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Amazon Keeps Review of Carter Book, but Israel Critics Claim a Victory

Amazon.com has refused to bow to pressure to remove a critical review of Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” from its Web site, but that hasn’t stopped activists from claiming a victory in the struggle against Israel.

Amazon added an interview with Carter above the critical review, which New Yorker correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg wrote for the Washington Post.

Henry Norr, a fiercely anti-Israel technology journalist from Berkeley, Calif., celebrated the addition of the Carter interview as a victory for his boycott campaign. He had launched a petition demanding that Amazon remove the Goldberg review because it was “unabashedly hostile to Carter’s viewpoint.”

“Closed due to VICTORY!” Norr wrote on the Web page for his petition. “The whole tone of the Amazon page has changed — at least there is now some balance. Next step: Free Palestine!”

Patty Smith, Amazon’s director of corporate communications, said it was not unusual for books with a political theme to garner a lot of attention, particularly during the presidential campaign season.

She said the online retailer has no intention of removing the review, in which Goldberg calls Carter’s screed “a cynical book” and details some of the numerous criticisms readers have raised about Carter’s accuracy and political agenda.

Norr’s petition, sent to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, contains a host of hostile and anti-Semitic comments appended after the signatures. Ironically, many of the comments blasted the inclusion of Goldberg’s review as “censorship” and said it was contrary to a commitment to freedom of speech.

“Anyone willing to speak against the Zionist butchers in Israel has my respect and my prayers!” wrote Randy Hosman from Marmaduke, Ark. “Shame on you Jeff Bezos, you racist, Zionist pig.”

“The Jew opposition to this truthful book is second only to the Jew opposition to an even greater truth, ‘The Passion of The Christ,’ the continual attacks on Mel Gibson and the Roman Catholic Church, which does not support Israel’s abuse of Christian and Muslims as do most American Protestant Christians,” wrote Anthony Stevens of New York.

Rebecca Gingrich of Ontario wrote that she would stop shopping at Amazon — as she had at other bookstores that refused to sell Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

A number of signatories referred to the Web site of David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Signatories include British academics active in the call for an academic boycott of Israel, such as Hilary and Stephen Rose and Sue Blackwell, the Birmingham academic who spearheaded the 2005 boycott campaign. Blackwell said she would no longer recommend Amazon to her students.

“Amazon is an unashamedly Zionist company and I have long stopped buying from it precisely for this reason,” wrote Mona Baker, a Manchester-based academic who fired two liberal Israeli academics in 2002 from minor roles on her academic journal. “They routinely use reviews to smear authors who challenge Israeli atrocities”.

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