Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jimmy Carter's Mideast book and its provocations

Letter to the Editor
Boston Globe
December 19, 2006

YOU WRITE that former president Jimmy Carter's use of the word "apartheid" in the title of his new book is "irresponsibly provocative" ("Jimmy Carter vs. Jimmy Carter," editorial, Dec. 16). This would make for a rather puzzling list of "irresponsibly provocative" commentators on the Israel-Palestine conflict. For example, a study by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem concluded: "Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime . . . is reminiscent of . . . the apartheid regime in South Africa." The roster of irresponsible provocateurs would also include the editorial board of Israel's leading newspaper Haaretz, which observed in September that "the apartheid regime in the territories remains intact; millions of Palestinians are living without rights, freedom of movement or a livelihood, under the yoke of ongoing Israeli occupation."

Indeed, the list apparently includes former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Pointing to his "fixation with Bantustans," Israeli researcher Gershom Gorenberg concluded in 2003 that it is "no accident" that Sharon's plan for the West Bank "bears a striking resemblance to the 'grand apartheid' promoted by the old South African regime." Sharon reportedly stated around that time that "the Bantustan model was the most appropriate solution to the conflict."

NORMAN G. FINKELSTEIN
Chicago

The writer is a political science professor at DePaul University.

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