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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Carter's Brandeis Rope-a-Dope

Too many people online, I couldn't get on to the Brandies feed, but from the initial reports, it seems that Mr. Peanut continued to say he was being truthful despite the facts. I pulled from lots of sites to figure out what happened at Brandeis this afternoon. Not a complete picture, but I will add as more is released.

WALTHAM, Mass. - Carter gave a brief address to Brandeis students and faculty and later responded to 15 questions selected in advance. He responded to criticism of his book and discussed his efforts as president for peace in the Middle East. "With my use of apartheid, I realize this has caused great concern in the Jewish community. The title makes it clear," Carter said. "I can certainly see now it would provoke some harsh feelings. I chose that title knowing that it would be provocative, but in the long run it has precipitated discussion and there has been a lot of positive discussion." He said the book is about conditions in Palestinian territory, not Israel, and urged his audience to visit the occupied territory to see for themselves.

According to Reuters, Carter said that his feelings were hurt by some of the criticism

"I've been hurt and so has my family by some of the reaction," Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, told about 1,700 students at Brandeis University, a secular school founded by the American-Jewish community, outside Boston. "I've been through political campaigns for state senator, governor and president, and I've been stigmatized and condemned by my political opponents. But this is the first time that I have ever been called a liar. And a bigot and an anti-Semite and a coward, and a plagiarist. This is hurtful," he said.

But President Jimbo...its also true.

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz had also hoped to debate Carter but was told he would not be allowed inside. Critics were particularly frustrated that Dershowitz was not allowed to debate Carter. "It's puzzling because he said that he wants to have a discussion of his book and then refused to appear with professor Dershowitz," said retired Brandeis history professor Morton Keller. Gordon Fellman, a sociology professor and a member of the committee that arranged the visit, said Dershowitz is neither a student nor faculty member at Brandeis and therefore "he can't get in - and it's not anti-Dershowitz."
It is also a reflection of Carter's cowardice. So Far I have only found one report from a blogger who was actually at the event. Terriergirl. The Terriergirl said that Carter was Quite the Statesman:

There were more pro-peace protesters than pro-Israel protesters outside the building when I went in. There was a group, for example that had a sign that said "Killing Civilians is not a Jewish value."

Inside the event, the front half of the room was heavy with pro-Israel folks (so they had arrived hours ahead to get these seats), and the back had more peacenicks. Each group applauded and stood for different things. Nobody on either side ever booed, shouted, or spoke. There were some high-tension moments, especially when a questioner had a particularly polarizing question. Some students tuned out when Carter said things that were critical of Israel. But folks were mostly polite. There were no protests or signs of any kind in the building.

Everyone in the audience stood when Carter entered, and when he stood up to the podium. Carter spoke about Louis Brandeis (who helped found Israel) and invoked what he called Jewish values of Righteousness and Justice, which he finds in the old testament of the Christian Bible. He pointed out that he has been involved in the Mid-East peace process for over 30 years, and that there are few people with more personal knowledge of the leaders and people involved than he. He pointed out that prior to the Camp David Accord that he brokered, Israel was under threat from Egypt (which was supplied with arms by Russia) and that "not a word" of the peace deal he negotiated between Egypt and Israel has ever been violated.

He said that the oppression of Palestinians was inconsistent with Jewish values, and inconsistent with a safe Israel. He said that the Jewish settlements were in violation of agreements Israel itself had made, and with the legal borders of Israel (?I got mixed up with all the treaties-- I think this one was Oslo) and that Israelis had taken the choicest land, built over 200 settlements, and created highways connecting them which Palestinian cannot use or, in some cases, even cross over. This creates a discontinuous fragmented country that is not economically viable. He said that the wall extends very intrusively into the Palestinian territories. He thinks that peace process should be based on the fact that all Arab nations are willing to acknowledge Israel inside it's "legal" (Oslo accord?) borders, and that Israel should completely withdraw to those borders, and that 60% of Israeli's and 80% of Palestinians polled recently by the Harry Truman Institute in Israel would be willing to accept such a settlement, and that almost all people on both sides "overwhelmingly" want peace. He suggested that a small group of Brandeis students and professors should visit the occupied territories and see for themselves whether what he saying about the conditions there is true, and that they should bring a report back to the university and the country.

The students asked questions and here are some of them, with his answers, much paraphrased and abbreviated.

Q:Why did you compare the situation in the Palestinian territories with the genocide in Rwanda on ?some talk show?

A: I didn't. The Rwandan genocide in (?1993?) was second only to the Holocaust in human rights scale. I compared the Palestinian situation to the situation in (? other African nation-- forgot which and when).

Q: Isn't it irresponsible and counterproductive of you to use such an inflammatory word as "apartheid"
A: I thought about it; I take full responsibility for the word choice; lots of people have called me a bigot and a jew-hater and it's hurt me; We haven't had any attempt at peace negotiations for 5 years-- so it was time to say something and I'm hoping that by starting the debate up we can move towards peace.

Q: Is there really a "partner" for Israel to negotiate with?
A: Dodge, duck-- remember about the 25 Arab nations that are willing to recognize Israel and the vast majority on both sides that want peace and will accept a sovereign Israel within it's legal borders. [Carter obviously doesn't read a paper]

Q: Before the wall: >200 deaths a year from suicide bombings, after the wall 2/yr-- how can you tell Israel not to keep itself safe?
A: Wall would be okay if it were on Israel's actual border, but wall intrudes into Palestinian territory. Also multiple factors contribute to decrease in mortality including Hamas' decision to forbid suicide bombings.

Q: The Carter Center takes money from the Saudis and you talk to them. Have you ever confronted them about their human rights abuses particularly towards homosexuals?
A: Carter center takes only 2.5% from Arab nations. We are well audited. The money went to African farm aid and Palestinian elections. There is no corruption. (But he never mentions gay people or their human rights nor does he say that he has confronted the Saudis about it.)
I will try to add more as I learn more...Look for the update notice in the title

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