Jimmy Carter, responding to the reaction his new book has received, has a sincere and thoughtful piece in the LA Times on speaking frankly about Israel and Palestine:
The many controversial issues concerning Palestine and the path to peace for Israel are intensely debated among Israelis and throughout other nations ? but not in the United States. For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices.
It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defense of justice or human rights for Palestinians. Very few would ever deign to visit the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Gaza City or even Bethlehem and talk to the beleaguered residents. What is even more difficult to comprehend is why the editorial pages of the major newspapers and magazines in the United States exercise similar self-restraint, quite contrary to private assessments expressed quite forcefully by their correspondents in the Holy Land.
While I disagree with Carter on the idea of a two-state solution (I believe the only tenable solution to the conflict is a single democratic state where one person has one vote), I agree wholeheartedly with the problems that arise in the US when one wants to have an honest discussion about Israel/Palestine.
Proving his point, we can see that this is the kind of reaction that genuine discourse, such as Carter's gets in the US. Of course this elder statesman handles himself with propriety and grace, neither of which such mean-spirited and asinine attacks really warrant.