Thursday, December 14, 2006


Emory professor Kenneth Stein has described what he thinks to be inaccuracies in Jimmy Carter's new book cited below. Honestly, I am not convinced. I don't doubt that the book might be inaccurate in certain ways. But Stein's objections seem to be related to factual accuracy, concerning dates, exact words etc. In most cases, I don't see however how this makes the book detract from its implications. For example, consider the following criticism:

"In his book, Carter writes that the resolution says, "Israel must withdraw from occupied territories" it acquired by force during the Six-Day War in 1967 between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

But the word "must" never appears in the actual U.N. resolution text."

But here's what the actual UN resolution 242 says:

"The fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force"

The resolution does not explicity use the word "must", but it clearly still says that a lasting peace in the Middle East requires the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the conflict. Even if Carter used the wrong wording, how does it change the meaning of the assertion?

Another instance of Stein's criticism is more interesting:

"Carter writes that the accords called for "the dismantling of [Israeli] settlements on Egyptian land." But the accords never actually refer to the settlements. In fact, the Israeli leader at the time, Menachem Begin, was so opposed to discussing the issue that he wouldn't have signed any document mentioning them"

This clearly shows the obduracy of the Israeli administration. In exposing one of Carter's inadequacies, Stein actually alerts us to one of Israel it seems!

Later, Stein also says that Carter botched up a few dates. For example, he misplaces the date of Golda Meir's retirement by one month.

All this criticism implies at most that Carter's detailing of history has been sloppy at places. This sloppiness can be corrected in later editions. But that by itself hardly lends credence to Stein's pointed condemnation of the book as being "replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments".

Stein's interview is here. Interestingly, he outlined his criticisms in a class. That's disconcerting. If the criticism was so important, why didn't he disclose it directly in a press conference for example?

Unless I hear something more, I am disinclined to believe Stein's specific criticism of Carter's book.

P.S. How timely can things be?! A friend of mine gifted me Carter's book for Christmas yesterday


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