HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE DERSHOWITZ TO ABANDON OBAMA?
Jimmy Carter is making more money selling integrity than peanuts. I
have known Jimmy Carter for more than 30 years. I first met him in the
spring of 1976 when, as a relatively unknown candidate for
president,he sent me a hand written letter asking for my help in his
campaign on issues of crime and justice.
I had just published an article in The New York Times Magazine on
sentencing reform, and he expressed interest in my ideas and asked me
to come up with additional ones for his campaign.
Shortly thereafter, my former student Stuart Eisenstadt, brought
Carter to Harvard to meet with some faculty members, me among them. I
immediately liked Jimmy Carter and saw him as a man of integrity a nd
principle. I signed on to his campaign and worked very hard for his
When Newsweek magazine asked his campaign for the names of people on
whom Carter relied for advice, my name was among those given out. I
continued to work for Carter over the years, most recently I met him
in Jerusalem a year ago, and we briefly discussed the Mid-East.
Though I disagreed with some of his points, I continued to believe
that the was making them out of a deep commitment to principle and to
Recent disclosures of Carter’s extensive financial connections to Arab
oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia , had deeply shaken my
belief in his integrity. When I was first told that he received a
monetary reward in the name of Shiekh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, an
d kept the money, even after Harvard returned money from the same
source because of its anti-Semitic history, I simply did not believe
it.How could a man of such apparent integrity enrich himself with
dirty money from so dirty a source?
And let there be no mistake about how dirty the Zayed Foundation is. I
know because I was involved, in a small way, in helping to persuade
Harvard University to return more than $2 million that the financially
strapped Divinity School received from this source.
Initially I was reluctant to put pressure on Harvard to turn back
money for the Divinity School , but then a student at the
DivinitySchool Rachael Lea Fish — showed me the facts.
They were staggering. I was amazed that in the 21st century there were
still foundations that espoused these views. The Zayed Centre for
Coordination and Follow-up – a think-tank funded by the Shiekh and run
by his son hosted speakers who called Jews “the enemies of all
nations,” attributed the assassination of John Kennedy to Israel and
the Mossad and the 9/11 attacks to the United States ‘ own military,
and stated that the Holocaust was a “fable.” (They also hosted a
speech by Jimmy Carter.) To its credit, Harvard turned the money back.
To his discredit, Carter did not.
Jimmy Carter was, of course, aware of Harvard’s decision, since it was
highly publicized. Yet he kept the money . Indeed, this is what he
said in accepting the funds: “This award has special significance for
me because it is named for my personal friend,Sheik Zayed bin Sultan
al-Nahyan.” Carter’s personal friend, it turns out, was an
unredeemable anti-Semite and all-around bigot.
In reading Carter’s statements, I was reminded of the bad old Harvard
of the 1930s, which continued to honor Nazi academics after the
anti-Semitic policies of Hitler’s government became clear. Harvard of
the 1930s was complicit in evil. I sadly concluded that Jimmy Carter
of the 21st century has become complicit in evil. The extent of
Carter’s financial support from, and even dependence on, dirty money
is still not fully known.
What we do know is deeply troubling. Carter and his Center have
accepted millions of dollars from suspect sources, beginning with the
bail-out of the Carter family peanut business in the late 1970s by
BCCI, a now-defunct and virulently anti-Israeli bank indirectly
controlled by the Saudi Royal family, and among whose principal
investors is Carter’s friend, Sheikh Zayed. Agha Hasan Abedi, the
founder of the bank, gave Carter “$500,000 to help the former
president establish his center…[and] more than $10 million to Mr.
Carter’s different projects.”
Carter gladly accepted the money, though Abedi had called his
bank-ostensibly the source of his funding-“the best way to fight the
evil influence of the Zionists.”
BCC isn’t the only source: Saudi King Fahd contributed millions to the
Carter Center- “in 1993 alone…$7.6 million” as have other members of
the Saudi Royal Family. Carter also received a million dollar pledge
from the Saudi-based bin Laden family, as well as a personal $500,000
environmental award named for Sheikh Zayed, and paid for by t he Prime
Minister of the United Arab Emirates .
It’s worth noting that, despite the influx of Saudi money funding the
Carter Center , and despite the Saudi Arabian government’s myriad human
rights abuses, the Carter Center ‘s Human Rights program has no
activity whatever in Saudi Arabia . The Saudis have apparently bought
his silence for a steep price.
The bought quality of the Center’s activities becomes even more clear,
however, when reviewing the Center’s human rights activities in other
countries: essentially no human rights activities in China or in North
Korea , or in Iran , Iraq ,the Sudan , or Syria , but activity regarding
Israel and its alleged abuses, according to the Center’s website.
The Carter Center ‘s mission statement claims that “The Center is
nonpartisan and acts as a neutral party in dispute resolution
activities.” How can that be, given that its coffers are full of Arab
money, and that its focus is away from significant Arab abuses and on
Israel ‘s far less serious ones?
No reasonable person can dispute therefore that Jimmy Carter has been
and remains dependent on Arab Saudi Arabia .
Does this mean that Carter has necessarily been influenced in his
thinking about the Middle East by receipt of such enormous amounts of
money? Ask Carter. The entire premise of his criticism of Jewish
influence on American foreign policy is that money talks.
It is Carter-not me-who has made the point that if politicians receive
money from Jewish sources, then they are not free to decide issues
regarding the Middle East for themselves.
It is Carter, not me, who has argued that distinguished reporters
cannot honestly report on the Middle East because they are being paid
by Jewish money. So, by Carter’s own standards, it would be almost
economically “suicidal” for Carter “to espouse a balanced position
between Israel and Palestine .”
By Carter’s own standards, therefore, his views on the Middle East
must be discounted . It is certainly possible that he now believes
them. Money, particularly large amounts of money, has a way of
persuading people to a particular position.
It would not surprise me if Carter, having received so much Arab
money, is now honestly committed to their cause. But his failure to
disclose the extent of his financial dependence on Arab money, and the
absence of any self reflection on whether the receipt of this money
has unduly influenced his views, is a form of deception bordering on
I have met cigarette lobbyists, who are supported by the cigarette
industry, and who have come to believe honestly that cigarettes are
merely a safe form of adult recreation, that cigarettes are not
addicting and that the cigarette industry is really trying to persuade
children not to smoke. These people are fooling themselves (or fooling
us into believing that they are fooling themselves) just as Jimmy
Carter is fooling himself (or persuading us to believe that he is
If money determines political and public views -as Carter insists
“Jewish money” does -then Carter’s views on the Middle East must be
deemed to have been influenced by the vast sums of Arab money he has
received. If he who pays the piper calls the tune, then Carter’s
off-key tunes have been called by his Saudi Arabian paymasters. It
pains me to say this, but I now believe that there is no person in
American public life today who has a lower ratio of real [integrity]
to apparent integrity than Jimmy Carter.
The public perception of his integrity is extraordinarily high. His
real integrity, it now turns out, is extraordinarily low. He is no
better than so many former American politicians who, after leaving
public life, sell themselves to the highest bidder and become
lobbyists for despicable causes.
That is now Jimmy Carter’s sad legacy.
Author Biography: Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter
professor of law at Harvard Law School and author of The Case for