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Carter: Criticism has led to more attention on Israeli policy
Carter critic
Jimmy Carter
ATLANTA — Former President Jimmy Carter says the criticism aimed at his latest book is a sign that its take on Israeli policy is generating more interest in the plight of the Palestinians.
    Carter said Monday he expected the backlash against his top-selling book, ‘‘Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,’’ which has been criticized by pro-Israel groups, attacked by fellow Democrats and led to the resignation last week of Kenneth Stein, a Carter Center fellow and a longtime Carter adviser.
    ‘‘The premise of this country concerning what’s going on in Palestine is so deeply ingrained, so deeply rooted that it’s not surprising to me that any contradiction of that has aroused a strong reaction,’’ he told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.
    Part of the reason, he said, is that Americans often see no counterbalance to pro-Israeli viewpoints in the news media.
    ‘‘All they really read or hear is really one-sided, where the Israeli point of view is put forward,’’ he said. ‘‘Very rarely do you see any expression or concern of the horrible plight of the Palestinians in their own land.’’
    The book follows the Israeli-Palestinian peace process starting with Carter’s 1977-1980 presidency and the peace accord he negotiated between Israel and Egypt. It doles out blame to Israel, the Palestinians, the U.S. and others, but it is most critical of Israeli policy.
    It has prompted an outcry among Jewish groups, who have blasted Carter’s use of the word ‘‘apartheid’’ — the legal system of racial segregation once used in South Africa — to describe the treatment of the Palestinian minority.
    Stein, an Emory University professor, sent a letter to Carter last week claiming the book was ‘‘one-sided’’ and riddled with errors and omissions. And Dennis Ross, a former U.S. envoy to the Middle East, said the former president copied maps from one of his books without proper attribution.
    Carter said Monday that Stein hadn’t played a role in the Carter Center in 13 years and that his post as a fellow was an honorary title. And he said the maps in his book were not taken from Ross, but from an atlas that ‘‘was done under contract of Swedish expert cartographers.’’
    ‘‘I never have known that Dennis Ross was a cartographer or a mapmaker,’’ he said. ‘‘I may very well have gotten the maps from a similar source. I never have seen Dennis Ross’ book.’’
    He said the path to peace in the Middle East — which he called the most important commitment of his public life — hinges on more open discussion over Israeli policy.
    ‘‘It’s an intensely debated issue in Israel and the rest of the world — except the United States,’’ he said. ‘‘But I think already my book has had some effect on the nation.’’
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    The Carter Center:
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