Jimmy Carter appeared at Emory University yesterday to speak about his book -- keeping the stage to himself as he did last month at Brandeis University. The Emory Wheel reports that “Carter adamantly refused to appear with [Dennis] Ross,” as a group of Emory professors headed by Deborah Lipstadt had urged.
“Let him come here and present his own views. I have enough to do. I don’t have time to come back over and over again and debate Dennis Ross.”
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Political Science and History Harvey Klehr reported said the arrangements were worse than for Carter’s appearance at Brandeis:
At Brandeis, Carter declined an invitation to debate Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, but Dershowitz gave a speech refuting many of Carter's points after the former president had departed.
"At least they had someone responding after President Carter left the building," Klehr said. "It's unfortunate that Carter, who has said he wrote this book to start dialogue and discussion, doesn't want dialogue and discussion."
Carter yesterday “repeated an apology for a passage [on page 213 of his book] that critics said could be interpreted as supporting suicide bombings as a negotiating tactic” and said it “would be removed from future editions,” according to a report in Yahoo News.
The sentence on page 213 urged Palestinians to “make it clear they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international law and the ultimate goals of the road map for peace are accepted by Israel” -- a formulation that obviously condones terrorism in the interim, as Emory Professor Mel Konner had written to Carter.
JCI requested that Simon & Shuster provide us a copy of the revised sentence as it will appear in the next printing of Carter’s book, and (after a series of emails that simulated a dental operation) they provided the new language. Here is the revised sentence, showing the language Carter has stricken and the words he has added in their place:
It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they
will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international lawsrenounce all acts of violence against innocent civilians and will accept international laws, the Arab peace proposal of 2002 and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel.
There are several interesting aspects of Carter’s changed sentence. First, he found it necessary to substitute a new phrase -- “acts of violence against innocent civilians” -- in place of “suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism.” Perhaps that is because a Carter condemnation of “terrorism” would not satisfy many critics given his definition of it on Al Jazeera last month ("I don't consider . . . I wasn't equating the Palestinian missiles with terrorism”).
Second, he substituted a new verb -- asking Palestinians simply to “renounce” acts of violence; previously he had called upon them to “end” terrorism (eventually). Why not urge them to start meeting their Phase I Road Map obligation now, and dismantle their terrorist infrastructure?
The best Carter can apparently do is urge the Palestinians to accept “the ultimate goals” of the Road Map (like the Palestinians themselves, he is a fan of Phase III but not of Phase I and II) and endorse the Arab peace proposal of 2002 (which includes a “right of return” he must know is a non-starter).
It is admirable that he has revised a sentence he acknowledged at Brandeis was “worded in a completely improper and stupid way,” and apologized for it both there and at Emory. But there is a lot more that Jimmy Carter (and perhaps only Jimmy Carter) could do for peace -- including disabusing the Palestinians of their insistence on a deal-killing "right of return," and emphasizing their need to comply with the agreements they have already made.