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Comment Archives: stories: News & Views: Soap box

Re: “Making it look easy

Ellen: I agree with everything you wrote in your first paragraph, except for its last sentence. (Your claim that he “does not make either side out to look good” is a rather strained way to describe a book whose very title amounts to a provocative — if not entirely inaccurate — accusation against Israel). Then again, your description leaves out all the parts of the book that I actually took issue with. Among other points, you leave out, for example, that the book contains a boatload of errors, all falling on one side of the ledger. The Meretz USA newsletter did a far more complete job than I at listing the many significant errors in “Peace Not Apartheid” (Meretz is the political branch of “Peace Now”). I urge you to read the article at http://meretzusa.blogspot.com/2007/01/carters-palestine-review-by-gidon.html . In my opinion, the errors taint the book fundamentally. A friend of mine who is familiar with the publishing business (and was more sympathetic to Carter’s argument than I) arrived at an interesting theory to explain the sloppiness: He notes that Carter’s been cranking out memoir-style books right and left for some time — writing from memory and to some uncertain extent from Rosalyn’s notes. That’s not exactly a method that engenders reasoned analysis or even accuracy. Now, in the wake of a Nobel Peace Prize and plaudits for “Our Endangered Values,” he decided to vent on a v-e-r-r-y sensitive subject that’s been bugging him for a long time. Except he didn’t take up the subject with the seriousness that such a complex and morally difficult conflict merited. Rather he approached it sensationally. So, while most of his fans received the book as more brave words of wisdom, many reviewers (like Ethan Bonner of the NYT) panned it and many Jewish peaceniks (like myself) were shocked he would lay the entire burden for peace on Israel’s shoulders, as well as by the telling slant of the book’s inaccuracies. As I said in the column, I am deeply troubled — and angered — by the settlements and the occupation. My point wasn’t to attack Carter (who I described in the column as a “hero”), but to express puzzlement and disappointment at the sloppiness and one-sidedness — as well as to posit the notion that this particular conflict is one that has been deepened by actions on both sides. In other words, that it will take both sides to get out of it. I am also puzzled and disappointed that those with whom I often agree do not appear to share this principle. “Peace Not Apartheid” has been a sales success story. But it’s not been as successful at engendering the kind of constructive dialogue Carter had hoped for. Perhaps, that will change. Carter obviously is driven by a deep desire to do the right thing. Perhaps, he will find a way to turn this flawed book into a fulcrum from which to leverage conversations about Middle East peace into an urgent national dialogue. But that discussion will only progress past a certain point once the participants seek to understand that both Israelis and Palestinians have harmed one another and that both deserve better. Until then, it’s just a nasty fight.

Posted by Ken Edelstein on 03/16/2007 at 1:01 AM

Re: “Making it look easy

Ken: I find your reading of Carter's book far, far more one-sided and biased than the book itself is. Throughout the book, from beginning to end, Carter underscores the two things have kept Israel and Palestine from acheiving peace in a two-state solution: 1) Israel's 40-year occupation of territories outside its border and denial of rights to the Muslim and Christian Palestinians within those territories; and 2) the violence and uprisings of the residents of those territories against Israelis and the occupation. His simple and clear thesis is that so long the occupation continues and rights are denied (in an aparthied system), there will be no peace and the violence and uprising against the Israelis, throug hwhich they are suffering,will continue. He never promises that peace will be achieved if all aspects of Resolution 242 are followed, but he does make it clear that until they are respected, violence is inevitable. He is emphatically stating that the aparthied policy through which Israel imagines it is making itself safer is actually creating greater vulnerability to isolation and attack, beyond the blatantly violations o human rights that it is already. He underscores the fact that the majority of citizens of Israel and Palestine prefer a two-state solution, but that myopic and extremist leadership on both the Palestinian and hte Israeli side of the negoation table have thwarted this goal on many ocassions. He does not make either side out to look good: he simply shows they are stuck in a rut because they won't keep their own promises. Why on Earth is saying this "dangerous"? Ws it dangerous when Martin Luther King opposed the Vietnam War, beacuse it stirred up reactionaries agaisnt him and other black people? The wave of criticism against Carter reminds me much of the wave against King then. I am sad to see you taking the position that Carter is to blame for reactionaries, when he is nothing but a messager on how reactionary behavior in the Israel and Palestine is what he condemns.

Posted by Ellen Beattie on 01/29/2007 at 11:30 PM

Re: “Errata du Carter

It's too bad that you apparently stopped reading Carter's book on page 62, because if you had you would have found that most of your supposed "omissions" simply don't hold up. Carter makes literally dozens of references to Palestinian violence, loss of Israeli life and the absolute need to end it. He also discusses every aspect of the 242 resolution you list as omitted. As for exactly what happened in 2000 round with Clinton, this we cannot say with certainty (and Carter never claims to -- he only reports on reports he heard); however, what we do know is that Israel never honored its previous agreements to move out of 100% of the occupied territories (in 67, in 93) and that it occupies them today. So, what's the point of even referring to claims that they made a "generous offer" to withdrawal form 97% in 2000, if they've still done nothing of the sort, despite pormising it over and over again? You appear to have read the book sentence by sentence, staring at trees, and ignoring the woods of the book.

Posted by Ellen Beattie on 01/28/2007 at 11:04 PM

Re: “Making it look easy

You write "...Carter's book will be a fundraising coup for Aipac." Perhaps. Equally likely is the danger that net funding will decrease as the conservative hysteria to Carter's book combined with the debacle in Iraq and the need for our defensive funding for controlling Iran and N.Korea will turn off main street America for any further funding for any middle eastern country including Israel. Ken, you and the other conservative Jews and your hysterical reaction has damaged your cause.

Posted by richard bolt on 01/16/2007 at 6:06 PM

Re: “Making it look easy

Zadzi: Thanks for the great comment, particularly the distinction between blame and responsibility. I agree with that. I also agree that "both sides are responsible for the mess." And, while Palestinians have borne the brunt current asymmetrical conflict, both sides also have suffered terribly. Affirming that truth -- something that Carter essentially fails to do -- is important for anyone who truly is interested in peace, because both sides are essentially reactionary to the other. Carter's factual sloppiness and his omission of some of the most basic relevant facts (all slanted in one direction) simplifies things for those who wholeheartedly agree with him and makes those who disagree with him understandably defensive. I hope I'm wrong, but I believe the main result of Carter's book will be a fundraising coup for Aipac.

Posted by Ken Edelstein on 01/16/2007 at 1:46 PM

Re: “Making it look easy

Earlier (Jan 13) I portrayed Edelstain as in as unflattering style as he unfairly portrayed me when he claimed I was the village idiot by saying'I was way in over my head.' He was uniformed and it was me who informed him and supplied articles showing that the term APARTHEID was the operational principal starting when the League of Nations gave the British a Mandate to create a Zionist State nearly a century ago. APARTHEID has been used both politically and economically for generations realizing that at the outset only 11% of the population in Palestine was Jewish. The only way for a minority to rule a majority was with a policy of APARTHEID and it was not until 1947 under the guise of war with other Arab nations Israel literally ran the Palestinians off of their land. Many liberal Jews object to this policy and I supplied Edelstein with links revealing that many liberal Jews agree with President Carter (which I can prove with copies of the original emails). Here are two: www.counterpunch.org/finkelstein12282006.html and www.truthdig.com/interview/item/20061222_Sheinbaum_Carter. Edelstein and Professor Stein and Konner seem to be conservatives and in my opinion they and there sycophants are intellectually dishonest.

Posted by richard bolt on 01/15/2007 at 2:58 PM

Re: “Making it look easy

I am having difficulties understanding our deffinition of Palestinians as teriorists.They havelitterly had their farms and homes confiscated, without compensation, and redistributed to complete strangers.When they greet these strangers with hostilities they are called teriorist. We are told that the strangers have a right to security in their new homes and they are not going to return the homes to their previous owners until they get that security.President Carter tries to bring coherence to this argument and is attacked for not just accepting it.I noted that Carter is not being accused of being against peace.

Posted by Dennis on 01/14/2007 at 12:48 PM

Re: “Making it look easy

Your article adds light, not heat, for which you should be commended. Keep it up.

Posted by timoteo on 01/13/2007 at 6:36 PM

Re: “Making it look easy

Ken, I don't really see your point, either! It seems to me that you are skirting the issue somewhat, and I have been trying to understand what you are saying by reading and re-reading your article, but I am still left with a vague feeling and no clarity. Granted, the issue itself is muddled, but I feel you are trying to not step on any toes in your article. And in that case I respect your diplomacy, but also remained slightly confused. What I do understand: Both sides, Israel and Palestinians, are responsible for this current mess, but Israel has by far the most power, resources, weaponry, and is backed by the US. That puts it in a bigger position of power, and also a bigger degree of responsibility - which is not the same as BLAME. I also view Carter's book as something which tips the scale in a country where so much literature/media/politics supports Israel. This country's politics immediately backs Israel military without blinking. I don't see Carter's book being praised so much by liberals, either, as you mention - he's gotten a LOT of criticism from them, and has been dismissed as a blathering old fool, which is sad. If his book automatically sided with Israel, he wouldn't be in the hot seat at all. The term anti-semite is odd in this case, because anti-semite can be used for anyone who is against someone of Middle Eastern descent, not just against Israel and/or Jews, but also Arabic too. You see the term flung around whenever anyone picks apart Israel/Us politics, as though semites are only Jewish or of Israel descent, not Arabic at all. Lastly, I don't view this at all as a religious issue - perhaps because, although I am of Egyptian and Middle Eastern descent, I am not religious at all. What I do see, however, is a struggle which is is more political than anything. Religion in this case is just something which I view more as a cultural. Anyway, I've rambled long enough!

Posted by zadzi on 01/13/2007 at 2:09 PM

Re: “Making it look easy

Be for real who is occupying the Palestines and why should they be any body being killed at all if Isreal was not an occupier turns the table around and see what happends if Palestines were occupying Isreal what would be the outcome if women and children were murder day by day.

Posted by Alan McQueen on 01/13/2007 at 9:58 AM

Re: “Making it look easy

You make no cognitive point and hense cannot make any attemot to support a non pont! You simply reveal that you are a jewish bigot who cannot or refuses to assimilate. Keep writing your column about the sexploaration-urban life style column and hope your significant other does not transmit HIV to you. Do you really think anyone considers your rants and raves as worthy of consideration? You are a pathetic individual whatever your sexuality is.

Posted by richard bolt on 01/13/2007 at 1:53 AM

Re: “Errata du Carter

Ken, you repeat the same mistake that many others have made. Imagine a hostile foreign country proclaimed they would close a US port, and then fired at US ships trying to enter or leave the port. The US would interpret this as an act of war and respond militarily. Who wouldn't? This is exactly what happened on May 22, 1967 at the Straits of Tiran. Egypt declared war on Israel BEFORE the so-called "pre-emptive" strike.

Posted by Roddy Frankel on 01/12/2007 at 8:49 PM

Re: “Errata du Carter

I've just finished reading Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, and I'm now trying to find out what all the fuss is about. The only "error" I noticed was his sweet but absurd explanation of Meir's denial of the existence of "Palestinians" as "to mean there should be no future racial delineation between Jews and Gentiles." Right, and she never inhaled any of those cigarettes either. So I was eager to learn what mistakes I had missed. I still am. Your list, at least, doesn't seem to contain any actual "errors." Omissions, maybe, but Carter's aim was not to lay out all the arguments and claims that have ever been made for or against Israel, its wars, its occupation of conquered territories or its relations with Arabs. It was instead, as the title proclaims, to express his view that peace will come to the "Holy Land" only when both Israelis and Palestinians find a two-state solution that is acceptable to both peoples. It is an abomination that this good man is being attacked for sincerely desiring peace and justice, for all peoples, whatever their religion or ethnic identity. The Geneva Initiative (or something very much like it) which this book was quite obviously written to support, is the last and, I believe, best hope for Israel's continued existence as an independent democracy.

Posted by Matt Hogan on 01/12/2007 at 3:19 AM

Re: “Making it look easy

Everybody has a right to their argument being considered on its merits — not to be dismissed because of race, religion or ethnicity. So, yeah, Bias, if you think pointing out that I'm Jewish (which I say in the article, anyway) is an argument, yeah, that definitely would be a bigoted point of view.

Posted by Ken Edelstein on 01/11/2007 at 8:50 PM

Re: “Making it look easy

Would it be anti-semitic of one to point out that the columnist is Jewish?

Posted by Bias Buster on 01/11/2007 at 4:16 PM

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