got to admire Jimmy Carter. No matter how wrong he is, no matter how
many times he is refuted, no matter how inane his ramblings, he just
keeps on coming back for more. Forget the fact that he was eviscerated
in a landslide election where the American people overwhelmingly voted
to shoo him from the presidency. And forget the fact that historians
and the public rate him as arguably the worst president of all time.
Carter doesn’t seem to have gotten the message. We’re stuck with him
forever. He just won’t go away.
Most recently Carter shared his
penetrating insight that opposition to President Obama is fueled by
racism. Obama himself disagreed with the great oracle from Plains. More
importantly, Obama’s biggest critics still like him a lot more than the
ex-President, even though Jimmy is a white man.
But leaving aside that inconvenient fact for a moment, it seems
incredible that Carter would accuse Obama’s critics of racism when
around the world Carter is perceived to be an anti-Semite. His nonstop
criticism of Israel as an apartheid state and his refusal to
acknowledge Israel’s right to defend itself – he has accused Israel of
atrocities in Gaza while not leveling similar criticism at the Hamas
terror organization which rained incessant missiles on Israeli families
- has confirmed in the minds of many that Carter just has a bit of a
problem with the Jewish state.
But I for one have never bought it.
Carter, I have argued, is not so much an anti-Semite as, what Lenin
famously called, ‘a useful idiot,’ his mistake being to always side
with the weaker party in a conflict notwithstanding their immorality.
Let us never forget that the Carter Administration tried to seat the
exiled Khmer Rouge as the rightful government of Cambodia even though
they slaughtered one out of three Cambodians. For Carter, weakness was
itself a sign of righteousness.
I grew up in the United States during the 1970′s when we danced to
disco music, wore leisure suits, and watched the Brady Bunch. But as if
that weren’t torture enough, we had Jimmy Carter as president. I can
still recall how depressing it was to watch his taciturn face
announcing one catastrophe after another, from the skyrocketing misery
index, to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, to the capture of our
hostages in Iran, to the tragically botched rescue attempt to free
them. Fortune did not smile on Jimmy Carter and he was, poor thing,
hapless at everything he touched.
But Carter’s biggest failing was to be bereft of a moral compass. To
be sure, his heart wished to do good. It’s just that his head was often
confused as to what the good was. Throughout his career he invariably
found himself defending tyrants and dictators at the expense of their
oppressed peoples, not because he was an insensitive man but rather
because he was a confused man.
Carter always subscribed to what my friend Michael Scroccaro calls
‘Underdogma,’ a knew-jerk reaction to champion the cause of the
underdog however immoral. Poverty dictates virtue and weakness dictates
righteousness. So, if the Israelis have jetfighters and the
Palestinians only Katyushas then that must necessarily mean that the
Israelis are the guilty party.
Carter’s obsession underdog obsession is what motivated him to
legitimize Fidel Castro and take his side in a bio-weapons dispute with
the United States and to praise North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung with
the words: “I find him to be vigorous, intelligent,…and in charge of
the decisions about this country.” Carter added absurdly, “I don’t see
that they [the North Koreans] are an outlaw nation.” He also hailed
Marshal Joseph Tito as “a man who believes in human rights,” and said
of murderous Romanian dictator Nicolas Ceausescu, “Our goals are the
same: to have a just system of economics and politics . . . We believe
in enhancing human rights.” Carter also told Haitian dictator Raul
Cédras that he was “ashamed of what my country has done to your
country,” which made most Americans ashamed of Jimmy Carter.
From all this I concluded that Jimmy Carter was not anti-Semite so
much as a man hopelessly naïve and utterly lacking in moral judgment.
Truly, a well-meaning idiot.
To be sure, I received a great deal of criticism from informed and
intelligent readers who told me I was the one who hopelessly naïve.
Jimmy Carter was a glaring anti-Semite. Was I blinded by my own theory?
Therefore, when Carter said in 2006 that Israel’s policies in the
West Bank were actually worse than apartheid South Africa, I began to
question whether my readers were right. When he followed up in his 2009
book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” that due to “powerful
political, economic, and religious forces in the U.S., Israeli
government decisions are rarely questioned or condemned, voices from
Jerusalem dominate our media,” I said to myself anyone who rolls out
the old Jews-control-the-world theory probably is an anti-Semite. And
then the clincher seemed to be Carter’s recent pronouncement that “the
key factor that prevents peace is the continuing building of Israeli
settlements in Palestine, driven by a determined minority of Israelis
who desire to occupy and colonize east Jerusalem and the West Bank.”
You mean Palestinian terrorism, Arab aversion to democracy, and sixty
years of Arab wars to annihilate Israel had nothing to do with the
absence of peace? Surely this man was a bigot! And yet, something
inside told me that Carter did not harbor any unnatural hostility to
I was therefore delighted to chance upon Prof. Alan Dershowitz’s
outstanding series of articles detailing the millions of dollars of
known funding that Carter has personally and institutionally taken from
leading Arab sources, including Saudi King Fahd, the now-defunct BCCI
bank that was controlled indirectly the Saudi royal family, Shiekh
Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, and Agha Hasan Abedi, among others. These
millions, some of which even went to bail-out the Carter family peanut
business in the late 1970′s, finally vindicated my earlier theory.
Jimmy Carter is not an anti-Semite. He is simply a man with a price.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the founder of This World: The Values
Network. His newest book is ‘The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon
Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation.’ http://www.shmuley.com