By Amy Goodman
September 13, 2007, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
I sat down with former President Carter last week at the
Carter Center in Atlanta. The center was hosting a conference
of human-rights defenders, people at the front lines
confronting repressive regimes around the globe. After a
quarter-century of humanitarian work through the Carter
Center, monitoring elections, working to eradicate neglected
tropical diseases and focusing on the poor, Jimmy Carter now
finds himself at the center of the storm in the Israel-
After more than three decades of work on the Middle East,
Carter released a book titled Palestine: "Peace Not
Apartheid." The book's title alone has created a furor. But
Carter is undeterred:
"The word 'apartheid' is exactly accurate. This is an area
that's occupied by two powers. They are now completely
separated. Palestinians can't even ride on the same roads that
the Israelis have created or built in Palestinian territory.
The Israelis never see a Palestinian, except the Israeli
soldiers. The Palestinians never see an Israeli, except at a
distance, except the Israeli soldiers. So within Palestinian
territory, they are absolutely and totally separated, much
worse than they were in South Africa, by the way. And the
other thing is, the other definition of 'apartheid' is, one
side dominates the other. And the Israelis completely dominate
the life of the Palestinian people."
Carter lays much of the blame for the lack of momentum toward
a solution on the absence of debate in the U.S.: "It's a
terrible human-rights persecution that far transcends what any
outsider would imagine. And there are powerful political
forces in America that prevent any objective analysis of the
problem in the Holy Land. I think it's accurate to say that
not a single member of Congress with whom I'm familiar would
possibly speak out and call for Israel to withdraw to their
legal boundaries or to publicize the plight of the
Palestinians or even to call publicly and repeatedly for good
faith peace talks."
As president, Carter brokered the 1978 Camp David Peace
Accords, creating a lasting peace between Israel and Egypt.
President Clinton, who officiated over the failed 2000 Camp
David Summit between Israel and the Palestinians, has been
highly critical of Carter's perspective. Clinton blames the
Palestinian leadership for rejecting Israel's "generous
offer." It's interesting that Israel's chief negotiator,
former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, told me in 2006, "If I
were a Palestinian, I would have rejected Camp David as well."
While we were in Atlanta, DePaul University in Chicago reached
a settlement with professor Norman Finkelstein. Despite
hailing him as a "prolific scholar and an outstanding
teacher," DePaul denied him tenure, many believe because of
his outspoken criticism of Israeli policy toward Palestinians.
The son of Holocaust survivors himself, Finkelstein has been
praised by leading scholars.
Just months before he died, Raul Hilberg, revered founder of
the field of Holocaust studies, praised Finkelstein's work:
"That takes a great amount of courage. His place in the whole
history of writing history is assured and that those who in
the end are proven right triumph, and he will be among those
who will have triumphed, albeit, it so seems, at great cost."
Open debate on Israel-Palestine should not come at such a high
cost. It is essential to Middle East peace. The Iraq Study
Group, in its bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Report, stated, "The
United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the
Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the
Carter's book cover has a picture of the "Separation Barrier."
Israel originally designed the wall to run along the
internationally recognized 1967 border. Carter noted that
Israel decided to "move the wall from the Israeli border to
intrude deeply within Palestine to carve out some of that
precious land for the Israeli settlers to occupy." The
International Court of Justice has ruled it illegal. It is
more than half completed, with plans to snake more than 400
miles, mainly through the West Bank. In places the wall is
more than 25 feet high and made of concrete.
Carter describes it as "much worse" than the Berlin Wall.
Elder Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery writes:
"When my friends fall prey to despair, I show them a piece of
painted concrete, which I bought in Berlin. It is one of the
remnants of the Berlin Wall, which are on sale in the city. I
tell them that I intend, when the time comes, to apply for a
franchise to sell pieces of the Separation Wall."
That barrier stands in the United States as well "
metaphorically " around any kind of rational debate for a fair
and just solution in the Middle East. My suggestion: Tear down
[Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily
international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in
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MuzzleWatch Jewish Voices for Peace Update
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1. After Finkelstein: Alan Dershowitz, a Clinton supporter, pressures Obama
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After Finkelstein: Alan Dershowitz, a Clinton supporter, pressures Obama
The conservative daily, The New York Sun reports that Alan Dershowitz
is pressuring Barack Obama to sever ties with former Carter security
advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski because he defended Stephen Walt and John
Mearsheimer's book, "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy". In fact,
once informed that an Obama ad appeared on the Amazon page advertising
the book, the Obama campaign had it removed. The Sun reports:
Amid a firestorm over an initial working paper Messrs .
Mearsheimer and Walt published last year on the Israel lobby, Mr.
Brzezinski rose to their defense, even as he demurred on the question
of whether he agreed with their central arguments. The authors, he
wrote in the journal Foreign Policy, "have rendered a public service
by initiating a much-needed public debate on the role of the ' Israel
lobby' in the shaping of U.S. foreign policy."
Mr. Obama's campaign took the opposite route earlier this week
when notified that an ad for its Web site appeared on the Amazon.com
page of the Mearsheimer-Walt book. The campaign immediately removed
the ad, saying its placement was unintentional, and issued a statement
saying Mr. Obama believed the arguments in the book were "just wrong."
"I'm glad he's done that, but now he has to dissociate himself from
Brzezinski," Mr. Dershowitz said in an interview yesterday. He said
the Mearsheimer-Walt book was "a bigoted attack on the American Jewish
community" and that Mr. Brzezinski's comments in Foreign Policy last
year amounted to an endorsement.
Harvard law professor and gadfly Alan Dershowitz, who supports Hillary
Clinton's candidacy and gave $1,000 to her campaign, also accused
Brezinski of anti-Israel rhetoric, highlighting his criticism of
Israel's bombing of Lebanon last year.
In response, the Obama campaign released a statement from one of
its top supporters in the Jewish community, Rep. Robert Wexler of
Florida. " Barack Obama has been a consistent supporter of Israel and
this is an unfortunate case of a fabricated controversy for political
reasons," he said. "I speak with him often on Israel policy, and I can
tell you firsthand that Barack Obama is opposed to the arguments
presented in this book."
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* U Michigan press stops distribution of Kovel's Overcoming Zionism
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* Finkelstein settles with DePaul, fight continues for Larudee
* Update on Rubinstein: New Israel Fund in UK Promotes Free Speech
* Ha'aretz's Danny Rubinstein in hot water: says Israel is
"apartheid state" at UN conference
Grant Nadia Abu El-Haj Tenure
View Current Signatures - Sign the Petition
To: Columbia University/Barnard College
We the undersigned strongly endorse the tenure case of Nadia Abu
El-Haj at Barnard college. We completely reject every unsubstantiated
allegation made in the related petition
(http://www.petitiononline.com/barnard/) to deny Ms. Abu El-Haj
tenure. Moreover, we wish to register that we find to be deplorable
such unsubstantiated attacks on the autonomy of free academic inquiry
and academic self-government from outside the academy. Ms. Abu
El-Haj's work has undergone peer review and has been published by a
premier academic press (University of Chicago) and it stands on its
own merits, which have been widely recognized in the academic
community. We believe that these attacks on Ms. Abu El-Haj are part of
an orchestrated witch-hunt (reminiscent of course of McCarthyism)
against politically unpopular ideas. We also believe that Ms. Abu
El-Haj has been singled out from among many other authors who make the
same points essentially because of her last name, thus, we suspect
that something like simple ethnic prejudice is at issue here.
View Current Signatures
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University/Barnard College was created by and written by Paul Manning
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