B’Shalom: Jimmy Carter, Rose Schindler, U.S. Senate Aspirants, Gregory Peck
Finding an every-Sunday column to be too restrictive, I’ve decided to write as the mood strikes. Some weeks, there may be more than one column, other weeks there may not be any at all. Those of you who were readers of the San Diego Jewish Press-Heritage until its demise in 2003 may remember a column that I had named “B’Shalom: In Peace.” I am reviving the name of the column today and hereafter in the hope that you and a new generation of readers will enjoy it.
An Israeli-American of close acquaintance, upon hearing that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter had entered hospice, commented that he “never liked that guy, he was an antisemite.” He noted that Carter helped propagate the lie that Israel is an apartheid state, even though Arabs have entered the highest levels of government and industry alongside their Jewish neighbors in Israel.
Nevertheless, as we look back over his career, I think that we should be more charitable toward Carter, not forgetting his invaluable contributions as a mediator at Camp David, bringing about the peace between Israel and Egypt.
Egypt always was the most powerful of the opponents that Israel faced, and with that peace – cold though it might be – a formidable military threat to the Jewish state was eliminated. Some years later under President Bill Clinton, a peace treaty was signed with Jordan, further reducing the military danger to Israel.
Under President Donald Trump, more progress was made with the signing of the Abraham Accords, bringing formal peace between Israel and such non-contiguous Arab states as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.
I hope that Israel will someday have peace with the Palestinians in Gaza and the Palestine Authority and with its immediate neighbors Lebanon and Syria, as well as with such other hostile Middle Eastern and North African countries as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, and Tunisia. As each step in this process unfolds, it is worth remembering that whatever else were his faults, Jimmy Carter got the peace ball rolling.
From my point of view, Carter had a blind spot about Israel and the Palestinians. He magnified perceived Israeli faults and minimized those of the Palestinians. His frustration over his inability to help birth an independent Palestinian state may have contributed to his bitterness about Israel.
Since he left office after just one term, Carter has been a model ex-president on the domestic front. I have had the privilege of covering every man who has been a U.S. President from Lyndon B. Johnson through Joe Biden at one point or another in their careers. I remember spending time with Carter in Tijuana, observing him along with other volunteers for Habitat for Humanity building homes for the poor.
Carter also created at Emory University the Carter Center, which sent teams to conflict zones all over the world to try to bring about peace. At the University of San Diego, Carter helped to inaugurate in 2001 the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. Its first executive director, Joyce Neu, who by the way was Jewish, had worked for Carter at the Carter Center. During her tenure with Carter, she had helped negotiate ceasefires both in the Bosnian conflict and in the guerilla war between Uganda and Sudan.
Almost every political figure has shown strengths and weaknesses during his or her career. On balance, I believe we can celebrate President Carter for his strengths.
Rose Schindler was briefly in hospice in February before she succumbed to pancreatic cancer. She was a cheerful woman, notwithstanding the horrors that she suffered at Auschwitz as a teenager, including the murder of her parents and some siblings. After her husband Max, a fellow Holocaust survivor, left her a widow, she soldiered on. She was a frequent and dependable speaker at schools, service clubs, and Holocaust commemorations during a lifetime that also included other public services. For example, she regularly signed up to serve lunches to “our Navy boys” at the former Naval Training Center. And she volunteered for diverse assignments as she and fellow members of the New Life Club of Holocaust Survivors integrated with San Diego society.
Her legacy and those of other Holocaust survivors who made their
lives in San Diego County – such as Gussie and Mike Zaks, Hanna Marx,
Sally Sheinok, Ruth and Kurt Sax, and many others – will not be
forgotten. The County of San Diego is currently in the process of
finding a space for an exhibit that will be shown for at least a year
about the Holocaust survivors who made their post-war lives in San
Diego County. It will be curated by Sandra Scheller, the daughter or
Ruth and Kurt Sax, who developed the RUTH: Remember Us the Holocaust
exhibit at the Chula Vista Public Library, which focused on those
survivors who lived in the South Bay area. Many people hope that this
exhibit eventually will become part of an overall Jewish museum, which
San Diego County so sorely lacks.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher was responsible for pushing through the ordinance that directed that space be found for the exhibit, and which also allocated $25,000 to the Jewish Federation of San Diego County to administer the exhibit. The Federation recently took the New Life Club, now just a tenth of its original membership of 400, under its wing. According to Darren Schwartz, the Federation’s chief program officer, the Federation also has been reaching out to another 400 elderly Holocaust survivors, many of them from the former Soviet Union, who are living in poverty. These efforts are commendable.
Reads the full article here.