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Book Buyers Demand Amazon Repect Carter

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    Online retailer revamps web page after thousands sign petition, send e-mail demanding balance Amazon.com Customers Campaign Wins Fairer Treatment for Jimmy
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 23, 2007
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      Online retailer revamps web page after thousands sign petition, send
      e-mail demanding balance

      Amazon.com Customers' Campaign Wins Fairer Treatment
      for Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
      Henry Norr - henry @ norr.com
      January 22, 2007

      Berkeley, CA – Ten days after shoppers began a campaign to protest
      Amazon.com's extraordinarily hostile presentation of former President
      Jimmy Carter's book on Palestine, and a day after a petition with more
      than 16,000 signatures was delivered to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the
      company has responded by revamping the page in a way that puts the
      book in a completely different light.

      The petition, posted at www.petitiononline.com/Amazon07, complained
      that Amazon had abandoned its usual evenhandedness in the presentation
      of controversial books by posting the full text of a lengthy attack on
      Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid in its "Editorial Reviews"
      section - and repeatedly refusing customer requests that it add a more
      positive review in the same location for balance. In signing the
      petition, customers pledged to stop shopping at Amazon and close their
      accounts there if the retailer did not come up with a more balanced
      version of the page by Jan. 22. To back up the petition, hundreds if
      not thousands of customers also wrote directly to Amazon CEO Jeff
      Bezos < jeff@...> to express their concerns.

      A copy of the petition, some 16,200 signatures, and supporting
      materials were sent to Bezos and his staff on Friday, Jan. 19. The
      following morning, the "Editorial Reviews" section of the page listing
      Carter's book was completely overhauled for first time in almost a
      month: It now begins with a glowing tribute from Amazon to the former
      president's achievements and an interview with him about the book,
      plus a photo of him and graphic links to some of his other books – all
      new material, and all of it posted ahead of the negative review.

      "This is a huge victory," said Henry Norr, the Berkeley, CA-based
      former journalist who initiated the petition. "The whole tone of the
      page is different now. Instead of saying, in effect, 'Stay away from
      this vile book,' what it now conveys is the truth: that this is an
      important and fair-minded, even if controversial, book by a
      distinguished American who has unique qualifications to address the
      issue of Palestine."

      Added Paul Larudee, an El Cerrito, CA, piano technician and activist
      who helped organize the protest campaign, "Of course Amazon deserves
      credit for responding after initially refusing to make a change.
      However, the real credit goes to the thousands of petition signers who
      exercised their power - in this case the nonviolent power to take
      their business elsewhere. It gives hope that boycotts and other
      nonviolent efforts can help to end the larger injustices that Carter
      addresses in his book."

      "I'm sorry Amazon continues to display the review by Jeffrey Goldberg,
      because I think it's horribly unfair and misleading, and I still wish
      they would add one of the other reviews we suggested," said Norr.
      "Some people who signed the petition have let me know that they still
      intend to close their accounts if Amazon doesn't make more changes,
      and I understand their feelings. But what the petition was really
      demanding was fair and balanced treatment for the book, and on the
      whole I think we've come pretty close to that objective."

      The change was the second involving Carter's book that Amazon has made
      in response to the campaign. Last week, its version of the latest New
      York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller list initially omitted
      Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid altogether, even though the book
      actually ranked fifth on the list - Amazon's version jumped directly
      from number 4 to number 6! This extraordinary "mistake" persisted for
      days, until two hours after an earlier version of this press release
      was delivered to scores of reporters and publications. (A saved copy
      of the original page, missing item number five, is available on request.)


      December 12, 2006

      Dear Mr. Carter,

      I read your article in the Guardian of December 12, 2006 "Israel,
      Palestine, peace and apartheid."
      (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1970058,00.html). As
      a "Jew" born in Palestine in 1941 and living in Iceland, I fully
      endorse your views expressed in this article and thank you for
      bringing these subjects up, even at the risk of being labeled
      "antisemitic". I have myself been indoctrinated in my youth by Zionist
      propaganda and did not in my young years realize the racist nature of
      Zionism, Israel's state ideology. As Zionism - namely the concept of a
      "Jewish state" - is contrary to the modern concept of a state which
      belongs to all its citizens, I do not believe that there will be peace
      as long as Israel remains a "Jewish" state. For the same reason I
      agree with the refusal to recognize the "right" of existence of such a
      state (which is distinct from the recognition of its physical existence).

      There is another point I wish to impress upon you, which is widely
      glossed over. It is my conviction that Israel, as a Jewish state,
      cannot afford peace. I do not here have in mind its military industry
      or the interests of its professional military. What I have in mind is
      the attitude of most Jews and the Zionist movement towards
      assimilation. As numerous Zionist leaders have openly expressed, they
      consider assimilation of Jews, such as mixed marriages, as the main
      threat to Judaism, comparable to the Holocaust: Both significantly
      reduce the number of Jews. To put at par the love felt by a person of
      Jewish descent to another person of gentile descent with mass murder
      testifies to the pathologic nature of Zionist thinking. It also
      underlines the hysterical approach of Zionists to the phenomenon of
      assimilation. A true peace between Israel and its neighbours will
      inevitably lead to a cultural intercourse between Jews, Christians and
      Muslims, as well as economic cooperation. This will inevitably dilute
      the cultural and demographic nature of the Jewish state and with time
      lead to a growing rate of mixed marriages, particularly if
      fundamentalist ideologies will slowly give way to a secular world view.

      This threat to the "Jewish people" is to be resisted by all means by
      the Zionists and by all those who strive to maintain the "Jewish
      people". The only means to do so is by creating a spiritual and
      physical wall between Jews and their neighbours. Historically, Jews
      attempted to prevent assimilation by pursuing distinct eating habits,
      clothing and other overt distinctions, thus creating a high threshold
      for those who would like to integrate into the surrounding
      environment. The shedding of such distinct living style, such as by
      most Jews in the United States, has inevitably led to a high rate of
      assimilation decried regularly by the Zionists who try not only to
      "educate" Jewish youth but urge it to move to Israel, where they can
      be better controlled and manipulated.

      The maintenance of hatred and distrust among Arabs towards Israelis is
      useful for Jewish unity. This has not escaped Zionist leaders.
      Obviously the Zionists do not trumpet this "usefulness", but it can
      easily be inferred from the Zionist dread of assimilation, the
      insistence of the Jewish State to designate itself as "European", thus
      implying that they do not wish to integrate into their region, and the
      long trail of provocative policies pursued by all Israeli governments
      since 1948 against its neighbours and the Palestinian people. From an
      examination of this process I conclude that Israel, by its very
      constitution as a Jewish State, is a threat to the peace. While few in
      the West realize this conclusion, most Arabs do. I do not see any hope
      for Israel, as a Jewish state, to remain so in a situation of warm peace.

      For the above reason, I urge you to reconsider your attitude towards
      the establishment of a Palestinian state beside Israel. Such a
      scenario can neither fulfill the rights of the Palestinian people,
      including particularly those of the refugees who are entitled under
      international law to return to their erstwhile locations located under
      Israeli jurisdiction. Nor can this scenario secure the Palestinian
      people true sovereignty. The reason for this is at least twofold:
      First such a Palestinian "state" would not be territorially contiguous
      but divided at best into two distinct areas (Gaza and West Bank),
      leaving Palestinians continuously at the mercy of Israeli
      non-interference of travel between the two areas. Secondly, Israel has
      made it clear that it would not allow a fully sovereign Palestinian
      state. Even the most vocal supporters of a Palestinian state in Israel
      insist that Palestine should remain a demilitarized state, thus at the
      mercy of Israel coercion and invasion. The very concept of equality is
      anathema to Israelis, even the most "progressive" ones. I mention
      these two points, leaving at this point aside the question of economic
      viability and the control of underground water, and the question of
      Jerusalem. The only solution which could secure the rights of the
      Palestinians and Israeli Jews to human dignity and equality is the
      transformation of Israel, including occupied territories, to a modern
      democratic state, ensuring all Palestinians and Israelis equal rights
      under a modern constitution. I urge you to consider this vision, as
      both compatible with human rights, international law and ethics. And
      even if this vision is currently not widely supported, it nevertheless
      provides the ONLY blueprint for a true peace and continuous Jewish
      presence in the Middle East. Your support for such a vision could be

      With my sincere greetings,

      Elias Davidsson
      Reykjavik, Iceland


      Truth at last, while breaking a U.S. taboo of criticizing Israel
      George Bisharat
      The Electronic Intifada
      2 January 2007

      Israeli bulldozer demolishing Palestinian farmland to make space for
      the controversial separation wall in the West Bank village of Wadi
      Al-Nees near Bethlehem, December 26, 2006. (MaanImages/Mamoun Wazwaz)

      Americans owe a debt to former President Jimmy Carter for speaking
      long hidden but vital truths. His book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
      breaks the taboo barring criticism in the United States of Israel's
      discriminatory treatment of Palestinians. Our government's tacit
      acceptance of Israel's unfair policies causes global hostility against us.

      Israel's friends have attacked Carter, a Nobel laureate who has worked
      tirelessly for Middle East peace, even raising the specter of
      anti-Semitism. Genuine anti-Semitism is abhorrent. But exploiting the
      term to quash legitimate criticism of another system of racial
      oppression, and to tarnish a principled man, is indefensible.
      Criticizing Israeli government policies - a staple in Israeli
      newspapers - is no more anti-Semitic than criticizing the Bush
      administration is anti-American.

      The word apartheid typically evokes images of former South Africa, but
      it also refers to any institutionalized regime of systematic
      oppression and domination by one racial group over another. Carter
      applies the term only to Israel's rule of the occupied Palestinian
      territories, where it has established more than 200 Jewish-only
      settlements and a network of roads and other services to support them.
      These settlements violate international law and the rights of
      Palestinian property owners. Carter maintains that "greed for land,"
      not racism, fuels Israel's settlement drive. He is only partially right.

      Israel is seizing land and water from Palestinians for Jews. Resources
      are being transferred, under the guns of Israel's military occupation,
      from one disempowered group - Palestinian Christians and Muslims - to
      another, preferred group - Jews. That is racism, pure and simple.

      Moreover, there is abundant evidence that Israel discriminates against
      Palestinians elsewhere. The "Israeli Arabs" - about 1.4 million
      Palestinian Christian and Muslim citizens who live in Israel - vote in
      elections. But they are a subordinated and marginalized minority. The
      Star of David on Israel's flag symbolically tells Palestinian
      citizens: "You do not belong." Israel's Law of Return grants rights of
      automatic citizenship to Jews anywhere in the world, while those
      rights are denied to 750,000 Palestinian refugees who were forced or
      fled in fear from their homes in what became Israel in 1948.

      Israel's Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty establishes the state
      as a "Jewish democracy" although 24 percent of the population is
      non-Jewish. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in
      Israel, counted 20 laws that explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews.

      The government favors Jews over Palestinians in the allocation of
      resources. Palestinian children in Israel attend "separate and
      unequal" schools that receive a fraction of the funding awarded to
      Jewish schools, according to Human Rights Watch. Many Palestinian
      villages, some predating the establishment of Israel, are unrecognized
      by the government, do not appear on maps, and thus receive no running
      water, electricity, or access roads. Since 1948, scores of new
      communities have been founded for Jews, but none for Palestinians,
      causing them severe residential overcrowding.

      Anti-Arab bigotry is rarely condemned in Israeli public discourse, in
      which Palestinians are routinely construed as a "demographic threat."
      Palestinians in Israel's soccer league have played to chants of "Death
      to Arabs!" Israeli academic Daniel Bar-Tal studied 124 Israeli school
      texts, finding that they commonly depicted Arabs as inferior,
      backward, violent, and immoral. A 2006 survey revealed that two-thirds
      of Israeli Jews would refuse to live in a building with an Arab,
      nearly half would not allow a Palestinian in their home, and 40
      percent want the government to encourage emigration by Palestinian
      citizens. Last March, Israeli voters awarded 11 parliamentary seats to
      the Israel Beitenu Party, which advocates drawing Israel's borders to
      exclude 500,000 of its current Palestinian citizens.

      Some say that Palestinian citizens in Israel enjoy better
      circumstances than those in surrounding Arab countries. Ironically,
      white South Africans made identical claims to defend their version of
      apartheid, as is made clear in books such as Antjie Krog's Country of
      My Skull.

      Americans are awakening to the costs of our unconditional support of
      Israel. We urgently need frank debate to chart policies that honor our
      values, advance our interests, and promote a just and lasting peace in
      the Middle East. It is telling that it took a former president, immune
      from electoral pressures, to show the way.

      The debate should now be extended. Are Israel's founding ideals truly
      consistent with democracy? Can a state established in a multiethnic
      milieu be simultaneously "Jewish" and "democratic"? Isn't strife the
      predictable yield of preserving the dominance of Jews in Israel over a
      native Palestinian population? Does our unconditional aid merely
      enable Israel to continue abusing Palestinian rights with impunity,
      deepening regional hostilities and distancing peace? Isn't it time
      that Israel lived by rules observed in any democracy - including equal
      rights for all?

      George Bisharat (bisharat@...) is a professor of law at
      University of California Hastings College of the Law. He writes
      frequently on law and politics in the Middle East. This article
      originally appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer and is reprinted by
      permission of the author.


      Other assessments of Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid:

      Ali Abunimah, "A Palestinian view of Jimmy Carter's book," Wall Street
      Journal, Dec. 26, 2006: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6310.shtml

      Chris Hedges, "Get Carter," The Nation, Jan. 8, 2007:

      Saree Makdisi, "Carter's apartheid charge rings true," San Francisco
      Chronicle, Nov. 20, 2006:

      Henry Siegman, "Hurricane Carter," The Nation, Jan. 22, 2007:

      Norman Finkelstein, "The Ludicrous Attacks on Jimmy Carter's Book,"
      CounterPunch, Dec. 28, 2006:



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