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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Carter On the Right of Middle Eastern Jews

Carter enemy of peace

Ben-Dror Yemini

Like many "peace activists", the former president engages in revilement against Israel, which feeds Palestinian rejectionism

Are peace activists the enemies of peace? The fascinating case of Jimmy Carter requires a special look. Carter recently visited Israel – one of many visits – this time in the framework of a special delegation of "Elders" – the world's tribal elders. There is no doubt that this group – one of whose founders is Nelson Mandela – has good intentions, and maybe ability. They have considerable gravitas. But the main question is – what are they doing with their moral weight?

Immediately upon his return to the US, Carter published an article in the prestigious Washington Post. An invective against the State of Israel. Invective cannot rest on foundations of truth. It needs lies. Carter tells a few, for example, about the Hanoun family, "recently evicted from their home of 65 years." Really? In fact, the entire compound belongs to Jews, who were expelled from Jerusalem in the framework of the War of Independence. There is no argument about the Jewish ownership, which dates back to 1875. A Star of David is still to be found on one of the old stone structures at the site. The Hanoun family, by contrast, did not reach the place 65 years ago. If Carter would have checked, he would discover that this is a family of refugees from Haifa (Haifa's Arabs, by the way, were not expelled. They left voluntarily). They were moved into the structure, along with another family, in 1956, by the Jordanian authorities. The owners of the property sought to exercise their proprietary rights. There is not a word about this in Carter's article.

And indeed, there are thousands of tenants, in Carter's state, in Atlanta, who were evicted from their homes because they could not make their mortgage payments. The rights of the Smith family, which was thrown onto the street in Atlanta, are much more established than the rights of the Hanoun family. But Carter is not looking for justice. He is looking for invective. And therefore, he presents his readers with a partial picture, replete with erroneous details, and conceals the fact that the eviction was carried out only after lengthy judicial proceedings, in which the proprietary rights were held up to detailed scrutiny. It is worthwhile to be precise. The Israeli court granted the families living in the compound the status of protected tenants. Moreover, some of the evicted families had the option of generous compensation even though they had no proprietary rights. But the families rejected every offered settlement and every legal defense, due to political pressure, and also received a political visit from Carter and his friends. Nobody offered compensation to the Smith family in Atlanta and Carter did not visit them.

The criticism of eviction of the Hanoun family could be justified. Even if the eviction was legally justified – there is room for political criticism. And on the condition that if Carter seeks to deny the Jews' proprietary rights – he should also make it clear that the Palestinians have no right to claim abandoned property. In practice, the property that was expropriated and confiscated from Jews in Arab countries, as a result of legislation, pressure, persecution, flight and expulsion – is worth more than the property that was expropriated and confiscated from the Palestinians as a result of flight and expulsion. But there is a difference. The Palestinians underwent the experience of flight and expulsion following the declaration of a war of annihilation against the Jewish State, which had barely arisen. The Jews in Arab countries underwent a similar experience – of flight, expulsion and property expropriation – even though they had not declared war on the Arab countries. If so, whose rights are greater?

Has Carter ever told the Palestinians this basic truth? The answer is well known. Like other "peace activists", he treat the Arabs in general, and the Palestinians in particular, like retarded children. They must not be told the truth. They must not be told that if there are rights – then both the Jews and the Arabs have them. And if not – then neither the Jews nor the Arabs have them. He does not tell them that during the 1940's, tens of millions of people underwent the harsh experience of population exchanges, and there is no reason why only the Palestinians should have "the right of return." He does not tell them that more Jews fled, and were expelled from, Arab countries than Palestinians who were expelled from or fled Israel.

It is possible and permissible to criticize Israel over the settlements. Occasionally, this criticism is justified. But Carter, like thousands of other "peace activists", does not advance peace. Their demonization of Israel strengthens those who reject peace. Abu Mazen's position appeared in the same newspaper, the Washington Post, on May 29. He insists on demands the sole significance of which is opposition to the existence of the State of Israel. He agrees, of course, officially, to a two-state solution but on the condition that one of them be a Palestinian state and that the second one also be a Palestinian state, following the implementation of the right of return. He admits that he received an amazing compromise offer from Olmert that included the evacuation of 97% of the territories but he rejected it outright because he insisted that masses of Palestinians flood the State of Israel.

Did Carter issue a condemnation of Abu Mazen? The answer is well known. Carter published an article condemning Israel, one of many. Instead of offering fair criticism, Carter has become part of the incitement enterprise against the State of Israel. Carter is capable of much more. He has succeeded in making achievements in other areas. For some reason, when he touches the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he loses his fairness and his balance. He does not contribute to the advancement of peace. On the contrary. This is Carter's contribution to strengthening Palestinian refusal and to pushing the chances of peace further away."

Ben-Dror Yemini

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.