Jimmy Carter Sends an Al Het to Israel, Asking Forgiveness
December 24, 2009
(ChattahBox)— During this holy season, former President Jimmy Carter, has issued a traditional Al Het prayer to Israel, seeking forgiveness for past “criticisms” that may have “stigmatize[d] Israel.” Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, first sent his letter asking for forgiveness to JTA, a wire service for Jewish newspapers. Carter angered Israel and many Jews when he reached out to Hamas during a trip to Gaza, considered a terror group by the US and Israel. He also penned the controversial book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” which received much criticism from Jews, for Carter’s comparison of Israel’s treatment of neighboring Arabs to the South African practice of racial oppression.
In his letter, Carter wished for the end to bloodshed and hatred in the region and he apologized for his previous criticisms of Israel:
“We must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel. 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,” wrote Carter.
Carter has made it a personal mission to help find a peaceful solution in Israel. During his presidency, Carter negotiated the first Israeli-Arab peace treaty.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, welcomed Carter’s apology:
“When a former president reaches out to the Jewish community and asks for forgiveness, it’s incumbent of us to accept it,” he said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem. “To what extent this is an epiphany, only time will tell. There certainly was a lot of hurt, a lot of angry words that need to be repaired. But this is a good start,” said Foxman.
Carter’s grandson, Jason Carter plans to run in a special senatorial election in Georgia, if the current Senator, David Adelman is confirmed as ambassador to Singapore in January. Jason Carter lauded his grandfather’s letter, as a “great step towards reconciliation.” The letter may help him in his senate campaign. His district in Georgia has a strong pro-Israel population of voters.