Carter defends book on Israel conflict

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January 21, 2007 01:59

Says criticism hasn't weakened resolve, maintains book is "accurate, needed."

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Former President Jimmy Carter said Saturday that the storm of criticism he has faced for his recent book has not weakened his resolve for fair treatment of Israelis and Palestinians. "I have been called a liar," Carter said at a town hall meeting on the second day of a three-day symposium on his presidency at the University of Georgia. "I have been called an anti-Semite," he said. "I have been called a bigot. I have been called a plagiarist. I have been called a coward. Those kind of accusations, they concern me, but they don't detract from the fact the book is accurate and is needed." Following the publication of the book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," 14 members of an advisory board to his Carter Center resigned in protest. Those former board members and other critics contend the book is unfairly critical of Israel. "Not one of the critics of my book has contradicted any of the basic premises ... that is, the horrible persecution and oppression of the Palestinian people, and secondly that the formula for finding peace in the Middle East already exists," the 82-year-old Carter said. Carter said he was pleased the book has stimulated discussion of an issue that has been "omitted from the public consciousness" for at least the last six years. "Israel needs peace, and the Palestinian people need peace and justice, and I hope my limited influence will help to precipitate some steps," he said. The three-day conference was arranged to mark the 30th anniversary of Carter's 1977 inauguration.


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