Friday, December 15, 2006

The greatness of Jimmy Carter

Oh, you've got to love this: Jimmy Carter refuses to debate with Alan Dershowitz. I don't blame him -- the whole thing seems like a setup, and even though Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky have crushed Dershowitz in the past, the man is a professional lia lawyer. But it's Carter's reasoning that really makes me happy. From the Boston Globe:

"I don't want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz," Carter said. "There is no need to for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."

Get that? Dershowitz knows nothing about the situation in Palestine.

This is obvious if one reads either Dershowitz's The Case for Israel or his later The Case for Peace, both of which use blanket statements condemning Palestinian behavior but show no evidence of subtlety, much less of an attempt to understand the people or a concern with the actual victims of Israeli policies.

Dershowitz, of course, has berated Finkelstein for his lack of real-world experience, claiming "This is a man who until recently had never been to Israel." But I wonder if Dershowitz has ever been to Gaza? (This criticism is beside the point, by the way, both because Finkelstein has lived in the occupied territories and published a very good book about his time there, and because one does not have to have lived somewhere to have thoughts about it.)

Carter's response reminds me of why creationists often "win" debates with actual scientists conducted in the public sphere, even though the facts are on the side of science (and, in this case, on the side of Carter). The person on the other side (creationist or Dershowitz) has no obligation to the truth, but only to winning. Meanwhile, subtle, committed, inquiring thinkers look ambivalent because they actually want to explain their thinking. Read the screed (.pdf) Dershowitz wrote in response to Finkelstein, and you'll see what I mean.

Anyway, good for Carter: he's not taking the bait.


LanceThruster said...

That quote is one for the ages.

Red Tulips said...

I am glad that you posted this. It shows you support for the shonda known as Norm Finkelstein.

Please don't pretend you want peace if you support this travesty of a human being.

You are fooling no one but yourself.