Jimmy Carter's 'Peace' Mission To Brandeis
Ex-President Still Stands by His Controversial Palestine Book
Carter did not step back from the word Tuesday. He noted that he and his successors, notably Bill Clinton, have tried and failed to nudge the
Palestinians and Israelis toward a lasting peace. The last six years, he said, have been marked by failure on all sides. The administration of
George W. Bush all but abandoned such efforts, putting the onus on the Palestinians to turn their back on PLO leaders and now the
fundamentalist Islamic Hamas leadership. And the Israelis, too, have all but abandoned negotiation, he said, turning instead to the building of
walls. Carter spoke of Israeli's decision to build barriers and set aside certain highways for Israelis only as creating a "spider web" that
constricts and divides historic Arab lands. The West Bank, he said, has become a place of "Bantustans, isolated cantons," referring to the
territories created for black South Africans under apartheid. He noted that many liberal Israelis, from newspaper journalists to professors
to peace activists, also refer to Israeli policy on the West Bank as apartheid, albeit a policy grounded not in racism but in a religion-based
desire to control land. Israelis "have all used and explained the word 'apartheid' in much harsher words than mine," Carter said.
Carter wins applause at Brandeis
Defends stance on Palestinians; critic speaks later
WALTHAM -- Jimmy Carter, in a carefully orchestrated visit, received multiple ovations last night during his speech at Brandeis University. Loud applause
greeted his rebuttal of critics who have called him an anti-Semite because of his views on Israel. The 82-year-old former president, whose best-selling book
"Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" has angered many Jewish groups and others nationwide, spoke in a gym packed with about 1,700 Brandeis students,
faculty, and other members of the campus community. About 50 protesters gathered outside, but the only protest visible inside the gym was "Pro Israel,
Pro Peace" buttons worn by about 200 students. "This is the first time that I've ever been called a liar and a bigot and an anti-Semite and a coward and
a plagiarist," Carter said to a hushed audience at the school, which has a predominantly Jewish student body, referring to the reaction to his book.
Smears for Fears
Wes Clark just got caught up in the rigged rules for discussing Israel-related issues in America.
Retired General Wesley Clark is, like me, concerned that the Bush administration is going to launch a war with Iran. Arianna Huffington spoke
to him in early January and asked why he was so worried the administration was headed in this direction. According to Huffington's January 4
recounting of Clark's thoughts, he said this: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so
much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers." This, of course, is true. I'm Jewish and I don't think
the United States should bomb Iran, but Thursday night I was talking to a Jewish friend and she does think the United States should bomb Iran.
The Jewish community, in short, is divided on the issue. It's also true that most major American Jewish organizations cater to the views of extremely
wealthy major donors whose political views are well to the right of the bulk of American Jews, one of the most liberal ethnic groups in the country.
Furthermore, it's true that major Jewish organizations are trying to push the country into war. And, last, it's true that if you read the Israeli press
you'll see that right-wing Israeli politicians are anticipating a military confrontation with Iran. (For example, here's an article about the timing of the selection
of a new top dog in the Israeli Defense Forces; Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted as saying that the new leader "will have to straighten the army out,
rebuild Israel's deterrence and prepare the defenses against threats, first and foremost, against Iran.") Everything Clark said, in short, is true.
What's more, everybody knows it's true. The worst that can truthfully be said about Clark is that he expressed himself in a slightly odd way.
This, it seems clear, he did because it's a sensitive issue and he worried that if he spoke plainly he'd be accused of trafficking in anti-Semitism.
So he spoke unclearly and, for his trouble, got . accused of trafficking in anti-Semitism.
Zionist Vs. Zionist
Controversy breaks out within the Israel on Campus Coalition.
A national pro-Israel campus group took a risk when several of its chapters brought former Israeli soldiers to their campuses to expose their country's
military practices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Now, it might be paying the price. The Union of Progressive Zionists, some of whose chapters
and affiliates brought the "Breaking the Silence" tour to places like the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Maryland, is a part of
the Israel on Campus Coalition. This December, the 30,000-member Zionist Organization of America (an ICC member) sent a letter to the ICC
demanding that the UPZ be removed from the coalition because of this tour. Other ICC members include the fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, the
Anti-Defamation League, and the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). UPZ is an affiliate member. The speaking tour, which was
covered in the mainstream media, featured former Israeli soldiers who served in the occupied Palestinian territories. The project has also interviewed
former combat soldiers and has drafted testimonials of what goes on in the occupied territories. During the tour, participants also showed photos of
what they considered excessive force and unethical military behavior. This is a big problem for Morton Klein, the president of the ZOA. In reference
to "Breaking the Silence," Klein maintains that when Israeli soldiers talk about the brutal things their military does to innocent Palestinians, they are only
reporting isolated incidents and are painting an inaccurate, unfair picture. "Israel has the most humane army on earth," he says. Klein's objections are
strategic as well as substantive. The ICC, which is partnered with Hillel, aims to increase advocacy of Israel on American college campuses. It was
launched in 2002, two years after the first intifada in Palestine broke out, when college groups critical of the Israel occupation started to become more
vocal and better organized. To have events like this that align with some of the rhetoric in pro-Palestine groups, Klein warns, is a conflict.
"This is not the mission of the ICC," he says.