In the wake of Jimmy Carter’s inaccurate and unbalanced book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, several commentators have tried to identify the source of our worst ex-president’s virulent dislike of the Jewish state. A piece in the Weekly Standard (which I don’t think is available online) adopted an economic explanation, pointing out how Carter and his interests have been funded for decades by Arab sources.
Today, Michael Oren provides a religious explanation. Although nearly all leading American fundamentalist Christian leaders have little but praise for Israel, Carter “seems to have a religious problem” with it. According to Oren, Carter is unhappy that “Israel is not the reincarnation of ancient Judea but a modern, largely temporal democracy.” He also “reproves contemporary Israelis for allegedly mistreating the Samaritans–‘the same complaint heard by Jesus almost two thousand years earlier’–and for pilfering water from the Jordan River, ‘where . . . Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist.'” Indeed, as journalist Jeffrey Goldberg has argued, the theological purpose of Carter’s book appears to be “convince American Evangelicals to reconsider their support for Israel.”
Economic explanations should rarely be dismissed out-of-hand, and there’s no doubt that Carter tries to make a religious case against Israel. However, I think what’s required to understand why he makes that case is a psychological explanation — one that would unify his hatred of Isreal and his benign feelings towards anti-American dictatorships around the world.
JOHN agrees: Carter’s hatred of Israel isn’t a special case; he has terrible taste in governments all around the world.
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