Jimmy Carter paid big political price in ’80 for
standing up for Palestinian rights — Eizenstat
Sen. Ted Kennedy would have ended his political challenge to Carter in 1980 had not Carter said that Jerusalem was occupied territory in a UN Security Council resolution that passed unanimously in March. “We literally saw campaign workers running, falling out of our campaign office in objection,” Eizenstat says. Carter then lost the NY primary. The official Jewish community fell out with Carter after he spoke of a Palestinian “homeland.” Carter saw the Palestinians as as oppressed as African-Americans.
Kennedy’s challenge weakened Carter and of course Carter lost to Reagan in the fall.
Here are the key excerpts.
Breger: After such a success [at Camp David] why did he get the smallest percentage of Jewish votes of any Democratic president in modern history?
To achieve the peace between Egypt and Israel, there was a lot of glass broken. A lot of pressure was put on Israel. Carter also had very tense relations with Prime Minister Rabin, and then with Begin. While Rabin was in the U.S., Carter goes to Massachusetts for the first of 100 town hall meetings. He’s asked a question, unscripted, about the Palestinians. I’m sitting at the step of this open-air forum. I literally almost fell off my chair, because Carter says, “I favor a Palestinian homeland.” He didn’t say a state. He said homeland. That caused a huge uproar and hugely embarrassed the Labor Party in Israel and Rabin. They still blame it for their defeat in the next Israeli election. Then the relationship with Begin was very difficult.
Notwithstanding that, the Jewish vote had actually started to come back to Carter. In the Illinois primary in the spring of 1980, Carter against Kennedy gets 70 percent of the Jewish vote, including in Chicago. We’re 20 percent ahead of him in the polls in New York two weeks later but then the final straw broke: UN Resolution 465. At Camp David, Carter had pledged that he would not support any UN resolution on settlements in which Jerusalem was included. » Lees verder