Carter: U.s., Israel Have Common Interests in Search for Peace
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Carter: U.s., Israel Have Common Interests in Search for Peace

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Former President Jimmy Carter said here that the United States and Israel have an enduring relationship and common interests for “an eternal quest for a better future — a future of freedom, justice and peace.”

Addressing some 800 people attending the 100th anniversary dinner of the New York Board of Rabbis at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Carter declared: “No one of these three goals can be ignored if we are to be able to be successful in the further pursuit of stability and harmony in the Middle East.” The former chief executive, who did not discuss the current tensions in the Mideast, said that the three goals were of critical importance during the negotiating process that led to the Camp David peace agreements.

Carter’s 30-minute address focused mainly on the issue of human rights in general and on the issue of human rights in the Soviet Union in particular. Regarding the Soviet Union, he noted that since 1976, 150,000 Soviet Jews have come to live in freedom in the United States and in Israel.


He told the audience of a meeting he had with Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, following their talks on the SALT II treaty in Vienna, in which he asked about the plight of those prisoners who seek exit visas from the Soviet Union. Carter said that when he asked specifically about Anatoly Shcharansky, Brezhnev proceeded to read through a carefully worded text about the Soviet legal system and his nation’s laws and said there was nothing he could do.

Carter added that he did give Brezhnev a list of names of several hundred Soviet citizens, mostly Jews, who were trying to obtain exit visas. He said that America’s human rights policies abroad can be used as a “weapon” to continue in U.S. competition with Soviet ideology.


In focusing on the issue of human rights, Carter said the U.S. must continue its fight for worldwide human rights “boldly and openly” through “public knowledge and public condemnation.” He added that historically, “quiet diplomatic channels have proven ineffective.”

While Carter did not refer to President Reagan and the current Administration’s position on human rights, his remarks were an apparent allusion to the Reagan Administration’s policies based on “quiet diplomacy.”

“The new policy is being proclaimed as one of ‘hardheaded realism’ making accomodation to evils practiced in countries which might be our allies … and reflecting a realpolitik apprach to foreign policy,” Carter declared. However, he added, “It is important to avoid exaggerated and excessive swings in matters of human rights.” Continuing, he said: “On the other hand, the exertion of pure power or a reversion to cynicism will do no justice to our people or the principles of our nation.”

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