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Letters week of Dec. 21, 2006
Who Supports Carter's Habitat for Humanity?
I appreciated Jonathan Tobin's column about Jimmy Carter (A Matter of Opinion: "What's the Matter With Jimmy?" Dec. 7), but was surprised that he neglected to point out a frequently reported fact about Carter's favorite program, Habitat for Humanity.
The funding for this program, which is itself a worthy cause, has come largely from Carter's Arab supporters.
The former president enjoys his respected role in America for his "evenhanded" approach to the Middle East, but wouldn't his attitude be highly suspect if this fact received the publicity it deserves?
Thanks for Not Calling Him an Anti-Semite!
Thanks to Jonathan Tobin for not once using the term "anti-Semite" in his column about Jimmy Carter (A Matter of Opinion: "What's the Matter With Jimmy?" Dec 7).
Many of my "single-issue" Zionist friends and family members unfortunately have.
Also, thanks for acknowledging that Alan Dershowitz, while highly critical of Carter's book, refers to the former president as a decent man.
Dr. Rick Lippin
How Can He Ignore the Bombs Falling on Israel?
Thank you for Jonathan Tobin's column on Jimmy Carter's book (A Matter of Opinion: "What's the Matter With Jimmy?" Dec. 7).
As a non-Jewish friend of Israel, I'm tired of the tiny country being made out to be the villain in the Middle East. That an American ex-president can be so blind and willfully ignorant of the facts is very disturbing.
How can Carter -- or anyone else for that matter -- ignore the missiles (sometimes in the hundreds) launched into Israel every single day?
Contrary to Alan Dershowitz's assertion, such a person is far from "decent."
Carter's Hatred of Israel: Rooted in Megalomania
When I taught at Emory University, I used to see former President Jimmy Carter on a fairly regular basis, and it was all I could do at times to stop myself from spitting at him (A Matter of Opinion: "What's the Matter With Jimmy?" Dec. 7).
Carter's hatred of Israel and, by extension, of all Jews (and make no mistake, if you spend any time in the man's presence, his discomfort at being in the same room with someone who merely appears to be Jewish is palpable), is rooted in the man's megalomania, and his unflinching belief in his own rectitude.
He cannot but hate anyone who disagrees with him. His tactic -- one I have seen up close -- is to bribe and flatter people around him into a state where their sense of obligation prohibits them from disagreeing publically even when they know he is wrong.
On the plus side, at least he has finally revealed his true feelings publicly. Perhaps for his next book, he can publish a collection of his favorite articles from Der Sturmer and the Volkische Beobachter.
William Bradford Smith
Chair, Division of History, Politics & International Studies
Attacks on Carter Book Stifle Legitimate Debate
Conflating the legitimacy of the occupation with the legitimacy of the Jewish state is dangerous. The simple fact is that most people in the world want the occupation to end and believe that the West Bank does not belong to Israel.
The last thing friends of Israel should suggest is that the West Bank has the same status in our eyes as Israel.
This applies to Jimmy Carter's use of the loaded term "apartheid" to describe conditions on the West Bank (A Matter of Opinion: "What's the Matter With Jimmy?" Dec. 7).
Carter does not say that Israel is an apartheid state. He says explicitly that it is not, and that, when he uses the word, he is not referring to Israel.
"I am," he says, "referring to Palestine and not to Israel."
Carter's argument is that Arabs in the West Bank do not have the same rights as Israeli Arabs. That isn't so much an argument as a fact. That's why most Israelis are eager to divest themselves of it.
There is a disturbing trend in the pro-Israel community in which the usual suspects react to any and all criticism of Israeli policies by assaulting the critics -- demanding that they either shut up or be prohibited from speaking at a particular venue. This has to stop.
Americans should be free to discuss any subject they choose without being subjected to hit jobs from self-appointed monitors of Middle Eastern political correctness.
A former president is immune to those attacks. But other writers, professors and journalists are not immune to pressure. And that pressure stifles discussion.
Israel Policy Forum
Silence Over Film Means Content's Acceptable
I read with great interest Michael Elkin's column on the movie "Borat" (On the Scene: "Boo Borat or Praise Him?" Nov. 2).
Elkin wrote as a movie critic, but not as a Jew. This is a movie that contains filth. In it, a man brings his feces in a plastic bag to the dinner table. This is filth, not funny.
But that's not what's wrong.
The man depicts "the running of the Jews." He sings a song "Throw the Jews in the Well." He goes into a gun store and asks, "What sort of a gun should I buy to kill Jews?"
I sat in the theater and cringed. Yet people were laughing. I felt sad and angry.
I was sure the movie would provoke widespread protests, but there was none, only acclaim. Where is the Jewish community? Silent. Where are the writers? Silent? Where is the Jewish Exponent? Silent.
Not outrage was expressed. If we are silent, people will accept this as okay.
Arnold M. Kessler