Monday, December 11, 2006

Jimmy Carter, Ken Stein and Israel


I've been pondering over the last few days how to write about the latest Jimmy Carter flap. Part of me wants to shout at him that he isn't helping anymore. Part of me wants to yell accolades for someone who continues to ask the difficult questions no matter the consequences. Throw in an instinctive urge to defend another South Georgia boy and you get a slippery eel of a mess with a handle that seems too tough to find. However the lack of comment from a blog of my nature seems dishonest.

I recently remarked to some fine folks that I believe Jimmy Carter could have been the greatest Secretary of State this country has ever seen. As President, he was lacking. He was not the absolute disaster some on the right would believe but I am not so delusional to ignore the severe problems brought on by his at least perceived lack of leadership. In my biased mind, I like to believe he was a good man beaten down by a crap ass job in a crap ass town.

I haven't read Jimmy Carter's latest book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid", but I have heard him interviewed on both NPR and Meet The Press. I came away from both with the feeling that he was right. The rhetoric was not inflammatory. Colored by my belief that President Carter is as knowledgeable about the Middle East as anyone, I took his points to heart.

It did not take long for the right wing in this country to pounce on Carter's stance as anti-Israel. Fuel to the fire was added when Carter Center fellow Ken Stein resigned his "position" at the Carter Center. Stein was the Carter Center's first Executive Director but President Carter states he has not been affiliated with the Center in 13 years.

A prominent fellow, even one who inhabits a basically emeritus position, resigning over Carter's stance is certainly newsworthy. It gave me pause. As I am wont to do when I struggle with a particular issue, I wait for the chaff to begin to clear. Rush to judgments are not in my nature.

John Sugg sweeps away some of that chaff by providing a context on Ken Stein and his possible motivations. His current position is with Emory University's Institute for the Study of Modern Israel. Alledgedly a think tank funded by staunch pro-Israeli supporters. A fact that is conveniently ignored both by the local media and right wing blogs.

But all this is sideshow, isn't it? The real question is Israel. I'm weirdly reminded of a discussion I once had with a friend about the American Civil War. He asked me if the Civil War were fought today would I take up arms to defend Georgia. I paused. He was astonished I would even hesitate. I explained that although I know Georgia would be wrong, to not defend your home would be difficult.

It is not an easy thing to criticize a people who have given so much to defend their homeland and I will not do it now. But the question is open in my mind. I will endeavor to learn more and if I find criticism is needed, it will be given. Until then, I will continue wrestling the eel.

5 comments:

Sid Cottingham said...

Excellent post.

Grayson said...

The Anti-Defamation League took out a whopping ad in the AJC today to bash Carter's book. I have to assume they've read it, but you never know.

griftdrift said...

Thanks Sid and thanks for stopping by.

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