December 24th, 2009
11:19 AM ET
9 months ago

Carter asks Jewish community for forgiveness

 Jimmy Carter's comments on Israel over the years have proven controversial.
Jimmy Carter's comments on Israel over the years have proven controversial.

(CNN) – Former President Jimmy Carter – whose comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have drawn criticism from many Jewish leaders over the years - has written an open letter asking the Jewish community for forgiveness

"We must recognize Israel’s achievements under difficult circumstances, even as we strive in a positive way to help Israel continue to improve its relations with its Arab populations, but we must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel," Carter wrote in a letter provided to Jewish news service JTA. "As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so."

In Hebrew, "Al Het" is a plea for forgiveness. Traditionally, the term referred to the prayer offered on Yom Kippur asking God to forgive any sins committed against Him.

Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid” drew criticism from some in the Jewish community for language that seemed to place most of the blame for the continued Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel, and to compare the country’s settlement activities with South Africa’s historic apartheid policy.

In a JTA interview, the former president dismissed charges that the letter was released to coincide with his grandson Jason Carter’s prospective plan to enter politics.

The younger Carter is reportedly weighing a bid for the Georgia state Senate, to fill a seat that would open if incumbent David Adelman is confirmed as the new U.S. ambassador to Singapore.

"Jason has a district, the number of Jewish voters in it is only 2 percent," said the former president.

The title of his controversial book was not an assessment of the current situation, said Carter. It was, rather, his view of what might happen in the future if Israel’s policies were not altered. “I never intended or wanted to stigmatize the nation of Israel, even though I have disagreed with the settlement policy all the way back to the White House," he noted.


Filed under: Jimmy Carter
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Don in Grand Rapids, Mi

    This is just more proof that the American Left Wing, Liberal, Wackos that are in power now are bent on destroying free America and replacing it with a socialist, markist country for free loaders and illegal ailents that drain our resources and destroy our wealth. Odumwa will be a 1 term president just like Carter.

    December 24, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Rickster

    Old Jimmy is out and about and feeling pretty spry these days now that the mantle of "worst president ever" has been lifted off of his shoulders and placed squarely onto the girly little shoulders of Barry Obama.

    December 24, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. Mark H

    Former President Jimmy Carter, needs to quietly fade into the sunset and enjoy his golden retirement years. He generates too much attention and controversy for an ex president. It takes away from the good work he has done for Habitat for Humanity and international voting rights.

    December 24, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. Dan

    Regardless, he's still an idiot that needs to sit down and shut up.

    December 24, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. AJ

    Too little, too late.

    December 24, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. Jewish Republican

    Carter's problem is he still thinks of this in terms of the peace brokered between Israel and Egypt, two nations with a dislike for each other but were/are be better off respecting each others right to live side by side. Israel gave up 2/3rds of the land it controlled but it was the Sinai which was easier to politically for Begin to let go of (as compared to Netanyahu and the West Bank). The Israel and PA situation is very different. Carter's apology is irrelevant - he should accept the fact that he is irrelevant to this conflict (except when he swings his axe and creates a new wedge).

    December 24, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. butch

    This is absolutely pathetic. Carter should have to apologize for nothing. And if he really is doing this because his son is running and there is some issue with public image/jewish voters then its even MORE pathetic. I would love to know what the real reason was for his groveling apology. Absolutely pathetic.

    December 24, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Joe, Miami

    He still intends to let them have it when they think they can have their cake and eat it too, meaning they think they can build settlements in areas outside of their legally recognized borders and that it won't enrage anyone. Only Carter makes the statement that that is wrong. I applaud him for it. The Arabs haven't been very smart, but let's not let Israel off the hook because it's one sided and won't achieve peace.

    December 24, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. emsnews

    Next, let's apologize the the Germans for running the Nuremberg Trials. After all, ethnic cleansing is now totally OK with the US. Next: the US engages in its own ethnic cleansing.

    December 24, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. don trigg

    As an American catholic, I find Carter's apology to the jewish people inadequate for his years of bigotry. He has been a force for evil and harm for too long.

    December 24, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  11. Bob Bani

    No appology was necessary.

    I have great respect for President Carter.
    The man stood up and expressed what is on everyones mind: Plain and simple, Isreal uses disproportionate force (helicopter gunships firing misiles into civilian populations, vs. rocks and home made mortar rockets fired from Gaza/West Bank) to terrorize the Palestinian population.

    They should stop building settlements on disputed lands, and sit down to have a genuine conversation regarding future state status negotiations. Now is the time to put it all behind a start a partnership towards peace.

    December 24, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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