Sunday, December 17, 2006

Former President Carter blames media's 'pro-Israel bias' on AIPAC and 'Christians like me'

In a letter addressed to Jewish citizens of America, former President Jimmy Carter explains the media's "pro-Israel bias" partly on a powerful lobbying organization which faces no "significant countervailing voices," but primarily puts the blame on "Christians like me."

Carter's recently published book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, has caused a "stir," which was "partly intentional," the former president told Newsweek.

"One of the purposes of the book was to provoke discussion, which is very rarely heard in this country, and to open up some possibility that we could rejuvenate or restart the peace talks in Israel that have been absent for six years—so that was the purpose of the book," Carter told Newsweek's Eleanor Clift.

Carter also told the magazine that the "effectiveness" and "powerful influence" of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has resulted in more "inhibited" debates in the United States than nearly anywhere else.

"In this country, any sort of debate back and forth, any sort of incisive editorial comment in the major newspapers, is almost completely absent," Carter said.

"And any member of Congress who's looking to be re-elected couldn't possibly say that they would take a balanced position between Israel and the Palestinians, or that they would insist on Israel withdrawing to international borders, or that they would dedicate themselves to protect human rights of Palestinians—it's very likely that they would not be re-elected," Carter added.

In the letter addressed to American Jews, Carter also includes Christians like himself for limiting the debate.

"I made it clear that I have never claimed that American Jews control the news media, but reiterated that the overwhelming bias for Israel comes from among Christians like me who have been taught since childhood to honor and protect God's chosen people from among whom came our own savior, Jesus Christ," Carter writes.

"An additional factor, especially in the political arena, is the powerful influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is exercising its legitimate goal of explaining the current policies of Israel's government and arousing maximum support in our country," Carter continues.

"There are no significant countervailing voices," Carter regrets.

Full text of Carter's letter:

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