Israeli MK: Jews "indebted" to Carter; Israelis yawn...

Distinguished Israeli politician and peacemaker Yossi Beilin weighed in on the Carter affair in The Forward today, noting, with a touch of envy, that the Carter book has barely warranted a wince in the Israeli discourse.

Claiming that the Israeli threshold for criticism is much higher than ours, Beilin writes:

what Carter says in his book about the Israeli occupation and our treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories — and perhaps no less important, how he says it — is entirely harmonious with the kind of criticism that Israelis themselves voice about their own country. There is nothing in the criticism that Carter has for Israel that has not been said by Israelis themselves.
Of Carter himself, Beilin echoes Michael Lerner's contention that he's "the best friend the Jews ever had as president of the United States," writing of the historic -- and lasting -- peace treaty brokered with Egypt in 1978 that: "Every Israeli, and every Jew to whom the destiny of Israel is important, is indebted to Carter for breaking the ring of hostility that had choked Israel for more than 30 years."

In a heartfelt passage Beilin is forced to "painfully" agree with much of the former president's analysis, disagreeing only with "the choice of language," namely: Apartheid.

But Beilin gives him credit nevertheless for using an imprecise term where no existing term would do. "Occupation," he says, "is too antiseptic a term, and does not capture the social, cultural and humanitarian dimensions of our actions."

American critics have tended to read "Apartheid" in the most literal possible sense (sensing a tender spot), as opposed to the more general comparisons to a South Africa with a significant number of second-class citizens which ultimately became a pariah.

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