Once again, Jimmy Carter has shrunk from debate. Despite having written a book whose purpose he claims was to promote dialogue and discussion, he has consistently dodged appearing with anyone who could challenge him on the numerous factual errors that fill the pages of his slim book.
First it was at Brandeis University, where he was invited to appear with professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School. Dershowitz, who has written two books and numerous articles on the topic (not to mention being a respected First Amendment scholar and one of America's most distinguished attorneys), was not even allowed into the building until Carter had left.
When it became known that Carter was anxious to speak at Emory, the administration consulted a group of faculty and was advised that the most fair and academically valuable format would be to have Carter appear with someone who could engage in a productive interchange and discussion on the topic. This clearly would be the only way for the event to meet the educational standard of a leading university.
Everyone agreed that the best person for this interchange was Ambassador Dennis Ross, who was the main negotiator on the Arab-Israeli situation in both the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration. He was responsible for organizing Camp David II, Clinton's last-ditch effort to find a resolution to the situation. Ross agreed to appear, but Carter pointedly refused to appear with him or with any other expert. No explanation was given.
Is this the behavior of a man who wants to promote dialogue? What precisely is Carter afraid of? Could it be that Dennis Ross - who, like President Clinton, places the blame for the failure of the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis at Camp David II squarely on the shoulders of Yasir Arafat - would tell the former president, who blames Israel for everything, that he is simply wrong? Remember Ross and Clinton were there; Carter was not.