Jimmy Carter sued for Israel 'apartheid' book

By Jennifer Lipman, February 2, 2011
Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter

The former US President Jimmy Carter is facing legal action from readers who claim he misrepresented Israel in a book about the Middle East conflict.

Mr Carter, who was president between 1976 and 1980, could have to pay more than £3 million if the case is successful.

The dispute is over his 2006 work “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”, in which Mr Carter compared the Israeli government to the leaders of apartheid South Africa.

He wrote: “When Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank, and connects the 200-or-so settlements … with a road, and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing the road, this perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa”.

The case, filed at the Manhattan Federal Claims Court by a group of readers, accuses Mr Carter of filling his book “with demonstrable falsehoods, omissions and knowing misrepresentations intended to promote [his] agenda of anti-Israel propaganda".

According to court papers quoted by the New York Post, the group who filed the case said Mr Carter was wrong to have promoted the book as “non-fiction".

The papers added: “This lawsuit challenges the defendants' actions in attempting to capitalise on Carter's status as a former president of the United States to mislead unsuspecting members of the reading public who thought they could trust their former president to tell the truth."

Mr Carter, who as president oversaw the historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, is a prominent critic of the Israeli government. In 2008 he described Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as “one of the greatest human-rights crimes on earth”.

The lawsuit is directed at both Mr Carter and his publishers, Simon & Schuster.

A spokesperson for the company said the lawsuit was "frivolous".

Last updated: 2:18pm, February 2 2011