If one picture is worth a thousand words, then the cover of Jimmy Carter's new book, Palestine - Peace, Not Apartheid will sear a damning image of Israel into the consciousness of anyone who walks into a bookstore.
The book's cover shows a thoughtful and obviously troubled Jimmy Carter, who believes that he is the moral voice of all those who suffer human rights indignities, overlooking the security wall Israel has built, with thousands of Palestinians protesting in front of it.
It is difficult not to draw the "obvious" conclusion - the Israeli wall is equal to the Warsaw Ghetto wall. Carter equates the wall with the ethnic cleansing of Arabs.
What a warped sense of history, past and present; what a blatant abuse of our sensibilities. I look at the cover - as I did on a recent visit to the US - and ask myself, would it not have been far more appropriate had Carter, instead of superimposing his own humble presence over the wall, superimposed a replica of the hundreds of memorial plaques that dot Israeli bus stops, restaurants, supermarkets, malls and synagogues where Palestinian suicide bombers carried out their acts of murder?
The security fence did not come about in a vacuum. Would any country in the world do differently if going out of the house meant that its citizens played Russian roulette with their lives?
It is amazing how one can start out with what seems like a perfectly logical formula and misapply it so that it becomes a ridiculous piece of mischievous nonsense. Carter's political theme is that "things equal to the same thing are equal to each other."
Granted that Nazis, white supremacist South Africans and Israeli Jews are all members of the human race, but they are not interchangeable. To hint at such a possibility is not only intellectually dishonest, but cruelly justifying of suicide bombers.
Apartheid, aptly applied at one time to South Africa and Zimbabwe - as well as to the United States at various times in history - has no historical accuracy when applied to the Israeli-Palestinian reality.
THE ARAB nations rejected the United Nation's 1947 two-state solution; and today there is a continued rejection of Israel as a legitimate state, not only by Hamas, but by Hizbullah and Iran - all committed to Israel's destruction.
Therefore, we are not talking about one country, Israel, where citizens are denied basic rights, but of one country, Israel, with rights for all its citizens, and one aspiring Palestinian nation, trying to cast off the yoke of Israeli occupation by means so brutal that they defy the human imagination (an aspiring nation that has so far displayed no semblance of human rights or democracy). This is not apartheid.
As an Israeli human rights activist (I was a founder of Rabbis for Human Rights), I not only oppose the occupation, but the excesses that ensue from it. My operative position is that if all Israelis are not guilty for the reprehensible behavior of the Israeli government and its army toward the Palestinian population, then we are all responsible. This view should cut both ways.
Citizens who vote for Hamas whose charter is anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic should expect repercussions, especially when that charter is realized through continual acts of terror.
Let me point out to Carter and other well-intended liberals throughout the Western world, both secular and religious, Jewish and non-Jewish, we are dealing with unspeakable actions on the part of Arabs not only toward Jews, but toward each other - with nary a word from any respectable Arab leader denouncing Arab atrocities.
I KNOW that this is politically incorrect, especially coming from a civil rights advocate, but we are talking about craziness. Whoever heard of going into a home and shooting at point-blank range a three year old and a five year old in the head? But, let's not confine ourselves to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
How does the American occupation of Iraq justify Sunnis drilling holes into the hearts of Shi'ites, chopping off their heads, stuffing their genitals into their mouths, raping and torturing by the thousands - and vice versa?
Sudan, Bosnia, Chad, Somalia, Afghanistan - need I go on? Let's return to the Middle East - the late King Hussein of Jordan slaughtered 3,000-5,000 Palestinians in Black September of 1970; the late Hafez Assad of Syria massacred 10,000-25,000 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982.
In Gaza today, right now, are not Palestinians killing Palestinians?
And Carter dares to accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing by constructing a barrier - in some places a wall - to protect its citizens from such madness! Despite Carter's perfunctory statements about Arab intransigence and terrorist tactics, for him the blame for the present conflict between Israelis and the Palestinians lies almost exclusively with Israel.
The barrier is a necessary evil, which unfairly impinges on some of the elemental rights of the Palestinians. But that is a far cry from endorsing apartheid. Indeed, by using such a loaded term, enforced by that indelible image on his book's cover, Carter is purposefully providing a great measure of both respectability for and acceptability of the Muslim world's drive to wipe the Jewish state off the face of the globe.
Postscript: No footnotes accompany Carter's book, making it possible for him to impugn opinion as facts.