Birds of a Feather: Nixon, Buchanan, Duke and Carter

BY NEAL SHER

The more we learn about Jimmy Carter’s one-sided and biased views towards Israel and her supporters in this country, the more reason we have to be deeply troubled by what he represents and the dangerous mischief he continues to foment.

There is not enough space to repeat the detailed and well documented critiques of his best-selling book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. They are, however, aptly summarized by Dr. Kenneth Stein, one of the many former aides and colleagues publicly to have disassociated themselves from the former president, who charged that: “[the book] is not based on unvarnished analyses; it is replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments.”

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One of the book’s most egregious — and now infamous passages — is found at page 213, where Carter advises “the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups” to make clear that “suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism” will end once when Israel accepts the ultimate goals of the “Roadmap.” Thus the former president sanctions — indeed encourages — continued suicide bombings until Israel meets Arab demands. In fact, what seems to trouble him most about such Arab acts is not that they kill innocent Israeli civilians, but that they may damage sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

Despite the in depth criticism of his thesis, Carter has dug in, stubbornly insisting that his book is both “accurate and needed,” blaming the firestorm he has triggered on Jewish-American organizations while he accuses the pro-Israel community of trying to stifle him or any debate on Middle East policy.

And let’s not ignore his interview on the Al Jazeera network during which he astonishingly proclaimed that Palestinian missile attacks against Israeli citizens do not, to his way of thinking, constitute acts of terror. Even his apparent condemnation of the killing of children and bombing buses is problematic, as it is couched in terms of damaging sympathy for the Palestinian cause. This approach is reminiscent of that employed by Yasser Arafat who, to the extent he ever was in any way critical of acts of terror, complained only because he thought it was tactically disadvantageous.

Not surprisingly and very tellingly, Carter’s frontal attacks have been warmly embraced by a nasty cast of scoundrels, including white supremacists groups and websites such as Stormfront and Aryan Nations as well as David Duke and the notorious Holocaust denying Institute of Historical Review.

It is with good reason that Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers and Howard Dean have publicly distanced themselves from Mr. Carter, a lead which hopefully others will follow. No Democratic leader or official has come to Carter’s defense, and partisan attempts to use his comments to smear all Democrats as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic should not be tolerated.

The ongoing controversy, including the Carter Center’s acceptance of millions of dollars from anti-Israel Arab sources, including the Saudi royal family and the Bin Laden family, prompted me last month to reveal to the JTA a disturbing 1987 encounter I had with Mr. Carter, while I was the director of the Office of Special Investigations in the Justice Department, as he took up the cause of the family of an admitted Nazi SS concentration camp who had been stripped of citizenship by a federal court and removed from the country. (For that article go online and see: http://www.jta.org/page_view _story.asp ?intarticleid=17423 &intcategoryid)

If one didn’t know better, you’d think that we were not talking about a former president, but rather Pat Buchanan. After all, it was Mr. Buchanan, was it not, who over the years: denigrated Israel by calling it, among other things, an albatross around this country’s neck, as he blamed her for the wars in Iraq; demeaned the pro-Israel lobby for having turned Capitol Hill into what he calls “Israeli occupied territory”; and came to the aid of Nazi criminals being pursued by our government, even while serving as communications director in the Reagan White House.

As troubling as all of this is, there is more. I have received correspondence which ineluctably leads to the comparison of Jimmy Carter to the darkest side of Richard Nixon.

In response to my earlier op-ed, on Dec. 27 of last year I received an e-mail from Professor Monroe Freedman, a distinguished member of the faculty of Hofstra Law School in New York. He had been the first executive director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which had been created during the Carter administration. Working closely with Elie Wiesel, Freedman put forward to the White House a list of Council members. The recommendations came back disapproved, and Freedman remembers well the reason: “In the top corner, in Carter’s handwriting and with his initials was the notation: ‘Too many Jews'”.

It certainly looks like Mr. Carter took a page right out of the playbook of the disgraced Richard Nixon, who, in a most paranoid and bigoted of moments, instructed an aide to count the Jews in the Labor Department, where he believed his economic policies were being obstructed.

To all those who doubt that Jews are an extraordinary people or that Israel is an extraordinary nation, I ask: Who else could bring together and find common cause between the likes of Richard Nixon, Pat Buchanan, David Duke and Jimmy Carter? Enough said.

Neal Sher, a New York attorney, previously served as the Director of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations and is the former Executive Director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He can be reached at [email protected]