Criticizing Israel

Jimmy Carter has just released his new book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, which suggests that Israel’s policy of confiscating Palestinian land via illegal settlements (by its own definition), and then stitching these together into no-go zones (for Palestinians), is counterproductive to peace.

As I have noted in SNS, we must be free to critique not only our own government and policies, but those of our allies. Unfortunately, this is still not possible with Israel. Don’t take my word for it, but rather Google all of the personal attacks that Carter is now experiencing for having raised this question – and, no doubt, for having used the word Apartheid in his title.

Carter, the person who succeeded most in bringing these two sides together, is now the subject of a serious firestorm of attacks by the Israeli side.

As I mentioned in SNS, there is actually a special Israeli organization charged with mounting such attacks, each time Israel is mentioned in the press in any negative context. This effectively precludes any intelligent discussion of Middle East politics, since Israel is (as King Abdullah pointed out last week) always involved in some way or other.

Instead of trying to tar and feather an honorable man, and longtime friend to Israel, it would make more sense to me that Israel must move beyond such character assassination techniques, to a willingness to accept criticism, particularly from alliance partners, in order to find better chances of success in a world wherein every discussion is multilateral.

Israel must come to understand that in a world of shared powers and multiple views, her closest friends need to be free to question her acts and responsibilities, just as we question those of all countries, and most often, our own.

I hope that Carter’s book, which I have just ordered but have not yet read, provides a tipping point in that regard, despite the fiery reception it has received from many (not all) pro-Israel partisans, to date. It is, in fact, bizarre that the U.S., the number one provider of weapons and funds to Israel, should not be free to discuss her, in any civilized way which benefits our own country’s interests.

Jimmy Carter has spent almost all of his post-presidential life helping others. I have no doubt that he means to do so in this book, as well.