It is long been traditional for living ex-presidents to be
invited to address their party’s quadrennial convention during presidential
election years. The fact that Jimmy
Carter was not invited to give the traditional address was no accident. Nor is it true, as Jimmy Carter has falsely
claimed, that it was he who made the decision not to speak to the
convention. The Democratic Party, and
its leaders, made a deliberate decision not to invite Jimmy Carter precisely
because they so fundamentally disagree with the bigotry toward Israel and its
Jewish supporters that he displayed both in his mendacious book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and in
his subsequent television appearances.
They decided that they, as a party, did not want to be associated with
Jimmy Carter’s despicable views. This
took courage, more courage than the Republican Party showed in 1992 when they
invited the notorious anti-Semite and anti-Zionist, Pat Buchanan, to deliver a
prime time speech at their convention.
Perhaps the Democrats learned a lesson from the Republican’s
mistake. Buchanan’s speech, which
declared cultural war against non-Christian fundamentalists, may well have
contributed to their electoral defeat. Had
Jimmy Carter been allowed to speak, and had he chosen to repeat his bigoted
views, the impact on voters might have been considerable.
I must admit that I am not an unbiased observer. I played a role in seeking to persuade the
Democrats to disinvite Carter. I made it
clear that I could not support a party that honored a bigot like Carter. Many others—on Jews and non-Jews—took the
Nor has Carter been denied his free speech rights, as some
anti-Israel zealots have claimed. Carter
says that he wrote his screed in order to stimulate a debate. But he has adamantly refused to debate the
contents of his book, with me or anyone else.
I have written extensively and critically about Carter’s book.
In my soon to be published book, The Case Against Israel’s Enemies—Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who
Stand In the Way of Peace, I take apart his arguments point by point. His only response was, “I don’t read
Dershowitz.” Well maybe he should read
Dershowitz and the other critics who have demolished his arguments, disproved
his facts and questioned his motives.
His answer to his critics bordered on anti-Semitism. He claimed that “book reviews in the
mainstream media have been written mostly by representatives of Jewish
organizations.” He must know this to be a lie, unless he believes that all Jews
are somehow “representatives” of Jewish organizations. The most critical reviews were written by
Michael Kinsley, Ethan Bronner, Jeffrey Goldberg, and me. None of us are
representatives of Jewish organizations—unless he believes that all Jews belong
to some uniform and organized conspiracy. On NBC’s Meet
the Press, Carter claimed that the “Jewish lobby” was part of the problem,
never defining what he meant but leaving a clear implication of dual loyalty
against “Jewish” Americans.
It is Jimmy Carter who has tried to skew the marketplace of
ideas by refusing to debate. So let
Jimmy Carter speak, wherever he chooses to—on college campuses, on television,
at political events. But let others who
disagree with him be invited to speak at the same time. That is debate, not the kind of one-sided
propaganda that Carter insists on. So I
renew my challenge to President Carter:
Join the marketplace of ideas.
Debate me—anywhere, anytime. On
your turf or mine. How about a debate at
the Carter center in Emory
University? I will come at my own expense. Do you accept or will you continue to refuse
to read your critics or to debate them?