Friday, May 04, 2007

Jimmy Carter at Berkeley

Berkeley students lining up to see President Carter (May 2, 2007)

If you put 1,500 college students in a room and make them listen to 30 minutes of canned analysis followed by some valedictory banalities from a failed ex-president, they will still give the man a standing ovation. After all, many of them waited in line for two hours to get tickets.

The funny thing is that those who have been involved in "the struggle" for years (well, semesters) probably left the room wondering about the future of the resistance ... with "friends" like him. First, President Carter denied that Israeli policies in the West Bank were racist. Then, he explained that he never claimed that "events and conditions in Israel" constitute apartheid. Why then does his book carry the subtitle Peace not Apartheid? As As'ad AbuKhalil has said, it is clear that while
Jimmy Carter gave his new book a strong title ... he lacks the courage to defend it. He always waffles when he is asked to explain it.
Instead, Carter admitted that he chose the title to provoke and to get people to pay attention. If he made an argument to the effect that Israel engages in a policy of apartheid in the West Bank, I missed it. In lieu of such an argument, he told the audience that he simply "can't think of any word that describes the situation more accurately."

I have heard many people invoke "apartheid" when describing Israel's policies in the territories. On my walk to campus, I pass by signs urging me to "boycott apartheid Israel" every day. It is also true that the term is thrown about with abandon by some on the Israeli far left. But I have never heard a rigorous argument for this, especially not one that actually makes reference to the situation in South Africa. I don't find these comparisons any more convincing than I find the equation of Israeli policies with Nazism.

Aside from the apartheid question, there isn't a whole lot to get excited about. Carter's vision of peace sounded suspiciously close to the one articulated by the Zionist left for years. In Carter's view, the Palestinian refugees should not be allowed to return to Israel proper but would be compensated by an international fund; half of the Israeli settlements should be annexed to Israel as part of a territorial exchange with the Palestinians; and guaranteeing Israel's security from terrorism is as important as the creation of a stable and prosperous Palestine alongside it.

On top of that, Carter spent the first ten minutes of his speech sucking up to the Zionists. First, he highlighted his efforts on behalf of Soviet Jewry, including his interventions to help neo-liberal and hawkish refuseniks like Natan Sharansky. Then, Carter spoke proudly of his role in prohibiting U.S. companies from cooperating with the Arab League boycott of Israel by engaging in "secondary boycotts." He also talked about his role in setting up the commission that planned the construction of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Time and again, he invoked the visions of "justice and righteousness" in the Hebrew scriptures and in the Jewish tradition; he sounded almost like Michael Lerner.


Surely, some audience members must have wondered, Carter would say something about the Zionist conspiracy to control the American discourse on Palestine. He did, sort of, but first he emphasized that he had "never believed that Jews control the media," and that "the overwhelming support for Israel comes from American Christians like [him]." Interestingly enough, a murmur went through the crowd when Carter began his sentence about "major news organizations," as if in anticipation of some lethal blow; it died down quickly as he finished the next clause.

Representing something else

According to Carter, the "powerful influence of AIPAC" constitutes only an "additional factor." And there is nothing wrong with the lobby, "which is exercising its legitimate right to pursue the goal of defending the most conservative governments of Israel."

To top it all off, Carter kept saying such nice things about ordinary Israelis, shifting the blame solely onto "the leaders of Israel, AIPAC, and most of the vocal leaders of American Jewry." Indeed, among the latter - the rabbis - Carter claimed, there were many who, in private conversation, told him that "given the American climate, it was almost impossible for them to criticize Israel."

President Carter began his talk with the claim that few people have had as many opportunities to get to know the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as he has. I am sure that Carter has done some very valuable work in the region, especially as an elections monitor (no sarcasm intended here). But I was a bit perturbed by the state of his knowledge at some points of the talk - though this was usually marginal to the argument.

For example, Carter referred twice to the "three [sic] Israeli soldiers that the Palestinians are holding." He advocated that Israel swap these for "9,800 Palestinian prisoners" held by the country. Did Carter's people never brief him on the fact that Hizbullah, not Palestinian militants, is holding two of these soldiers?

Carter was very sanguine about the prospects for peace in the region. In his view - which certainly does not lack adherents - "the growth of Islamic extremism is directly related to the continuing bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians." He even felt it necessary to add that it is "foolish to say otherwise." Muslim animosity for the West is mostly "because of the Palestinians' plight." The notion that Iraqis will stop killing each other and that al-Qaeda will throw in the towel as soon as the Israelis leave the West Bank is ridiculous and dangerous (for Americans). It will be disproved as soon as some idiot actually tries to turn it into policy.

The former president is equally optimistic about the future of Palestine, after "the occupation" - that great metaphysical evil - has been scourged. Given the reports coming daily out of Gaza, I have to admit that I almost laughed out loud (I wasn't the only one) when Carter remarked that "the Palestinians, in their own area, have almost perfect democracy." Don't expect to find a lot of reporting on this in the Western media, but see Avi Issacharoff's article on the democratic situation in Gaza right now.

Finally, I was a little confused by the answer Carter gave to a question from the audience on what the U.S. should do about Darfur. Carter explained that he had met Bashir; "he's a devout Muslim, which is part of the cause of the war between the north and south." Was Carter really confused about the location of Darfur and the causes of the genocide there?


Anonymous said...

"part of the cause of the war between the north and south."

no, he was just trying to divert the discussion away from Darfur onto a secondary, less important issue (the North-South Civil war, which ended in 2005). He is just playing to the ignorance of the American public, and it seems to be working well.

Blam Blom said...

never mind all the details- refugees, final borders, Jerusalem, settlers- they don't matter to Carter and they don't matter to Americans. As long as people believe that Israel is the bad guy and the obstacle to peace, he will be successful. As long as Carter is allowed to frame the issue as just the occupation of the West Bank (NOT Gaza), he is misleading people. It is impossible to understand the issue without understanding how we got to where we are today, mainly how the ongoing efforts of the Arabs (not just Palestinians) to exterminate the Israeli people led to the occupation, and allow it to continue.

Anonymous said...

1:26 Anonynmous: Yes, I believe that this is the point Amos was trying to make (diversion) - or did you think that Jimmy Carter had fooled the authors of this blog, too?

Anonymous said...

Z R talk is free.

Please a proof that European and or Asiatic and or African Jews are not the direct descendants of the Jews that lived always in Israel, Leb. Syr. and Egy. Iraq, Arabia, Yemen, ect. before the 20th century massive ethnic cleaning of Jews, by you and the like of you, from all places in which they could not protect themselfes by weapons.

Why should any Jew trust you or the like of you, the same people who ethnic cleaned ( 100% !!!) about a million Jews from Arab and Muslim countries? Reading you any Jew will be supper idiot not to arm himself to the teeth. While pretending to be PC you can not avoid equating Jews and Zionists, which you try to do but can not because you are racist to the core, you racism is a most basic part of your being. Just read what you wrote, you racist bigot.

Please a proof that any Arab lived west of the Jordan before 600 AD. and the only way they could settle was by force of sword and ethnic cleaning.

Please a proof that Arabs have better claim than the Jews, any Jews, to any land west of the Jordan in which they, as Arabs, lived alone. Why should I give away (to the like of racists you) my right of self determination. If the Pal. have it the Jews have it much more. What is the diff. between a Syrian, Leb. Jord. and Pal. ? even most (many? )Arabs think that there is no diff. The only reason you want a state is to deny it to the Jews. You are not motivated by care about the Pal. you are motivated by pathological hate to Jews and clinical Judeophobia.
I do not belive in your offer. I do not think this offer is made in good fate. Just read the way in which you respond to an Arab from Leb. who think differently from you.
It is clear to any reader what you and the like of you will do to this Arab Leb. if he will not be able to protect himself. If this is what you intend to do to him what will you do with Jews who think differently from you?
This one state talk is a bold lie. You want to destroy Is. and bring the Jews to the position they are entitled to by the Sharia. There is no other political system in the ME exept may be Leb. and you are the proof of what the like of you are offering to the non Musslims of Leb. The only way you can destroy the state of Israel is by war. You know it, most USA people know it. Carter knows it. 99% of the Jews in Israel know it. Probably every body who read this blog knows it.
He who wants war will get it.

Anonymous said...

can Z R give five facts that show that Israel is Racist? In comparison to other states, peferably states that he think are not racist. Can Z R name five states in Europe and five in the ME that are not racist? ? can Z R define racism prior to that?

Nobody said...

I have heard many people invoke "apartheid" when describing Israel's policies in the territories. On my walk to campus, I pass by signs urging me to "boycott apartheid Israel" every day.

and you don't ??!!!


Anonymous said...

All countries in the world have different laws for different groups of People, name me one that does not.
Entire replacement wrong. 20% of the people of Israel are Arabs. More arabs in Israel than in 1948.
You, as a racist overlord are using racial language, racial debate position and racial ideology. You are taking liberties to racially define the Jews into two classes. Like Gehring said: "I am defining who is a jew". All groups of Jews were intermingling all through History. Only a sick racial mind can define two groups of Jews -'pure" and "dirty" contrary to historical facts and the opinion of the Jews them selves. Anther racist making a "selection" of Jews.
Please give evidence author ect. to the facts the the Cananite ect. were Arabs, are you using racial definition. length of nose? color of skin? please some facts.
Complaining about clean language? Your father and mother are blowhards you camel fucking Arab.
I do not nor do any other Jew, From Europe or any other place kid my self in respect to you. We know what you are planning for us and are doing our best to prepare for it. The way you talk the way you treat your oponents mark you for what you are, you are using racial language and arguments, you are defining people according to your ideology, both Jews, Arabs, Cannanites, Jebusites and modern Lebanese. You, like other racists before you, are excluding people from humanity because they do not hold exactly to your opinions. You accept no other truth but yours. You bring no facts to support your claims about the history of the populations of Israel. You are redefining ethnic cleaning, racism, history, ethnicity, according to your political needs. You are a war monger bigot racist. Again, supply me with facts about nations that treat all human groups alike, especially in the ME and the origin of the populations of ancient Israel. Facts, numbers, dates, not Just racial slurs.

Anonymous said...

What is this two word phrase "ethnic stock" that you Guebels, Guering, Mengale and the rest of them are using. Can you bigot racist define this dirty bloody term?

usa said...

z = r is right on point. Obviously the three points he highlighted for debate go to the very heart of the conflicting claims. Instead of debating him you simply launched a personal attack. If he is willing to call for a state based on citizenship and equality regardless of the conflicting historical claims, then what is the problem? To me it seems the problem is your insistence on denying what happened in Palestine when Israel was created and also your insistence on maintaining an apartheid regime in all of Palestine based on religious affiliation. The comment about every state has different laws for different people is ludicrous. Here in the USA we have laws against discrimination and the basis of our democracy is rule of law and equality among citizens.

Anonymous said...

"Racism is when you have one set of laws for one group of people and another set of laws for another group of people."

why don't you look up the definition of racism before you use it as your blogging name.

Anonymous said...

to USA- Israel has more equality among citizens than USA.

Sean said...

I can't decide who is more evil. Carter or the Rodham-Clinton Duo.

They all have been so responsible for such unimaginable evil in this world.

They have practically destroyed Western Society.

Three Strikes and We're Out! We live in such scary times.

Anonymous said...

Jews-Hebrew by any definition lived continously in Israel since the Iron Age. You demand and accept a very elastic definition for the term Arab yet you denay archaeological and historical facts, more and more of which are discovered daily, the efforts of the Pal. to obliterate them notwithstanding. We the Jews are the original people. Opressed, exiled, killed by the like of you. No more of that. You do not have one proof that there were arabs west of the Jordan before 600 AD. No body have such proof. As a typical rascist you are wrongly using un-existing mixture of primitive biology, demography and genetics to farther genocidal - against Jews - politics. Neither you nor any body else have any proof that the cananites the Jebusite ect. came from Arabia. Jebusites appear only in the Jewish Bible. You are using Biblical history racially and selectively when it suits you, the only thing we know about most of these people come from the Jewish Bible. The tradition that the Jews came from mesop. is 100% biblical. It has no other source. Yet when it suits you you deny the Bible as an authority for any thing. You are using obsolete and rejected racial theories and language. You invent a racist term Arab Jews. Please tell in what way are they Arabs in what do they differ from Jews from Turkey or Iran, or any other Jewish community. It was an old trick also of Imperial Islam: Divide and conquer, you are trying to define and divide the Jews according to your racist world view, just like in Europe 1935-1944. Who asked you racist bigot to select Jews according to your racial needs. Pure Arabs against the rest. I repeat and will repeat again all political entities have different laws for different people and different groups. Any claim that one make against Israel in this aspect can be made at any other state in the ME, when is Turkey going to be binational states Kurds included. When will Egypt introdue coptic as a national languge. A bigot racist is demanding things from Israel that are not demanded from any other group, this is racism as defined in this blog.
As for the USA response, I have to define with whom I am talking. The racist is talking to me and any Jew from above, the Muslim lord to the Jewish untermench. I am no Dahimi in an Arab country who have to respect any Muslim because he is a muslim. If he call me any name or use or insinuate any racial slur this racist will be put in his place, and as you can see he notices every "B" and "P". Practically every thing is personal. We are dealing with persons. Yes two nation-states for two people, yes compensation to the Arabs who deserve it yes, compensation for illegal war dconducted on Israel for 60 years, Yes. No binational state. No body is making political experiments on me. I do not trust the Arab-Muslims when it come to relations between social groups, do you blame me? . Look at Iraq, Leb. Egypt all the way to Indonesia. When Scotland is seperated from the UK, when every Baltic state is becoming a nation there is a place in Israel and Pal. state.
I do not know you, but by what the rascist is writing, style, words, attitude, if you were an Israeli Jew would you want to have any thing in common with him?

Anonymous said...

Just look at the Jerk. I am critisized for being annonymus. Are you exposing your true name? Racist bigot by definition. One law for the Arab-Muslim master another for the Dahimi Jew. And it is so ingrained in this bigot mind that he take it as a natural situation. And I am critisized for being personal.

Shaul Ha-Cohen said...

Carter is an old and confused man, probably senile by now. People with some dignity such as Mandela, retire from public eyes when they realize that they are getting there. But others like Mugabe don’t...
But Carter, even in his youth was not brilliant in his policies toward the Middle East. His actions were disgraceful in Iran. A superpower such as the United State allows it self to be insulted by the Khomeini regime. We are still paying the price now as all the extremism that followed finances with Saudi money was a reaction to these days’ events. Military failures happen, but a mighty country such as America does not back off for an incident. An attack on an embassy is always regarded as a justification for war and would have been understood even by the Soviets of these days.
As to the peace between Egypt and Israel, this was Sadat idea, an idea that he came by because he had no other alternative. He just could not afford more wars. Carter happen to be there as a broker and made Israel pay the highest price possible which included keeping Gaza that the Egyptians refused to take back. He could have sponsor at that time already an independence of some sort to Gaza for example. But the Palestinian was not his concern then when he was in power. They became now because they put him in the lime light.
The only good thing that Carter initiated in the US was to copy Canada and Australia, and change to the metric system. Regain, that was too old when he took power, reversed this trend. I don’t know why Clinton did not continue with it… maybe because he was also a Southerner?

Anonymous said...

Shaul Ha-Cohen you are absolutely correct about everything you said, except, America never did convert to the metric system. We still measure things in inches, feet, miles, and gallons.

Although many liquid drinks such as soft drinks and bottled water have been for the last several years been sold in 2 liter bottle.

For the most part though in America when Americans measure things it is in what we call English Units though it isn't what the British call English Units as there are distinct differences.

Even though it could be argued that the metric system might be a better system, we Americans like the system we have. We like the fact that it distinguishes us from the rest of the world. It has come to some degree to become a sign of of independence, and I would be quite concerned it it ever replaced by the metric system.

But for us, it is its really either or. Although, for us things are still sold and products are described for the most part using the American measurement system, rulers are sold with both inches and centimeters. And most computer programs that use measurements can switch back and forth between different measurement systems.

I personally like to use millimeters when doing Desktop Publishing work.

In American Science, the metric system is always used.

I personally like how it is now and it would concern me if it would ever to change.

Sean said...

This is just my opinion and in this case I am absolutely sure that it only reflects how I grew up so I am not saying that it has to be this way all around the world, but as an American I like it like this.

I prefer metric system for measuring things up to 3 feet or so. I like citing people's weight and height in pounds in feet. I like the Fahrenheit temperature system.

Again, this is just my personal preferences. I find that the Celsius system doesn't lend itself to describing climate as well as Fahrenheit but it is probably just because I am not used to it.

Miles and Kilometers well, I guess I see them as equally good systems, but since I grew up with Miles and I see Miles as part of our personal identity, I would fight any change to that in our nation's highways.

Sean said...

We are still suffering the effects of Jimmy Carter. He almost destroyed America, and we were very fortunate Reagan was around to reverse the worst of the damage.

And then there was Clinton and he caused great damage. There was no Reagan around to reverse the damage, and so we had 9-11.

If another Democrat gets in power as President and since I don't see any Reagan around I really believe that it could be the end of America and the end of western civilization.

Sean said...

Even Reagan couldn't reduce Carter's damage when it came to what he did (and failed to do) that resulted in increasing the threat of Islamic Fanaticalism.

We remember the damage of Clinton because it was much more recent, but in many ways Carter has caused much more damage.

And I fear, three strikes and your out when it comes to Democrats in the White House. We really do live in dangerous days. It really could be the end of Western Civilization.

Things change. Sometimes the change is slow, sometimes it is quick. Sometimes it is for the better sometimes it is for the worst.

I fear things are going to get real bad very soon. And we just might not survive it intact.

We are living in the days that we might just see "The Death of the West"

yaman said...

The question and answer part of this event was trash. I sent Schell an angry e-mail afterwards.

As for the Darfur question, it is clear that Carter did not want to answer this question. He mentioned that he had very recently met the man, and that he would be meeting him again soon. I think he was trying to remain "diplomatic" so as not to poison his chances. Thus for a question of "what is your impression of Bashir" you get an odd answer like "He's a devout Muslim."

I think the more hilarious part of this entire episode is that the man can come here to talk about something supposedly controversial, and nearly everything that involves his visit has NOTHING to do with what he said. The q&a session was one example of this. Coverage in the Daily Cal which opened with the silly tie story was another example. Even the student editorials responding to his visit had this shortcoming--the one in favor of his visit said next to nothing about Israel and Palestine and focused only on his right to speak. Isn't this humorous?

He's too famous for his own good. He won't achieve his objective on talking about Israel because nobody wants to hear him talk about Israel. They want to hear about humanitarian Carter, not rogue politician Carter.

Amos said...

Anonymous 10:55 am, etc.:

Sorry I made it look like as if you were talking to yourself. I deleted the comments of "z is r."

Realitology said...

Jimmy Carter is an arrogant boob who can't bear to be out of the spotlight. I wish he would go away.