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President Carter’s Al Het

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President Carter sent a message to the Jewish community through JTA. We briefed it, but here it is in its entirety (transliterations intact):

An open letter to the Jewish community at the season of Chanukah from former President Jimmy Carter:

The time of Chanukah and the Christian holidays presents an occasion for reflection on the past and for looking to the future. In that vein, I wish to share some thoughts with you about the State of Israel and the Middle East.

I have the hope and a prayer that the State of Israel will flourish as a Jewish state within secure and recognized borders in peaceful co-existence with its neighbors and with all the Moslem States, and that this peaceful co-existence will bring security, prosperity and happiness to the people of Israel and to the people of the Middle East of all faiths.

I have the hope and a prayer that the bloodshed and hatred will change to mutual respect and cooperation, fulfilling the prophetic aspiration that the lion shall lie down with the lamb in harmony and peace. I likewise hope that violent attacks against all civilians will end, which will help set a better framework for commencing negotiations. I further hope that peace negotiations can soon commence, with all issues on the negotiating table.

I have the hope and a prayer that just as Chanukah is the Festival of Lights, the State of Israel will fulfill its destiny as a light unto the nations.

We must recognize Israel’s achievements under difficult circumstances, even as we strive in a positive way to help Israel continue to improve its relations with its Arab populations, but 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.

May we work and pray for that better day.

Hag Semach and Happy Chanukah.

No one has gone toe to toe with Carter more than the ADL’s Abe Foxman, and here’s his initial reaction, from our brief:

Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, welcomed the statement, calling it the "beginning of reconciliation."

"We welcome any statement from a significant individual such as a former president who asks for Al Het," Foxman said. "To what extent it is an epiphany, time will tell. There certainly is hurt which needs to be repaired."

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