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Dems Diss Jimmy Carter By: Alan M. Dershowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, September 11, 2008

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 same position. 

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?

Alan M. Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, “The Case Against Israel’s Enemies.”

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