By Robert Fisk
"I call it the Alice in Wonderland effect. Each time I tour the United States, I stare through the looking glass at the faraway region in which I live and work for The Independent - the Middle East - and see a landscape which I do no recognise, a distant tragedy turned, here in America, into a farce of hypocrisy and banality and barefaced lies. Am I the Cheshire Cat? Or the Mad Hatter?.......
........Needless to say, the American press and television largely ignored the appearance of this eminently sensible book - until the usual Israeli lobbyists began to scream abuse at poor old Jimmy Carter, albeit that he was the architect of the longest lasting peace treaty between Israel and an Arab neighbour - Egypt - secured with the famous 1978 Camp David accords. The New York Times ("All the News That's Fit to Print", ho! ho!) then felt free to tell its readers that Carter had stirred "furore among Jews" with his use of the word "apartheid". The ex-president replied by mildly (and rightly) pointing out that Israeli lobbyists had produced among US editorial boards a "reluctance to criticise the Israeli government".
Typical of the dirt thrown at Carter was the comment by Michael Kinsley in The New York Times (of course) that Carter "is comparing Israel to the former white racist government of South Africa". This was followed by a vicious statement from Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who said that the reason Carter gave for writing this book "is this shameless, shameful canard that the Jews control the debate in this country, especially when it comes to the media. What makes this serious is that he's not just another pundit, and he's not just another analyst. He is a former president of the United States".
But well, yes, that's the point, isn't it? This is no tract by a Harvard professor on the power of the lobby. It's an honourable, honest account by a friend of Israel as well as the Arabs who just happens to be a fine American ex-statesman. Which is why Carter's book is now a best-seller - and applause here, by the way, for the great American public that bought the book instead of believing Mr Foxman.
But in this context, why, I wonder, didn't The New York Times and the other gutless mainstream newspapers in the United States mention Israel's cosy relationship with that very racist apartheid regime in South Africa which Carter is not supposed to mention in his book? Didn't Israel have a wealthy diamond trade with sanctioned, racist South Africa? Didn't Israel have a fruitful and deep military relationship with that racist regime? Am I dreaming, looking-glass-like, when I recall that in April of 1976, Prime Minister John Vorster of South Africa - one of the architects of this vile Nazi-like system of apartheid - paid a state visit to Israel and was honoured with an official reception from Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, war hero Moshe Dayan and future Nobel prize-winner Yitzhak Rabin? This of course, certainly did not become part of the great American debate on Carter's book.......
........The clue to all this nonsense, I discovered, comes at the back of the report where it lists the "experts" consulted by Messrs Baker, Hamilton and the rest. Many of them are pillars of the Brookings Institution and there is Thomas Freedman of The New York Times.........."