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Yet Another Example of Why We Should Bring Back the Word "Prejudiced":

Shmuel Rosner in Ha'aretz has a lengthy discussion of whether Jimmy Carter is anti-Semitic. I think it's pretty clear he's not, or at least that there's no evidence that he is, if by "anti-Semitic" we mean someone who hates Jews and wishes them harm.

The more interesting question is whether Jimmy Carter is "prejudiced" against Jews. From what I've read (and I don't want to rehash it all here), he's prejudiced against Israel and Israelis, and prejudiced in favor of the Palestinians and their leadership, for reasons that have more to do with his own underlying emotional and religious outlook than with any objective analysis of the situation. But while such prejudices are obviously correlated with prejudices against Jews, one can easily have such prejudices without being prejudiced against Jews. Carter, from what I've seen, believes a lot of very foolish things, especially but not exclusively with regard to foreign policy, and the fact that his views on Israel and Israelis are as foolish as his views on economics and foreign policy more generally is hardly evidence of a particular anti-Jewish prejudice.

Agree or disagree with my analysis, I think it's at least clarifying to separate the debate over whether someone is prejudiced, and in what way, from whether someone is a "racist" or an "anti-Semite." To take another example, the professor whom Eugene wrote about yesterday is very likely prejudiced against whites (regardless of his own background), but it's less likely that he's actually a "racist" in the sense of hating whites, wishing them harm, or thinking them inferior.

UPDATE: Here's a related post of mine from the old Bernsteinblog, in which I point out that Harry Truman and H.L. Mencken can fairly be described as "prejudiced" against Jews, but not as "anti-Semites."

sbron:
Here's a hypothetical

Assume that British Mandate Palestine had been
settled after WWII by Christian refugees, say Armenians. These refugees had established a "Christian State" and found themselves in constant conflict with their Muslim neighbors (say like Lebanon.)

Do you believe that Carter et. al. would be as critical
of this Christian State in its efforts at self-defense?

I agree that "prejudiced" is a more apt description, in
that I do not believe Carter wishes Jews harm directly.
However, he would clearly prefer that the Jews
accept Christ.
12.21.2006 5:45pm
Steve:
It seems to me, employing this analysis, that Prof. Bernstein is far, far more prejudiced against the Palestinians than Jimmy Carter is against the Israelis. But it would never occur to me to put it that way, frankly, and it seems like a singularly unilluminating approach to take.

Jimmy Carter has decades of experience dealing with the Middle East and the major players in the region - far, far more hands-on experience than any of us will ever have. Clearly, he has more than enough of a basis on which to form opinions about the Middle East.

It's perfectly fine for someone else with knowledge of the Middle East to disagree with the conclusions Carter draws. But it seems absurd to employ the label "prejudice," as that word applies to judgments formed BEFORE one has possession of the relevant facts, not to fact-based judgments which simply happen to be wrong (or arguably so).

I've seen Jimmy Carter make plenty of evenhanded statements regarding issues in the Middle East. I have yet to see Prof. Bernstein make such a statement, much less see him decide that the Palestinians are the good guys on a particular issue and the Israelis are the bad guys. Does that make him "prejudiced"? I'd much prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt, assume his conclusions are based upon the facts as he perceives them, and argue for or against his conclusions on the merits. It's far more productive than the cheap solution of simply dismissing him as "prejudiced."
12.21.2006 5:46pm
Justin (mail):
First of all, I do agree that Jimmy Carter's policies are far too antagonistic towards Israeli interests, given the situation and the fairness at play.

That being said, the way you use prejudiced is simply universally true - I'm prejudiced against Republicans and free market solutions to health care, for instance.

Also, anyone who is going to say "Carter, from what I've seen, believes a lot of very foolish things, especially but not exclusively with regard to foreign policy," should have to preface that with "and I opposed the Iraqi war."

I'm hearing a bunch of people who have shown horrible judgment about the Iraqi war think that is irrelevant to their ability to understand foreign policy or give foreign policy advice, or otherwise criticize the foreign policy of others.
12.21.2006 5:51pm
Kovarsky (mail):
david,

can you provide a working definition of 'prejudice.' i think it's fair to say that if you observe and identify quality Q in population subset N, having attribute A, then it is "prejudice" anytime you encounter A outside of subset N, and attribute quality Q to that person.

that's at least what i understand "prejudice" to be - applying a generalization observed from an unrepresentative sample to draw conclusions about an individual sharing an attribute of that sample.

you just seem to disagree with Carter's premises, which may be right or wrong, but i don't see how it's prejudice? either in the sense of animus or overgeneralization.
12.21.2006 5:52pm
neurodoc:
I don't think I can come up with evidence that Carter hates Jews qua Jews, and I would be surprised if anyone else could adduce convincing evidence to that effect. But how about if I can come up with evidence that Carter seems remarkably indiffent to "classical antisemitism" (hatred of Jews qua Jews)? Would that make Carter more than just "prejudiced against Israel and Israelis" in your eyes, DB? (If it won't, then I won't bother.)

Carter in my mind is something like Ramsay Clarke, though not as extreme as that son of a former SCt Justice/AG and himself a former AG. If Clarke has said frankly antisemitic things, I am not aware of them. But Clarke freely consorts with those who are undeniably antisemitic by any reasonable criteria, and that is enough for me where he is concerned.

Why is it "racism" is not parsed in the same way as "antisemitism"? The only people I have ever heard maintain they do not hate or dislike Blacks because of the color of their skin, rather it is because Blacks (fill in the blank here), are clearly racists. But now that almost 60 years has past since the Holocaust, there are many "splitters" who demand incontrovertible proof that the individual hates Jews qua Jews before they will judge that individual an "antisemite." Is it because there are some Jews who chose to ignore or minize antisemitism, especially if they are not themselves immediately affected? Is it because of the Chomskys (tolerant, if not supportive, of Holocaust deniers), Finkelsteins, Kushners, etc.? I myself am much more of a "lumper," believing that it is usually a matter of degree rather than more consequential differences between Jew- and/or Israeli- haters.
12.21.2006 6:04pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
I have yet to see any real solid explanation of how "prejudice" differs from "experience". If I have seen dozens of people do something, and many of them share certain characteristics, and I want to find someone who won't do that - the first thing I do is look for people who don't have those characteristics. Sometimes this is called experience, like when I want to hire a software developer who plays chess. Playing chess requires a certain kind of thinking, and I want my developer to think that way. But then I turn around and say I want to hire a young blond female receptionist, because people like to look at and talk to young blond females, and it's called prejudice.

I just don't see the difference.
12.21.2006 6:12pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Caliban,

I think the difference is recognizing the limitations and biases in your sample. For example, I think what we commonly mean by "prejudice" is actually sort of a subjective threshold between two rays on a spectrum. the spectrum consists of the "quality" of the sample, reliabile translation of the attribute observed, etc. "prejudice" is the subjective threshold below which it is morally unacceptable to draw inferences, based on observation, because you don't acknowledge something flawed about the observed population.

these sample population flaws can come in a variety of forms - distorted by income, age, gender, access to educational resources, the sample might be too small, etc. etc.

if you want to define "prejudice" as ANY decision based upon an assessment on that spectrum (i.e. you cease to treat it as a threshold issue), then it seems you rob the term of any moral valence.
12.21.2006 6:22pm
jncc (mail):
Mr. Bernstein

Do you concede the possibility that a former president with considerable foreign policy experience might have fewer prejudices (and less overall foolishness) than a junior law school professor?
12.21.2006 6:23pm
BobNSF (mail):
I'm not sure there are clear delineations between "prejudice", "chauvanism", "bigotry", "-ism", or "hatred" anymore. Certainly, many are used interchangeably. The only clear distinction I see has nothing to do with severity: "pre"judice, by structure if not usage, indicates judgement before experience.

I've yet to see a Bias-o-Meter with designations of severity. Perhaps that's something the manufacturer could look into.
12.21.2006 6:25pm
neurodoc:
OK, DB, have a look at this and tell us what you think it says about Carter and Jews, not just Carter and Israel/Israelis. (Yes, it is from FrontPage, but let's focus for the moment on what is there rather than the source.) I would direct your attention in particular to the Sheikh Zayed part.

I followed the Sheikh Zayed story closely in the Harvard Crimson and other papers when the Harvard Divinity School was trying to figure out how they could keep the Sheikh's money, though he and his center were such active promulgators of the most vile, unmistakably antisemitic hate. HDS finally gave in and returned the Sheikh's money, but Carter has no qualms about talking money and prizes from the Sheikh and his center. (I don't know if it is still on their webpage, but at the time I found it very interesting to see the list of former US officials who had accepted the Sheikh's hospitality and cash, allowing the Sheikh to use their names for his purposes.)
Guilt by association? Carter never spoke the same words as the Sheikh, though he stood in the Sheikh's presence without protest while the Sheikh expounded on "Zionists" qua Zionists? Why if "follow the money" was good advice when offered to Woodward and Bernstein isn't it good advice to those who would judge Carter?

Must I come back with more to support my case that Carter is more than just someone who is no friend of Israel's?

A distinction is made between "manslaughter" and "murder," but both mean that someone's life was ended prematurely and another was responsible for it. If you think it necessary to distinguish between those who "hate" Jews qua Jews always and everywhere (like Hitler) and those who "dislike" Jews in many, but not all, places and times, do so. I don't think it a very useful exercise though, and I would rather spend my time, energy, and money opposing them.

There are few on the American political scene whom I actively loath, and Carter is one of them, for a variety of reasons. If he would only devoted himself full-time to building houses, he would make a much greater contribution than he otherwise does. (Of course, this is IMNSHO.)
12.21.2006 6:34pm
BobNSF (mail):
There is general agreement among the rightwing that Carter's ideas were and remain "foolish". I don't know, but with our proverbial glands in the twin vices of an energy squeeze and military burnout, the cardigan-wearing President's emphasis on conservation, human rights, and painful, often exasperating, negotiation seems more prescient than absurd.

Dubya often tells us that we must "do whatever it takes", even if it's "hard". Carter seems to have a broader understanding of what "whatever" might include.
12.21.2006 6:36pm
Kovarsky (mail):
i still don't understand what it means to be "prejudiced."
12.21.2006 6:42pm
neurodoc:
Oops, left out the link:

[can't get the link to post, so just find FrontPage 12/18/06.]

jncc: Of course it is possible "that a former president with considerable foreign policy experience might have fewer prejudices (and less overall foolishness) than a junior law school professor." It just ain't the case where Carter is concerned. (Are you trying to make a persuasive argument, or just trying to needle DB?)
12.21.2006 6:43pm
jncc (mail):
neuro

I won't assume you can speak for Mr. B, but if he were to concede that, I guess my next question would be what leads him to believe that his views regarding Israel are the result of clear-eyed reason as opposed to his OWN prejudices.

If I recall corrrectly, Mr. B spent quite a bit of time during the most recent Israeli/Lebanese skirmish poring over photos to find the green helmeted guy. Just as a disinterested observer who doesn't have a dog in the fight between Israel and its neighbors, it seems to me that such, um, habits of mind do not reassure one that the viewere is taking a disinterested look at the world stage.
12.21.2006 6:55pm
MikeC&F (mail):
From what I've read (and I don't want to rehash it all here), he's prejudiced against Israel and Israelis, and prejudiced in favor of the Palestinians and their leadership, for reasons that have more to do with his own underlying emotional and religious outlook than with any objective analysis of the situation.

Yes, but anyone who has undertaken an "objective analysis of the situation" would be pro-Israeli rather than pro-Palestinian. Really now... That is what the post is getting at, isn't it?
12.21.2006 7:16pm
JohnAnnArbor (www):

I don't know, but with our proverbial glands in the twin vices of an energy squeeze and military burnout, the cardigan-wearing President's emphasis on conservation, human rights, and painful, often exasperating, negotiation seems more prescient than absurd.

Except for the minor detail that none of it worked. Reagan came along, and by 1984 things were going so well Mondale lost 49 states.
12.21.2006 7:16pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Well, Mr. Human Rights was a great admirer, by all accounts of Yasser Arafat. Try to scare that circle! If that's not a product of a prejudice overcoming one's rational faculties...
12.21.2006 7:20pm
jncc (mail):

Well, Mr. Human Rights was a great admirer, by all accounts of Yasser Arafat.

Setting aside the cheap sarcasm - do you think that the region was more stable while Arafat was alive than it is now?
12.21.2006 7:39pm
Paddy O. (mail):
Setting aside the cheap sarcasm - don't you think that the region would be more stable now if Arafat was never alive?
12.21.2006 7:42pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
What sarcasm? Jimmy Carter staked his presidency, and his future reputation, on a commitment to human rights, even at the expense of short-term damage to the U.S. (Iran, Nicaragua, etc.) It's quite odd for someone who was willing to let the ayatollahs take over Iran in the name of human rights to be buddies with Arafat but hate several "liberal" (in the general sense of the word) elected prime ministers of Israel.
12.21.2006 7:58pm
SG:
What is the fetish with "stability"? Was Eastern Europe better off when it was stablely behind the Iron Curtain?

Certainly there are times when the status quo is good and should be preserved, but stability is not admirable in and of itself.
12.21.2006 8:22pm
BGates (mail) (www):
MikeC&F: Yes, anyone who has undertaken an "objective analysis of the situation" would be pro-Israeli rather than pro-Palestinian. Here's a helpful rule of thumb for these conflict:
1) Identify the side that attempts to maximize the deaths of children.
2) Root for the other side.
Also, I think anyone who tries to offer an opinion on anything whatsoever should preface it by saying, "And I am not Justin who comments at the Volokh Conspiracy."
12.21.2006 8:22pm
SP:
I am confused at why Carter's experience in the region's politics would point to fair mindedness. Bashar al Assad has some experience in the region, too, but does that make him fair minded?
12.21.2006 8:25pm
neurodoc:
OK, I have made my thinking about Jimmy Carter clear. To be fair to the man, though, let me offer an alternative to "he is prejudiced against Jews" and/or "he is prejudiced against Israel and Israelis." That alternative is that his views simply reflect the fact that he has been bought by the Arabs. (And he ain't no cheap trick either.) Offered a sum equal to or greater than what the Gulf Arabs have been willing to pay him*, he might be willing to re-examine his views.)

*The money doesn't go directly into his pocket, of course, it must first be laundered through his Center, which then funds his "good" works.)


http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20061220-092736-3365r.htm
12.21.2006 8:25pm
Colin (mail):
DB,

Try to scare that circle!

Do you mean "square" that circle?
12.21.2006 8:57pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I can give you an example to parallel that of Truman. My late father in law was founding chairman of a university's department of classical languages. He also had a generic dislike of jews.

My late wife once said to him -- your best friend is jewish. He replied, yes, Henry is a prince of a man. She continued: in fact, almost all your other good friends are jewish. He thought about it, and allowed that most of them were, maybe it was "almost all." She added: and when you retired, you nominated an Orthodox rabbi to be your successor. Yes -- the man is a great Hebrew scholar!

I guess his prejudice took the form of a belief that there were a bunch of jews out there that he had never met, but would dislike if he had, leaving him able to make a negative judgment as to a group while being fond of all the members of the group whom he knew.
12.21.2006 9:03pm
BobNSF (mail):

Except for the minor detail that none of it worked. Reagan came along, and by 1984 things were going so well Mondale lost 49 states.


One or even two administrations isn't enough time for things like conservation and negotiation to work. And we all know that the Reagan revolution that "came along" certainly abandoned -- and ridiculed -- conservation. And this administration has utterly abandoned -- and ridiculed -- negotiation.

And from where I sit, the eight years of Bush will hardly leave the situation settled...
12.21.2006 10:51pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
One or even two administrations isn't enough time for things like conservation and negotiation to work. And we all know that the Reagan revolution that "came along" certainly abandoned -- and ridiculed -- conservation.

I worked in Interior 1982-1990, career. My bosses were mostly Carter-era hires, a few dated to Ford. The laws we enforced were mostly enacted in the Nixon era. So, yep, a few administrations were a matter of little concern to the bureaucracy. A few amusing notes:

I was told by some friends that when the Clinton people came in they planned a purge of the senior executive service, using a very clever approach ... until they realized most of the SES actually dated to democratic administrations, and the twelve years of Reagan and Bush I had made very little change! They almost purged their own people.

During the Reagan-Bush years, the conservative, development, interests were regularly shafted, even by political appointee levels. The same sources assure me that during the Clinton years, the environmental interestes were shafted by the same. Both parties apparently make it a practice of shafting their friends to appease their enemies (altho I still think the Repubs were worse in this arena, possibly due to insecurity in using the federal machine).
12.21.2006 11:23pm
Lev:

Carter, from what I've seen, believes a lot of very foolish things


I'm sorry, I got lost in trying recollect what I had heard that Carter believed that was not foolish.

What was the question?
12.21.2006 11:39pm
snuh (mail):
It's quite odd for someone who was willing to let the ayatollahs take over Iran in the name of human rights to be buddies with Arafat but hate several "liberal" (in the general sense of the word) elected prime ministers of Israel.

perhaps some evidence for this charge would be in order. which specific prime ministers does he hate?

also, in what sense exactly did carter "let" the islamic revolution of iran succeed? and why exactly would carter have been busily providing arms to the shah's regime at the same time as he was letting the shah be overthrown? and how exactly were carter's human rights concerns addressed to the shah different from henry kissinger's insincere concerns about the same topic to augusto pinochet in 1974?
12.21.2006 11:40pm
Lev:
Among the people Carter likes to hang out with are those who have done and will do all they can to destroy Israel, including using nookyoular bombs on it.

Are they merely anti-Israel.

In his alleged wish and his actions to allegedly try to obtain peace for Israel, is Carter pro those who are anti-Israel - anti-Israel by proxy, or is he just a fool?
12.22.2006 12:01am
Steve:
These comments do, in fact, make a compelling case for bringing back the word "prejudiced," that's for sure.
12.22.2006 12:20am
Tom952 (mail):
"Carter, from what I've seen, believes a lot of very foolish things, especially but not exclusively with regard to foreign policy"

Truer words never were written.

Following the Carter/Brezinsky foreign policy experience, why would anyone punlish or read a book by Carter on foreign policy? It is as though the lead engineer for a building that spontaneously collapsed under its own weight authored a book on structural engineering.

However, being biased, misguided, foolish, and disconnected from reality is not the same as hating, and I agree that prejudice better describes Carter's views toward Israel.
12.22.2006 8:43am
Grumpy Old Man (mail) (www):
Most American Jews I know find Israelis quite unpleasant.

Hence the acronyms "FISH" (f***ing Israeli s**theads) and "DIBs" ("dirty Israeli bastards") which I learned from a Brandeis student.

That has nothing to do, necessarily, with politics or racial theories. It's just one of those generalizations people use to get through life.
12.22.2006 8:47am
Passing thru:
Snuh, listen to Carter any time he mentions Ariel Sharon. He had a visceral hatred of Sharon, and had nothing positive to say, ever. You can hear the venom in his voice.
12.22.2006 10:35am
chris s (mail):
we are long past the point where labeling someone as bigoted or prejudiced adds much to the discussion of the person's views. the words have been debased by overuse. you usually can't know what's in someone's heart anyway.

so I don't know if Carter is anti semitic, or prejudiced v Israelis or Jews. I do know he seems blind to Palestinian excesses and vigilant in seeking out Israeli ones, and so I do not pay any attention to what he says on the matter.
12.22.2006 11:23am
Joe M:
When does disagreeing with an Isreali government policy become anti-Jew prejudice? Does a person need to like &respect all previous Isreali leaders (regardless of party or performance) in order to stay out of the "anti-semite club"?

It reminds me of the attitude towards those who questioned the Iraq war in the US in '03-'04 - "You are either with us or against us"...support me 100% regardless of my actions, or you're with my enemies.

Ridiculous...
12.22.2006 12:54pm
Yankev (mail):
Carter doesn't hate Jews. He just hates people whose ancestors murdered the man Carter worships as his lord, and whose descendants re-enact the murder daily by refusing to worship the man. While he was President, Carter repeated the deicide charge to a Sunday school class he was teaching.

His book accuses Israel of mistreating the Arabs the same way that the Jews supposedly mistreated the early Christians. At the beginning of the Camp David neogtiations, he told an aide (according to the aide's article in the Smithsonian) that he did not believe that Begin and the Israelis really wanted peace.

And who can be surprised? After all, a people wicked enough (in Carter's eyes) to murder god (as if), and then to knowingly and stubbornly persist for centuries in refusing to confess their error — is their any evil that such a people would not perpretrate enthusiastically?
12.22.2006 1:23pm
jncc (mail):

What sarcasm? Jimmy Carter staked his presidency, and his future reputation, on a commitment to human rights . . . It's quite odd for someone who was willing to let the ayatollahs take over Iran in the name of human rights to be buddies with Arafat but hate several "liberal" . . .) elected prime ministers of Israel.

If you will look up sarcasm in the dictionary, I think you will see that by most accepted definitions, you were being sarcastic. You know, it is sort of like referring to you as Mr. Foreign Policy, or Mid-East Expert.

Like I said above, I don't have a dog in this fight because I don't root for any particular country in the mid-east. Just for the US's interests.

That is why it was just laughable to see you opiniong about Carter's prejudices. You are so deep in you prejudices and blind in your belief that you yours is the only correct position that you are beyond reason.

Trying to talk to you about this issue is like trying to reason with a crazy homeless person. And, the thing you should keep in mind as you dismiss that analogy is that the people ranting about things the CIA has implanted in their teeth also think THEY are being reasonable.

I guess it is not surprising that you have decided to take some jabs at Carter - it seems that there really isn't anything left for those you seem to hold your particular positions to argue about. The US involvment in Iraq is pretty much recognized to be a disaster. You were beating the drum about what a great idea the last Israeli incursion into Lebanon was. How do think that worked out. Did it accomplish its goal of getting the captured soldiers back? Did it improve the strategic position of Israel? Did it sway world opinion towards Israel? Did it isolate the fanatical factions in Lebanon or did they grow even stronger after they poured millions and millions of dollars into the area for reconstruction.

I mean, perhaps instead of insulting people whose statute and accomplishments dwarf yours, you might want to just sit down and list out the foreign policy positions you have taken over the past 10 years and examine the results of those policies that have been implemented. Well don't bother - you are so deluded and wrapped up in "rooting for your team" that the exercise would be a waste of time because, no doubt, the results of your analysis would be that your decisions and the policies you advocated were spot-on, it's just that all the inferior beings out there who actually implemented the policies just didn't do it right.

I know this sounds harsh, but you are really paddling over the falls.
12.22.2006 1:30pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
You have no clue what my foreign policy positions over the past ten years have been, nor do you accurately represent my particular views in your post. But beating up a straw man is always fun. I'm always amused by posters who seem to think they can discern my views on an extremely wide range of foreign policy issues based on the fact that I've, e.g., defended the right (though not necessarily the widsom) of Israel to bomb the hell out of Hezbollah.
12.22.2006 1:41pm
Justin (mail):
If DB's last comment was directed at me, I should point out that I never said that I knew DB's position on the Iraqi War, only that his attack on Carter's abilities to understand foreign policy would only be valid if he showed some evidence that his understandings were correct, on what is by now inarguably (to sane people, a sadly dwindling portion of the Conservative movement) the greatest, and easiest to foresee, foreign policy disaster since well before the Carter presidency.

If DB supported the Iraqi war, which I never claimed he did, he would be saying in essence that he would have made foreign policy mistakes, were he in Presidential office, that would have dwarfed the errors of Carter. His credibility then depends in large part on his ability to have recognized, as did Carter, the obvious and severe problems associated with invading Iraq.
12.22.2006 1:53pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Justin, only if you are JNCC.

Going back through my VC posts, you'll find very little on Iraq; I certainly didn't oppose military action there, but any support I had was tempered by my lack of knowledge of what the U.S. actually knew about WMDs, how much the U.S. would be willing to take the war across the border to interfering neighbors (Iran and Syria) if necessary, whether the war had the potential to sap the U.S.'s resolve to act against the greater threat of Iraq, whether the U.S. was serious about following ridiculous neocon prescriptions re democracy, and more, including my infinite faith in the ability of the U.S. government to act incompetently.
12.22.2006 3:15pm
Justin (mail):
Fair enough. And no, I am not JNCC.
12.22.2006 4:36pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
"greater threat from IRAN"
12.22.2006 5:45pm
not-JNCC:
JNCC over-extended and has himself paddled over the falls. Pity.
12.22.2006 6:50pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
David:

If Carter came to his views through experience, it doesn't seem like they "prejudice" just because they are wrong. To take a legal analogy, one cannot get a judge removed from a case because he is "prejudiced" by listening to the evidence and arguments and has formed a mistaken view of the case.

I think "bigotry" is a much more apt word to use, if as you suggest Carter really dislikes Israelis because of their Jewish ethnicity rather than disliking Israel's founding premises or long standing policies. I suppose it would be possible to be a bigot on the basis of experience - that is, after an experience with an identified group, assuming that future experiences with that group will be similar. Some of your comments regarding Germans come to mind, taking the Holocaust as a vicarious experience of yours. I tend to think of this as an error, but I'm not sure if it is a sin.

Don't get me wrong - I don't credit Carter's conclusions on much of anything. He's hopelessly naive and judgmental at the same time. Still, the fact that he's on a different side of the fence in just about every group label that we could come up with doesn't make him "prejudiced" any more than it makes you "prejudiced."
12.22.2006 6:51pm
C. Gray (mail):
Regarding the roots of Carter's anti-Israel stance:

Carter's problems with Israeli policy go all the way back to Camp David and the immediate aftermath. Carter and Begin never got along, and Carter felt afterwards that Begin and the Likud betrayed an understanding that Israeli settlement of the West Bank &Gaza Strip would be frozen pending future negotiations over the fate of the occupied territories. He views all the subsequent settlement activity as completely illegitimate, and a personal betrayal. And frankly, he's entitled to. Begin really did mislead Carter, and Israel's policy of creeping colonization was both immoral and idiotic. Now throw in a bloated ex-Presidential ego, mix with some especially obnoxiously earnest Sunday school teacher sanctimony, and you get a man who can pontificate about Israel's "apartheid" without ever noticing that the cause he is championing is lead by people who use teenagers and the mentally retarded as pieces of human ordinance, and aim them at such militarily important targets as cafes and Bar Mitzvah banquets.


As for comparing the Bush the Younger's foreign policy "disasters" to Carter's:

Has it occurred to anyone that Carter's decision to actively undermine the Shah and then twiddle his thumbs while Iran fell into the hands of 13th century obscuranists played some role in the USA's current difficulties in the Middle East? The Iranian revolution lead both to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan AND the Iran-Iraq War, destabilizing the entire Middle East. Then Carter's less-than-forceful response to the seizure of diplomats by that same regime convinced just about every other local tyrant and two-bit paramilitary bomb thrower that the USA was incapable of seriously retaliating against any offense. The Middle East "situation" Carter left behind pretty was the starting point of the mess that existed when Bush the Younger was sworn in as president.
12.23.2006 3:38am
Janet from Tucson:
My mother and Mr. Carter are of an age. They both grew up in small southern towns. My mother never left them. Mr. Carter has not either, at least for any length of time. She never met a Jew until she was in her 30s. Since he attended the Naval Academy, I would suspect Mr. Carter had. People of that era have an ingrained distrust of the "different." When you add to that Mr. Carter's incredible ego, you get his attitudes as displayed in the recent book.

To be very honest, I trace the death of every single soldier, airman and sailor in the current conflict and all previous terrorist attacks, including 9/11 directly to Jimmy Carter and his foreign policy of sanctimony. Intervening presidents bear responsibility for actions not taken proportionate to what they should have known and understood. (Sandy Berger's destruction of National Archive documents suggest to me that Clinton should bear the most.) The root, however, is in Mr. Carter's abandonment of the Shah and feckless response to the Mad Mullahs. Who knows whether he is biased? He's a stupid, vain man. That is what is salient.
12.23.2006 2:19pm
snuh (mail):
Snuh, listen to Carter any time he mentions Ariel Sharon. He had a visceral hatred of Sharon, and had nothing positive to say, ever. You can hear the venom in his voice.

as evidence, this seems kind of non-specific. can you point to a specific incident that i could, say, check for myself? in any event, the original charge referred to carter hating on "prime ministers" plural, and despite appearances, sharon is just one man.
12.23.2006 4:44pm