Carters speech at Brandeis too little, too late

It wasn’t quite “Nixon goes to China,” but this week Carter went to Brandeis. Jimmy Carter, that is, whose speech at predominantly Jewish Brandeis University did little to ease the controversy he triggered with his latest book “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.”

The Jewish community has condemned the book, both its message and its misleading title.

Several members of the Carter Center advisory board have resigned in disgust.

Though he has said repeatedly he only meant to be “provocative” with his title, the former president could hardly have chosen a more hurtful word to describe the situation in Israel today.

In his remarks at Brandeis before a respectful but skeptical audience, Carter noted he has been hurt himself. “This is the first time I’ve been called a liar and a bigot,” he said.

Given the book’s many errors as well as its blatantly anti-Israel perspective, those charges may not be far off the mark.

Granted, Carter apologized to his Brandeis audience for portions of his book, particularly a sentence that seemed to legitimize Palestinian suicide bombers. “That sentence was worded in an absolutely improper and stupid way,” he said.

Carter will ask his publisher, Simon & Schuster, to amend any future editions. But the damage is already done.

Known for his work promoting fair elections and combating poverty, Carter blew his good will with this book.

He chose sides. He chose to ally himself with elements that support the destruction of Israel, and for that we cannot accept his apology.

Besides, as law professor and Carter critic Alan Dershowitz pointed out in his own Brandeis speech immediately following Carter’s, “There are two Jimmy Carters. You heard the Brandeis Jimmy Carter today, and he was terrific … but if you listen to the al Jazeera Jimmy Carter, you’ll hear a very different perspective.”

Even conceding the president a measure of integrity, it pains us Carter would take the low road. At 82, he is in the twilight of his career, and it is a shame he chose to cap his achievements with this screed.

We are not blanket apologists for the Israeli government. When it makes a mistake, we will call them on it.

But these are dangerous times. The enemies of Israel work ceaselessly to tip the geopolitical scales away from the Jewish state, away from democracy and towards a twisted vision of a Judenrein world.

Any tacit encouragement they receive from people like Jimmy Carter makes the situation all the worse.