Jimmy Carter AP
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, Oct 21, 2010. Photo by AP
Text size

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter continues to unfairly criticize Israel despite a recent announcement he would refrain from anti-Israel bias, Anti-Defamation League chief Abraham H. Foxman said in an open letter on Monday.

Late last year, the former U.S. president apologized to the American Jewish community for "stigmatizing Israel" in a letter published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and asked for forgiveness for his actions.

"We must recognize Israel's achievements under difficult circumstances, even as we strive in a positive way to help Israel continue to improve its relations with its Arab populations, but we must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel," Carter wrote

However, in a letter released on Monday, Foxman questioned the sincerity of Carter's apology, claiming the former president had again exposed his anti-Israel bias during a recent trip to the Middle East, claiming that "by any objective measurement, Mr. Carter has gone back on his public word to the Jewish community not to stigmatize the Jewish state."

"On Mr. Carter’s most recent visit to the Middle East his actions and comments were so problematic that one would hardly have known that he had publicly expressed contrition only months before," Foxman said, adding that Carter "used extreme pejorative language that cast Israel in a bad light."

"Visiting Damascus, he told the media that the residents of Gaza 'are held in a cage or prison while their human rights are taken away,' the ADL chief added, claiming th majority and intensity of his criticisms during his visit to the region were directed at Israel."

Responding to Carter's criticism of Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, Foxman said that the "blockade of Gaza was deemed illegal and an obstacle to peace and the fact that Hamas remains a terrorist entity committed to Israel’s destruction was not mentioned while he called for its involvement in peace negotiations."
"And he ignored the challenges facing Israel in the form of the long history of terror and rockets coming out of Gaza," Foxman said.

Referring to Carter's apology last year to the U.S. Jewish community, the ADL chief wondered whether "his statement of last December mere puffery or, even worse, was he pandering to Jews because his grandson was running for state office in Georgia?"
"Each is possible, but I think there’s something deeper going on that is more insidious," Foxman said, adding that "It takes not only a statement of commitment but, critically, a change in one’s thinking. Unfortunately, Mr. Carter’s worldview works against Israel and leads to the bias we have seen time and again."

"It is sad," Foxman said, concluding that he didn't. "regret keeping an open mind last December. In the end, however, as difficult and sensitive as it may be to condemn an ex-president who won the Nobel Peace Prize, we will have to continue to do so when appropriate so that his biased views don’t take hold even more profoundly than they already have."