Former President Jimmy Carter has been granted a prime-time speaking slot at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, despite objections from liberal Jewish groups over his history of anti-Israel activism.
The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Tuesday that Carter would address the convention by video on Sept. 4.
"A lifelong champion of human rights and investments in education and energy to spur economic development, President Carter will provide unique insight into President Obama’s ability to move our country forward and why we need his vision and leadership for a second term," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the 2012 convention chairman, said in a statement.
Both the National Jewish Democratic Council and Anti-Defamation League Director Abraham Foxman criticized Carter’s convention role in comments to Commentary Magazine.
“He is flawed, he’s got an obsession with Israel, a biased obsession that borders on anti-Semitism,” said Foxman. “So that’s not somebody I think should grace the podium of a national convention.”
Foxman added that Carter probably lobbied organizers for the speaking role, putting the DNC in an awkward position, according to Commentary Magazine’s Alana Goodman.
“I don’t think he deserves to be there, except it’s hard to refuse a platform to a former living president especially when he asks for it,” said Foxman.
“When it comes to Israel and the Middle East, President Carter has unfortunately embarrassed himself — as his analysis and commentary has been stubbornly wrong, harmful to the peace process, and getting worse all the time,” NJDC President and CEO David Harris wrote in an e-mail to Commentary Magazine. “I’m confident that he won’t be speaking to the Party about Middle East policy.”
However, while Harris and Foxman both expect Carter to stay away from Middle East issues in his speech, the DNC has indicated otherwise, saying that Carter will address “unique insights about President Obama as a global leader.”
The DNC also called the former president, who has supported conspiratorial theories about the Israel lobby, “one of the greatest humanitarian leaders of our time and a champion of democracy around the globe.”