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Carter Atones for 'Stigmatizing' Israel

Maybe it’s because his grandson is running for public office, maybe because the former president just doesn’t like tension, but Jimmy Carter has written an open letter to the Jewish community essentially apologizing for any past statements that might have stigmatized the nation of Israel.

Carter took a lot of heat for his 2006 book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” But he was also celebrated by progressive voices, activists and thinkers who may be disappointed by this rapprochement with staunch defenders of the occupation, the conservative American Israel lobby and anyone else who was offended by his book.

Although the letter reads more like an act of diplomacy, it shouldn’t be taken as a sign that Carter has changed his views. He calls for attacks on all civilians to stop and urges peace talks to commence with “all issues on the negotiating table.”

Carter and his grandson, who is running for the state legislature, both deny that the former president’s statement has anything to do with the campaign.

The full letter can be read below. The Associated Press has more background on the story. — PZS

Jimmy Carter via JTA:

An open letter to the Jewish community at the season of Chanukah from former President Jimmy Carter:

The time of Chanukah and the Christian holidays presents an occasion for reflection on the past and for looking to the future. In that vein, I wish to share some thoughts with you about the State of Israel and the Middle East.

I have the hope and a prayer that the State of Israel will flourish as a Jewish state within secure and recognized borders in peaceful co-existence with its neighbors and with all the Moslem States, and that this peaceful co-existence will bring security, prosperity and happiness to the people of Israel and to the people of the Middle East of all faiths.

I have the hope and a prayer that the bloodshed and hatred will change to mutual respect and cooperation, fulfilling the prophetic aspiration that the lion shall lie down with the lamb in harmony and peace. I likewise hope that violent attacks against all civilians will end, which will help set a better framework for commencing negotiations. I further hope that peace negotiations can soon commence, with all issues on the negotiating table.

I have the hope and a prayer that just as Chanukah is the Festival of Lights, the State of Israel will fulfill its destiny as a light unto the nations.

We must recognize Israel’s achievements under difficult circumstances, even as we strive in a positive way to help Israel continue to improve its relations with its Arab populations, but we must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel. As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so.

May we work and pray for that better day.

Hag Semach and Happy Chanukah.

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