The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has rejected former U.S. President Jimmy Carters recent apology for having made false allegations and harsh criticisms of Israel, as his words did not amount to an apology at all. Indeed, his statement was not a retraction of his past harsh and monstrous criticisms of Israel, but an indirect reiteration and reaffirmation of them. President Carter said that we must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel. As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so (Ron Kampeas, Carter apologizes to Jewish community, Jerusalem Post, December 22, 2009).
The ZOA notes that President Carter did not repudiate even a single specific past anti-Israel statement he has made in over three decades of maligning Israel with vicious falsehoods and tendentious allegations in innumerable op-eds, interviews, speeches and books. In fact, this statement actually reaffirms that his criticisms are accurate and legitimate but were only meant for improvement not for stigmatizing Israel. In other words, Carters calling Israel an apartheid, human-rights abusing, war-mongering state are still in his view true, but he is merely sorry that they may have harmed Israels image! He did not say these criticisms were untrue or actually harmful and retract them. Additionally, Jimmy Carter may have had an ulterior motive to offer his apology assisting the electoral prospects of his grandson, Jason, who is running for Congress in a district of Georgia with a Jewish population. His non-apology is therefore an insult to our intelligence.
Jimmy Carter has been a vociferous and repeatedly harsh critic of Israel for at least thirty years and his animus against Israel has been confirmed from many reliable quarters. His Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, once revealed that if Carter had won a second term, he intended to sell Israel down the river. In The Unfinished Presidency, Douglas Brinkley writes, There was no world leader Jimmy Carter was more eager to know than Yasir Arafat, whom he befriended already in 1990, three years before Arafat supposedly accepted Israels right to exist and signed the Oslo Accords. Carter also saw fit to accept a prize from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates whose Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up has promoted Holocaust denial.
As recently as last November, Jimmy Carter wrote falsely that in its military operations in Gaza during December 2008 and January 2009, Israel destroyed 40,000 homes; destroyed hospitals; rendered several hundred thousand Palestinians homeless; that Gaza was surrounded by an impenetrable wall; and that the Goldstone Report had investigated the deaths of 1,387 Palestinians in that conflict (Goldstone and Gaza, International Herald Tribune, November 6, 2009). In fact not a single one of these claims was correct; they were all lies against the Jewish state of Israel.
In his inaccurate, shallow and vicious 2007 book, obscenely titled Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, as ZOA outlined in detail at the time, Carter falsely claimed that:
· Israels continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land
· Palestinian Arabs have long supported a two-state solution and the Israelis have always opposed it.
· In 1967 Israel launched a preemptive attack against Jordan.
· UN Security Council Resolution 242 calls for Israel to withdraw from all the territories conquered by Israel in the 1967 war.
· Arab-Jewish violence began when Jewish militants attacked Arabs in 1939, whereas in fact Jews were on the receiving end of Arab assaults throughout the period of British rule, in 1920, 1921, 1929 and 1936-39.
· Israel rather than Arafat refused to accept a Palestinian state as provided for in the 2000 peace proposals.
· Confessions extracted through torture are admissible in Israeli courts.
· Israel is to blame for the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.
Carters book also omitted any mention of the long history of Palestinian and Arab-state sponsored terrorism against Israel before 1967; the persecution, expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab lands since 1948 and the expropriation of their property; the desecration and destruction of Jewish synagogues, graveyards and homes in eastern Jerusalem and prevention of Jewish worship at Jewish sacred sites after Jordan captured that part of the city in 1948; and the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli athletes in an operation funded by current Palestinian Authority president and co-founder with Yasser Arafat of the Fatah terror group, Mahmoud Abbas.
As ZOA noted at the time, the title [of Carters book] seems to have been maliciously chosen to harm Israels reputation in the minds of anyone who merely sees the books cover, because even Carter admits in the book that the situation in Israel is unlike that in South Africa.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, Had President Carter made a substantive, specific disavowal of his previous, harsh and false statements about Israel, which have been quoted endlessly and endorsed by Israels enemies for years, his appeal for an Al-Het could have been meaningful and welcome. If he had apologized by writing a major article or held a press conference on the subject, in which he repudiated past statements, we could have given some credence to a differently worded apology. But just as there is no forgiveness on Yom Kippur without an honest and sincere accounting for specific sins, there can be no meaningful apology without an explicit heartfelt repudiation of his past statements.
In short, President Carter wants it both ways without repudiating a single thing that he ever said or did that harmed Israel, he wants forgiveness from Jews. But if he wants to be taken seriously, he should repudiate his vicious and inaccurate 2007 book as well as other anti-Israel statements. Let him be clear what statements, views and acts he withdraws and no longer advocates or believes that would amount to a meaningful act of contrition and lend his personal authority against what he previously said and did. Short of that, an apology such as he has offered is meaningless.
In view of Jimmy Carters decades-long hostility to Israel, one cannot but be suspicious of the timing: offering a phony apology thats not even an apology when read carefully when it just so happens than his grandson is running for Congress and might need every Jewish vote he can get. Why is it that Jimmy Carter only now offers some vague words of apology? His half-hearted, vapid, misleading apology is truly an insult to Jewish and Christian Zionists everywhere. At this point, the ZOA has no option but to reject Carters phony apology. We strongly urge other Jewish and Christian Zionist leaders to reject it as well.
[P.S. The ZOA also strongly disagrees with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)s Abe Foxmans acceptance of Jimmy Carters apology as constituting the beginning of reconciliation; the Simon Wiesenthals Rabbi Marvin Hiers belief that we have to look at it seriously and not dismiss it; and National Jewish Democratic Council chief executive Ira Formans belief that, for these vague and misleading words, Jimmy Carter should be congratulated and encouraged. The ZOA regards this as a mistake which makes it evident that Messrs. Foxman, Hier and Forman have completely misunderstood what Carter really said. Some might even construe these responses as naïve in view of the three decades of Jimmy Carters anti-Israel record. It is also surprising that someone such as Mr. Foxman, who is supposed to be fighting those who attack the Jewish state of Israel, rushes to embrace Jimmy Carters phony apology. But then again, some time ago, Foxman rushed to ensure that Bishop Desmond Tutu, a hostile critic of Israel, had his invitation to deliver a major address at a university in Minnesota reinstated after it had been rescinded following exposure of Tutus hostile anti-Israeli statements. Similarly, Mr. Foxman defended Professor John Roths appointment as Director of Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, even after it came out that Roth had compared some Israeli policies to Nazi policies and made many other harsh statements.]