Public Comment

Commentary: Mud-Slinging Against Carter is Disgusting

By Joseph E. Lifschutz
Tuesday January 23, 2007

We owe a debt of gratitude for Dan Spitzer’s contribution to the Carter book debate. But not in the way he supposes. He represents the typical conservative position. His letter is full of generalizations and non-specific attacks. Where is the evidence? Saying that Carter misrepresents Security Council resolutions is not evidence. How does he misrepresent? Merely saying so and faithfully quoting authority is not enough. His authorities represent the neo-con, pro-Israel Lobby line. Their Israel ally is the extreme reactionary wing of the Likud Party, led by Netanyahu. Mud slinging against our honorable former President is disgusting. 

I believe, as President Carter does, that the numerous U.N. resolutions since 1947 establishing a two-state (Israel and Palestine) solution must be implemented. My own views are as follows: 

I write as a Jew, a dedicated Zionist active in support of Israel from before its establishment by the U.N. in 1947. I believe in Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people. I also believe in Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people. 

In 1947 the U.N. partitioned Palestine into two parts, what was supposed to be a sovereign Palestinian part and a sovereign Israel part. A number of wars soon followed. The surrounding Arab states tried to destroy the nascent Jewish Israel in wars in 1947, 1956 and 1967. Israel won them all and occupied the entire area west of the Jordan, the Israeli part and the Palestinian part. To this day there is no Palestinian state. Until only a few years ago every prime minister opposed the two-state solution, which some but all Israelis grudgingly accept. And until very recently many permanent Jewish settlements were established in the U.N.-designated Palestinian territory, now called the West Bank. Extreme opinion in Israel led by religious orthodoxy claims all of Israel-Palestine as God-given to the Jewish people. 

But to the Palestinians fighting for their own homeland, and to all the Arabs, the Jewish settlements in the West Bank have become an abscess in the body politic, growing and poisoning the Middle Eastern atmosphere. It has only been very recently that the Israeli government seems ready to address this central problem. Leaving Gaza was a necessary first step but the West Bank is much larger than Gaza.  

Every Muslim militant in the world for the past 40 years has had the Israeli presence in the West Bank as ground for their stated wish to destroy Israel. But Israel has given them ample, and in my mind justified, reason to hate Israel.  

Israel has no legal or moral right to undermine the establishment of an independent state of Palestine. It has no right to occupy any of the West Bank. Israel must be made to see that it is nurturing this abscess in the body politic in the name of settlements. 

I believe a beginning of peace in the Middle East will happen with the exodus of all Jews from the West Bank into Israel and not before. The justification for Islamic hatred for Israel would disappear. The entire world would applaud and support such action. 

The United States has supported Israel with grants and loans of billions of dollars annually since its founding;. Through quiet but real diplomacy lsrael must be told that all West Bank settlements be closed and Jews removed to their homeland. The United States has the power to demand such a resolution of the problems in the region. Financial support should not be automatic. If the American government really means that a new approach is needed to get on the road to permanent peace, nothing would exemplify this new approach more than demanding that Israel must give up its immoral and illegal occupation of a foreign country. 

This will take courage and determination on the part of the United States as well as of Israel. It’s time for a change of direction. 


Joseph E Lifschutz is a retired UC Berkeley clinical professor of health and medical sciences and an El Sobrante resident.