No, the sky is not falling despite what Alan Dershowitz, Marty Peretz, Abe Foxman and the other “professional Jews” are telling us about Jimmy Carter’s “dangerous” new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Unlike what the professional Jewish alarmists will tell you, Carter is no anti-Semite. He is not an Arab-lover. He doesn’t hate Israel. His book is not an part of a Jew-hating offensive started by Walt and Mearsheimer with their essay, Israel Lobby.
Don’t believe me. Let no less a personage than Yossi Beilin, former Israeli justice minister and current Knesset leader of the dovish Meretz party, reassure you:
Carter’s use of the word “apartheid” is first and foremost metaphorical. Underlying Israel’s policy in the West Bank, he argues, is not a racist ideology but rather a nationalist drive for the acquisition of land. The resulting violence, and the segregationist policies that shape life in the West Bank, are the ill-intended consequences of that drive…
If we are to read Carter’s book for what it is, I think we would find in it an impassioned personal narrative of an American former president who is reflecting on the direction in which Israel and Palestine may be going if they fail to reach agreement soon. Somewhere down the line — and symbolically speaking, that line may be crossed the day that a minority of Jews will rule a majority of Palestinians west of the Jordan River — the destructive nature of occupation will turn Israel into a pariah state, not unlike South Africa under apartheid.
In this sense, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” is a stark warning to both Israelis and Palestinians of the choice they must make. That choice is between peace and apartheid, for the absence of one may well mean the other. Carter’s choice is clearly peace, and, for all its disquieting language, the book he has written is sustained by the hope that we choose peace, as well.
Unless you wish to argue that Beilin is a traitor to Israel for his peace efforts like the Geneva Initiative, which he created together with a Palestinian leader, shouldn’t we trust the word of a veteran Israeli politician more than arm-chair pundicrats like Dersh or Peretz? Beilin is trying to tell us that what Carter writes is really in Israel’s best interests–and not against them.
Carter is telling us that while peace and compromise are painful and frightening propositions, the alternative–constant hatred and violence–is far worse. Those American Jews who are trashing Palestine are opposed to compromise. They prefer continuing violence to taking a chance on peace. It is they, and not Carter, who are gambling with Israel’s future.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why Amazon features under its Editorial Reviews, a full-length slasher review of Palestine by New Yorker contributor, Jeff Goldberg (who, by the way, was once a military guard at Israel’s notorious Ketziot Prison). This space is usually reserved for two short reviews from professional journals like Kirkus or Publisher’s Weekly. I’ve never before seen Amazon feature a review so prominently that trashes the product. I thought Amazon was a capitalist enterprise whose goal was to sell books. I guess I was wrong. I guess just as important is to curry favor with American Jewish leaders and individuals (perhaps large stockholders?) who must’ve lobbied Jeff Bezos to do what he could to dampen sales of the book at his site. It doesn’t appear to be working as the book is #26 in sales at the site. If you agree with my and Beilin’s perspective on this book, why don’t you write your own review at Amazon? Include a link to either this post or Beilin’s column in the Forward for balance to the spite of the Goldbergs of this world.
If you want to buy the book but don’t want to contribute to Amazon’s coffers through my link above, I’d urge you to buy it through Powell’s Books.