Carter vs. Clinton and Beilin

Carter vs. Clinton and Beilin

In connection with this news of Bill Clinton’s rupture with his fellow Democratic former president, Jimmy Carter (reported in The Forward, March 30, with highlights below), it’s interesting to note that Meretz party chair, Yossi Beilin, has also expressed disappointment with Pres. Carter’s “Apartheid” book. Beilin considers the former president a personal friend and a friend of Israel who did great work in mediating the peace with Egypt. But Beilin indicated during his meeting with Meretz USA, March 22, that the book was published as if it were an unedited draft, without fact checking. He said that Carter had even misidentified him (Beilin), referring to him as deputy prime minister in the Barak government rather than justice minister.

‘Apartheid’ Book Exposes Carter-Clinton Rift
Clinton: ‘I Don’t Know Where His Information Came From’
Jennifer Siegel | Fri. Mar 30, 2007

….[F]ormer president Bill Clinton spoke out against Carter’s book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” during an appearance before the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County. “If I were an Israeli I wouldn’t like it, because it’s not factually correct and it’s not fair,” Clinton reportedly said.

This appears to be one of the few times that Clinton has taken a public swipe at the book or spoken out directly against his fellow former president on any matter. In addition to Clinton’s comments in San Diego, the American Jewish Committee released a letter last week from the former president thanking the group’s executive director, David Harris, for speaking out against the book.

“Thanks so much for your articles about President Carter’s book,” Clinton wrote in a handwritten note dated January 11. “I don’t know where his information (or conclusions) came from, but Dennis Ross has tried to straighten it out, publicly and in two letters to him. At any rate, I’m grateful.”

Clinton appeared to be referring to sections of Carter’s book that denigrate the American-backed land-for-peace final settlement offer that Israel made to the Palestinians in 2000. Ross, who served as Clinton’s envoy to the Middle East, has said publicly that maps he published outlining the Clinton proposal were improperly reprinted, and then mislabeled, by Carter. In doing so, Ross said, Carter wrongly suggested that Israel had not, in fact, offered the Palestinians all of Gaza and roughly 97% of the West Bank, but instead small and isolated islands of Palestinian territory.

… Carter argues that the terms of Clinton’s peace proposal at Camp David in the summer of 2000 were untenable for the Palestinians. “There was no possibility that any Palestinian leader could accept such terms and survive,” Carter wrote. “But officials statements from Washington and Jerusalem were successful on placing the entire onus for the failure on Yasir Arafat.”

Click here for entire Forward article online
. Enjoy the rest of the Passover holiday; unless somebody else posts, this blog will be taking a break during the two last days of Yom Tov, Monday and Tuesday.

By | 2007-04-06T12:37:00-04:00 April 6th, 2007|Blog|2 Comments


  1. Robert Hume April 7, 2007 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    I’m not sure where the Beilin comment came from, but it certainly does not represent a fully negative comment and here is a review that Beilin did wrote for the Forward that is substantially positive:

    “In other words, what Carter says in his book about the Israeli occupation and our treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories — and perhaps no less important, how he says it — is entirely harmonious with the kind of criticism that Israelis themselves voice about their own country. There is nothing in the criticism that Carter has for Israel that has not been said by Israelis themselves.”

    In the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict, moreover, Carter has secured his place in history as the man who brokered the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab nation. The Camp David summit he convened in September 1978, which resulted in the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, was a historical watershed for the entire region. It inaugurated the Arab-Israeli peace process, without which the Oslo peace process would not have been possible, nor the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan.

    In light of the failure of the second Camp David summit of July 2000, Carter’s successful mediation between such starkly different leaders as Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat is all the more impressive, and his achievement — which was a truly personal achievement — all the more remarkable.

    Every Israeli, and every Jew to whom the destiny of Israel is important, is indebted to Carter for breaking the ring of hostility that had choked Israel for more than 30 years. No American president before him had dedicated himself so fully to the cause of Israel’s peace and security, and, with the exception of Bill Clinton, no American president has done so since.

    This is why the publication of Carter’s recent book, and perhaps more than anything else, the title it bears, has pained so many people. And I must admit that, on some deeply felt level, the title of the book has strained my heart, too. Harsh and awful as the conditions are in the West Bank, the suggestion that Israel is conducting a policy of apartheid in the occupied territories is simply unacceptable to me.

    But is this what Carter is saying? I have read his book, and I could not help but agree — however agonizingly so — with most if its contents. Where I disagreed was mostly with the choice of language, including his choice of the word “apartheid.”

    But if we are to be fair, and as any reading of the book makes clear,Carter’s use of the word “apartheid” is first and foremost metaphorical. Underlying Israel’s policy in the West Bank, he argues, is not a racist ideology but rather a nationalist drive for the acquisition of land. The resulting violence, and the segregationist policies that shape life in the West Bank, are the ill-intended consequences of that drive.

    Of course, there is no appropriate term in the political lexicon for what we in Israel are doing in the occupied territories. “Occupation” is too antiseptic a term, and does not capture the social, cultural and humanitarian dimensions of our actions. Given the Palestinians’ role in the impasse at which we have arrived, to say nothing of Arab states and, historically speaking, of the superpowers themselves, I would describe the reality of occupation as a march of folly — an Israeli one, certainly, but not exclusively so.

    But if we are to read Carter’s book for what it is, I think we would find in it an impassioned personal narrative of an American former president who is reflecting on the direction in which Israel and Palestine may be going if they fail to reach agreementsoon. Somewhere down the line — and symbolically speaking, that line may be crossed the day that a minority of Jews will rule a majority of Palestinians west of the Jordan River — the destructive nature of occupation will turn Israel into a pariah state, not unlike South Africa under apartheid.”
    Additional reading:

  2. Ralph Seliger April 10, 2007 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Mr. Hume:
    As I indicated, Dr. Beilin shared his disappointment with Jimmy Carter’s book in a personal meeting. We know very well what Beilin has written of Carter’s book and we even have linked to this online.

    This is a complex reality, as even the review that you quote indicates. Although neither Beilin nor Carter believe that the occupation of the West Bank is the same as South African apartheid, they are in agreement that it’s a bad thing, both for Palestinians and for Israelis. Beilin shared with us how disappointed he was with the fact that Pres. Carter’s book was not carefully fact-checked.

    Still, Beilin remains an admirer of Carter and considers him a personal friend and a friend of Israel. A friend is reluctant to criticize.

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