Updated at 4:30 p.m. with comments from former President Jimmy Carter:
Last December, former President Jimmy Carter offered up an “Al Het” – a confession and plea for forgiveness – for his past statements about Israel.
The Al Het was the result of a years’ worth of negotiations, initiated by leaders of the Atlanta Jewish community.
But it was a quick endorsement by Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, that gave Carter’s apology oomph in the world at large.
Over the weekend, Foxman took back his endorsement, and declared Carter’s Al Het to be insincere. A speech in Atlanta by Carter, given last week during a conference on U.S.-Arab relations was the cause.
“As far as I’m concerned, there is no ‘Al Het,’ ” Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director, said in the statement, referring to Carter’s evocation of a prayer for forgiveness said on Yom Kippur. “President Carter’s recent comments on Israel are profoundly disappointing and leave little doubt of the insincerity of his apology.”
Carter accused the U.S. of being “much more attuned to the sensitivities of the Israelis” and of having “yielded excessively to the circumstances in the Holy Land as Israel has confiscated several lands within Palestine.” He also called the Obama administration’s shuttle diplomacy efforts “feeble.”
The following statement from Carter was issued this afternoon:
I regret the recent allegation by Mr. Abe Foxman that I have contradicted my former statement of good will toward Israel. For the past thirty years, my foremost commitment in foreign affairs has been to help bring peace to Israel and its neighbors.
I have never stigmatized the nation of Israel when I was president and negotiating intently with Prime Minister Begin to bring peace with Egypt, when I wrote my three books about the Middle East peace process, or when I have made statements about the same subject.
However, I have often disagreed both privately and publicly with some of the policies of Mr. Begin and other Israeli leaders concerning the mistreatment of Palestinians and the confiscation of their land. Many other leaders and citizens of Israel and the United States have done the same – in the interests of peace.
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