Carter's Double Whammy: Wrong On Israel, Wrong For Democrats
Jimmy Carter screwed up.
His new book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, is wrong-headed in its approach and a failure in hoping for long-term peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The man has a right to his opinion, but this drivel -- which puts all the blame on Israel -- won't help the peace process, and Carter no doubt has lost the respect of a lot of people.
But for Democrats, the book provides a hole that Republicans can drive a truck through from now until the 2008 election cycle. You can almost hear the spin -- that this book is proof that only Republicans are staunch supporters of Israel. You can almost hear the spin that only Republicans can broker peace in that troubled region.
Which is a shame, because the Bush Administration's record in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been weak.
Once upon a time, the administration talked tough and offered its "Roadmap" for long-term peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But there's been little leadership since, because the administration has turned all its attention to Iraq.
As conservative writer William F. Buckley wrote earlier this year, the administration has been so "engulfed by Iraq" that it failed to have proper perspective on "other parts of the Middle East with respect to Iran in particular."
In other words, our administration chose the potential threat of Iraq over the real threat of Iran and Syria, the state sponsors of Israeli's terrorist enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah. When the situation blew up earlier this year between Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah, Rice stayed in Washington for weeks, breaking from past precedent, which saw President Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, used “shuttle diplomacy” following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and President Clinton's Secretary of State, Warren Christopher shuttling between Damascus and Jerusalem to negotiate a “truce between Israel and Hezbollah” in 1996.
The Iraq Study Group recommended that the administration put a greater focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- one of the few recommendations it apparently agrees with. We'll see if the administration can make any headway.
In the world of spin, the mediocre performance by the Bush Administration can easily be overshadowed by a book. Watch how the conservative television pundits and the radio ranters forget their recent history in order to blast Carter, and in turn, the Democrats.
The bulk of outrage has centered on Carter's use of the word "apartheid" in the title, wrong-headedly equating the plight of today’s Palestinians to the former victims of government-mandated racial separation in South Africa.
Michael Kinsley lambasted the book in the Washington Post on Tuesday. “It’s not clear what he means by using the loaded word ‘apartheid,’ since the book makes no attempt to explain it."
Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the New York Times: “The title is to de-legitimize Israel, because if Israel is like South Africa, it doesn’t really deserve to be a democratic state. He’s provoking, he’s outrageous, and he’s bigoted.”
But as any student of recent history should be able to understand, primarily blaming Israel for the region's troubles is illogical. Show me the olive branches the Palestinians have offered. Show me the real effort by the Palestinian leadership -- past or present -- to control its terrorist factions. Show me any real effort by the Palestinians to bring peace to the region.
Then we can talk about Israel and the mistakes it has made.