Tuesday, January 23, 2007

From Brandeis: Get a grip, folks -- Jimmy Carter is not an enemy!

M.J. Rosenberg (Director of Policy at Isreal Policy Forum) in a letter to the editor of Justice (student newspaper) takes Brandeis to task for inviting Alan Dershowitz to speak immediately after President Carter speaks.

I was appalled by the initial decision to invite President Carter only if he was paired with Alan Dershowitz. The presence of a former president enhances the reputation of any university and suggesting that he be paired with anyone else insults the president and the presidency. In this case, Brandeis behaved not like the great university it is, but like a Jewish organization, which it isn't. There is no "correct" Brandeis position on Israel or on anything else.

Also in an OpEd in today's Justice, Harriet Feiberg takes Jewish leaders who've been unfairly critical of Carter to task. She writes:

A bit of dark humor that I remember from years ago is this definition of chutzpah: A man who kills his parents and then says "have pity, I'm an orphan." Sadly, this scenario fits what has happened with Carter: We Jews have taken a gentle man who cared deeply and equally about Israel and about the Palestinians and who sought a reasonable and just political solution, and have gradually driven him away, then complained he wasn't with us. Many Israeli and US Jewish leaders who pride themselves on looking out for Israel's welfare have rebuffed Carter not only by supporting the opposite of what he counseled but by comments ranging from dismissive to insulting.

Hence it is not surprising that his new book evinces a certain coldness toward Israel and a tendency to blame. Yet community leaders who are now up in arms about the book aren't taking any responsibility for that result. Might I suggest that a number of Jewish leaders here and in Israel contemplate engaging in Teshuvah (repentance) for how shabbily they have treated Carter.

Meanwhile, Carter in his post-presidential years has gone from strength to strength and has become a near-reverential figure to millions in the United States and around the world because of his involvement with Habitat for Humanity and because of the Carter Center's impressive international work in human rights, health and education.

Get a grip, folks. Israel has real enemies. Jimmy Carter is not an enemy. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch are not enemies. Critics should not be automatically treated as adversaries. Now, twenty-seven years after Camp David , there are no good solutions to the West Bank situation, only some that are not as bad as others. Was Carter so wrong?

And, of course, there are many others like Carter. Israel's friends who because of that friendship want to say and do what is right and just, which may indeed be critical of Israeli policies. Let me echo Harriet Feinbloom -- Get a grip folks! These are not your enemies!


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