Dotage can be dangerous and damaging, Part IIFebruary 1st, 2007
Last week I posted this item about former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s strange behaviour, particularly towards Israel.
In this very long article in the U.S. magazine Commentary, Joshua Muravchik makes the case in chronicling Carter’s long career that extreme bias, distortion, error and some very odd political associations do not appear to be a mere aberration associated with the ex-president’s dotage, but appear to be core characteristics.
And when I say odd political associations, I mean really odd. It’s worth checking the link, and it comes near the top of the article. Pages before arriving at Carter’s attitude towards Israel, the story depicts behaviour that’s simply breathtaking in its inversion of reality. From there it gets worse. Ghost-writing speeches to help de-terrorize Yasser Arafat is just one foretaste.
The article has many great paragraphs. Here are excerpts from two:
For someone who once played and still fancies himself in the role of mediator, Carter’s visceral attitudes to the two sides are strikingly disparate. He finds something to like in every Arab leader he meets…No such emotional connection, certainly, characterizes Carter’s feelings about most Israeli leaders he has met…Universally, they seem rather to evoke his dislike, and Israel as a whole seems to have the same effect on him…Whether Carter’s liking for Arabs and dislike for Israelis is cause or effect, an overwhelming bias resonates on almost every page of his new book.
One tiny example (from many): Carter claims Hamas committed no act of terrorism during a period when, as Muravchik writes, Hamas itself openly “claimed responsibility for fifteen terror attacks that killed 26 Israelis: two young children and eleven other civilians, and thirteen soldiers.”
Perhaps the former peanut farmer’s meticulously constructed aura of honesty, sincerity, humility and open-mindedness is largely artifice, and this Jimmy isn’t quite as wonderful a man as Jimmy Stewart.
Why does this matter in Canada? This country, too, is locked in an ongoing debate about the virtues and vices of the various participants in the “Middle East conflict”. Should Canada be a morally neutral “honest broker” (weighing with detachment the merits of Israel’s extinction, say)? Or should it be an open partisan defending the region’s only country where Jews and Arabs are both free to run for a democratically elected parliament?
Our prime minister has been called a tool of the Israel lobby merely for pointing out that defence against terrorism is morally distinct from terrorism itself. This stuff matters.