Defending the Indefensible
By Tamar Sternthal
February 19, 2007
To defend Jimmy Carter's new book Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid is to defend the indefensible. Reacting to the deluge of criticism his book has received, including from former advisor Kenneth Stein and from Clinton Administration Mideast negotiator Dennis Ross, Carter told the Washington Post, "most critics have not seriously disputed or even mentioned the facts, "and has elsewhere asserted that "the book is accurate."
But Carter's defense of his book is no more accurate than the book itself. In numerous venues, critics such as Stein, Ross and CAMERA, a US-based media watch group, have "seriously disputed" the former president's "facts." Carter, who reportedly has been obsessively following the coverage of his book, could not have missed the Dec. 18 full-page advertisement in the New York Times in which CAMERA called on his publisher, Simon and Schuster, to "Correct Carter's Falsehoods."
The ad detailed a sampling of the dozens of errors (a comprehensive collection is available at www.camera.org ). They include Carter's false assertion that the "1949 armistice demarcation lines became the borders of the new nation of Israel and were accepted by Israel and the United States, and recognized officially by the United Nations." Of course, Israel's only international borders are those with Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. The 1949 armistice lines separating the West Bank from Israel never became permanent borders recognized by Israel, the U.S., or the U.N. Security Council.
In addition, Carter alleges that "The Israelis have never granted any appreciable autonomy to the Palestinians." Obviously, with the 1993 creation of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians gained "appreciable autonomy" in which for the first time they began to control political, civic, security, medical, educational and media institutions. Israel ceded 40 percent of the West Bank and later evacuated the entire Gaza Strip.
Likewise, the ad points out that Carter's assertion that Israeli governments "have built the fence and wall entirely within Palestinian territory" is simply not true. United Nations numbers and maps confirm that the barrier directly follows 45 percent of the 1949 Armistice Line, which is not Palestinian territory. Moreover, in some places, such as near Tulkarm and al-Mughayyir al-Mutilla, the barrier veers into Israeli territory.
Thus, a falsehood can only be "defended" with more falsehoods. Shulamit Aloni's Dec. 31, 2006 Op-Ed in the Hebrew edition of Ynet, in which she alleged that the "American Jewish establishment's onslaught on former President Jimmy Carter is based on him daring to tell the truth (that) Israel practices a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies," is no exception.
'Jewish only' roads falsehood
To make her case, Aloni makes two egregiously false assertions. First, she repeatedly states that there are "Jewish only" roads in the West Bank. While there are West Bank roads prohibited to Palestinians, there are no "Jewish only" roads. Israel's Arab citizens and Israeli citizens of any religion or ethnicity have just as much right to travel on those restricted roads as do Israeli Jews.
Israeli Arabs frequently use the bypass roads for business and to visit relatives.
Moreover, at least one Israeli Arab, Wael Ghanem, was fatally shot by Palestinian terrorists on one of these roads. Also, Georgios Tsibouktzakis, a Greek Orthodox monk, was shot to death by Palestinian terrorists, while traveling on a supposedly "Jewish only" road. More recently, on June 11, 2006, east Jerusalem Arab Marwan Abed Shweika was killed in a shooting attack on highway 443, which is largely off-limits to Palestinians but open to Israeli Arabs and other non-Jews. (Incidentally, the Dor gas station on highway 443, close to the Palestinian village of Kharbata, is owned and operated by the Hawaja family, Israeli Arabs. Its signs are in Arabic and Hebrew.)
The "Jewish only" roads falsehood is the basis for Aloni's false, defamatory charge that Israel is guilty of South Africa-like Apartheid "racial separation." The real racism, though, is on the part of Aloni, who completely ignores Israel's 20 percent non-Jewish minority which regularly uses those roads.
Second, Aloni falsely alleges "that every (Palestinian) town and village has turned into a detention centre and that every entry and every exit has been closed, cutting it off from arterial traffic." This is an absolutely absurd allegation. While there are numerous checkpoints and other barriers throughout the West Bank, it is completely false to state that "every" entrance and exit of "every" Palestinian town and village is blocked off. Anyone who travels even minimally in the West Bank can see that.
What is striking about Aloni's Op-Ed is its authorship. As a former Minister of Education and an Israel Prize laureate, she undoubtedly enjoys credibility in certain circles. Her Hebrew column was translated into English, and subsequently reprinted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and on a number of fringe Web sites where Aloni and her falsehoods are esteemed like a past American president and his canards.
The writer directs the Israel office of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)
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