Magazine article The Christian Century

Apartheid Denial

Magazine article The Christian Century

Apartheid Denial

Article excerpt

TIME MAGAZINE senior editor Tony Karon writes a personal Internet blog that he calls the "Bootless Cosmopolitan," a term Russian dictator Joseph Stalin used as a euphemistic pejorative for Jew during his anti-Semitic purges of the 1940s.

Karon explains that he can wear Stalin's negative description of a Jew "as a badge of honor" since he is an African Jew with roots in Eastern Europe. He also worked for a decade in his native South Africa as an activist in the struggle against apartheid.

His background qualifies Karon to have a voice in the current debate over former president Jimmy Carter's book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. In a recent blog entry, Karon defends Carter's use of the term apartheid as "not only morally valid [but] essential, because it shakes the moral stupor that allows many liberals to rationalize away the daily, grinding horror being inflicted on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza."

In January, at a conference on the 30th anniversary of Carter's inauguration, I talked to Carter about the reception his book has received. In public sessions, he has said that the personal attacks on him have "hurt" him and his family, but to me he said, '"I am not going to back down.... I am at peace." Let his critics take their best or worst shots; they cannot touch the inner core of a man who believes he has identified injustice and has written a book to expose that injustice.

Tony Karon believes Carter has succeeded: "What Carter is doing is challenging a taboo." And because he is "a well-established voice of peace and reason," he adds, "it's hard to brand him some sort of anti-Semitic Israel basher--although that hasn't restrained hysterics such as Alan Dershowitz [Harvard professor and trial lawyer] and Marty Peretz [New Republic editor] from doing so."

Deborah Lipstadt, professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Atlanta's Emory University, is more polite than Dershowitz and Peretz, but she faults Carter for not giving more attention to the Holocaust in his book (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 31).

In her book History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving, Lipstadt describes her successful suit against Irving as a "Holocaust denier." In her recent article, Lipstadt writes that "a guiding principle of Israel is that never again will persecuted Jews be left with no place to go. Israel's ideal of Jewish refuge is enshrined in laws that grant immediate citizenship to any Jew who requests it."

What Lipstadt does not say is that Israel's manner of pursuing its "ideal of Jewish refuge" has brought enormous suffering to the Palestinian people. …

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