The Gospel According to Jimmy Carter
by Clay Staggs
Full Disclosure: I do not like Jimmy Carter. Those who think Jimmy Carter is such a great humanitarian as to be beyond criticism may want to skip this post.
I ran across a devastating review of Carter’s new book, entitled Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid, in the Washington Post. In fairness, I have not read this book, but based on what’s being said about it, it doesn’t seem that I’m missing much.
A couple of quotations pulled from the book and cited by the WaPo reviewer were absolute jaw-droppers. Check this one out:
On his first visit to the Jewish state in the early 1970s, Carter, who was then still the governor of Georgia, met with Prime Minister Golda Meir, who asked Carter to share his observations about his visit. Such a mistake she never made.
“With some hesitation,” Carter writes, “I said that I had long taught lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures and that a common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of God. I asked if she was concerned about the secular nature of her Labor government.”
Where, oh, where, to start with this? Should it be Carter, a Southern Baptist, lecturing an Israeli on the finer points of the Hebrew scriptures? Or, maybe the Democrat (the US’s more secular party) criticizing Meir’s Labor Party for its secularism? Or, perhaps worst of all, the Christian faulting the Jew for not sufficiently keeping the Law?
Unbelievable. Judging just from what’s cited in the review (and I can only imagine the corkers that the reviewer didn’t have space for), one has to wonder if the man isn’t addled. Case in point:
On his fateful first visit to Israel, Carter takes a tour of the Galilee and writes, “It was especially interesting to visit with some of the few surviving Samaritans, who complained to us that their holy sites and culture were not being respected by Israeli authorities — the same complaint heard by Jesus and his disciples almost two thousand years earlier.”
I suppose that the small historical footnote of the Roman Empire simply slipped the former president’s mind? Really, can these be the reflections of someone playing with a full deck, or, are they the crass attempts of an aging politican to manipulate history to serve his own egotistical ends? Lest you think that I, as an admitted Republican partisan, am just taking cheap shots, I’d point out that (1) former Clinton Adminstration envoy Dennis Ross has charged Carter’s book with plagiarism of maps, (2) liberal Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz calls the title of the book “indecent”, and (3) former Emory Univ. Carter Center Middle East Fellow Kenneth Stein resigned that fellowship, writing in his resignation letter that, “President Carter’s book on the Middle East, a title too inflammatory to even print, is not based on unvarnished analyses; it is replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments.” This is not a vast right-wing conspiracy.
Perhaps Carter, in years gone by, did some genuinely good deeds. However, this book is over the top on many, many levels and should be criticized and repudiated on political and theological grounds.
UPDATE: It just gets worse. Now Carter has met with a group of Rabbis, who were understandably angry about his book, and, according to the AP, prayed with them and “invited them to help him teach Sunday school.”