Presidents Ford and Carter: A Stark Juxtaposition

Two historic trends collided during the funeral in Grand Rapids, MI for former President Gerald R. Ford.  Both had to do with Israel, and both were embodied in the person of former President Jimmy Carter.  Those trends are:  the process that led to the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty and the campaign to delegitimize Israel in the international community.

As many retrospectives of the Ford Presidency have mentioned, when he took office in 1974, the United States was still feeling the effects of the "energy crisis," caused by the OPEC oil embargo.  The stated justification for this embargo was to protest America's support of Israel in the 1973 October War.  Although Israel won that war, it was commonly understood as a loss, especially in the Arab world.  Israel was surprised by the initial attack, and questions of mishandling of the war ensued, leading to Prime Minister Golda Meir's fall. 

This Arab "victory" over the mighty Israeli Defense forces rectified the bruised Arab honor, allowing then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to forge a peace with Israel.  We now know that President Ford was instrumental in facilitating a final armistice to the 1973 war that led to the historic Camp David Accords in 1979.

While the process of Israel's normalization within the Middle East began at this time, it was also during the Ford Administration that the process toward delegitimizing Israel's existence was crystallized in the form of the infamous "Zionism = racism" resolution, adopted by the UN in 1975. This resolution created an equation, however false, that became an established "truth" in the international community and among post-colonial states.  Indeed, even though the United Nations General Assembly rescinded the resolution in 1991, the idea that Zionism is somehow a racist movement continues to dominate the international scene to this day. 

One reason for this equation was that Israeli diplomats and officials did not define themselves to the outside world.  They did not finish the sentence "Israel is ....."  That vacuum was filled by Palestinians, who defined Israel as racist, illegitimate, and antithetical to peace.

In fact, the most prominent purveyor of the idea that somehow the Jewish People's basic human right to self-determination (the real definition of Zionism) is not legitimate is none other than President Carter, Ford's successor.  While Carter presided over the negotiations that led to the peace treaty, since the end of his presidency, he consistently has criticized Israel publicly for utilizing its right to self-defense.

Now, former President Carter has done what the Palestinians could not do in the international community: cement the idea that Israeli policies are "apartheid."  To give him credit, Carter is simply continuing to work his long-standing, narrow-focused, blinders-over-the-eyes analytical skills.  He has been a master of taking a snapshot of a situation, and making policy decisions and judgments without regard to history, context or consequences.

In reality, Israel has moved beyond. Today, Israel enjoys a burgeoning economy, and is a critical part of the international economic and technological revolution, having many start-up companies, R&D facilities, and 75 publicly traded companies on the NASDAQ exchange.  Companies such as Motorola and IBM and Intel have important facilities in Israel. Israel received $4 billion in international investment last year, including major investments by US financier Warren Buffett.

Israel also continues to be a leader in medicine, desertification issues, and water use technology.   Those same post-colonial countries that adhered to the Zionism = racism ideology in the 1970's and 1980's benefited from Israeli know-how in training doctors, nurses and public health officials.  Israel also consulted with various African and Asian countries on everything from agricultural development to hospice care to security.  Once Israeli officials began defining the state of Israel themselves, and stopped allowing the Palestinians and Arab states to define the Jewish State for them, the African and Asian countries became less hostile. 

However, President Carter is attempting to roll-back the clock.  The normalization that began under his predecessor today includes a peace treaty with Jordan, as well as with Egypt, and a myriad of treaties and commitments with the Palestinians.  Israel enjoys business relationships with the Gulf Arab States and various levels of relations with other countries in the Muslim world.  Israel has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, moved its forces out of Lebanon, and offered to re-configure its settlements in the West Bank.  

Still, Carter has accepted the Palestinians' all-or-nothing strategy, going so far as to re-define the meaning of UN Resolution 242.  That resolution, which is the basis for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, states that Israel should give back "territory."  Carter has adopted the interpretation that reinforces a false mutual exclusivity between Israeli and Palestinian sovereignty - that UNSC Res. 242 means "all territory" acquired by Israel in 1967. 

But, that is not the most nefarious part of his book.  By entitling it Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, former President Carter gives credence to the idea that Israel's Jewish government must be overturned in favor of a Palestinian government.  This was the message of Zionism = Racism in 1975.  It was the clarion call of the non-governmental conference at Durban, South Africa as part of the World Conference Against Racism.  And, it continues to be the goal of the peace-rejecting Palestinian groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade.

The juxtaposition could not be starker.  Former President Ford worked toward a real peace in the Middle East.  He was the champion of Jackson-Vanick, the bill that made human rights a cornerstone to US relations with the Soviet Union and made the human rights of Jews part of his foreign policy with the USSR.  In his understated way, he made real advancements for Jewish human rights.  In contrast, President Carter - now the oldest living former president and the Democrat party's elder statesman - never misses an opportunity to criticize Israel publicly.  He champions the most radical form of Palestinian propaganda - one that envisions two Palestinian states in the Middle East.  

American policy makers and pundits would be well-served to highlight the example of former President Ford's quiet, well-informed diplomacy, while rejecting Carter's ill-willed propaganda campaign that seeks the eradication of the Jewish State in Israel.

Amy D. Goldstein has over 15 years experience in politics and advocacy, directing policy formulation for organizations in Washington, New York, and internationally.
Two historic trends collided during the funeral in Grand Rapids, MI for former President Gerald R. Ford.  Both had to do with Israel, and both were embodied in the person of former President Jimmy Carter.  Those trends are:  the process that led to the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty and the campaign to delegitimize Israel in the international community.

As many retrospectives of the Ford Presidency have mentioned, when he took office in 1974, the United States was still feeling the effects of the "energy crisis," caused by the OPEC oil embargo.  The stated justification for this embargo was to protest America's support of Israel in the 1973 October War.  Although Israel won that war, it was commonly understood as a loss, especially in the Arab world.  Israel was surprised by the initial attack, and questions of mishandling of the war ensued, leading to Prime Minister Golda Meir's fall. 

This Arab "victory" over the mighty Israeli Defense forces rectified the bruised Arab honor, allowing then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to forge a peace with Israel.  We now know that President Ford was instrumental in facilitating a final armistice to the 1973 war that led to the historic Camp David Accords in 1979.

While the process of Israel's normalization within the Middle East began at this time, it was also during the Ford Administration that the process toward delegitimizing Israel's existence was crystallized in the form of the infamous "Zionism = racism" resolution, adopted by the UN in 1975. This resolution created an equation, however false, that became an established "truth" in the international community and among post-colonial states.  Indeed, even though the United Nations General Assembly rescinded the resolution in 1991, the idea that Zionism is somehow a racist movement continues to dominate the international scene to this day. 

One reason for this equation was that Israeli diplomats and officials did not define themselves to the outside world.  They did not finish the sentence "Israel is ....."  That vacuum was filled by Palestinians, who defined Israel as racist, illegitimate, and antithetical to peace.

In fact, the most prominent purveyor of the idea that somehow the Jewish People's basic human right to self-determination (the real definition of Zionism) is not legitimate is none other than President Carter, Ford's successor.  While Carter presided over the negotiations that led to the peace treaty, since the end of his presidency, he consistently has criticized Israel publicly for utilizing its right to self-defense.

Now, former President Carter has done what the Palestinians could not do in the international community: cement the idea that Israeli policies are "apartheid."  To give him credit, Carter is simply continuing to work his long-standing, narrow-focused, blinders-over-the-eyes analytical skills.  He has been a master of taking a snapshot of a situation, and making policy decisions and judgments without regard to history, context or consequences.

In reality, Israel has moved beyond. Today, Israel enjoys a burgeoning economy, and is a critical part of the international economic and technological revolution, having many start-up companies, R&D facilities, and 75 publicly traded companies on the NASDAQ exchange.  Companies such as Motorola and IBM and Intel have important facilities in Israel. Israel received $4 billion in international investment last year, including major investments by US financier Warren Buffett.

Israel also continues to be a leader in medicine, desertification issues, and water use technology.   Those same post-colonial countries that adhered to the Zionism = racism ideology in the 1970's and 1980's benefited from Israeli know-how in training doctors, nurses and public health officials.  Israel also consulted with various African and Asian countries on everything from agricultural development to hospice care to security.  Once Israeli officials began defining the state of Israel themselves, and stopped allowing the Palestinians and Arab states to define the Jewish State for them, the African and Asian countries became less hostile. 

However, President Carter is attempting to roll-back the clock.  The normalization that began under his predecessor today includes a peace treaty with Jordan, as well as with Egypt, and a myriad of treaties and commitments with the Palestinians.  Israel enjoys business relationships with the Gulf Arab States and various levels of relations with other countries in the Muslim world.  Israel has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, moved its forces out of Lebanon, and offered to re-configure its settlements in the West Bank.  

Still, Carter has accepted the Palestinians' all-or-nothing strategy, going so far as to re-define the meaning of UN Resolution 242.  That resolution, which is the basis for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, states that Israel should give back "territory."  Carter has adopted the interpretation that reinforces a false mutual exclusivity between Israeli and Palestinian sovereignty - that UNSC Res. 242 means "all territory" acquired by Israel in 1967. 

But, that is not the most nefarious part of his book.  By entitling it Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, former President Carter gives credence to the idea that Israel's Jewish government must be overturned in favor of a Palestinian government.  This was the message of Zionism = Racism in 1975.  It was the clarion call of the non-governmental conference at Durban, South Africa as part of the World Conference Against Racism.  And, it continues to be the goal of the peace-rejecting Palestinian groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade.

The juxtaposition could not be starker.  Former President Ford worked toward a real peace in the Middle East.  He was the champion of Jackson-Vanick, the bill that made human rights a cornerstone to US relations with the Soviet Union and made the human rights of Jews part of his foreign policy with the USSR.  In his understated way, he made real advancements for Jewish human rights.  In contrast, President Carter - now the oldest living former president and the Democrat party's elder statesman - never misses an opportunity to criticize Israel publicly.  He champions the most radical form of Palestinian propaganda - one that envisions two Palestinian states in the Middle East.  

American policy makers and pundits would be well-served to highlight the example of former President Ford's quiet, well-informed diplomacy, while rejecting Carter's ill-willed propaganda campaign that seeks the eradication of the Jewish State in Israel.

Amy D. Goldstein has over 15 years experience in politics and advocacy, directing policy formulation for organizations in Washington, New York, and internationally.