Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dershowitz's Despicable Smear of Jimmy Carter

I cannot even begin to figure out how best to express my outrage as I read the article below, “Jimmy Carter for Sale” by Alan Dershowitz.

Alan Dershowitz is, by all accounts, a brilliant lawyer and an extraordinarily effective advocate for many individuals, organizations and causes – one of them being the Government of Israel.

Here is his conclusion about Jimmy Carter, “He is no better than so many former American politicians who, after leaving public life, sell themselves to the highest bidder and become lobbyists for despicable causes.”

“Anti-semite”, “dirty money”, “honor Nazi academics”, “complicit in evil”, “anti-Israel”, “evil influence of Zionism”, “Holocaust was a fable”, “deception bordering on corruption”, “integrity … extraordinarily low.” Has Alan Dershowitz missed smearing Jimmy Carter with any of the words and phrases traditionally applied to someone who is a critic of the Government of Israel?

What has Jimmy Carter done to merit the venom, hate and vilification contained in this detailed “swiftboating”?

What would justify Alan Dershowitz devoting such time and effort to personally attaching Jimmy Carter?

What “despicable cause” has Jimmy Carter been lobbying for?

Not his work in “Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to negotiate with the Communist dictator Mengistou Haile Mariam, to Liberia to induce warlord Charles Taylor to let democratic elections be held, and to Pyongyang, North Korea, to convince Kim Il Sung to give up his nuclear program” … to Haiti to induce General Raoul Cedras to leave the country and permit the elected president to return … to Havana so that I could speak directly to the Cuban people about democracy and human rights. The Center has monitored almost seventy elections, often at the invitation of such people as Manuel Noriega, the Sandinistas, and Hugo Chavez.” Page 250, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”

I cannot imagine Alan Dershowitz unleashing this nuclear attack on Jimmy Carter for his speaking to the Cuban people about human rights.

Here’s a clue “Three of the most honest, fair and peaceful of our elections have been in Palestine.” Page 250

Here is what he has done to incur the wrath of Alan Dershowitz:

Jimmy Carter has become the most respected prominent individual openly critical of the policies of the Government of Israel vis-à-vis the Palestinians;

He has put in decades working for a “just” peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians;

He has even been talking to everyone about “the terrible plight of the Palestinians” Page 251;

He talks about three options available to the Government of Israel – one of them being “A system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights. This is the policy now being followed.” Page 215; and

Recently, he has been talking to representatives of Hamas, the group that was elected by the Palestinians in one of those honest, fair and peaceful elections – the results of which were immediately effectively nullified by the Governments of Israel and the United States – Hamas, the organization which a few days ago proposed a six-month truce which was immediately rejected by the Government of Israel.

Alan Dershowitz is a symbol of those who support peace, justice, love, fairness, human rights, and dignity and equality for all unless they are Palestinians. Here’s a few values of Judaism embodied by the work of Jimmy Carter and opposed by Alan Dershowitz when the subject is the Palestinians:

Exodus 22:20-21 - You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Rabbi Akiva - “‘Love your neighbor as yourself’(Leviticus 19:18) - this is the major principle of the Torah.”

Deuteronomy XVI, 18:20 – “Justice, Justice shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” And the footnote in the Hertz edition “(T)here is international justice, which demands respect for the personality of every national group, and proclaims that no people can of right be robbed of its national life or territory, its language or spiritual heritage.”

Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do well – seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” and 1:27 “Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness.”

HILLEL “If I am not for myself, who will be for me, and if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” and his definition of Judaism “What is hateful unto you, do not do unto your neighbor”

Someone just sent me an “Eyewitness Letter from the Gaza Strip” by Kashi Halford in Occupation Magazine In it Halford notes:

1.5 million people live in the Gaza strip, over a million of these are refugees. Over 80% live below the poverty line, with 1.2 million people in Gaza are dependent on food handouts. Only 41% of Gaza’s food import needs are currently being met. The Palestinian Health Ministry says there are no stocks left of 85 essential medicines, including chemotherapy drugs, strong antibiotics and several psychiatric drugs. For a further 138 drugs there are only stocks for three months at most. Supplies of nitrous oxide for surgical anaesthesia will run out in two weeks. 17.5% of patients who have requested access to East Jerusalem, Israel or abroad for emergency or chronic medical treatment have been denied permits since June 2007. In October 2007, the public provider of water and sanitation services received 50% of the amount of fuel it need to operate its wells, pumping stations and treatment plants. As a result 210,000 people are able to access drinking water supplies for only 1-2 hours a day.

Do I know if all of this is accurate? No

Then again, do I know if all that Alan Dershowitz has written is correct? No

But I do think that his article is symbolic of what is happening in what is fortunately an increasing smaller segment of the Jewish community - those who agree with any action taken by the Government of Israel. As more and more people in this country and around the world become aware of the injustices and human rights violations being carried out by that government, these tribal nationalistic oriented individuals and their organizations are likely to ramp up the volume and intensity of their personal attacks on, and verbal persecution of, those who criticize the Government of Israel.

Alan Dershowitz hopes that we will read what he says and not read about what is happening to the Palestinians in the occupied territories. He also hopes to divert our attention from any recommendations Jimmy Carter proposes that might bring appropriate pressure on the Government of Israel to negotiate in good faith for a “just” peace.

Here are my two conclusions:

First, this article by Alan Dershowitz is a gross misrepresentation and an incredibly biased attempt to discredit a good person, Jimmy Carter, and the good works that he has done since leaving the White House and establishing the Carter Center.

Second, while Alan Dershowitz is not a public official who, after leaving public life, sold himself to the highest bidder, he is, in my opinion, actually the one who is a “lobbyist for a despicable cause” – support for the Government of Israel as it continues the occupation and deprives millions of Palestinians of their basic rights and freedoms.


Jimmy Carter for Sale by Alan M. Dershowitz

Jimmy Carter is making more money selling integrity than peanuts. I have known Jimmy Carter for more than 30 years. I first met him in the spring of 1976 when, as a relatively unknown candidate for president,he sent me a handwritten letter asking for my help in his campaign on issues of crime and justice.

I had just published an article in The New York Times Magazine on sentencing reform, and he expressed interest in my ideas and asked me to come up with additional ones for his campaign.

Shortly thereafter, my former student Stuart Eisenstadt, brought Carter to Harvard to meet with some faculty members. I immediately liked Jimmy Carter and saw him as a man of integrity and principle. I signed on to his campaign and worked very hard for his election.

When Newsweek magazine asked his campaign for the names of people on whom Carter relied for advice, my name was among those given out. I continued to work for Carter over the years, most recently I met him in Jerusalem a year ago, and we briefly discussed the Mid-East.

Though I disagreed with some of his points, I continued to believe he was making them out of a deep commitment to principle and to human rights.

Recent disclosures of Carter's extensive financial connections to Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia, has deeply shaken my belief in his integrity. When I was first told that he received a monetary reward in the name of Shiekh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, and kept the money, even after Harvard returned money from the same source because of its anti-Semitic history, I simply did not believe it. How could a man of such apparent integrity associate himself with dirty money from so dirty a source?And let there be no mistake about how dirty the Zayed Foundation is. I know because I was involved, in a small way, in helping to persuade Harvard University to return more than $2 million that the financially strapped Divinity School received from this source.

Initially I was reluctant to put pressure on Harvard to turn back money for the Divinity School, but then a student at the Divinity School -Rachael Lea Fish -- showed me the facts.They were staggering. I was amazed that in the 21st century there were still foundations that espoused these views. The Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-up - a think-tank funded by the Shiekh and run by his son - hosted speakers who called Jews "the enemies of all nations," attributed the assassination of John Kennedy to Israel, and the 9/11 attacks to the United States' own military, and stated that the Holocaust was a "fable." (They also hosted a speech by Jimmy Carter.) To its credit, Harvard turned the money back. To his total discredit, Carter did not.

Jimmy Carter was, of course, aware of Harvard's decision, since it was highly publicized. Yet he kept the money. Indeed, this is what he said in accepting the funds: "This award has special significance for me because it is named for my personal friend, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan." Carter's personal friend, it turns out, was an unredeemable anti-Semite as well as a Christian hating bigot.

In reading Carter's statements, I was reminded of the misguided Harvard of the 1930s, which continued to honor Nazi academics after the anti-Semitic policies of Hitler's government became clear. Harvard of the 1930s was complicit in evil. I sadly concluded that Jimmy Carter of the 21st century has become complicit in evil. The extent of Carter's financial support from, and even dependence on, dirty money is still not fully known.

What we do know is deeply troubling. Carter and his Center have accepted millions of dollars from suspect sources, beginning with the bail-out of the Carter family peanut business in the late 1970s by BCCI, a now-defunct and virulently anti-Israeli bank indirectly controlled by the Saudi Royal family, and among whose principal investors is Carter's friend, Sheikh Zayed. Agha Hasan Abedi, the founder of the bank, gave Carter "$500,000 to help the former president establish his center...[and] more than $10 million to Mr. Carter's different projects."Carter gladly accepted the money, though Abedi had called his bank the source of his funding and "the best way to fight the evil influence of the Zionists."BCC isn't the only source: Saudi King Fahd contributed millions to the Carter Center- "in 1993 alone...$7.6 million" as have other members of the Saudi Royal Family. Carter also received a million dollar pledge from the Saudi-based bin Laden family, as well as a personal $500,000 environmental award named for Sheikh Zayed, and paid for by the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

It's worth noting that, despite the influx of Saudi money funding the Carter Center, and despite the Saudi Arabian government's myriad human rights abuses, the Carter Center's Human Rights program has no activity whatever in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have apparently bought his silence for a steep price.The bought quality of the Center's activities becomes even more clear when reviewing the Center's human rights activities in other countries: essentially no human rights activities in China or in North Korea, or in Iran, Iraq, the Sudan or Syria, but activity regarding Israel and its alleged abuses, according to the Center's website.The Carter Center's mission statement claims that "The Center is nonpartisan and acts as a neutral party in dispute resolution activities." How can that be, given that its coffers are full of Arab money, and that its focus is away from significant Arab abuses and on Israel's far less serious ones?

No reasonable person can dispute therefore that Jimmy Carter has been and remains dependent on Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia.

Does this mean that Carter has necessarily been influenced in his thinking about the Middle East by receipt of such enormous amounts of money? Ask Carter. The entire premise of his criticism of Jewish influence on American foreign policy is that money talks.

It is Carter-not me-who has made the point that if politicians receive money from Jewish sources, then they are not free to decide issues regarding the Middle East for themselves.It is Carter, not me, who has argued that distinguished reporters cannot honestly report on the Middle East because they are being paid by Jewish money. So, by Carter's own standards, it would be almost economically "suicidal" for Carter "to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine."By Carter's own standards, therefore, his views on the Middle East must be discounted. It is certainly possible that he now believes them. Money, particularly large amounts of money, has a way of persuading people to a particular position.It would not surprise me if Carter, having received so much Arab money, is now honestly committed to their cause.

But his failure to disclose the extent of his financial dependence on Arab money, and the absence of any self reflection on whether the receipt of this money has unduly influenced his views, is a form of deception bordering on corruption.

I have met cigarette lobbyists, who are supported by the cigarette industry, and who have come to believe honestly that cigarettes are merely a safe form of adult recreation, that cigarettes are not addicting and that the cigarette industry is really trying to persuade children not to smoke. These people are fooling themselves (or fooling us into believing that they are fooling themselves) just as Jimmy Carter is fooling himself (or persuading us to believe that he is fooling himself).

If money determines political and public views-as Carter insists "Jewish money" does-then Carter's views on the Middle East must be deemed to have been influenced by the vast sums of Arab money he has received. If he who pays the piper calls the tune, then Carter's off-key tunes have been called by his Saudi Arabian paymasters. It pains me to say this, but I now believe that there is no person in American public life today who has a lower ratio of real [integrity] to apparent integrity than Jimmy Carter.

The public perception of his integrity is extraordinarily high. His real integrity, it now turns out, is extraordinarily low. He is no better than so many former American politicians who, after leaving public life, sell themselves to the highest bidder and become lobbyists for despicable causes.

That is now Jimmy Carter's sad legacy.

Author Biography: Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard Law School and author of The Case for Israel.

No comments: