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Carter and the Jews:

Ha'aretz columnist Brad Burston:

What Carter reveals, in the end, is that he knows the organized Jewish community of the United States in ways he will never know the Jewish community - or for that matter, the Palestinian community - in the Holy Land. He knows America's Jewish leadership as do few American Jews. He was, after all, twice the nominee of the Democratic Party.

These people elected him president. They applauded him at Camp David. They sang his praises for forging the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation.

Carter knows these people, all right. He knows their vulnerabilities, their gut fears, their feelings for Israel. He knows what makes them tick. He knows what makes them squirm. He knows what makes them livid with rage. And Carter plays them, all of them, all at once, with the brio of a virtuoso on his farewell concert tour.

The thesis that Carter is "out to get" the American Jewish leadership is an interesting one. It's not exactly true that the Jewish leadership was enthusiastic for Carter, except for a brief time following the Camp David Accord (which in many ways came about despite, rather than because of Carter, who preferred an international peace conference including the Soviet Union!) Jewish leaders mostly supported Scoop Jackson in the '76 primaries. Many implicitly or explicitly supported Ted Kennedy in the 1980 primaries. And Carter got less than half the Jewish vote in 1980, a remarkably bad performance considering that Ronald Reagan's political predecessor, Barry Goldwater, received about 10% of the Jewish vote in 1964, compared to Reagan's 40% (Anderson's 15% rounded out the total). Of course, even 100% of the relatively small Jewish vote wouldn't have put Carter over the top in 1980, but the hostility of a large part of the Jewish community, which is a core constituency of the Democratic Party, made his life a lot more difficult.

Of course, I can't read Carter's mind, but something has to explain obviously misleading statements like this: "My most troubling experience has been the rejection of my offers to speak, for free, about the book on university campuses with high Jewish enrollment and to answer questions from students and professor." This sounds a lot like Carter claiming that the Jewish establishment has the will and power to stop universities from hosting an ex-president who volunteers to speak "for free." So here's a challenge to Mr. Carter: name even ONE university where you were unable to speak "for free"--and I mean really "for free", not a situation in which the university has to pay for a private plane to take you roundtrip from Georgia, and pay additional thousands for your security.

Oh, he didn't really mean "for free," he just meant "without an honorarium!?" Perhaps he was just trying to "stimulate discussion" about the Jewish establishment's influence, his equally lame excuse for using the term "apartheid" to discuss the Israeli occupation of the territories, even though he acknowledges that this occupation [which Israel basically offered to end in Camp David in 2000] is not a manifestation of "racism."

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