Barack Obama is bad for Israel, especially after the Iran nuclear deal. That is a given for many American Jews. The only American president they despise more, arguably, is Jimmy Carter, who at age 90 announced this week that he has metastasized cancer. When the 39th president leaves us, he will receive the usual glowing eulogies afforded ex-American presidents, yet many Jewish-Americans will listen through gritted teeth, recalling their strong suspicion that Carter was an anti-Semite. After all, during his long post-presidency Carter stood up for Palestinian rights with unseemly zeal, especially in his heretical 2006 book Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid.
For many American Jews, it’s hard to recall that it was also Carter who — through vision, hard work and indomitable will — forged a singular agreement that allowed Israel to keep peace with its Arab neighbors for nearly four decades and, more importantly, to use that halcyon time to advance economically and transcend the Arab nations in military and technological strength, creating a world where today Israel no longer has to fear a traditional military attack by any Arab enemy. That agreement, Carter’s 1979 Camp David accord with Egypt — one of the great triumphs of American diplomacy in the 20th century — saved Israel from the main existential threat that had shadowed the Jewish state since its founding in 1948. Does that sound like the legacy of anti-Semite?