ATLANTA — Fourteen members of an advisory board to Jimmy Carter’s human rights organization resigned Thursday to protest his new book, which criticizes Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories.
The resignations from The Carter Center board are the latest backlash against the former president’s book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” which has drawn fire from Jewish groups, been attacked by fellow Democrats and led to the resignation last month of Kenneth Stein, a center fellow and a longtime Carter adviser.
“You have clearly abandoned your historic role of broker in favor of becoming an advocate for one side,” the departing members of the Center’s Board of Councilors told Carter in their letter of resignation.
The 200-member board is responsible for building public support for the Carter Center. It is not the organization’s governing board.
The board’s members “are not engaged in implementing work of the Center,” Carter Center Executive Director John Hardman said Thursday in a news release.
Blame all around, but mostly of Israeli policy
Deanna Congileo, a spokeswoman for Carter and the center, issued Hardman’s statement in response to The Associated Press’ request for comment from Carter.
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 United States and others, but it is most critical of Israeli policy.
Steve Berman, an Atlanta real estate developer among those who resigned, said members have “watched with great dismay” as Carter defended the book, especially as he implied that Americans might be afraid to discuss the conflict in fear of a powerful Jewish lobby.
Berman said the religious affiliation of the resigning members, which include some prominent Jewish leaders in the Atlanta area, didn’t influence their decision.
The resignations came a day after Congileo and officials at Brandeis University said Carter will discuss the book at the Waltham, Mass., campus. The Nobel Peace Prize winner will not, however, debate the book with outspoken Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, as Brandeis originally proposed.
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