Thursday, December 14, 2006

Perhaps we are overreacting?

A tiny little bit with the Jimmy Carter brouhaha?
I have not read the book. I will opine regardless. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
I agree that the use of the word apartheid to describe the Israeli occupation is incorrect. To use it in a title called Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, sounds between naive and reactionary and really cheap.

“It was obviously going to be somewhat provocative,” Mr. Carter said of the title. “I could have said ‘A New Path to Peace’ or something like that.”
Really cynical and cheap.
Apartheid is a system of separation that is racist in origin and intention. It was created by white people in South Africa to segregate the blacks within their own country and it was based on ideas of white supremacy. I think that the situation in the occuppied territories is simply not the same. The Palestinians live in territories that were occupied by Israel in the 1967 war. And though it is true that they experience harshness and injustice from the State of Israel, the reason for it is not racism, but politics. And the politics are extremely complicated. I understand if people bristle at the comparison.

But Mr. Carter's claim that there needs to be a more balanced perspective about this particular conflict here in the US is not farfetched.
Mr. Carter wrote in an essay in The Los Angeles Times on Friday that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s lobbying efforts have produced a reluctance to criticize the politics of the Israeli government. The editorial boards of major American newspapers and magazines, he continued, have exercised self-restraint on the subject of Israel and the Palestinians.

A vocal pro-Palestinian viewpoint, he said, is “nonexistent in this country to any detectable degree.”

Which is the claim that Mr. Foxman said he found most offensive. “The reason he gives for why he wrote this book is this shameless, shameful canard that the Jews control the debate in this country, especially when it comes to the media,” he said. “What makes this serious is that he’s not just another pundit, and he’s not just another analyst. He is a former president of the United States.”

Seems to me that Abraham Foxman from the ADL (when is that guy going to step down already?), seems a bit overzealous in his explanation. Saying that the debate is skewed is not the same thing as saying that the Jews control the media. That's seems to me a big jump. Let's face it: the debate is skewed. Jews in the diaspora are loath to criticize Israel. They are afraid criticism could be mistaken for disloyalty. I think it is more disloyal to continue abiding and supporting a deteriorating situation that does not benefit Israel at all. There is much more healthy debate about the Palestinian situation in Israel than there is here. People there are not afraid to take sides, criticize, demand change. It's a democracy and people are free to have different opinions.
That Carter finds the living conditions of the Palestinians outrageous does not make him an antisemite. It is a known fact that life in the territories is harsh. Israel should be held up to a more exacting standard, not to make its already stressful life more difficult, but because it is a democracy and a free country, pretty much the only one in the region.
That is why I wish with every fiber of my being that Israel returns those freaking territories as soon as possible and is prepared to defend itself from the enemy OUTSIDE its borders.
Plus, why is the ADL putting ads on the newspaper? Seems a bit heavy handed to me. As are people screaming that Carter is an antisemite because he is criticizing Israel. If the book blames only Israel for the problem, then I would say yes, there may be prejudice in Carter's mind. But as the guy who brokered peace between Israel and Egypt, he of all people must know how complex and difficult the geopolitical reality is in the Middle East. In a way, I think it's good to create controversy. His books are going to sell like peanuts (!) but hopefully this will underscore the importance of everybody making every effort to try to find a solution to this problem soon.

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