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Carter misrepresents the facts

Published: January 26, 2007
Section: Opinions


In an attempt to be upstanding citizens, we must educate ourselves about the great problems facing the world. One of them is the Israeli-Arab conflict, which Mr. Carters visit this week addressed. This conflict is one with a long history, which many have tried to place within a historical context in an attempt to understand how it can be solved. For the majority of modern Israels existence, the prevailing theory has been in terms of the Cold War, with Israel supported by the U.S. and the Arabs by the U.S.S.R.

As the Cold War drew to a close in the late twentieth century, many in the West mistakenly thought that the conflicts that they believed were manifestations of the Cold War (including the Israeli-Arab conflict) would melt away as their sponsors stowed away their angry faces. For a few years, this seemed like it would happen. As Fukuyama predicted the end of history, the Jordanians made peace with Israel, America quickly stopped Iraqi imperialism in Kuwait, and secret channels opened in Oslo. Today, Fukuyama has retracted his claims, and it appears that we have not entered the new world order that many dreamt would come with the end of Communism.

Mr. Carter still seems both to be stuck in the past and to have his head stuck in the sand. He was a Cold Warrior, bringing a peace between Israel and Egypt that has never quite warmed up as one might have hoped. While he is qualified to write about the conflict, one would think that his area of expertise would be in the Israel-Egypt peace agreement and not the Palestinians. There are many true statements in his book, but he misrepresents the facts as well as the history. His book is riddled with factual errors, both of omission and outright lies, and his analysis is simplistic and leads to conclusions that distort reality.

One of the problems that many today, including Mr. Carter, have when considering the Arab-Israeli conflict is that they still base their thinking on old Cold War-era assumptions. Mr. Carter seems to be part of a cohort who still have not realized that just as understanding of the Israeli-Arab conflict shifted from a function of World War II (with manythough not allArabs, including al-Husseini, the Grand Muffti of Jerusalem and Yasser Arafats uncle, supporting the Nazis, and Jews supporting the Allies for obvious reasons) to a function of the Cold War, this conflict has once again morphed to match the great conflicts of our times. Today, the Israeli-Arab conflict has been realigned against Iranian imperialist aspirations, not only in the Middle East, but also in the greater world scene.

Contrary to Mr. Carters assertions, today it is not Israel who seeks to perpetuate the conflict, as Israels reiterated peace offers show, but the Iranians and their Syrian allies who seek to nurture the conflict through support of the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist organizations. Through the support of Iran and Syria, Hamas has already taken over the Palestinian government, and Hizbullah aims to do the same in Lebanon. By fueling the conflict, Iran and Syria aim to both provide a scapegoat for their citizens and talking points to increase their soft power currency in the Middle East. Perhaps Mr. Ahmadinejad should stop projecting his own imperialist goals onto the Jews;

instead of imagining about a world without Zionism, he should imagine one in which Jews and Muslims both live in peace and both have the right to express their own national aspirations.

One of the many reasons we came to Brandeis was to learn how to become educated human beings. While most of us will probably not end up as academics, the academic skills we practice here will serve us in the future. When we graduate, the critical way in which we conducted our research at schoolin which we considered not only all the facts, but also the credibility of our sources and additionally all possible interpretations of those facts in a rational manner that holds up under firewill be what differentiates us from others who hold false opinions. Why not start today? Hundreds of guests come to Brandeis every year to perform, speak, and generate positive discussion. Not all are academics, and for that reason they shouldnt all be held to an academic standard because they are not purporting to be academics. As for Mr. Carter, who is not an academic even though he heads an academic center at Emory University, I am not sure to what standard he holds himself in his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. I am very happy that he visited our campus and provided yet another view on the situation in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza. I am excited that we will be continuing this discussion in an open and courteous manner. However, as educated human beings and members of the university community, we should hold to a high standard both ourselves and the views to which we subscribe. That standard should be that of truth, honesty, and reason, and when we consider what both Mr. Carter and our fellow students have to say, we should settle for no less.