Jennifer Siegel has a story up about the rabbinical arm of the Reform movement cancelling a trip to the Carter Center in protest of the former president’s new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” and comments he has made during the publicity tour.
Today 14 members of the center’s board of councilors announced that they were resigning due to the book. Below is their respective letters to their fellow councilors and Carter.
Dear fellow member of the Carter Center Board of Councilors, This has been a difficult time for us. As members of the Board of Councilors of the Carter Center we have endeavored to promote the efforts of the Carter Center in our community. However, the recent book authored by President Carter “Palestine; Peace not Apartheid” and his comments in the press made while promoting the book have given us pause in our efforts. We are deeply troubled by the President’s comments and writings and are submitting the following letter of resignation to the Carter Center. We wanted to inform you, our fellow Board members, of our actions and encourage you to contact us if you have any questions regarding our resignation. Sincerely [titles supplied by the ADL], Alan Abrams [Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Servidyne, Inc.] Steve Berman [Managing Partner, OA Development] Michael Coles [Chairman, Caribou Coffee Co.] Jon Golden [President & CEO, United Distributors] Doug Hertz [President & CEO, United Distributors] Barbara Babbit Kaufman [author] Liane Levetan [former state senator and DeKalb CEO] Jeff Levy [Chairman and CEO of PrDigital Media and its parent company, Biltmore Communications] Leon Novak [Principal, The Trilogy Group] Ambassador William B. Schwartz Jr. [former senior wealth management professional at Offitbank] William B. Schwartz III [former U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas] Steve Selig [President and Chairman of the Board of Selig Enterprises] Cathey Steinberg [Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Fund] Gail Solomon [Georgia Dome Executive Services Manager]
And the letter to Carter…
1/11/2007 The Honorable Jimmy Carter The Carter Center One Copenhill 453 Freedom Parkway Atlanta, GA 30307 Dear President Carter, As members of the Board of Councilors each one of us has been proud to be associated with the Carter Center in its noble struggle to repair the world. However, in light of the publication of your latest book Palestine; Peace Not Apartheid and your subsequent comments made in promoting the book, we can no longer in good conscience continue to serve the Center as members of the Board of Councilors. In its work in conflict resolution the Carter Center has always played the useful and constructive role of honest broker and mediator between warring parties. In your book, which portrays the conflict between Israel and her neighbors as a purely one-sided affair with Israel holding all of the responsibility for resolving the conflict, you have clearly abandoned your historic role of broker in favor of becoming an advocate for one side. The facts in dealing with the conflict are these: There are two national narratives contesting one piece of land. The Israelis, through deed and public comment, have consistently spoken of a desire to live in peace and make territorial compromise to achieve this status. The Palestinian side has consistently resorted to acts of terror as a national expression and elected parties endorsing the use of terror, the rejection of territorial compromise and of Israel’s right to exist. Palestinian leaders have had chances since 1947 to have their own state, including during your own presidency when they snubbed your efforts. Your book has confused opinion with fact, subjectivity with objectivity and force for change with partisan advocacy. Furthermore the comments you have made the past few weeks insinuating that there is a monolith of Jewish power in America are most disturbing and must be addressed by us. In our great country where freedom of expression is basic bedrock you have suddenly proclaimed that Americans cannot express their opinion on matters in the Middle East for fear of retribution from the “Jewish Lobby” In condemning the Jews of America you also condemn Christians and others for their support of Israel. Is any interest group to be penalized for participating in the free and open political process that is America? Your book and recent comments suggest you seem to think so. In the past you would inject yourself into this world to moderate between the two sides in the pursuit of peace and as a result you earned our admiration and support. Now you repeatedly make false claims. You wrote that UN Security Council Resolution 242 says that “Israel must withdraw from territories” (p. 38), but you know the word “must” in fact is not in the resolution. You said that since Mahmoud Abbas has been in office there have been no peace discussions. That is wrong. You wrote that Yassir Arafat told you in 1990 that, “The PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel” (p. 62). Given that their Charter, which explicitly calls for Israel’s destruction, was not revised until the late 1990s, how could you even write such a claim as if it were credible? You denied on Denver radio on December 12 that Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyah said he would never accept or negotiate with Israel. However the BBC monitoring service reported just the opposite. In fact Haniyah said: “We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihadist movement until Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are liberated. When presented with this fact you said, “No he didn’t say that, no he did not do that, I did not hear that.” These are not points of opinion, these are points of fact. And finally, it is a disturbing statement to write: “that it is imperative, that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel.” In this sentence you clearly suggest that you are condoning violence against Israelis until they do certain things (p.213). Your use of the word “Apartheid,” regardless of your disclaimers, has already energized white supremacist groups who thrive on asserting Jewish control of government and foreign policy, an insinuation you made in your OPED to the LA Times on December 8, 2006: “For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts.” According to Web site monitoring by the Anti-Defamation League, U.S. white supremacists have enthusiastically embraced your suggestion that the Israel lobby stifles debate in this country, saying it confirms Jewish control of government and foreign policy as well as and the inherently “evil” nature of Jews. If you doubt the support you are giving and receiving, please refer to: http://www.adl.org/main_Anti_Semitism_Domestic/carter_reactions_ws.htm From there you can get to the postings of four different White Supremacist organizations that both support and make use of the contents of your book and what you have said in public. As a result it seems that you have turned to a world of advocacy, including even malicious advocacy. We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position. This is not the Carter Center or the Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support. Therefore it is with sadness and regret that we hereby tender our resignation from the Board of Councilors of the Carter Center effective immediately. Sincerely, Alan Abrams Steve Berman Michael Coles Jon Golden Doug Hertz Barbara Babbit Kaufman Liane Levetan Jeff Levy Leon Novak Ambassador William B. Schwartz Jr. William B. Schwartz III Steve Selig Cathey Steinberg Gail Solomon