January 18, 2007

Correcting Carter's 242 Distortion

From Correcting Carter's 242 Distortion:

Jimmy Carter's error-ridden new book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid includes myriad untrue statements of a kind newspapers routinely correct.

Carter writes on p. 57: "The 1949 armistice demarcation lines became the borders of the new nation of Israel and were accepted by Israel and the United States, and recognized officially by the United Nations."

This is false. The "1949 armistice" lines did not become the "accepted" borders of Israel. Nor did Camp David and Oslo specify a withdrawal to these alleged borders.

Carter writes on p. 215 that "[An option for Israel is] withdrawal to the 1967 border specified in UN Resolution 242 and as promised in the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Agreement."

Yet Britain's Lord Caradon, who introduced the resolution on November 22, 1967, after months of discussion in the wake of the Six-Day War, has explicitly emphasized the very opposite of Carter's claims: "We knew that the boundaries of '67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers; they were a cease-fire line of a couple decades earlier. We did not say the '67 boundaries must be forever."

Other publications that have made the same error, suggesting Resolution 242 calls for Israel's return to the pre-1967 armistice lines, have corrected it. The New York Times, during the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations at Camp David in the summer of 2000, did so three times, published three corrections, and has not repeated the error.

Carter writes on p. 62: "The Israelis have never granted any appreciable autonomy to the Palestinians."

But after 1993 and the Oslo agreements, Palestinians achieved "appreciable autonomy," attaining control of political, civic, security, medical and media institutions and gaining all of Gaza and 40% of the West Bank.

So pervasive is Carter's antipathy toward Israel that any expectation of redress of the factual errors by the author himself is clearly futile.

The question is why a publisher such as Simon and Schuster should be exempt from fact-checking a book billed and sold as non-fiction history - and from issuing forthright corrections when such serious errors have been printed.

The writer is Executive Director of CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.