Comments: Rerun: Jimmy Carter Sux Eggs

In retrospect I should have left out the "And whether it's fair or not, to people in the third world" in "And whether it's fair or not, to people in the third world, Israel is a symbol of colonialism."

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at June 3, 2010 12:12 PM

This seems mean-spirited. Carter's at least calling out atrocities against Palestinian, far braver than most other American political figures of his stature. And, not having read his book, are you sure he doesn't approach our imperial relationship with Israel there?

Posted by saurabh at June 3, 2010 12:21 PM

Not only would the planet have exploded; God's mind would have been blown, causing the universe to cease existing.

Posted by Cloud at June 3, 2010 12:22 PM

saurabh:

This seems mean-spirited. Carter's at least calling out atrocities against Palestinian, far braver than most other American political figures of his stature.

I definitely appreciate that. But this is an absolutely key part of this issue. He DOES look shifty in this appearance.

Maybe he just sucks 1/3 of an egg.

And, not having read his book, are you sure he doesn't approach our imperial relationship with Israel there?

Well, it's not our specific imperial relationship with Israel that I'm talking about as much as how Israel/Palestine fits into the 500-year history of European colonialism. And while I still haven't read his book, I'm pretty sure that's not part of it.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at June 3, 2010 12:27 PM

Also: this has been an unhappy week: but I thank you, Jonathan Schwarz, for helping me to not go around my house breaking things.

Posted by Cloud at June 3, 2010 12:31 PM

I thank you, Jonathan Schwarz, for helping me to not go around my house breaking things.

You're welcome, and thank you for being part of my own non-breaking-things effort. I hope you've had a chance to check out the 140-character version here.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at June 3, 2010 12:37 PM

I guess its all a matter of perspective. Which is worse-seeing YOUR family chopped up by machettes or seeing them chopped up by shrapnel? Maybe its the bodycount per diem? Half a million killed in two weeks or half a million killed in 10 years. Poor Ole Jimmy, I see he tries to do right, its just that he was raised up in Georgia.

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 3, 2010 01:39 PM

Hey, maybe Jimmy is just upset over the fact that its OUR TAXDOLLARS (his too) that PAYS to kill Palestinians but not so much Rowandans.

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 3, 2010 03:04 PM

This Rwanda business never comes up when talking about Hamas suicide bombing or the rocket bombardment of Sderot. You're only supposed to think of Rwanda and Darfur in comparison with Israeli-inflicted deaths.

Posted by Donald Johnson at June 3, 2010 04:04 PM

A good re-run.

Posted by Batocchio at June 3, 2010 04:45 PM

I looked for the words "colonialism" and "imperialism" in Carter's book using the Amazon search feature, and to my surprise neither word appears even once. I guess those really are taboo words in American politics.

The long history of European colonialism is certainly important, but the US has made some pretty spectacular contributions in the last century. Recommended for the interested:

America's Kingdom by Robert Vitalis, which examines the real history of Aramco and the racist, anti-labor policies Aramco exported from the Jim Crow U.S. to Saudi Arabia back before WWII. (Aramco tells a much different story in their glossy promotional materials.)

Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleath Fundamentalist Islam by Robert Dreyfuss

There are probably ten million books about how corrupt all the Gulf states are. Guess why?

Posted by N E at June 3, 2010 04:45 PM

Donald Johnson:

"This Rwanda business never comes up when talking about Hamas suicide bombing or the rocket bombardment of Sderot. You're only supposed to think of Rwanda and Darfur in comparison with Israeli-inflicted deaths."

Of course not-the crimes of Israel are the symbol-nay the apotheosis- of History's long struggle between the West and the Colonized.

How can you even think of yourself as human unless you cry every day and break your own property when you consider the Palestinian refugees of 1948 who are still being born today?

Imagine if all the descendants of the 3 million Sudeten Germans expelled in 1945 were enrolled with permanent refugee status by the UN.

No-even to draw a parallel is hateful-hateful!

Posted by seth at June 3, 2010 05:24 PM

I have Pres Carter's book and have read it but can not remember if he has mentioned COLONIALISM or IMPERIALISM in the book.

However, in a Comment in Guardian, he writes,
"I have made it clear that the motivation is not racism but the desire of a minority of Israelis to confiscate and colonise choice sites in Palestine, and then to forcefully suppress any objections from the displaced citizens.
here

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/dec/12/israel.politicsphilosophyandsociety

Posted by Rupa Shah at June 3, 2010 05:30 PM

Donald Johnson & Seth: Hamas and Gaza DOESN'T get 3 billion of OUR TAXDOLLARS every year, NO F-15s, or cluster bombs and white phosphorous. IN 1967 Israel SIGNED an agreement as did the Palestinians. I just don't think the internment of Gaza was wrote down in that document.
BOTTOM LINE---I just plain don't want MY TAXDOLLAR to PAY for them to kill each other. I'm ABSOLUTELY SURE they are able to do it quite well on their own dime. Hell, machettes are cheap. Let them GET DOWN face to face.

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 3, 2010 05:53 PM

Rupa Shah

I didn't mean to diminish Carter. His book used the word 'apartheid' in the title, which put him on the road to getting Ramsey Clark pariah status from the elite. But it is striking to me that he didn't use either the word 'colonialism' or 'imperialism' in a book about the Middle East. That's something like writing a history of the United States without using the word 'slavery.'

Posted by N E at June 3, 2010 06:03 PM

God, you originally posted this in 2007? WHERE DOES THE TIME GO

Posted by ethan at June 3, 2010 07:35 PM

First, we're paying for it, unlike Rwanda

The US kinda did pay for Rwanda.

Posted by DavidByron at June 3, 2010 07:47 PM

Seth and Mike--

You guys misread me, so I guess I wasn't clear.

I usually hear people bring up Rwanda and Darfur when Israel is being criticized--they don't do it when Hamas is being criticized, though Hamas kills fewer people than Israel. So if Israel's crimes are small in comparison to Rwanda, then Hamas crimes shrink to utter insignificance.

I think on the scale of murderous countries, Israel is a fairly run-of-the-mill example. The occupation might set some sort of record, maybe. The main reason I think Americans should pay more attention to this than, say, Sri Lanka, is because we're deeply implicated. Also, Israel seems sort of like the US in microcosm. But if we weren't deeply implicated and constantly told by our politicians what a wonderful country Israel is, then we ought to spread our attention around more.

Actually, I feel like I don't know enough about Colombia and our role there (though I do know it's a bad one).

Posted by Donald Johnson at June 3, 2010 07:48 PM

For anyone interested........
"Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid"
Chapter 17
Summary
page208

"Regardless of whether Palestinians had no formalised govt, one headed by Yasir Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas, or with Abbas as president and Hamas controlling the parliament and cabinet, Israel's continued control and colonisation of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land."

Posted by Rupa Shah at June 3, 2010 08:07 PM

Practically, if we get the world to admit that the Palestinians have inalienable rights, it will follow smoothly for everyone else. As long as they are treated worse than dogs, it is clear that anyone can, and will be.

Posted by Justin Parker at June 3, 2010 08:22 PM

I suppose that is a little shifty but understandable given Carter undoubtedly knows nothing will get you yelled at more than stating the blindingly obvious. Which in this case would be a reply like: "Rwanda?! We're talking about Palestine. What the fuck you talking about Rwanda for?! What is this - Tu Quoque Tourette's? 'Is it worse than Rwanda?' - what's your point?! Do you have a point, or are you just deranged?"

And Lipstadt can take her Holocaust Exclusionism and ram it.

Posted by weaver at June 3, 2010 08:41 PM

Honestly, I think you could find better use of your time than criticizing Jimmy Carter, a man who has taken such enormous hits from the right and been horribly demonized for this book.

He was simply responding to a moronic question in an entirely reasonable fashion, namely "I ain't going there." Why on earth does he have to rank the atrocities of human history before he addresses the one he is writing about??? The effort to force him into such an idiotic debate is what should be questioned here.

Posted by Joe at June 3, 2010 09:15 PM

Is it colonization when you are attacked, and when you win the war, you take the land from which you were attacked? Israel, at one time, tried to give the land back to Jordan as part of a peace deal. Jordan did not want the Palestinians, so, turned it down.

Posted by Cargosquid at June 3, 2010 10:05 PM

Donald Johnson:
"I think on the scale of murderous countries, Israel is a fairly run-of-the-mill example."

This is exactly my point. Yes Israel is a brutal militaristic state. Except for the fact that it has elections and billions in US aid it would be just like all of its neighbors, who have had plenty of opportunities to be nice to the Palestinians over the years.

What is really annoying is this idea among the beautiful -souled left that Israel is not just especially bad, not just profoundly bad, but in fact is uniquely bad and the source of all the world's evil.

As Justin Parker wrote above, "Practically, if we get the world to admit that the Palestinians have inalienable rights, it will follow smoothly for everyone else. As long as they are treated worse than dogs, it is clear that anyone can, and will be."

So this means that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is both the model for all injustice in the world, as well as its legitimate excuse. How can we ask anyone to be decent when Israel occupies a square inch of Palestinian land?

The argument becomes practically theological.

Posted by seth at June 3, 2010 10:12 PM

I am with Joe.

Posted by N E at June 3, 2010 10:20 PM
Honestly, I think you could find better use of your time than criticizing Jimmy Carter, a man who has taken such enormous hits from the right and been horribly demonized for this book.

He was simply responding to a moronic question in an entirely reasonable fashion, namely "I ain't going there." Why on earth does he have to rank the atrocities of human history before he addresses the one he is writing about??? The effort to force him into such an idiotic debate is what should be questioned here.

Hmm. I kind of thought the hyperbolic title and the fact I said the earth would explode if he took my advice would make clear that I wasn't really attacking him, but using him as the jumping off point for a larger issue.

Beyond that, I strongly disagree that it's a moronic question. Why are there people in, say, South Korea, who spend a lot of time going to demonstrations about Israel/Palestine rather than other things? It does look like a bizarre double standard if you know nothing about world history.

And even if it were a moronic question, it's something anyone talking about this issue is going to be asked. If you're serious about what you're doing you should be prepared to answer it.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at June 3, 2010 11:15 PM

It's a moronic question in the context of that discussion. It's either yer basic Tu Quoque fallacy ("You took position A on issue 1 but didn't take position A on extremely similar issue 2, therefore position A is false"), or an irrelevant accusation of hypocrisy or set-up for yer basic Ad Hominem fallacy ("Position A is inconsistent with others you have taken on extremely similar issues, making you a hypocrite, and therefore a bad person, and therefore position A is false.")

In this case in particular Carter had described the persecution in the Occupied Territories as "one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation" that he knew, thereby implicitly agreeing before he started that there were other human rights deprivations as bad or worse, and then the first thing the water-muddying pillock talking to him asks is "Ah, but aren't there other human rights deprivations as bad or worse?" In such a circumstance you are entitled to respond - "That's a stupid question."

Posted by weaver at June 3, 2010 11:33 PM

I was mostly with Joe's second paragraph. I haven't noticed anything very critical about Carter and certainly haven't been bothered by anything like that.

I don't think the question to Carter was fair. It wouldn't be if he were going to be allowed to give a thoughtful and real answer, but that's not the game.

I think it is important to understand why the fate of the Palestinians matters, and it doesn't seem to me to be because there's a double-standard applied against Israel. To me it has more to do with the centrality of the Middle East and the arc of crisis in the world, and the strategic importance of Israel to controlling that crucial resource-rich region. Explaining why would be pretty complicated even for a long comment, but Israel looks to me more and more like a colonial Western outpost in the center of the Islamic world. And I think that's how the leading thinkers of the Islamic world see it too. That leads to the jihadi talk about Zionists and Crusaders, which sounds so ideological and dumb to my Western ears.

The Palestinians certainly aren't more important per se; their greater importance is symbolic and strategic. The injustices of present-day international political economy and state violence manifest themselves most clearly and dramatically in Palestine, but those differences also manifest themselves, and are felt, almost everywhere else, in places as distant as Korea or Uruguay or Myanmar or Ohio. That is what I understood to be meant by "We are all Palestinians" t-shirts, which I actually haven't noticed for a while.

Posted by N E at June 4, 2010 12:42 AM

Dear Seth -- it looks like you still don't get it. DJ was saying that if it's illegitimate to attack Israel for its crimes when so many more innocent people have been killed in Darfur, or Rwanda, or Vietnam, or Iraq, then it's even more illegitimate to attack Hamas for its crimes, since Hamas has killed even fewer Israelis.

Compared to Britain or the US, Israel is a mere child in the ways of ethnic cleansing, torture, land theft, and mopery and dopery on the high seas. But that doesn't mean Israel shouldn't be criticized. Which is what you don't seem to be willing to permit.

Posted by Duncan at June 4, 2010 01:09 AM

By the way, Jon, about this:

Why are there people in, say, South Korea, who spend a lot of time going to demonstrations about Israel/Palestine rather than other things?

Do you know that there are South Koreans who spend a lot of time going to demonstrations about Israel/Palestine rather than other things? The South Koreans I know go to huge peaceful demonstrations about their own government, about the US forces there, and so on. Some no doubt also go to demonstrations about Israel/Palestine, and if I manage to go to the one in Seoul tomorrow, I'll try to ask people there if that's the only issue on their plates. (My Korean is not very good, to put it mildly. But many Koreans speak some English.) I noticed during the candlelight vigils of summer 2008 that it was difficult to get Americans, including lib/prog/lefty Americans, even to notice that they were going on, let alone care.

You might be right that the question wasn't moronic, but it's equally true of Americans I know of that they do not focus only on Israel/Palestine. It's not always possible to say why one focuses on this issue rather than that one. But people don't have unlimited time and energy, so there is no way they can focus on all issues at once. Still, what we call the left in this country is aware of various international issues, plus problems here at home, and bumbles along doing what it can about them. The question is moronic to the extent that a questioner assumes that the target only cares about Israel/Palestine, though one might as properly ask a lot of American non-Jews why they are so concerned to protect and defend Israel, while paying little attention to anything else.

Posted by Duncan at June 4, 2010 09:24 AM

You don't hear me claiming that Hamas is the modern incarnation of the Nazi state. If they had real power I am sure they would fulfill all such expectations, but for now they just seem like typical small-time thugs exercising limited force against a regional hyperpower.

Whoever said you can't criticize Israel? I just find the monocular focus on pernicious Zionism to be somewhat myopic when you look at the world at large.

Again, this notion that if the Entity would just vanish then the world would experience a quantam shift towards peace, is a perpetual fantasy that is not disconnected historically from messianic dreams of a new age.

Posted by Seth at June 4, 2010 09:31 AM

Hmmm, that's a tough one, but here's a start:

Israel, AIPAC, the ADL, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Newscorp, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the rest of the US media, Alan Dershowitz, most of the GOP, the neocons, most of the Democratic Party, but I'm bored now.

The "monocular focus on pernicious Zionism" is nearly as big a social problem in the United States as the obsessive national compulsion to help the needy.

Posted by N E at June 4, 2010 10:01 AM

Yeah, but I was talking about this site! :)

Posted by seth at June 4, 2010 10:21 AM

Hmm. I kind of thought the hyperbolic title and the fact I said the earth would explode if he took my advice would make clear that I wasn't really attacking him, but using him as the jumping off point for a larger issue.

Your smug, looking-down-the-nose pretense at intellectual superiority is very dull.

You're exactly the kind of obfuscatory, convolution-loving Dembot that is helping ruin America through that stupid-assed meritocratic approach.

Gosh! Another Ivy snob pretends he's brilliant! What a surprise!

The only thing that's obvious about you, Schwarz, is that you're neither funny nor half as world-wise as you pretend.

Posted by CF Oxtrot at June 4, 2010 01:53 PM


For some reason CF Oxtrot's last comment, a purposeful dynamic reminder of insidious elastic disfunctional categories, reminded me of this wonderful toy:

http://www.sciencegeek.net/lingo.html

Posted by N E at June 4, 2010 02:51 PM

Seth, methinks you are unable to see the writing on the wall or the forest for the trees.

As for me, I would prefer an explanation as to why both of the countries responsible for this illegal blockade get billions of dollars of my tax-payer money every year, while the amount a partner gets on the War on Terrorism (Pakistan) doesn't even break the first billion.

Of course there's no explanation needed, it's the elephant in the room. Besides the enormous welfare check America hands it every year, it also uniquely shields Israel from worldwide international condemnation that is almost without exception.

Whether the government of the United States is using Israel as a proxy state or American policy toward Israel is the result of tremendous pressure by the state and it's allies, Israel is a part and parcel of Western hegemony in the region. That is inescapable.

Needless to say, there is a great case for the latter.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2007/04/2008525134738228386.html

Posted by Nikolay Levin at June 4, 2010 09:07 PM

Nicolay Levin: To be fair WE give Egypt EQUALLY the same protections and perks. They ARE partners with US in OUR foreign policy toward the Holy Land. BUT JESUS isn't Egyptian but Jewish SO Israel hits the media here more than Egypt. But to be fair---???

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 4, 2010 09:54 PM

Seth: "this notion that if the Entity would just vanish then the world would experience a quantam shift towards peace, is a perpetual fantasy that is not disconnected historically from messianic dreams of a new age."

I know exactly what you mean. If Hamas, and indeed all Muslims would just vanish then the world would experience a quantum shift towards peace.

I haven't noticed anyone here saying that Israel should just vanish. Certainly not me. I just think that Israel should stop killing innocent people, committing aggression against other countries, breaking ceasefires, kidnapping and torturing people (whether they're innocent or not), etc., etc. So should Hamas, but we're not sending them, what is it, $3 billion dollars in aid every year, including lots of nifty weapons. That might not cause a quantum shift toward peace, but it would be a start. The fact that you interpret any criticism of definite crimes as a wish that Israel would vanish is quite revealing, Seth.

It may be worth pointing out, too, that Israel didn't attack Gaza in 2008 because of Kassam missiles raining down on Israel: it attacked Gaza because missiles were not raining down in Israel. Israel didn't attack Lebanon in 1982 because the PLO were attacking from their sanctuaries there; Israel attacked Lebanon because the PLO had not attacked Israel for more than a year. And so on. Most of the time it is Israel that violates ceasefires, and the longer the ceasefire goes on, the more draconian the Israeli violence. In light of this someone could probably make a case that the vanishing of Israel would make the Middle East slightly more peaceful for a while. But the argument here is not that Israel is the sole source of evil in that part of the world; it's that Israel is one major source of evil there. Not because it's full of Jews, but because it keeps doing evil things. Only an anti-Semite would want to argue that Israel does evil things because it's a Jewish state; you aren't arguing that, are you, Seth?

Posted by Duncan at June 4, 2010 10:20 PM

Duncan-The idea that Israel is the font of world evil does come up now and then, even on this site: cf the comment by Justin Walker.

I understand that the problem is that the US is paying for the whole disaster-that's why I wish we would withdraw all support. I've always held that if the only answer is to import either the Jewish or Arab populations and resettle them here, let's do it! We seem to have room for at least another 20 or 30 million more Mexicans so what difference would six or seven million more Semites make?

I believe that the US should completely withdraw all military presence from the Eastern Hemisphere. Let's restore the Monroe Doctrine in the strictest sense and play empire in our natural backyard if we have to do it. Let's leave the middle east and Central Asia to Europe and Russia and China to fight over. We have everything we need to be happy right here at home!

Posted by seth at June 4, 2010 11:06 PM

Gee, seth, that's mighty white of you, giving permission for the US to terrorize the Western hemisphere. It's not like we haven't been doing it anyway for the past century or so. And if you got your wish, I'd still be condemning US policy in the rest of this hemisphere, and attacking many domestic US policies such as subsidizing corrupt corporations.

True, once in a while someone will ascribe all evil to Israel around here, but that doesn't justify your blanket ascription of that view to everyone. It would be like saying that ATR is a hotbed of hasbarista apologists for Israel just because you post comments here. Please don't try to present yourself as a reasonable person; you aren't. (As your response to Emily Henochowicz' friend showed abundantly.)

For me -- I can't speak for everybody -- the fact that the US is giving so much money to Israel isn't the problem; it's only one of them. The main reason to invoke it is to answer accusations that what Israel does is none of my business. It is my business, of course, simply because my government helps to pay for it, but it's also my business because I'm a human being. True, there are worse things in the world than killing 9 decent people; keeping 1.5 million people in a giant concentration camp, for example. It's not possible to condemn every crime committed in the world. But don't assume that I think Hamas is a bunch of great big softies because I condemn Israel's crimes against Palestine. The enemy of my enemy is not my friend.

Posted by Duncan at June 5, 2010 10:18 AM

OK Duncan, keep fighting the good fight.

Good Christ, but the sanctimony on this site runs thick!

Posted by seth at June 5, 2010 10:42 AM

And no one's more "sanctimonious" than the hasbaristas, seth, keeping up the good fight to rid the world of Arabs.

Posted by Duncan at June 5, 2010 08:51 PM

Pushing the old colonialist line from the 19th century, Liz Cheney identifies the one big mistake the US made in Gaza as pushing for elections before the Gazans were "read for it."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-tv/arianna-battles-liz-chene_b_602133.html

Posted by N E at June 6, 2010 09:57 PM

also shuster would have cut him off before he got through the second paragraph. one of the benefits of writing a blog entry over appearing on cable tv news magazine/shows

Posted by blackplates at June 7, 2010 02:41 PM