A veteran Middle East scholar affiliated with the Carter Center in Atlanta resigned his position there Monday in an escalating controversy over former president Jimmy Carter’s bestselling book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” traces the ups and downs of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process beginning with Carter’s 1977-1980 presidency and the historic peace accord he negotiated between Israel and Egypt and continuing to the present. Although it apportions blame to Israel, the Palestinians and outside parties – including the United States – for the failure of decades of peace efforts, it is sharply critical of Israeli policy and concludes that “Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land.”
Kenneth W. Stein, a professor at Emory University, accused Carter of factual errors, omissions and plagiarism in the book. “Being a former President does not give one a unique privilege to invent information,” Stein wrote in a harshly worded e-mail to friends and colleagues explaining his resignation as the center’s Middle East fellow.
Carter’s position on the Israel/Palestine conflict, while welcome, is hardly controversial. The fact that American establishment figures don’t want to acknowledge the reality of Israeli occupation policy says more about them than Carter himself.