a glow emanating from him.”

Whew! Someone’s apparently been reading a tad too many romance novels. Reader, despite what many may choose to believe, the Monitor is not without compassion. A prompt response went out to Betty recommending a therapeutic cold shower and suggesting she submit to a thorough eye examination or have her TV checked – preferably both.

Next up is Martin K., whose rich imagination is filled with images of Fireman Jimmy carrying him out of a burning building and Skipper Jimmy rescuing him from a remote desert isle and…oh, dear, the Monitor doesn’t like where this is going:

“First,” writes Martin, “you trash President Carter in your Media Monitor column of Nov. 24 (“Jimmy Carter’s Jewish Problem”) and then you have the nerve to rank him as the worst president ever in terms of his relationship with Israel (“Ranking the Presidents”) in your Jan. 12 column. How dare you?

“I would trust my safety and the safety of the Jewish people with Jimmy Carter any day of the week over any and all of the presidents you rank ahead of him. If I were trapped in a fire and had to pick a president to get me to safety, my choice would be President Carter. If I were stranded on a desert island and had the choice of any president to keep me company and figure a way out, it would be President Carter hands down.”

The Monitor thought it best not to respond to Martin. Nothing concrete, mind you, just a hunch.

Lawrence W., a self-described progressive who considers himself “a citizen of the world rather than of a particular country and a member of the human race first, Jewish race second,” combines an encomium to Carter with an attack on Israel:

“I was never so proud to be an American as I was when Jimmy Carter was president,” Lawrence informs us. “Mr. Carter is a great humanitarian whose heart goes out to the stateless Palestinians who are herded like zoo animals behind the security wall; harassed at checkpoints; humiliated in countless ways, small and large, on a daily basis; killed indiscriminately every time the IDF decides to mount an incursion onto Palestinian territory; forced to live lives of poverty and misery because the Israelis refuse to grant them the same sovereignty that we Jews begged, pleaded and prayed for during the course of our exile.”

Finally, we hear from Louise P., someone who appears to confuse Judaism with something she read in a New York Times editorial or quite possibly heard from some Reform rabbi named Ellen at a community center kumzitz:

“Being pro-Israel does not mean kowtowing to Israeli politicians – it means insisting that Israel behave like an ethical nation, seeking peace, agreeing to compromise, and being a ‘light unto the nations’ by following the precepts of Tikkun Olam on which the Torah is based. So, according to our own tradition, there is no one more pro-Israel than Jimmy Carter.”

The Schwarzschild Award

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

The winner of the Monitor’s third annual Henry Schwarzschild Award for most offensive comments by a Jew in the public spotlight goes to Michael Lerner, publisher of the far-left Tikkun magazine.

The prize, which last year went to Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman and the year before that to Israeli uber-leftist Uri Avnery, is awarded to the person who, in the Monitor’s considered opinion, by his or her statements displays a contempt for the Jewish people, a disregard for historical truth, a desire to sup at the table of Israel’s enemies, or who otherwise plays into the hands of the enemies of Jews and Israel.

Before we get to Lerner’s words of wisdom, a little something about Henry Schwarzschild and why a prize like this deserves to bear his name.

Schwarzschild, who died in 1996, was a longtime activist in groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Jewish Peace Fellowship. In the wake of the Israeli siege of Beirut in the summer of 1982, he wrote a public letter of resignation from the editorial advisory board of the journal Sh’ma – a letter that will stand in perpetuity as a monument to the unimaginable neuroses and insecurities of a secular leftist.

Schwarzschild’s main points:

For a generation now, I have been deeply troubled by the chauvinistic assumptions and repressive effects of Israeli nationalism. I have experienced the War on Lebanon of the past few weeks as a turning point in Jewish history and consciousness exceeded in importance only by the End of the Second Commonwealth and the Holocaust. I have resisted the inference for over thirty years, but the War on Lebanon has now made clear to me that the resumption of political power by the Jewish people after two thousand years of diaspora has been a tragedy of historical dimensions….

I will not avoid an unambiguous response to the Israeli army’s turning West Beirut into another Warsaw Ghetto. I now conclude and avow that the price of a Jewish state is, to me, Jewishly unacceptable and that the existence of this (or any similar) Jewish ethnic religious nation state is a Jewish, i.e. a human and moral, disaster and violates every remaining value for which Judaism and Jews might exist in history.

The lethal military triumphalism and corrosive racism that inheres in the State and in its supporters (both there and here) are profoundly abhorrent to me. So is the message that now goes forth to the nations of the world that the Jewish people claim the right to impose a holocaust on others in order to preserve the State….I now renounce the State of Israel, disavow any political connection or emotional obligation to it, and declare myself its enemy….

Schwarzschild’s reprehensible screed was immediately published in the leftist Nation magazine (then and now the most anti-Israel mainstream political publication in America) and for better than two decades has remained a favorite of Jews on the Left. Tony Kushner (Steven Spielberg’s screenwriter for “Munich”) and Alisa Solomon thought so much of it that they included it in Wrestling with Zion, a compilation of essays by leftists struggling with their ambivalence toward Israel.

On to Michael Lerner, who back in December was all lathered up over widespread negative reaction among supporters of Israel to Jimmy Carter’s atrocious new book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. According to Lerner:

Jimmy Carter was the best friend the Jews ever had as president of the United States…. In an interview that will appear in the January issue of Tikkun magazine, Carter points out that he is “not referring to racism as a basis for Israeli policy in the West Bank, but rather the desire of a minority of Israelis to occupy, confiscate and colonize the West Bank.”…. What Carter is arguing is that the best interests of Israel and the United States are not served by the current policies…. Jimmy Carter is speaking the truth as he knows it, and doing a great service to the Jews…. It’s time to create a new openness to criticism and a new debate. Jimmy Carter has shown courage in trying to open that kind of space with his new book, and he deserves our warm thanks and support.

So there it is. In Lerner’s world, the more someone lambastes Israel, the more someone speaks disparagingly of Israeli policy and Israeli leaders while raising nary a hint of criticism against Arab states and Arab leaders, the more that person is to be trusted, thanked and praised. From his perch in a presumably warmer climate, Henry Schwarzschild must be glowing.

Not An Anti-Semite, Just A Well-Intentioned Imbecile

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

      I grew up during the 1970’s, universally acknowledged as a truly horrendous decade. In 1970’s America we danced to disco music, wore leisure suits, and watched “The Brady Bunch.” And as if that weren’t torture enough, we had Jimmy Carter as our president.
      I can still recall just how depressing it was to watch Carter’s taciturn face on TV announcing one catastrophe after another, from the skyrocketing misery index to Americans being taken hostage in Iran to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the tragically botched attempt to rescue our countrymen from their Iranian captors.
      It would not be a stretch to say that Jimmy Carter was arguably the most hapless president in all American history, and indeed most presidential historians rate him at or near the very bottom of the list. Now, with the publication of his ignorant rant against Israel, Palestine Peace not Apartheid, many in the American Jewish community have come to believe that Carter is not simply a loser but an anti-Semite. I disagree. Jimmy Carter is not so much anti-Semite as anti-intellectual, not so much a Jew-hater as a boor.
      The real explanation behind Carter’s limitless hostility to Israel is a total lack of any moral understanding. Carter wants to do what’s just. His heart is in the right place – he just can’t figure out what the right is. He is, and always has been, a well-meaning imbecile, a well-intentioned fool, a man of good intentions bereft of good judgment. He invariably finds himself defending tyrants and dictators at the expense of their oppressed peoples. Not because he is a bad man, but because he is a confused man.
      Carter subscribes to what I call the “Always Root for the Underdog” school of morality. Israel has tanks and F-16’s, the Palestinians don’t. The Palestinians therefore are being oppressed. Never mind that the Palestinians have rejected every offer to live side by side with Israel in peace, and have just elected a government pledged to Israel’s annihilation. Their poverty dictates the righteousness of their cause even if their actions speak otherwise. If Israel builds a barrier to cordon off the Palestinians, it is not to prevent their suicide bombers from dismembering children but to punish them for having darker skin.
      Carter’s obsession with the unrighteous underdog has embarrassed him many times before. It was what motivated him to visit and legitimize Fidel Castro and take his side in a bio-weapons dispute with the United States. Castro runs a tiny island in the shadow of the world’s Superpower. He therefore must be a victim of American bullying, even if he is a brutal dictator and tyrant.
      Championing the unrighteous underdog also led Carter to praise the murderous North Korean tyrant Kim Il Sung with these words: “I find him to be vigorous, intelligent and in charge of the decisions about this country,” adding, “I don’t see that they [the North Koreans] are an outlaw nation.”
      He also hailed Marshal Joseph Tito as “a man who believes in human rights,” and said of the murderous Romanian dictator Ceausescu, “Our goals are the same: to have a just system of economics and politics. We believe in enhancing human rights.” Championing the underdog also led Carter to tell the Haitian dictator Raul C?dras that he was “ashamed of what my country has done to your country.”
      As a marital counselor I have met many well-meaning arbitrators who always take the side of the wife in an ugly dispute in the belief that the woman, because she is weaker than her husband, is always the innocent and aggrieved party. Even where the evidence pointed to the wife being violent and unreasonable, the arbitrator could not conceive of the husband as anything but an oppressor. Needless to say, such arbitrators cause more harm than good, which is why Jimmy Carter would make an even worse marital counselor than he was a president.
      No, Jimmy Carter is not an anti-Semite so much as a man whose shallowness and lack of judgment render him absolutely incapable of telling right from wrong.
      Carter’s obscene comparison of Israel with apartheid South Africa ignores the fact that Israel airlifted tens of thousands of black Africans ad made them free and full citizens of the Jewish state, a phenomenon that has no historical precedent.
      By saying the Palestinians are being subjected to apartheid Carter has grossly maligned not Jews but black South Africans. Whereas black South Africans inspired the world with their humane capacity for forgiveness and peaceful coexistence with their white brethren, even after having been so egregiously wronged, the Palestinians have unfortunately embraced murderous hatred and racism. Arab newspapers are filled with grotesque caricatures of Jews, and the Palestinians teach kindergarten children to grow up and blow up Israeli buses.
      Nelson Mandela rose to become a great statesman with his articulation of brotherhood and reconciliation. But Yasir Arafat fathered international terrorism and stole hundreds of millions of dollars from his own people who continue to live in abject poverty.

      All of which leads to one conclusion in the matter of James Earl Carter. Before one runs around the world as a global do-gooder, one should first develop the ability to identify the good.


      Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is a TV host (“Shalom in the Home”) whose most recent book is “Parenting with Fire: Lighting Up the Family with Passion and Inspiration.” His website is www.shmuley.com.

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