Past President Imperfect
A response to Jimmy Carter's
misinformed anti-Israel tirade.
Carter has long been known for his one-sided reading of the Arab-Israeli conflict. But even by Jimmy Carter's standards,
this article is breathtaking in its willingness to ignore facts, bend reality and invent history to fit a twisted analysis of the conflict.
He describes Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's unilateral withdrawal plan as one "which would take about half of the Palestinian West Bank and encapsulates the urban areas within a huge concrete wall ... ."
Where does he get this stuff? Olmert's government has not produced any definitive unilateral withdrawal plan. However, every report of possible plans assumes that if there continues to be no Palestinian peace partner, then Israel will withdraw its population behind the security fence - taking in about 8 percent of the West Bank.
Carter twists the history of the conflict in a number of perverse ways. He says that the only division of territory that is recognized by the United States and the international community is the pre-1967 Green Line. It is hard to believe that Carter does not know that this claim is simply false - in his time in office, he was known as a student of details. The Green Line is just the 1949 armistice line from the end of Israel's War of Independence.
Neither the United States nor the international community recognized this as the final border between Israel and Jordan (there was no Palestinian entity at the time). Moreover, he almost certainly must know that Security Council Resolution 242, passed in the wake of June 1967 war - at the insistence of the United States and the United Kingdom - did not require Israel to return to those old armistice lines.
Perhaps, most amazingly, Carter spins a yarn about how Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Israeli government rejected the road map of the Quartet of negotiators (the U.S., the European Union, Russia and the U.N.) while telling us that the same road map has "been endorsed unequivocally by the moderate Palestinian President Mahomoud Abbas." To add insult to injury, our former president paints the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh as someone who will also support Abbas led peace talks with Israel.
These distortions of the facts are so far reaching, so mind-boggling, that it is difficult to know where to begin in rebuffing them. Has President Carter totally forgotten that a central requirement of the Phase I portion of the road map is that the P.A. bring a halt to violence, terrorism and incitement? Is he so oblivious to Hamas' commitment to terror and to Israel's destruction that he seriously believes that Hamas is supportive of the road map?
As someone who once worked for Jimmy Carter, it brings me no pleasure to criticize the former president. His commitment to such praiseworthy projects as Habitat for Humanity brings much credit to his post-White House years. No one disputes his right to criticize Israel. Few pro-Israel activists will argue that Israel is always right.
But his ongoing, deeply biased commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict does a great deal of damage to the truth. Democrats, as well as others, have an obligation to rebut his charges.
President Carter unfairly damages Israel's worldwide image when he resorts to distortions and falsehoods about her actions. He damages any realistic prospects for reviving the peace process when he ignores the deeply dysfunctional nature of Hamas ideology and policies. But perhaps the most tragic outcome of his charges is the damage it does to his own reputation and legacy.
Ira Forman is the executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council. In 1976, he served as the Ohio field director for the
-- Ira Forman
Democratic Leadership Responds
Unlike Carter, Nancy Pelosi, the leader of House Democrats, continues to support Israel fully, in voice and in action. This is her statement following Olmert's historic address to a joint session of Congress:
We just heard on the floor of the House a speech that was a triumph of hope, optimism, and peace. Mr. Prime Minister, it was sad for us to hear you reflect upon Prime Minister Sharon - our thoughts and prayers are with him; our hopes and dreams are with you.
And those dreams as you say are not enough. We have to work to make the future better and to continue with what Israel strives for. Many of us believe that in the 20th century, many bad things have happened, but one of the great ones, a shining moment, was the establishment of the state of Israel. In recognizing the state of Israel immediately, President Truman not only identified our country with yours, he brought luster to our great country as well.
This is a commitment of values, a commonality of interests in terms of peace and democracy. You are a friend in the region, and a friend to the world. The cooperation that you spoke of, the hope, not hate, that you strive for, is a mission that we all share.
-- Rep. Nancy Pelosi