Jimmy Carter wants the Jewish community to know that he understands Israel's travails, and that this new understanding is not connected in any way to his grandson's quest to represent a partially-Jewish district in Atlanta in the Georgia state legislature. Here is what Carter said:
We must recognize Israel's achievements under difficult circumstances, even as we strive in a positive way to help Israel continue to improve its relations with its Arab populations, but we must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel," Carter wrote in his statement. "As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so."
"Al Het" refers to the Yom Kippur prayer asking God forgiveness for sins committed against Him. In modern Hebrew it refers to any plea for forgiveness.
On the one hand, it's a bit late: There's no way for Carter to undo the effects of his demonization of Israel.
On the other hand, who am I -- who are any of us -- to judge him insincere? Maybe he realizes that he's been unfair. On the other other hand, maybe this does have something to do with his grandson's campaign, in which case it's a fairly cynical move (and we know he's capable of fairly cynical moves -- see the title of his most famous anti-Israel book). So the jury's out, but at least it's nice to see a glimmer of recognition on his part that he took things too far.
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