WASHINGTON – Former President Jimmy Carter won't go unchallenged after his appearance next week at Brandeis University, where he is lecturing on his latest book about what he terms the Palestinian apartheid by Israel.
Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz will step on stage afterward to rebut the former president's remarks despite having been booted from an earlier booking to debate Carter on his assertions.
“I think the inaccuracies of Carter’s points have to be pointed out. Carter said he wrote the book in order to stimulate a debate, but he won’t debate. I’m debating him whether he’s there or not,” Dershowitz told FOXNews.com.
“If his chair is empty, then that’s his decision,” he said.
Dershowitz joins a growing pool of critics, including a longtime Carter aide, Jewish groups and academics who allege inaccuracies and distorted history in Carter's best-selling book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” The book has sold about 70,000 copies.
Carter recently accepted an invitation to speak on Tuesday at the nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored college near Boston after having cancelled an earlier invitation. He will talk for about 15 minutes and then take questions from the audience for 45 minutes.
The university agreed late Tuesday to allow Dershowitz to issue a rebuttal following Carter’s speech. An ad-hoc group of students helped facilitate the agreement after the debate plans were scrapped. Carter reportedly refused to debate Dershowitz because, he claimed, the Jewish law professor "knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."
Dershowitz won’t be allowed in the gymnasium during Carter’s appearance because it is limited to university students, faculty and staff, but he will watch it from somewhere else on campus, said Brandeis spokesman Dennis Nealon. The Shapiro Gymnasium holds about 1,700 people.
“Everybody feels this was a positive alternative,” Nealon said of the deal to have Dershowitz speak after Carter. Dershowitz will "be doing much like they do at the State of the Union. He’ll be able to offer an analysis.”
Dershowitz said he also plans to question why the former president and his Atlanta-based Carter Center accepted money from Arab donors. A review of the center's 2005 annual report shows more than $1 million each has been contributed by such benefactors as the government of the United Arab Emirates, Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said and Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Fund of the royal family in Saudi Arabia.
"I will accuse him of having had his silence on Arab human rights bought by Arab money," Dershowitz said.
Carter will be the first former president to speak at Brandeis since 1957, when Harry Truman delivered the commencement address.
His speech follows months of publicity surrounding the book. Last week, 14 members of the 200-member board at the Carter Center resigned over what they deemed inaccuracies and one-sidedness of the book that was published in the fall.
The book "portrays the conflict between Israel and her neighbors as a purely one-sided affair with Israel holding all the responsibility for resolving the conflict," reads the resignation letter. "In light of the publication of your latest book 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid' and your subsequent comments made in promoting the book, we can no longer in good conscience continue to serve the Center as members of the board of councilors."
Carter said he is concerned that public discussion on the book hasn't focused on the need for peace talks and the end of persecution of Palestinians.
"Although most critics have not seriously disputed or even mentioned the facts and suggestions about these two issues, an apparently concerted campaign has been focused on the book's title, combined with allegations that I am anti-Israel," Carter wrote. "This is not good for any of us who are committed to Israel's status as a peaceful nation living in harmony with its neighbors."
Kenneth Stein, director of the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel of Emory University, also resigned in December, saying Carter rewrites history to shape the reader’s opinion to one side of the issue.
In an op-ed published in The Los Angeles Times last month, Carter stood by his tome, defending it against what he says are "lies" and "distortions" about it and him.
Another Critic Speaks Out
The reaction to Carter's book has also stirred up accusations about Carter's alleged involvement on behalf of a known Nazi guard who was deported to Austria in 1987.
In an exclusive interview to Israeli national news agency Arutz Sheva, a former U.S. Justice Department official said he received a letter from Carter in 1987 asking him to go easy on Martin Bartesch, who was known to have helped murder Jews in the Mauthausen death camp in Austria.
Neil Sher, who worked in the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigation, said Bartesch admitted to Sher’s office and a federal court that he had "voluntarily joined the Waffen SS and had served in the notorious SS Death’s Head Division at the Mauthausen concentration camp" where thousands of prisoners were "gassed, shot, starved and worked to death."
Despite the confession, and an original SS roster that listed which guards performed which executions, Sher told the news agency that Carter wrote him asking for "special consideration for the family for humanitarian reasons," namely that Bartesch was just "a young man of 17 or 18 when he joined the Nazi forces.”
Sher said he never made an issue of the letter because Bartesch had already been deported by the time he received Carter's request. In light of the new book, however, he decided to recount the past.
"It always bothered me, but I didn’t go public with it until recently, when he wrote this book and let it spill out where his sentiments really lie,” Sher said. “Here was Jimmy Carter jumping in on behalf of someone who did not deserve in any way, shape or form special consideration. And the things he has now said about the Jewish lobby really exposes where his heart really lies.”