Within hours of Tuesday’s announcement that former President Jimmy Carter is going to address the Democratic National Convention, Jewish groups have begun lining up to protest the Democratic Party’s move. Though the speech will be pumped into the Charlotte venue via video, supporters of Israel are aghast the former president who has spent his years out of office promoting an anti-Israel agenda is being granted a prime time slot.
While President Obama has been trying to present himself as a champion of Israel in the hopes of maintaining the Jewish majority which supported him in 2008, Carter’s inclusion conveys a starkly different message. In 2006, Carter authored the book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid which made great strides in legitimizing the “apartheid” canard against Israel, even though most visitors to Israel immediately recognize the falsehood in comparing the Jewish state – which takes security precautions to protect itself from hostile neighbors – to South Africa.
The Executive Director of Christians United for Israel, David Brog tells TheBlaze:
It would be a tragedy for Israel to become a partisan issue in American politics. Yet prominent Democrats continue to take troubling steps away from our embattled ally. Highlighting former President Carter at the DNC is a big step in the wrong direction. I’m glad that some leading pro-Israel Democrats have already recognized this.
Alana Goodman of Commentary Magazine obtained quotes from both the National Jewish Democratic Council and the Anti-Defamation League which are criticizing the DNC’s choice. She writes:
“He is flawed, he’s got an obsession with Israel, a biased obsession that borders on anti-Semitism,” said [ADL national director Abraham] Foxman. “So that’s not somebody I think should grace the podium of a national convention.”
Foxman added that Carter probably lobbied organizers for the speaking role, putting the DNC in an awkward position. “I don’t think he deserves to be there, except it’s hard to refuse a platform to a former living president especially when he asks for it,” said Foxman.
NJDC President and CEO David Harris also unloaded on Carter in an emailed statement.
“When it comes to Israel and the Middle East, President Carter has unfortunately embarrassed himself — as his analysis and commentary has been stubbornly wrong, harmful to the peace process, and getting worse all the time,” said Harris. “I’m confident that he won’t be speaking to the Party about Middle East policy.”
Harris added: “I’d like to know if Senator Rand Paul will be spreading his views of the Middle East and foreign aid in Tampa.”
Jonathan Tobin, a prominent conservative Jewish columnist who is Senior Online Editor of Commentary Magazine, suggests the invitation to Carter could backfire on the Democrats:
Given how anxious the Democrats have been to portray themselves as unflinching allies of Israel this year, it is curious that they would allow Carter to speak at all in Charlotte, let alone in prime time. If the Obama campaign was looking to give Republicans an opportunity to highlight one of the most prominent foes of the Jewish State and link him to the president and the Democrats, they can do no better than honoring Carter in this manner. […]
In 2008, Jewish Democrats who were determined to brand Barack Obama as a friend of Israel were pleased by the decision on the part of convention organizers to give Carter as little honor as possible. The short shrift given the former president, was, as the Forward reported in August 2008, widely interpreted as an indication of the Obama campaign’s seriousness of purpose in competing for the Jewish vote.
It’s unknown if Carter will discuss the Middle East, but he will provide “unique insights about President Obama as a global leader,” according to a DNC statement. Carter’s apartheid libel doesn’t seem to be ruffling any feathers at the DNC. In its Tuesday statement announcing Carter’s address, DNC Chair Antonio Villaraigosa said, “President Carter is one of the greatest humanitarian leaders of our time and a champion of democracy around the globe.”
Criticism is coming not only from pro-Israel groups, but also those who believe the Carter choice sends other strong unspoken messages, no matter what he decides to say on September 4th. Townhall News Editor Katie Pavlich writes:
One of the worst presidents in United States history is set to address the DNC convention in Charlotte by video. Jimmy Carter, a president Barack Obama has been repeatedly compared to for failed economic policies, stances on Israel and for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, has been added to the agenda.
Carter was also the last Democratic president to lose a reelection – by a landslide to Ronald Reagan. Pavlich says that highlighting him at the convention “just seems like a really bad idea.”