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Stein on Carter:

I recently speculated that former President Carter's apparent hostility to the organized Jewish community may date back to the lack of support he received from the Jewish leadership during both of his presidential campaigns. A much more informed commentator, Ken Stein, a former Carter advisor and Carter Center fellow, confirms my speculation in the Middle East Quarterly, and elaborates.

Meanwhile, Cathy Young has some interesting thoughts on Carter's appearance at Brandeis University.

UPDATE: If you are joining this discussion without having read my previous post and the article it links to, please spend a couple of minutes reading these before making comments that makes it obvious that you haven't.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Dershowitz's Question to Carter:
  2. Stein on Carter:
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
"apparent hostility"

This is pretty ironic, given the invective lodged by Carter's critics. Carter seems awfully genteel in comparison. Do you have a quotation that illustrates Carter's "hostility"?

(So I'm not misunderstood: I didn't like Carter's book, I don't think he was a good president, and I'm not impressed with his policy analysis. I do not hold myself as understanding the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.)
1.28.2007 11:48am
Philistine (mail):
From reading the linked article, Stein doesn't attribute any causal relationship between the lack of support and his "apparent hostility."

The only portion of the article dealing with lack of Jewish support in Carter's elections was:

Vice president] Fritz Mondale was much more deeply immersed in the Jewish organization leadership than I was. That was an alien world to me. They [American Jews] didn't support me during the presidential campaign [that] had been predicated greatly upon Jewish money... Almost all of them were supportive of Scoop Jackson-Scoop Jackson was their spokesman … their hero. So I was looked upon as an alien challenger to their own candidate. You know, I don't mean unanimously but... overwhelmingly. So I didn't feel obligated to them or to labor unions and so forth. Fritz … was committed to Israel … It was an act just like breathing to him-it wasn't like breathing to me. So I was willing to break the shell more than he was.[10]

The gap between many American Jews and Carter grew during his presidency as Carter increased pressure on Jerusalem. In the 1980 general election, Carter received a lower proportion of Jewish votes than any Democratic presidential candidate since 1920.


Meanwhile, the article gives numerous actual explanations for Carter's views towards Israel, completely unrelated to a hostility to those who failed to support him in elections.

Am I missing something in the article?
1.28.2007 12:15pm
pedro (mail):
Whatever one may think about President Carter's policy prescriptions, he has never struck me as hostile to the Jewish community. It is actually disgusting how a handful of Jewish right-wingers arrogate themselves the right to smear critics of Israel as antisemitic or self-hating Jews, when it is so patently the case that said right-wingers do NOT by any means represent the generality of the Jewish community.
1.28.2007 3:01pm
Michael B (mail):
Cathy Young's is a nicely measured piece.
1.28.2007 3:20pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Whatever one may think about President Carter's policy prescriptions, he has never struck me as hostile to the Jewish community. It is actually disgusting how a handful of Jewish right-wingers arrogate themselves the right to smear critics of Israel as antisemitic or self-hating Jews, when it is so patently the case that said right-wingers do NOT by any means represent the generality of the Jewish community.
Apparently you think that you get to speak for "the generality of the Jewish community"?

As Stein's article points out, Carter got a lower percentage of the Jewish vote than any Democratic presidential candidate in decades. That's not "a handful of Jewish right-wingers." That's an awful lot of Jews who think Carter is hostile to the Jewish community.
1.28.2007 4:32pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Phil, you missed the part where Stein quotes Brezinski discussing Carter's hostility.
1.28.2007 4:49pm
Michael B (mail):
OT, but a brilliantly tailored essay by Pascal Bruckner, Enlightenment Fundamentalism or the Racism of the Anti-Racists?
1.28.2007 4:54pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
To wit:

Carter also blames difficulties with Begin for undermining his re-election. In early 1980, with the critical New York Democratic primary looming, Mondale urged Carter to repudiate the U.S. vote for U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 465,[17] which had condemned Israeli settlement activity. According to Brzezinski:

Jewish voters swung heavily over to Senator [Edward] Kennedy, ensuring Carter's defeat. The set-back prolonged the Carter-Kennedy contest. Sadat did not want a final showdown on the Palestinian problem prior to the return of the Sinai to Egypt. Without pressure from Sadat, our own incentive to push Israel hard was much decreased. Begin proved himself to be a skilled manipulator... adroit at delaying tactics and in diversionary public appeals... by mid-June it was clear even to Mondale that Begin wanted Carter defeated.[18]

According to Brzezinski, Carter believed his disagreement with Begin to have both cost him critical primary victories and to have weakened his re-election bid.[19]

That explains hostility to Begin, but also the hostility toward the organized Jewish community, which, as I pointed out, supported Jackson in 76 and Kennedy in 80.
1.28.2007 4:57pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Q, click the link to my original post.
1.28.2007 4:57pm
The Organized Jewish Community:
The fact that many Jewish voters did not support Carter does not necessarily mean that Jewish voters thought that Carter was hostile to the organized Jewish community...but, of course, you knew that.

Slander on.
1.28.2007 7:50pm
JK:
I second Q. I don't like Carter, but I really think you ought to have some real evidence before you start calling people bigoted anti-Semites. That's a serious charge, and not one that should be drawn from the fact that he didn't get some of the traditionally democratic Jewish vote.
1.28.2007 7:59pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Posts that are somehow Israel-related seem to consistently reveal reading comprehension problems among some VC readers. OJC, I didn't say Jewish voters thought Carter was hostile to the organized Jewish community, I said Carter's hostility to the organized Jewish community is the result of its hostility to him, which he blames for his lack of support from Jewish voters and donors. JK, I didn't call Carter a "bigoted anti-Semite," I said he was hostile to the organized Jewish community, and I linked to an prior post of mine, which links to another post by a Ha'aretz author, which discuss this hostility. Surely, all true anti-Semites are hostile to the organized Jewish community, but not everyone who is hostile to the organized Jewish community is an anti-Semite, any more than all individuals who are hostile to the NAACP and similar organization is a racist.
1.28.2007 9:42pm
Michael B (mail):
Who has labeled Carter an anti-Semite?

Quotes and citations?
1.28.2007 9:43pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
BTW, to be charitable, I will clarify that "organized Jewish community" refers to the organizations that claim to represent the Jewish community, and their leaders, not to all Jews.
1.28.2007 9:44pm
straightarrow:
Carter just recently stated that he did not view rocket attacks and suicide bombings by Palestinian upons Israelis as terrorism. And there are people that don't think he has hostility towards Israel? C'mon. Nobody's that daft.
1.29.2007 12:21am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Carter just recently stated that he did not view rocket attacks and suicide bombings by Palestinian upons Israelis as terrorism.


Do you have a link to the actual quote?
1.29.2007 11:06am
Michael B (mail):
Carter's quote is "I wasn't equating the Palestinian missiles with terrorism" and can be googled. (It's incorrect to say he applied it to homicide/suicide attacks.) It was stated during an al-Jazeera interview, the same al-Jazeera interview in which he stated "Most of the condemnations of my book came from Jewish American organizations ..."
1.29.2007 2:06pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Carter's quote is "I wasn't equating the Palestinian missiles with terrorism" and can be googled. (It's incorrect to say he applied it to homicide/suicide attacks.) It was stated during an al-Jazeera interview, the same al-Jazeera interview in which he stated "Most of the condemnations of my book came from Jewish American organizations ..."


Here's the link I found to a more extended transcript:

I don't consider... I wasn't equating the Palestinian missiles with terrorism. But when the Palestinians commit terrorist acts, and I mean when a person blows himself up within a bus full of civilians, or when the target of the operation is women and children -- such acts create a rejection of the Palestinians among those who care about them. It turns the world away from sympathy and support for the Palestinian people. That's why I said that acts of terrorism like I just described are suicidal for the popularity and support for the Palestinian cause. In my book, I talk about violence from both sides, and I describe very carefully and accurately the number of casualties among Palestinians and Israelis, including children. The number of Palestinian children who died because of the violence is five times greater than the number of Israeli children, and I condemn this kind of violence on both sides.


In it we have the excerpt you quoted following up with a condemnation of terrorism specifically Palestinian homicide bombers. What we don't have (and if someone can located it, it would be appreciated), is the question that was asked of Carter before the response or what statement he made that he was trying to clarify. A fair reading of his statement requires both but I suspect (given his condemnation of Palestinian attacks on civilians) that he may have been referring to missile attacks on military targets.

As far as the condemnation by "Jewish American organizations," there's a more complete transcript of an interview Carter did about a month before on the same show in which he directly answers that question.

RIZ: We have Kelly on the line from the United Kingdom in Cheshire, Kelly go ahead.
Mr. President good evening to you. I wonder why nobody and I mean nobody did, in office or out of office to say to Israel "you are wrong", nobody. When they do say, and if they succeed to do say to Israel they are in the wrong that accuse of being anti-Semitic. It is absolutely ridiculous, which they accuse you to be now. Which is amazing and it seem to me that the..

RIZ: President Carter go ahead. So Jewish lobbies in control, nobody's actually speaking out.

CARTER: Well it's not the Jewish lobby by the way. It's the Israeli Political Action Committee and this does not include nearly all the prominent Jews. Since I wrote this book by the way, I would say 8 or 10 very prominent Jewish organizations have expressed their full approval for the book. These are ones in America who are strong supporters of Israel but want to see Israel change its policies so that peace can come to the country that they love. So it's not the Jewish lobby, it's a lobby that's designed to explain the government of Israel's policy in America. And that's the reason I finally wrote this book, which I knew would be quite controversial because as a former president and as someone who's helped bring peace to Israel with Egypt, I wanted to able to speak out and I'm perfectly willing to accept some epithets against me. I'm not anti-Semitic at all and this is just a small fringe of radical people in my country and you have the same kinds of people in Great Britain from where you're speaking, and also they exist in every country on Earth. But in general American people would like to see peace come to Israel and also peace come to the Palestinians.

Let me say once again that when anyone from an Arab country or Muslim country that the Jews in America don't like the book, that's not true at all. I've had overwhelming support from Jews in this country and from Jewish organizations in this country. Last night I was signing books in Pasadena California, there were demonstrators outside, by far the largest number of demonstrators who were Jews by the way were in favor of my book and in favor of peace in the Mid East. There was a smaller group of Jewish Americans who criticized my book. So it would be a mistake for anyone to interpret the fact or to claim that the Jews in America are any different from other citizens in America. Overwhelmingly in my opinion both Jews and others in America are in favor of peace in Israel and justice and peace for the Palestinians and for other nations who live in the Middle East.



It is certainly fair to criticize Carter for the policies he suggested in his book. The accusations of "hostility" on his part towards either Israel or the "organized Jewish community" are not supported by his actual words. IMO this smells like a smear job.
1.29.2007 3:17pm
Michael B (mail):
I don't disagree with most of what you've said. This is a bit like the charge that "people" have labeled Carter an anti-Semite, yet ask for the quote and citation and no one responds.

On the other hand, regarding the missile attacks per se, predominantly the missile attacks, both from southern Lebanon and from Gaza, have been directed into Israeli civilian populations; such is what had so recently made the news for an extended period of time. Minimally, Carter did not clarify his response, and this in the aftermath of those attacks coming from those two quarters. Minimally, and regardless as to what the question was that introduced the topic (since when have politicians restricted their answers so exactly and conscientiously to the question asked?), Carter could have clarified his response vis-a-vis those recent missile attacks.
1.29.2007 4:28pm
Michael B (mail):
Thorley,

Btw, the fuller quote concerning the other issue follows:

"Most of the condemnations of my book came from Jewish American organizations, which think that I believe there is racial segregation inside Israel."

Beyond the problem of dismissing a broad range of criticisms by referencing "Jewish American organizations," he did not provide an example of an org which stated such a belief about his (Carter's) views, nor have I seen a statement to that effect. So again, a cite and quote would be helpful here as well.

Finally, those who decry large and critical aspects of Carter's book are not, eo ipso, against peace. (Which is the implication Carter forwards in that final lengthy quote you've provided.)
1.29.2007 4:43pm
JK:

JK, I didn't call Carter a "bigoted anti-Semite," I said he was hostile to the organized Jewish community, and I linked to an prior post of mine, which links to another post by a Ha'aretz author, which discuss this hostility. Surely, all true anti-Semites are hostile to the organized Jewish community, but not everyone who is hostile to the organized Jewish community is an anti-Semite, any more than all individuals who are hostile to the NAACP and similar organization is a racist.

The NAACP is a particular organization; the "organized Jewish community" is not. I have a hard time seeing how someone could be "hostile" to the amorphous idea of "the organized Jewish community" without being an anti-Semite. Presumable this hypothetical person would have nothing against Jews that are not part of any Jewish organization?
1.29.2007 9:14pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
It's very easy. If you think, for example, that the "organized Jewish community" is reflexively and unjustly pro-Israel even when Israel is engaging in atrocious crimes (which is clearly Carter's position), and are, by their actions, preventing peace and justice from arising in Israel/Palestine, but many individual Jews are much more enlightened, you can be hostile to the organized Jewish community, without being hostile to Jews--especially if you blame the Jewish organizations for misrepresenting your views to their constituents, causing you to lose reelection.
1.29.2007 10:01pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
P.S., I didn't say Carter was hostile to the "idea" of an organized Jewish community, I said he was hostile to THE organized Jewish community, which I specified refers to major Jewish organizations and their leaders. One can be hostile to the NAACP and Mfume without being hostile to blacks in general.
1.29.2007 10:03pm
Michael B (mail):
Below, related material covering the security barrier in the West Bank.

A healthy portion of Carter's anti-Israel/pro-Arab refugee posture, in terms of his use of the intentionally provocative "apartheid" label, references the security barrier, either directly or in an inherent, implied sense. The label has served it's purpose (it was a label chosen by Carter himself, specifically for provocative purposes). However, it is in point of fact a profoundly inaccurate interpretation of that security barrier, the history and development of which can be found here. Summarizing some of the more notable aspects of that history:

1) The height per se of the security barrier is sometimes criticized. The reason the barrier has been constructed as an imposing wall, along some stretches, is due to the fact that it separates Israeli pedestrians and automobile drivers who are moving parallel or adjacent to the barrier from potential snipers on the Arab refugee ("Palestinian") side of the barrier, which snipers have positioned themselves in multi-story buildings. (Again, the barrier is, during some stretches, a wall, during other stretches it is an imposing fence - and at times a ditch as well - to prevent vehicle penetrations).

2) In empirical terms, the barrier has, and in dramatic fashion, served its intended purpose. For example, as reflected in the graph in the above link and concerning the portion of the barrier completed at the end of 2003 (i.e. attacks originating in Judea and Samaria), the following. Prior to completion of this barrier, during 2003, a total of 135 people were killed and 632 people were variously injured and wounded. After completion of the barrier and during the first six months of 2004, 19 people were killed and 102 were injured and wounded due to attacks. (In fact, during that six month period of 2004, the number killed and wounded was zero in areas immediately adjacent to the barrier itself.)

3) There is also an effective barrier around Gaza (the barrier discussed above is in the West Bank) which has also been effective. The suicide/homicide bomber who struck today, Jan. 29, 2007, is reported as originating from Gaza. However, he entered Eilat, the site of today's attack, by first entering Egypt, thus circumventing the Gaza barrier. Other than these types of circumventions, the Gaza barrier has been 100% effective.

4) Both Israeli Jews and Arabs (Arabs comprise appx. 22% of Israel's population), with very few exceptions, favor the security barrier. (This is reflective of how Israeli Arabs feel, in general terms, more positively toward living in Israel vs. living in an Arab refugee ("Palestinian") area in Gaza or the West Bank. When given the option at various historical junctures, they have consistently voted with their feet, favoring Israeli territory, govt. and administration.)
1.30.2007 12:55am