Ideas: Presidential Provocation
Dec. 18, 2006 issue - President Carter has a new book out, his 23rd since leaving office and his most controversial. "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" has drawn fire for its use of the word "apartheid," and a former associate, Kenneth Stein, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Emory University, is raising questions about the book's accuracy. (Disclosure: NEWSWEEK's Christopher Dickey was one of the people asked to comment on an early draft of the book.) President Carter spoke to Eleanor Clift:
Well, it was. But one of the purposes of the book was to provoke discussion, which is very rarely heard in this country, and to open up some possibility that we could rejuvenate or restart the peace talks in Israel that have been absent for six years.
The word apartheiddid you agonize about that?
Not really, because I knew that's an accurate description of what's going on in Palestine. I would say that the plight of the Palestinians nowthe confiscation of their land, that they're being suppressed completely against voicing their disapproval of what's happening, the building of the wall that intrudes deep within their territory, the complete separation of Israelis from the Palestiniansall of those things in many ways are worse than some of the aspects of apartheid in South Africa. No one can go there and visit the different cities in Palestine without agreeing with what I have said.
Why do you think you're under attack for the book and the title?
You and I both know the powerful influence of AIPAC, which is not designed to promote peace. I'm not criticizing them, they have a perfect right to lobby, but their purpose in life is to protect and defend the policies of the Israeli government and to make sure those policies are approved in the United States and in our Congressand they're very effective at it.
You're obviously aware of your main critic, Mr. Stein, who used to be with the Carter Center.
Thirteen years ago! He hasn't been associated with the Carter Center for 13 years.
He says that he was a third party in some meetings and his notes don't jibe with yours.
He was a third party in some of the meetings, I can't deny that. And a lot of those meetings took place when I was still president and an exact transcription was kept and it's in the official files. So the reports that I gave in the book are completely accurate.
He also has a veiled hint of plagiarism, saying you took from other sources.
The only source that I took anything from that I know about was my own book, which I wrote earlierit's called "The Blood of Abraham" ... Somebody told me this morning [Stein] was complaining about the maps in the book. Well, the maps are derived from an atlas that was published in 2004 in Jerusalem and it was basically produced under the aegis of officials in Sweden. And the Swedish former prime minister is the one who told me this was the best atlas available about the Middle East.
To bring it up to the here and now, the Iraq Study Group report recommends ...
Exactly what I didthat the peace talks recommence.
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