There is a parable about a man who went to his rabbi asking for forgiveness for having spoken slanderous gossip. The rabbi tells the man to go home, cut open his pillows, and scatter the feathers to the wind. The man does so and returns to the rabbi, who tells him to go out, gatehr all the feathers, and stuff them back into the pillows. "But that's impossible," says the man, "those feathers have spread everywhere by now." The rabbi responds, "so are words of malicious gossip - once they're out, they can't be gathered back." So it is with Mr. Carter's words. The damage is done.
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from the article: Jimmy Carter to U.S. Jews: Forgive me for stigmatizing Israel