Op-Ed: Carter: Not the New Anti-Semitism, It's the Older Kind
This article was co-authored by Ilya Feoktistov
The Yeshiva University’s Cardozo Law School is facing a fire storm of protest for honoring former President Jimmy Carter because of Carter’s animus towards Israel. But who they indeed may be about to honor is an old fashioned anti-Semite.
As decades-old tapes from his Church Sunday school lessons reveal, former President Jimmy Carter’s bias against the Jewish state may come more from an old fashioned Christian animus toward Judaism than from concerns over the situation of Palestinians. Carter taught Christian students in Plains, Georgia that Judaism teaches Jews to feel superior to non-Jews, that Jewish religious practices are tricks to enhance wealth, and that current Israeli policy toward Palestinians is based on these “Jewish” values and practices.
In a series of sermons Carter recorded between 1999 and 2003 that were published as a CD set by Simon and Schuster called “Sunday Mornings in Plains,” Carter attacks modern Israel by retreading ancient anti-Semitic tropes that go back to the early church fathers and the Judaism/Christianity schism that gave birth to a millennia of Christian persecution of Jews.
(For a thorough discussion of the emergence and analysis of these tapes, see Phyllis Chessler.)
Here are salient examples.
1. Jews hate and feel superior to non-Jews: In the tapes, one hears -- in Southern drawl -- his ancient animus: Jews hate non-Jews:
“…this morning I’m gonna be trying to relate the assigned Bible lesson to us in the Uniformed Series with how that affected Israel and how it affects us through Christ personally… It’s hard for us to even visualize the prejudice against gentiles when Christ came on earth. If a Jew married a gentile, that person was considered to be dead. … How would you characterize from a Jew’s point of view the uncircumcised? Non believer? And what? Unclean, what? They called them DOGS! That’s true. … What was Paul’s feeling toward gentiles in his early life as a Jewish leader? [Paul was not a Jewish leader. Ed.] Anybody? Absolute commitment to persecution! To the imprisonment and even the execution of non-Jews who now professed faith in Jesus Christ. … We know the differences in the Middle East. But the differences there are between Jews on the one hand who comprise the dominating force both militarily and also politically and the Palestinians who are both Muslim and Christians. …”
2. Jewish ritual sacrifice is a dodge that relieves one from taking care of one’s parents, while preserving one’s wealth:
“Corban was a uh prayer that could be performed by usually a man in an endorsed ceremony by the Pharisees that you could say in effect, ‘God, everything that I own all these sheep all these goats this nice house and the money that I have, I dedicate to you, to God.’ And from then on according to the Pharisees law those riches didn’t belong to that person anymore. They were whose? God’s! So as long as those riches were belonged to the person, that person was supposed to share them with needy parents right? But once it was God’s it wasn’t theirs and they didn’t have anything to share with their parents. So with impunity, and approved by the Pharisaic law, they could avoid taking care of their needy parents by a trick that had been evolved by the incorrect and improper interpretation of the law primarily designed by religious leaders to benefit whom? The rich folks! The powerful people! Because the poor man wouldn’t have all of this stuff to give to God. He would probably, in fact he might very well have his parents in the house with him or still be living with his own parents.”
3. Carter ties this Jewish feelings of superiority and religious malevolence to current Israeli policy:
“One reason is that the Israeli government headed now by Netanyahu has to depend on the ultra-right or fundamentalist Jews to give them a majority in the parliament which they call the Knesset, and the recent resignation of foreign minister Levy has left Netanyahu with only one vote margin in the parliament. So the ultra-conservative Jewish leaders demand always that they have total control over anything that relates to religion inside Israel, in particular in Jerusalem. Well, I’m not here to condemn anyone but to point out that even within ourselves, there is an inclination for, I’d say, a feeling of superiority. Wouldn’t you think so? Would you agree? I know I have it.”
Carter’s beef with the Jews is not simply a disagreement over how Israel should treat the Palestinians. His is a deep theological hatred of the type that most Christians (including the Vatican in the 1960s Nostra Aetate) have long disavowed. This is not the“new anti-Semitism: it’s the old. All the more indefensible for an orthodox Jewish religious institution to give this man an award.
Please take 2 minutes out of your busy schedules to express your concern to the Dean of Cardozo and President of Yeshiva University.
Professor Matthew Diller, Dean of Cardozo: Tel - 212-790-0310; Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Richard Joel, President of Yeshiva University: Tel - 212 960 5300;
Charles Jacobs is President of Americans for Peace and Tolerance (www.peaceandtolerance.org) Ilya Feoktistov is APT's Director of Research.