Top Democrats are rushing to repudiate former President Carter’s controversial new book on the Middle East, in which he accuses the Israeli government of maintaining an apartheid system.
Two key party leaders — Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, party chairman, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — and several congressmen issued statements Monday saying that the book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” does not represent their views on the Jewish state.
“It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously,” Pelosi wrote in a statement. “With all due respect to former President Carter, he does not speak for the Democratic Party on Israel.”
Carter’s book is being published by Simon & Schuster and is slated for release November 14. In an advanced draft copy of the work, obtained by the Forward, the former president asserts that Israel’s current policies in the Palestinian territories constitute “a system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights.” He argues that Israel’s settlement policy is principally to blame for the failure of peace initiatives in the Middle East.
Dean also took issue with Carter’s assessment.
“While I have tremendous respect for former President Carter, I fundamentally disagree and do not support his analysis of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Dean wrote in a statement. “On this issue President Carter speaks for himself, the opinions in his book are his own, they are not the views or position of the Democratic Party. I and other Democrats will continue to stand with Israel in its battle against terrorism and for a lasting peace with its neighbors.”
Several Democratic members of New York’s House delegation — Reps. Steve Israel, Charlie Rangel and Jerrold Nadler — also have issued statements criticizing Carter’s book, as did Rep. John Conyers, Jr., a Michigan Democrat who is often criticized by members of the Jewish community for his failure to support Israel in a certain instance. Last summer, Conyers was one of eight House members who did not vote for a resolution backing the Jewish state in the wake of the Hezbollah attacks.
In his statement, Conyers said that Carter’s use of the word “apartheid” went too far.
“I cannot agree with the book’s title and its implications about apartheid,” the lawmaker wrote in a statement. “I recently called the former president to express my concerns about the title of the book, and to request that the title be changed.”