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Jimmy Carter Bashing

It's not really about Carter. Assaults sunk to a new low this past January, with Abe Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) calling Carter "a bigot." The aim of the assault was to teach all American politicians a lesson: you cannot criticize Israeli policy without paying a huge political price. In his new book, Carter suggests that Israel's West Bank policies will eventually lead to de facto apartheid. It is a mild charge, according to former Knesset Member Shulamit Aloni who served as Minister of Education for Israel in Ehud Barack's cabinet in the 1990s. Aloni, writing in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achranot, says that Israel has already gotten there, that it is not only an apartheid society in the West Bank, but that some of the ways Israeli Arabs are generally treated is de facto apartheid. This kind of rough-and-tumble dissent that is part of Israeli political discourse has been squashed in the American Jewish community. Now the Israel-can-do-no-wrong crowd is seeking to impose their orthodoxy, which already intimidates most Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike, on a broader constituency by demeaning Jimmy Carter- the only president who cared enough about Israel to be willing to stand up to its leaders and demand concessions, thus delivering the one peace agreement that has withstood the test of time. Undermining Jimmy Carter, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and one of the only rational presidents the U.S. has elected in the last forty years, is bad for the U.S., bad for Israel, and bad for the Jews.

At the same time, there is room for criticism of some aspects of Carter's book, even while celebrating its potential impact in opening up areas of discussion of Israeli policy that the Israelcan-do-no-wrong crowd has so successfully crushed or marginalized in American media and politics (not because "the Jews" control the media, but because AIPAC and its allies have mobilized money and grass-roots organizing so effectively). Carter does not give a fair account of the degree to which Israeli anger at Palestinians originated in the 1930s and 40s when Jews were barred from immigrating to Palestine from a Europe caught up in genocide against the Jewish people. Nor does he adequately think his way into the impact of living amidst Arab states who have never recognized Israel's right to exist, and who have provided a safe haven for Palestinian terrorists- whose psychological impact on Holocaust survivors has resulted in the re-stimulation of their fears of annihilation. Nonetheless, Carter's book raises important issues about Israel/Palestine, and could have had much more of an impact had it been more widely embraced by Jews in the peace movement.

Anti-War Marches and Rallies

The hundreds of thousands of people (no, not "tens of thousands" as reported in most mainstream media) who rallied and marched against the war in Iraq on Jan. 27, 2007 were motivated by a strong desire to show that many Americans understand that a toothless resolution against the war provides political cover for spineless Democrats who are afraid to vote to cut the funding that makes the war possible. The United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) leadership showed great maturity in providing the Network of Spiritual Progressives with a ten minute spot at the beginning to start the rally with a spiritual/religious ceremony that included a celebration of the universe led by Rabbi Michael Lerner (for his full speech, go to www.tikkun.org and click on "Report from the D.C. Jan. 27 Peace Demonstration from Rabbi Michael Lerner" under "Current Thinking").

The UFPJ leadership deserves particular commendation for avoiding the shrill anti- American pseudoMarxist rhetoric, Israelbashing, free-floating anger that characterizes many of the demonstrations sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition, and which may mar and undermine the importance and potential value of a scheduled demonstration at the Pentagon on March 17. …

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