Carter and Ford: an exchange

I am a frequent reader and admirer of American Thinker and I circulate many of your outstanding postings to a large e-mail list I maintain.

I am afraid that Ms. Goldstein's zeal [in "Presidents Ford and Carter: A Stark Juxtaposition"] to demonstrate that Jimmy Carter has done, and, continues to do, severe damage to Israel, leads her to some rather ahistorical conclusions.

President Ford, aided and abetted by his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger actually turned Israel's come from behind victory in 1973 into a political defeat. Then Prime Minister Rabin was harassed into accepting negotiations on Sadat's terms. In fact, Ford actually issued a crude threat to Rabin that there would be a "reassessment" of America-Israel relations if Rabin did not accede. Kissinger, his chosen secretary of state, already had a spotted history with respect to Israel, faulted, although it is not conclusively proven, for having withheld crucial supplies from Israel during the 1973 War.

She is right that the "Zionism is Racism" UN resolution was enacted during the Ford administration, but omits the fact that despite the anti resolution rhetoric of the Ford administration, the United States did not veto a UN decision to offer the PLO a permanent seat as observer in the Security Council only months later.

In fact, and most ironically, Jimmy Carter taunted Gerald Ford in the Presidential debates of 1976 for "scapegoating" Israel.

Ms. Goldstein claims "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." In fact it was because of Mr. Ford's "facilitation" that Sadat went to Jerusalem not as a defeated antagonist, but rather as an unapologetic head of state who issued demands for a total return of the Sinai as well as negotiations for the future of the  West Bank which had absolutely nothing to do with Egypt. Under the relentless badgering by Jimmy Carter, Begin relented.

The outcome that Ms. Goldstein sees from all this is:

"The normalization that began under ( Ford) 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  Israel has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, moved its forces out of Lebanon, and offered to re-configure its settlements in the West Bank."

I'm not sure what news Ms. Goldstein hears, reads or sees. Egypt has flouted every single paragraph of the Camp David Treaties; its government controlled press is the most anti-Semitic in the Arab word ...and we know that bar is very high; Egypt supplies weapons to terrorists in Gaza who continue to fire upon and terrorize Israel's civilians; Egypt hosted a recent "conference" on the Holocaust which simply reiterated Iran's denials.

Furthermore, while it is true that Israel has offered to "reconfigure" its settlements (read surrender) and Gaza has been abandoned, the result has been chaos and a deadly barrage of rockets from Gaza, ordered by none other than the "moderate" president, the terrorist, Holocaust denier Abu Mazen, aka Mahmoud Abbas aka Mr. Olmert's "partner for peace."

One thing Ms. Goldstein is right about when she states: "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." 

She might have used the words "Two Arab Palestinian states in the Mideast" since Jordan is geographically and historically Arab Palestine as Israel is Jewish Palestine.

Yours truly,

Ruth King  


Amy Goldstein responds:

Thank your for taking the time to read my article and write your respone.  It is clear that you are passionate about your support for the state of Israel.  I believe that we agree on former President Carter's record on Israel.

However, in outlining the difference between former American Presidents Ford and Carter, we must remember that the Arab world needed a victory -- even if it only was a politcial or symbolic one -- in order to make peace with Israel.  That's not something that can be dictated by either Israel or the United States ... it's just the way it is.  When presented with the opportunity to "make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" the Ford Administration took it.  Thus, Israel's military victory was turned into something that could be used for the greater good ... the first peace treaty with and Arab country.

Anwar Sadat remains the only Arab leader to recognize Israel's capital in Jerusalem.  Israeli governmental officials, whether from the left or right of the political spectrum agree that they prefer even a cold peace with Egypt.  While relations certainly are not ideal (I never make that claim in the article), it was an historic milestone that led to other milestones.  We must remember that one does not make peace with friends,  but with enemies ... sometimes sworn enemies.  Many Israeli diplomats, including the current Permanent Representative to the United Nations Daniel Gillerman, are fond of saying that no Arab leader is going to become a Zionist.  That would be an unrealistic expectation.

In the end, it is for the Israeli people and its democratically elected government to decide whether or not to negotiate with its closest neighbors, or to give back territory. 

As for the UN resolution equating Zionism with Racism, there was a long process of several attempts by the rejectionist states in the United Nations to secure passage of such a resolution in various UN fora.  It was not support of the resolution, but a neglect of the United Nations in general, especially the General Assembly (that does not pass binding resolutions), that led to the passage of the resolution.  There is plenty of blame to go around, not just leveled at the American administration, but also the American Jewish community and the Israeli government, whose attitude toward the UN until very recently has been "uum-schmoom", or "the UN, it's nothing."  The U.S. Jewish community's advocacy did not speak to the values or issues of import to the international community (such as self-determination for the Jewish people is not mutually exclusive to Palesitnian self-determination), but simply stated that the resolution was anti-Semitic.  While true, that statement was meaningless inside the UN's halls.  Israel's once inspiring story needed to be re-vamped in order to address the international community's changing values.  Luckily, Israel's diplomats have started to do just that at the United Nations.

Unfortunately, we can netiher turn back time nor can we change the history and culture of the people in the Middle East.  We must simply learn the lessons of our past mistakes, attempt to prevent making them again, and work within the parameters that are presented to us at the time.

While no person or President is perfect, President Ford's actions on behalf of the Jewish people (including the Helsinki Accords) during his presidency, and then his grace to stay out of the public debate afterwards, continues to be a stark contrast to the actions of his successor -- both during and after his tenure.


Amy D. Goldstein
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