December 24th, 2009
11:19 AM ET
4 years 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. dean

    Jimmy should sit back,relax and enjoy his golden years and mind his on business a little more.

    December 24, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. Tweek

    Carter is a former President, and he's entitled to his own opinion. Why should he have to ask anyone's "forgiveness" for expressing it?

    December 24, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. Artie

    What an incompetent naive old democrat! A prime example of what is in charge of America today! Any one afraid ?

    December 24, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Apologize all you want, Jimmy. You're still the worst president in American history.

    December 24, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. D. Tree

    As far as I'm concerned, both Israel AND Palestine deserve a heap of blame in all of this. Clearly neither country has been able to stop the decades of war between their two countries, and it has America and the rest of the world at risk as a result.

    December 24, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. Democrats make me puke

    Puh-leeze....Carter has always been a racist, anti- Semite...maybe he has found out he does not have long to live and this is some kind of "death bed" apology....not buying it Mr. Peanut...go back to your global cooling theory.....

    December 24, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  7. Don't believe you Jimmy.....

    you've been against Israel and Jews for the past 30 years. Why the change now? Did someone tell you to do the White House?
    You are not believable.

    December 24, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  8. ralph malph

    I really don't see the need for an apology. What President Carter has said throughout the years were perfectly honest. I think the world knows this, but not too many public figures are courageous enough to go out on a limb. Keep speaking the truth and continue to use your platform to make the world a better place.

    December 24, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  9. Dan, TX

    Hey ex-president, you are a discard. Your apology is too late. You have already caused confusion and damage to both Israel and to the world. You are a hypocrite. Get lost.

    December 24, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    An offered apology, so long as it is sincere, is an opportunity to be the bigger man by he who accepts it. I like Jimmy. I think he's sincere. I'm murky as to the timing of the apology, but what the heck, in the spirit of the season I say accept it and move on.

    December 24, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  11. Reformed Republican

    Sorry Jimma – ain't buyin' it....

    You fundamentalist evangelicals think you can go around stabbing people in the back then ask for forgiveness and everything is gonna be fine.

    Doesn't work that way in the "real" world, only in the delusional world of you born agains...

    December 24, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. lovable liberal

    CNN questions Jimmy Carter's motives, despite decades of honesty and sincerity. Why doesn't it ever question Dick Cheney's, based on a career of lies and deception?

    December 24, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  13. Mike

    Carter needs to stick to building homes with Habitat for Humanity. He should just shut up about everything else.

    December 24, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  14. Tim

    When will he apologize for being president?

    December 24, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Thank you Pres.Carter. The Lord is very pleased.

    December 24, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  16. New Yorker

    And maybe he should also ask them to forgive him and Obama for their blunders as they lead us closer to communism under a fascist government. How about the Mao image hanging on the White House Christmas tree?

    December 24, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  17. Darlee Roach

    Thank you Pres. Carter. The God of us all is pleaed. You help promote the signficance of God Jerusalem in God's end-time purposes.

    December 24, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  18. unemployed by Obama

    Whats the matter Carter, getting old and now want salavation and forgiveness, maybe from others, but you havent proven to me that you are worthy of forgiveness.

    December 24, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  19. GOP = "I hope he fails"

    It's a little sad that one has to ask for forgiveness for offering a objective point of view on the Israeli/Palistinian conflict. I personally believe that the Palistenians bear more of the blame than the Israelis, however BOTH ARE TO BLAME. It's sad that a public official must ask for forgiveness after pointing nothing more than that.

    December 24, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. Joel

    Carter has always been a closet anti-semite. He has always been 1 step away from being a holocaust denier. It is laughable that he asks for forgiveness without retracting the statements he has made in the past. How about with drawing that travesty of a book you wrote and then asking for forgiveness?

    December 24, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  21. NVa Native

    Carter is an imperfect person (who has never said otherwise) who has done many great and unselfish things for the benefit of many others in the US and all over the world.
    He is one of the few in public service who found and spoke off finding his strength in his faith while not making a mockery of it. A true patriot and humanitarian who is rightly admired by many here in the US and around the world.
    Thank you President Carter for your life time (so far) of heroic public service.

    December 24, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  22. Jon

    Presidents Carter and Obama share the same presidential qualities; both being naive, one-side wish-wash, and weak. Both try to blame America and Israel first, both bow and apologize to our present and past enemies around the world. However, our enemies continue to hate America, liberty and democracy.

    December 24, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. Gary

    Yeah sure....Carter has been anti-semetic and anti-isreali for years. Now his son is running for office and he wants us to believe his opinions changed? Doubt it.

    December 24, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  24. John Castlehoff

    Jimmy go home and take your medicine. Your opinions are no longer welcome in this world.

    December 24, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  25. worstpresident

    Carter's apology is far too late. And while the % of Jews in his grandson's district is small, there are no doubt MANY evangelical Christians would, after Jimmy Carter's libelous slurs against Israel, would never vote for anyone from that family the same way many would never vote for a relative of Richard Nixon's.

    Fortunately Carter's legacy as one of the worst presidents in the modern era is well cemented.

    December 24, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
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