One doesn’t need a law degree to know the adage, “sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me.” All kids know this, and that “names” can consist of many kinds of words, which can hurt too. Words can even kill.
How is it possible, then, that Yeshiva University’s Cardozo law school does not know that in honoring Jimmy Carter with its’ International Advocate for Peace Award, it honors someone whose words are repugnant, and whose support of Hamas sanctions the most vile anti Semitism in our day, if not encouraging murder? What an especially troubling coincidence that they choose to do so within a week of an Israeli court convicting an Arab terrorist of murder for throwing rocks at a passing car, killing a 25 year old American-Israeli Jewish man, and his infant son.
Forgetting his failed presidency, how any academic institution could bestow honors on a man like Carter who knowingly omits facts and twists others to make a case against Israel that has more lies than Swiss cheese has holes is beyond the imagination. All the more shocking is that the latest institution to bestow these honors is one steeped in Jewish tradition, a tradition anchored in law and honesty, and in which the nuance and meaning of words mean the world.
While I never studied at YU or Cardozo, I did study at Emory, home of the Carter Center, Jimmy Carter’s presidency in exile. I got to see and experience Jimmy Carter up close on a number of occasions, as a student and alumnus. While on the surface he projected a deep interest to bring peace to the Middle East, not far below the surface, his anti Israel animosity was palpable. Today, it’s out in the open.
While I never experienced it myself, other fellow students recalled and recounted statements Carter made that were bordering on overt anti Semitism. Whether this is a product of his animosity toward Israel in general, and Menachem Begin (and others) in specific, or of his unique brand of replacement theology-laced Christianity is anyone’s guess.
Any student with any serious knowledge of the Middle East taught to think critically would be strained not to see his anti Israel bias.
One of my professors at Emory, Dr. Ken Stein, who knows the Middle East like the back of his hand and whose attention to every detail and nuance regarding the teaching the Middle East was instilled in his students, observed about Carter’s libelous book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” that, “It contains egregious errors of both commission and omission. To suit his desired ends, he manipulates information, redefines facts, and exaggerates conclusions. Falsehoods, when repeated and backed by the prestige of Carter’s credentials, can comprise an erroneous baseline for shaping and reinforcing attitudes and policymaking. Rather than bring peace, they can further fuel hostilities, encourage retrenchment, and hamper peacemaking.”
Of course, my professor is more diplomatic than I am. Basically, Jimmy Carter is a liar. It’s too bad nobody at Yeshiva University or its esteemed law school did their due diligence in bestowing an award on Carter as an “advocate of peace.”
A book is made up of many individual words and each word has its precise role in the author leading the reader to his or her conclusion. As the People of the Book, Jews know something about this. As a law school under Jewish auspices, this should be sacred.
In that regard, did anyone at YU or Cardozo read the section of Carter’s book where he sanctions terrorism against Israelis? Carter is clear, and deliberate, when he writes, “It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel.” Rather than decrying Arab and Islamic terrorism, Carter actually sanctions terrorism against Israelis, albeit based on Carter’s own twisted and dishonest version of reality.
Words do matter. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to incite terrorism and murder, or, to borrow a legal analogy, to set fire to a crowded theater.
Honoring Jimmy Carter as an advocate of peace is egregious in any case. For an institution supposedly steeped in Jewish law and tradition to do so brings the definition of a Court Jew to a new low. Rather than honoring Carter, Cardozo and its’ students should research a legal precedent, or establish a new one, to bring charges against a person who sanctions terrorism and murder the way Carter does. If a basketball player can get an assist in a basket, surely the same principle must apply in assisting (aiding, abetting and encouraging) terrorists.
Cardozo law school’s motto is “bringing law to life.” By honoring Jimmy Carter, Cardozo pays tribute to a man who celebrates and uplifts those who exist to murder Jews, and sanctions their right to do so. Shame.