The Media Lynching of Jimmy Carter

It seems Israel’s “supporters” have conscripted me in their lynching of Jimmy Carter. Count me out. True, the historical part of Carter’s book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, contains errors in that it repeats standard Israeli propaganda. However, Carter’s analysis of the impasse in the “peace process” as well as his description of Israeli policy in the West Bank is accurate – and, frankly, that’s all that matters.

A wag once said that there is no Pravda (Truth) in Izvestia (News) and no Izvestia in Pravda. The same can be said of our Pravda (The New York Times) and Izvestia (The Washington Post). Today both party organs ran feature stories trashing Carter using Kenneth Stein’s resignation from the Carter Center as the hook. (I was sitting in the airport when this earth-shattering story came on CNN.) But like John Galt, many people must have wondered, Who (the hell) is Kenneth Stein? Stein wrote exactly one scholarly book on the Israel-Palestine conflict more than two decades ago (The Land Question in Palestine, 1984). Even in his heyday, Stein was a nonentity. When Joan Peters’s hoax From Time Immemorial was published, I asked his opinion of it. He replied that it had “good points and bad points.” Just like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Later Stein wrote a sick essay the main thesis of which was, “the Palestinian Arab community had been significantly prone to dispossession and dislocation before the mass exodus from Palestine began” – so the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 was really no big deal (“One Hundred Years of Social Change: The Creation of the Palestinian Refugee Probem,” in Laurence Silberstein (ed.), New Perspectives on Israeli History, 1991).

The Pravda ( NYT) story was written by two reporters who seem to have made a beeline for the newsroom from their bat mitzvahs. They quote Stein to the effect that Carter’s book is “replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions and simply invented segments”. I doubt there’s much to this. Most of the background material is Carter’s reminiscences. Maybe he copied from Rosalyn’s diary (she was his note taker). Then Pravda reports that “a growing chorus of academics…have taken issue with the book”. Who do they name? Alan Dershowitz and David Makovsky. Makovsky is resident hack at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Israel Lobby’s “think”-tank.

Pravda saw no irony in citing Dershowitz’s expertise for a story on fabrication, falsification and plagiarism regarding a book on the Israel-Palestine conflict. As always, one can only be awed by the party discipline at our Pravda. It makes one positively wistful for the days when commissars quoted Stalin on linguistics.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN’s most recent book is Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history (University of California Press). His web site is www.NormanFinkelstein.com.



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