Sandbagging Jimmy Carter
Yesterday 14 members of an advisory board at the Carter Center resigned to protest his new book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, which criticizes Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories. The 200 member board is responsible for building public support for the Carter Center and is not the Center's governing board. While the 14 includes several prominent Jewish leaders, the group insisted that their religious affiliation did not influence their decision. On Thursday, the Central Conference of American Rabbis which represents nearly 2000 Reform rabbis said they would cancel a visit to the Carter Center in protest, when its holds its Convention in Atlanta in March.
Despite the American Jewish leadership's attempt to present a united front against Cater, the debate rages on. Yesterday's New York Observer reported on a meeting at the Village Temple in New York where 100 people, almost all Jewish (one wore Muslim head covering), gathered to learn about conditions in the Occupied Territories. They came to know the facts, they said. The speakers were a former Israeli soldier and a former Palestinian resistance fighter. They said the following:
—There are 530 checkpoints in the West Bank. Only 30 are on the Green Line between the West Bank and Israel. Yes; some of those have stopped suicide bombers. The purpose of the other 500 has nothing to do with security. "The strategy there is to destroy Palestinian society, to prevent any joint organized struggle [against the occupation]," said the Israeli.
—The Israeli P.M. recently promised the Palestinian President that the checkpoints would be relaxed. They have not been. "The army receives these instructions and... does not take the instructions," the Israeli said, citing Israel's leading newspaper. Thus the army acts on its own as a repressive force (Israeli generals have long defied civilian supervision).
—The Palestinian, his brother, and his father have spent 25 years in Israeli jails, much of that time without due process, for such offenses as graffiti and other statements opposing the occupation. The man's family has lost many acres of its land to Jewish settlers, in a village outside Bethlehem.
—Arbitrary laws prevent Israelis from carrying Palestinians in their cars in the Occupied Territories. The intention, says the Israeli, is to keep the two sides from talking.
The article goes on to say, "The situation these men describe is worse than apartheid. 'Three and a half million people live without any rights,' said the Israeli, whose own sister was killed by a suicide bomber. 'You want to stop these people [suicide bombers], you should give them a reason to live.'"