Wednesday, January 31

The book post for February


My New Year's Resolution is to read more, and review a book here once a month. For February the book is Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid.

Carter's book has angered certain right wing bloggers to the point that they want him censured, primarily for the admittedly incendiary title of the book. I doubt that the particular right wing blogger from whom I discovered the censure movement has read even one word of Carter's book.

I find it fascinating that there is less tolerance for the "anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism" bullshit in the editorial pages of The Jerusalem Post than there is on certain right-wing blogs coming outta New Jersey. Seriously. But I don't like to use the term Zionism because that gets into this whole "Israel's right to exist" mantra which is so NOT the point. Let me state this in as clear a statement as I can: I am not questioning Israel's right to exist. I am (and Carter is, and a great many letters to the editor of the Jerusalem Post are) questioning Israel's "right" to kill everyone (a classic CFAV post), "right" to treat non-Jews as third class citizens of the planet, "right" to ignore the UN, etc. etc.

Sigh. And of course that means Carter and I are guilty of

denying the holocaust.

Don't get me started. (The WTF letters in response to that charge are on point and worth a read.)

This is a good book. (whew. After all that?) I particularly like how readable it is given the subject matter. I could quibble with Carter's timeline starting the Middle East conflict with Abraham ca 1900 BC, but whatever. Carter will never let us forget he is a Baptist Sunday School teacher. The world will not forget that his place in history has more to do with his peace work than with his lackluster Presidency.

I'm delighted that the attacks on Carter have put this book on the bestseller chart. I don't believe that this book will instantly change US policy. But it is a large chink in the armor of AIPAC and Lieberman and Pammy. And it's a start toward fairness.

Carter's first sentence mentions his career-long goal "has been to help ensure a lasting peace for Israelis and others in the Middle East." That much of Carter I totally believe. And what I want to know from those who would censure him is, why would peace which honors the dignity of each human being in the region not serve your purpose? Just asking.

8 comments:

  1. Halfiranian3:51 PM

    like any book, you've gotta read it before you criticise it.

    unfortunately, for the Palestinians, Carter's interpretation is right; there is apartheid in the Palestinian territories.

    Check out the 'breaking the silence' interview:

    http://halfiranian.com/2007/01/29/israel-and-apartheid/

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  2. WTF would a Congressional censure do to Carter? It's not gonna stop his salary or Secret Service protection as a former President. Besides, it'd take a miracle to get one. They won't even censure each other when they're caught w/ their hands in a till or a page's pants.

    Like he gives a rat's patoot about any of them, anyway.

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  3. You know, the whole "doubting Israel's right to exist" is a decoy.

    Israel - as it stands - will be reorganized or remain an Apartheid state. Its very premise is racist, its first law (the Law of Return, which applies to people based on the religion they were born int) is racist, the way it handles the non-Jewish population inside it (that's nearly 2,000,000 of its population of 7,000,000 - and you can add another 3,500,000 non-Jewish-and-mistreated in the territories Israel has been occupying for nearly 40 years now) is racist.

    Some sad points are: right now, Israel is the single most dangerous place for a Jew to live. The single most likely place for a Jew to be killed due to their religion. Also, the a really-far-from-what-Americans-think-of-as-Jewish-values regime in the world.

    Americans imagine Israel as a land full of people much like their lawyer, or their doctor, or their friend-who-volunteers-for-Hadassah. It's not. The culture is extraordinarly suppressive of women (I know about Golda Meir. When she was prime minister of Israel, young women were conscripted to the Israeli army and paraded before officers to choose for "clerical work" which was code for "typing and sex-toy duty". I'm not impressed with what that old bitch did for women, ok?)

    Suppressive of women - did you notice that Israel's president (a figurehead with no power) was just indicted for rape? And that the dude who was minister of justice was just convicted of sexual misconduct with one of those conscripted soldiers like the ones I mentioned above?

    Israel is not what Americans imagine it to be. And the ones who believe in it seem unwilling to face its faults and work to make it livable for its entire population (including Palestinians and women).

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  4. i tried to have this conversation at my place after i read the book. yes, i read the book cover to cover- yellow highliter and all. my question was- why is it we can't have a rational conversation about america and israel's faults and why can't we hold our countries accountable for their wrongs? without being branded an anti-semite or anti-american of course. i got limited to no response.

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  5. Do people who have the right to exist have the right to abide by the rules of fair play?

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  6. If the Hannitys of the world are against it, I guess I'm going to have to read it.

    But I'll get my copy from the public library.

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  7. Hypothesis: the right wing has played a certain fraction of the American Jewish community just as they have played the Christian fundamentalists.

    I still remember in the runup to the 2004 elections, all the emails I received by people with Jewish surnames telling me that George W. Bush was such a great friend to Israel. I wrote back to one of them, citing Bush's crimes chapter and verse, and concluding with, "And you support Bush? Your mother would be so ashamed."

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  8. I have to address a few of those:

    First, I'm a very liberal Jew who has been to Israel, so I want to say that to put the following in context:

    Anti-zionism does not equal anti-semitism at all. BUT, there are extreme left wing anti-semites because of Israel now. I was listening to Air America and the radio talk show host said "So I saw this orthodox Jew the other day and I wanted to punch him and yell 'This is for Palestine!'" Then he asked his cohost "Is that anti-semitic?"

    Uh... yes... yes that is. That's not what all anti-zionists are doing, but it is definitally happening.

    Secondly, The Jewish people vote 85-90% Liberal (Democrat) in every election. So the right wing isn't exactly "playing us." And "Messianic Jews" (AKA "Jews for Jesus") are considered Jewish in the polling and vote overwhelmingly Republican. Ironically, it was the Jewish community that was pissed the most at Lieberman, because they were upset how poorly he represented us.

    Third, everything Israel has been doing military has been dead wrong. Don't think because I'm defending things I agree with them, I don't.

    Fourth, for our own sake (the liberal sake) remember that Hamas is a known terrorist group and is in charge of their country. So although Israel is the one that is taking advantage of its own power, it's not good for the liberal image to not acknowledge the country is run by known terrorists (they would blow up innocent people and buildings and claim responsibility). Blame Israel, that's fine, but if you don't at least acknowledge that, the Neocons have a much easier time saying we are weak on terror. I've been to Israel. We had to clear out a 300 foot area because some idiot tourist left their backpack on the ground, and we had to wait an hour for them to literally blow up the backpack (because the bombers put nails in the backpack so that there are more injuries, so they couldn't take the risk of opening it). They're a frightened nation that is COMPLETELY to blame for their irresponsible use of weapons, but please ACKNOWLEDGE that there are terrorist attacks by the Palestinians. PLEASE.

    Other than that I think you are exactly right. Israel is completely irresponsible with their attacks. If they get any intelligence that there is someone in the Palestinian camps that may be a terrorist, they bomb it. That's horrific and needs to be dealth with, and I'm glad you provide posts like this to bring it up for discussion.

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