- Nov 22, 2003
Probably should be in politics, though in all honesty I don't think it's a democrat issue. They are not pro-Israel, but not anti-semetic.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Anti-Semitism, Brandeis, and Carter vs Dershowitz
Jimmy Carter's book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, has been (no kidding, with a title like that) the center of some heated controversy. Some have accused Carter, who is harshly critical of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, of anti-Semitism. This is a vexing issue; I do think some champions of Israel are too quick to label all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. However, I also believe that some criticism of Israel and its supporters has employed anti-Semitic tropes -- from the "Jewish conspiracy" meme, unmistakeably present in much of the talk about "the Jewish lobby," to the "Christ killer" meme -- and has often conflated the terms Israeli and Jew. (I addressed some of these questions in a column in Reason three years ago.)
I don't think Carter is an anti-Semite. ed. I do...However, I think that his book is a very skewed treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that some of his rhetoric is disturbing -- such as a passage that draws a parallel between the Pharisees of the New Testament and modern-day Israeli authorities. And I agree with historian Deborah Lipstadt's charge that in defending his book, "Carter has repeatedly fallen back -- possibly unconsciously -- on traditional anti-Semitic canards"; for instance, he has equated criticism from Jewish commentators who write for mainstream publications such as The New Yorker or The New York Times with criticism from "Jewish organizations."
Incidentally, social liberals might be startled to learn that in the book, Carter chronicles the fact that on a trip to Israel in the 1970s he remonstrated with then-Prime Minister Golda Meir for the overly secular nature of the Labor government. He even took it upon him to lecture Meir about the fact that in the Bible, "a common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of God." (Paging Pat Robertson?) But I digress.
The specific occasion for this post is Carter's visit to Brandeis University the other day. According to InsideHigherEd News: