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Carter Sued Over ‘Apartheid’ Book

Ex-pres., publisher said to falsely market ‘anti-Israel propaganda’

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Jimmy Carter last month.(Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)

Yesterday, a class action (download here) was filed in Manhattan federal court accusing Jimmy Carter and Simon & Schuster of consumer fraud for the former president’s 2006 book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. It alleges that the author and publisher marketed the book as a totally factual account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in part based on the credibility of a former president and key character in the history, but that the book actually contains “demonstrable falsehoods, omissions, and knowing misrepresentations designed to promote Carter’s agenda of anti-Israel propaganda.” David Schoen, the plaintiffs’ attorney, confirmed the filing (and commented extensively, see below). UPDATE: The pubisher responds, “This lawsuit is a frivolous and transparent attempt by the plaintiffs, despite their protestations to the contrary, to punish the author, a Nobel Peace prize-winner and world-renowned statesmen, and his publisher, for writing and publishing a book with which the plaintiffs simply disagree. It is a chilling attack on free speech that we intend to defend vigorously.”

Simon & Schuster, the case alleges, has refused to issue corrections despite “irrefutable proof” that key reporting in the book, which is extremely unpopular with many pro-Israel groups, does not tell the truth about events such as the 1949 and 1967 ceasefires and the 2000 negotiations at Camp David. (The book was controversial when it was published in part because of the title’s deployment of the a-word, which has since become a much more accepted part of the discourse.) The complaint cites the writings of Kenneth M. Stein, a former Carter Center Middle East fellow who resigned following the book’s publication.

I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t intend to play one on a blog. I’ll simply say the allegations in the suit remind me most of the debate you and your family likely have every year at Seder. It’s a legitimate debate, but probably not one most successfully or productively litigated in court, where I would think—and hope—political speech will get the benefit of the doubt. “A lawsuit is a last resort in my view,” Schoen conceded to me (more of his explanation, sent via email, is after the jump), “but that’s all folks who want to have a voice on the subject and expose it for what it is had left.” He added: “If this starts that conversation, as you put it, then it is a success.” I would just worry that resorting to the courts may create something of a chilling effect on writers and publishers with fewer resources than Carter and Simon & Schuster.

The suit (which seeks compensatory as well as punitive and exemplary damages, and a jury trial) asserts that it “is not in any way an attempt to challenge defendant Jimmy Carter’s right to write a book, or defendant Simon & Schuster’s right to publish a book which serves as a forum for Carter to put forward his virulently anti-Israeli bias or any other agenda he or his financial backers wish to put forward.” Indeed, these characteristics of the book “should come as no surprise,” the plaintiffs say, “given [Carter’s] well known bias against Israel and the interests of Israel’s sworn enemies who have given millions of dollars to support the Carter Center.” The rub, rather, was the defendants’ allegedly “deceiving the public by promoting and selling this book as a factually accurate account” instead of as “the anti-Israel screed that it is.”

Schoen wrote me last night:

Carter is free to to say whatever he wants whenever and wherever he wants to say it about Israel or any other subject, no matter how false, reprehensible, or how much it is to do the bidding of his funders or his branch of his church. The lawsuit, though, is about using the status of the office of President to present purported historical facts and events which color a subject a certain way, when those events never happened or never happened as presented, and then marketing it in a way meant to convince the public that they did, in order to get the public to think certain things about Israel. His former aids and closest confidantes expose his lies best of all. All he/the publisher had to do was acknowledge errors; instead he says everything is 100% accurate and that is demonstrably false. A lawsuit is a last resort in my view; but that’s all folks who want to have a voice on the subject and expose it for what it is had left.

(I then asked him if the suit is essentially just meant to start a conversation.)

I often say, I think lawsuits are a particularly inefficient way of trying to resolve anything; but they can at least give a voice to someone without access to the media or to otherwise being heard. I fully expect Carter to litigate this thing all the way, so if we can get to a jury and let them hear from those former friends and colleagues of Carter who became disgusted with him when they recognized his agenda and his willingness to falsify to support that agenda and if some of that message gets out in the media, perhaps people will look behind what he says a bit and it will remove this aura he has for some as one of the “elders” now. He is an Israel basher and that is his right; but people look up to him and believe him and he is not worthy of that when it comes to these issues and these plaintiffs want people to know that and to know the truth. If this starts that conversation, as you put it, then it is a success. Some people will be turned off by it being in the form of a lawsuit and won’t get past that I am afraid. But if they read it and think about it and consider what Dennis Ross and Ken Stein have said (and Ken Stein was as close to Carter as anyone) then it will mean something.

Unterberg et al. v. Carter et al.

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Freedom of speech also includes the right to lie, distort and even encourage hatred. Though Carter’s hatred of Israel is well known despite his protestations and obfuscations, in the USA he can publish what ever he wants to publish.

Michael Krauss says:

Another outrage directed at the only human being to make real progress for peace in the middle east. A great demonstration of how we are our own worst enemy.

leo napoli says:

freedom of speech does not include the right to lie, and encourage hatred . freedom of speech ends when one encourages others to acts of hatred. or infringes on others G-D given rights. it is about time ,someone called the old anti-semite out on his blatant anti-semite propaganda. G-D BLESS ISRAEL.

Julie in Austin says:

So far as I know, this is more a case of “deceptive advertising” than “free speech”. If Carter wants to lie in a book, that’s his right. He just can’t market the book as factually correct.

Eli:

I think (hope) everyone would agree with you. The lawsuit says he has the absolute right to lie, distort, etc. Indeed, I am an absolutist on the First Amendment. You also are right that he can and ought to be able to publish just about whatever he wants in this country. If the lawsuit sought to bar him from writing what he said or sought to have the book banned for what it says, then the First Amendment might be relevant. That’s just not what this is about. It is about the rights of people who pay a lot of money to buy a book they believe (based on an expensive marketing campaign) to be a fully factual account of what happened at the relevant events depicted – not Carter’s rendition about those events that simply is not true and that reverses the parties’ actual positions at those events (as Dennis Ross has written Carter did), only to find out afterwards that what they bought and read was a lie – and to find it out from Carter’s closest confidantes who actually ended their whole relationship with him and the Carter Center expressly for this reason. They didn’t shop for a novel or an opinion piece (maybe some who bought it did). They feel cheated. Then, when Carter and the publisher were just asked to acknowledge these errors of fact, they not only refused, Carter went on a campaign attacking his former colleagues and insisting he was telling the truth completely. He has the right to say that. They have the right to have a jury determine who is telling the truth or let the company give them their money back, since they bought it based on the company’s marketing. Is it fair for Carter and the company to make a lot of money marketing something as true when it is not and capitalizing on his status as our former President in doing so? I don’t think so; but that is my view.

Sounds to me like an abuse of our judicial system –bringing a lawsuit to publicize a point of view. If there are lies, mistruths, or misrepresentations point them out. I have read the book and it appears you protesteth too loudly.

Jon Garfunkel says:

The lawsuit is interesting to read — it is helpful to understand the arguments.

But it would be an awful precedent for a US Court to even consider ruling that a nonfiction policy book could be liable for fraud.

Shmuel says:

If “starting a conversation” means “completely discrediting yourself by making it clear that the only way you can get your point of view across is by trying to suppress others,” then hey, well done.

This case needs to be speedily dismissed with prejudice.

You cannot sell a sandwich by claiming that it contains meat, if the fact is that it does not contain mean. You cannot sell a book by stating that it tells the facts (veracity) if it does not. It is not a question of free speech, it is a question of deceit, fraud, cheating.”Congratulations” to the USA for such a president!

Shmuel:

I am afraid you continue to miss the point. No one is trying to suppress anything. Let them give the buyers who believed the marketing and bought it only to find out it was not true their money back.

Alter:

If you think these plaintiffs protesteth too much, you really should read what Dennis Ross, Ken Stein, and others who “were there” had to write about what Mr. Carter did with this book.

Shmuel says:

Six of one, half a dozen of the other, Daniel. Even intentional, outright lying in a book is not — and absolutely should not be — legally actionable grounds for providing a refund. And by Schoen’s own admission, the motivation here has nothing at all to do with being concerned about people’s failure to get their money’s worth.

Carter was one of the worst presidents we ever had. During his watch, there was no improvement in the economy, and there were losses in esteem in the rest of the USA. Losing Iran, we were the joke of the world, except in Israel. The day that Reagan got in, our hostages were released. Then, under his economics, the US prospered. It took Clinton only 8 years to let it all go.

BH in Iowa says:

Dhimmi Carter indeed has the right to be a fool. He does not have the right to incite.

On the other hand what about the free speech of Israel representitives and supporters?

The answer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Odis2hxwJYw

Rabbi Tony Jutner says:

It doesnt matter whether Carter was deliberately lying or not. His goal of dismantling zionism should be supported by all progressive peoples. Carter may be acting in accordance with deep seated religious beliefs, in that Jews need to suffer because they rejected Jesus. While I personally reject that belief, I respect Carter’s right to hold it if that is the case. I hope Carter and Goldstone get Nobel Prizes for opposing zionism

Shmuel:

I am afraid you misunderstood me; perhaps not. I want to make sure, though, that I am clear on one point you address most recently. The case certainly is in part about people not getting their money’s worth, just as it is about a company seeking to take that money by promoting the book as a completely factual account of the events depicted. It intentionally marketed it to an audience who wanted a true account and they knew that is not what they were providing for the $27.00. They could have marketed it as a novel by Carter, but that would have appealed to a different audience and undoubtedly not been as lucrative. So for the class members it is about not getting their money’s worth, along with not wanting to be misled, cheated, etc. An easy remedy for the company is to reimburse their money. As in any consumer transaction, protected by very important consumer protection laws, one ought to hope that a bookseller can’t hawk its goods with a claim they know without question is not true and then have it be just tough luck when experts bust the author whose book they made $27 selling as true, and expose him as a liar. They wouldn’t have gotten what the company promised them they were getting for the $27.00. As one of the comments above indicated, he has the right to lie or say whatever he would like and everyone ought to defend that right, but not to trick people in order to take their money and advance his agenda.

Finally, you write that lying is not actionable for purposes of getting a refund. I am not sure where you got that notion generally. If it were accurate, all of the consumer protection laws of this nature would go out the window and I can assure you they were enacted to serve an important purpose. Again, though, it is not the lying about the events in the book that makes this actionable. It is lying and then getting people to pay $27 for it by telling them it is all true, when the writer and publisher know that is not so.

BH in Iowa says:

Calling Bullshit on “Rabbi Tony Jutner”

http://yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/2010/04/rabbi-tony.html

Troll Fail.

chumpsky says:

Carter always was and always will be a sycophant and his favorite bell to ring is lightly frosted antisemitism. If he lied he should be prosecuted for fraud like anyone who makes false allegations. If he didn’t lie he should not. That of course should be determined by educated IMPARTIAL judges (where ever those can be found.) I’ll have to await a verdict as I don’t think I have the stomach for reading anything that man writes or any other enemy (YES, enemy) of Israel.

This is a big mistake and a bit foolish. It’s going to get muckraked everywhere and not help to delegitimize the delegitimizers — including Carter — at all.

Seems to me that the peanut farmer has been given a judicial smack in the chops.

It is indeed very SAD ,when a person of EX President Jimmy Carter supposedly, Christian Morals,deliberately lied so as to sell a non-fiction book ;he should be taken before the courts,tried and hopefully convicted and made to feel the full Blunt of the law.What are his objectives ? did he believe that he could get away with the deception ? Its all about MONEY!! Money!!! Money !!!
He should know that he will not receive G=D’blessings.
Aubrey Massias

I never even thought that he could be sued, tho’ he absolutely should be held accountable for his lies and distortions. The diea that people bought his book thinking it was true might be grounds for a suit based on fraud, but isn’t it a publisher’s job to check on facts?

At any rate, Carter will have very little to stand on. Not only does the book not stand up to scrutiny, he’s ALREADY ADMITTED that he LIED: he said that he deliberately named the book to get people’s attention, & he FURTHER backpedaled when his grandson was running for office in a Jewish area – what a hypocrite! He deserves any punishment that can be given to him for inciting such hatred & only furthering the troubles in the Middle East.

Rabbi Tony Jutner : Could we have your credentials?
You seem to be less of a Rabbi than I an astrophysicist.At least I have an idea what the job of an astrophysicist might be. You don’t seem to have a clue what a Rabbi is. Please have some more respect for serious Rabbis.

Charles says:

Carter tells it like it is. Americans tend to forgive the false flag operations, spying and terrorist acts the Israelis have committed, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen.

It will be funny if this goes to court and Carter shows his facts. Will the plaintiffs have any of their own? Doubtful…

Stuart says:

The “marketplace of ideas” rules in the US, and it is clear Carter is not selling what people are buying. Carter’s book was drifting off into the sunset, unlamented, unloved and not believed.

The real issue is giving him this sort of free advertising to keep the thing going when it would otherwise be ignored.

I am Jew who is soooo sick of Zionist b.s. The lies are what the Israelis tell, such as the big one that Arab citizens willingly left their homes in 1948.

CarterFan says:

I gather business must be a little down for David Schoen. One must give him credit for imagination, I suppose.

CarterFan says:

Stuart wrote:

“The “marketplace of ideas” rules in the US, and it is clear Carter is not selling what people are buying. Carter’s book was drifting off into the sunset, unlamented, unloved and not believed.”

You’re kidding, right? Carter’s book was a Number 1 best-seller. It was published in 2006, so maybe it’s “drifting off into the sunset” five years later, but there are millions of copies out there.

As there ought to be. I hope you’re right that this lawsuit brings more attention to Carter’s book. I suspect the two lawyers who filed the lawsuit have someone else in mind to whom they’d like to bring attention.

You want an American conversation? Bring it on. The Joan Peters crowd vs the Realists. You want to pit Carter against Ross? I can’t wait. What chutzpah. How disgusting.

Is is any wonder the word ‘hatred’ is mentioned three times in the less than the first hundred words of this comment section. There is something very sick going on here and it isn’t Jimmy Carter.

Though I have no doubt the court will throw out the Carter lawsuit at the first opportunity, in lighter moments I consider some of the off-the-wall legal claims and defenses that have not only survived to trial but have actually won.

The best known here in San Francisco has to be the infamous “Twinkies Defense,” put forth by Dan White’s lawyers when he was charged with shooting San Francisco mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in the late 1970’s. Though it didn’t succeed for White, one cannot help but be impressed that his lawyers could get all the way through their presentation without bursting into laughter at their own absurdity. The “Twinkies Defense” was that Dan White had suffered from “diminished capacity,” and thus could not be held responsible for his actions, because he had been eating a lot of sugary junk food lately (including Twinkies, a mass-produced pastry stuffed with a sweet white filling). It was at that precise moment that I told myself I’d never be a good criminal defense attorney (not that I’d ever wanted to be): I lacked the imagination required for that.

Then there was the lawsuit in which a woman had been riding a cable car in San Francisco and had been hanging onto a pole so far out from the cable car that her head had banged into a passenger on a cable car coming from the other direction. She claimed that the impact, too slight to cause any bleeding or even a bruise, had caused her to become a nymphomaniac. Reportedly, she trotted in a number of male witnesses who confirmed that she’d become a lot easier to coax into bed since the unfortunate accident. The jury thought that all made good sense and awarded her a vast sum of money. Some newspaper wag suggested she’d handed out her phone number to all of the male jury members.

Then, of course, there is the ne plus ultra of American civil cases: the infamous McDonald’s coffee case. A woman bought a take-out cup of coffee from a McDonalds fast-food restaurant, got back in her car,

Then, of course, there is the ne plus ultra of American civil cases: the infamous McDonald’s coffee case. A woman bought a take-out cup of coffee from a McDonalds fast-food restaurant, got back in her car, and held the cup of coffee between her legs as she started the car and began to back out of her parking spot. The cup spilled and the hot coffee burned her legs. She sued McDonalds because it had not disclosed to her that the coffee was hot and might burn her legs if, for example, she held it between her legs while backing out of her parking spot and it happened to tip over. How much was this poor woman’s pain and suffering worth? According to the jury, $1,800,000.

So, without minimizing just how frivolous this Carter lawsuit is, or how quickly it will be thrown out of court, or how difficult it will be for the judge to keep from rolling his eyes as he listens to the arguments of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, I do have to admit that this is hardly the low point of American jurisprudence. Close, but not quite.

Seriously says:

David wrote (2/2 at 10:36 AM)”

“That’s just not what this is about. It is about the rights of people who pay a lot of money to buy a book they believe (based on an expensive marketing campaign) to be a fully factual account of what happened at the relevant events depicted…”

Oh pulleez! This lawsuit is just a publicity stunt, plain and simple. The plaintiffs’ lawyers know this. Any lawyer knows this. They knew no one would read their anti-Carter screed on its own merits, and so they embodied their essay in a lawsuit complaint. Can we all stop pretending it’s anything more than that, or that it will not be tossed out of court at the earliest opportunity a court has to do so?

Stuart says:

Carter Fan, of course it was a momentary sensation, I read it, but it has the staying power of bad salmon. Carter is entitled to write ANYTHING he wants, he just happened to write the historical equivalent of saying the Patriots beat the Giants in the 2007 Super Bowl and went 19-0. If ESPN wrote that, as they would be entitled to in the marketplace of ideas, well, they wouldn’t be considered a leader in sports news much like One-Term Jimmy in international history.

Suing the guy 6 years later for his nonsense is downright stupid and pointless and does nothing except give the author undeserved advertising.

I see — will they be suing Walt and Mearsheimer over their book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” as well?

With more than $10 million pouring into Carter’s coffers from the Arabs for projects including the Carter Library, Carter has sold his soul to the devil.

Neveragain says:

Carter has done some good things as an x-President. It is very sad that he has distorted the issues in the Middle East.The good part is that only people who already are anti-Israel will believe his views.Here in Georgia, he has little credibility anyway.
The suit has no chance, but it has at least let the nation know that Carter did not tell the truth.

NoToViolence says:

Carter is and was a decent man.
But he is getting his marching orders (veiled misinformation) from the fringe anti-Israel camp. Lots of them generated in Tehran and Muslim Brotherhood circles.

While the original Zionism was born in the sign of non-violence, the era was filled with violence.

The accusations are false. Carter should honestly research the leadership of the Palestinians and Islamic nations.

Which one is non violent?

The moment the regimes of Tehran, Damascus etc. become non violent, Israel will not continue the current military concepts.

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Carter Sued Over ‘Apartheid’ Book

Ex-pres., publisher said to falsely market ‘anti-Israel propaganda’

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