Message to Cardozo Law School of Yeshiva University (YU) for honoring former President Jimmy Carter

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Cardozo Law School of Yeshiva University (YU) is set to give its International Advocate for Peace Award to former President Jimmy Carter, author of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Carter’s anti-Semitic record as well as acrimonious feelings towards Israel are well documented which should raise even more concerns why YU a school that attracts so many Jews would make this choice.

To start with the lesser known persistent record of anti-Semitic statements, decades-old tapes from his Church Sunday school lessons reveal, Jimmy Carter’s bias against the Jewish state may come more from an old fashioned Christian animus toward Judaism than from concerns over the situation of Palestinians. Carter taught Christian students in Plains Georgia that Judaism teaches Jews to feel superior to non-Jews, that Jewish religious practices are tricks to enhance wealth, and that current Israeli policy toward Palestinians is based on these “Jewish” values and practices.

In a series of sermons Carter recorded between 1999 and 2003 that were published as a CD set by Simon and Schuster called “Sunday Mornings in Plains,” Carter attacks modern Israel by retreading ancient anti-Semitic tropes that go back to the early church fathers and the Judaism/Christianity schism that gave birth to a millennia of Christian persecution of Jews

Historically, Carter has embraced every Mideast terrorist leader and organization, from Yasser Arafat to Hamas, while showing contempt for democratically elected Israeli leaders.

His book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid has been proven to be more wishful thinking rather than a true historical account. Carter’s book left little to the imagination about what his view toward the conflict was, and who bore most of the responsibility for the ongoing frictions in the region. In a 2006 interview on National Public Radio, for instance, he repeated the lie that Israel had usurped Palestinian land and suggested that the current system in the occupied territories was tantamount to apartheid:

Professor Kenneth Stein of Emory University, who had been on the Carter Center board but eventually resigned over Carter’s increasing bias towards Israel, observed that “Carter’s twenty-first book and his second to focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict, is deficient. He does what no non-fiction author should ever do: He allows ideology or opinion to get in the way of facts. Further, Ambassador Dennis Ross, who was the chief architect of the Oslo Peace Accords and worked under George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, described the book as a rewriting and misrepresentation of history.

Carter’s has minimized the Holocaust and tends to only focus obsessively on the plight and political aspirations of the Palestinians.

Carter’s Center at Emory University has also been heavily subsidized by donations from what columnist Jacob Laksin called the “Arab Lobby,” including some of the benefactors whose gifts have, as noted, have reached other Middle East studies centers, as well. For instance, Laksin revealed that Carter, like Columbia, had accepted monies from the United Arab Emirates and its then-president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan. While Harvard’s Divinity School had decided in good conscience not to accept a gift from Zayed, Carter apparently had no moral qualms about the source of the donation from a known anti-Semite, since, as Laksin recounted, the former president “even traveled to the country to accept the Zayed International Prize for the Environment . . , [and] having claimed his $500,000 purse, Carter enthused that the ‘award has special significance for me because it is named for my personal friend, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nahyan.'”

Carter’s long and very evident record of bias against and actual hostility towards Israel,  as well as his  decades long anti-Semitic record, should lead all members of the Yeshiva University community to speak out against this misguided choice of this particular award recipient; it sets a morally-questionable precedent that should be rescinded. If the award cannot be withdrawn , then the administration should clearly distance itself from the award and Carter, and should make it clear it does not morally support the choice of the former president as an award recipient.

A group of alumni have established a website that reflects the positions of a diverse body of Cardozo alumni.

We therefore urge you to prevail upon the administration and rescind the honor that Cardozo intends to bestow upon Jimmy Carter. We believe this is one of the most important decisions that you will make during your tenure as a member of the Board and we hope that you will not make it lightly, that you will balance the competing values with which you are presented in the context of the history of the Jewish people, and that you will uphold Cardozo’s mission and in fact bring wisdom to life. 

Consequently, we urge you to express your concern to the Dean of Cardozo and President of Yeshiva University. Contact details:

Professor Matthew Diller, Dean of Cardozo: Tel  212-790-0310; Email [email protected]

Professor Richard Joel, President of Yeshiva University: Tel 212- 960-5300; Email [email protected]

Message to Cardozo Law School of Yeshiva University (YU) for honoring former President Jimmy Carter

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