letters |  

My background is Judeo-Christian, but, as I’ve aged, the guidance and sense of comfort I realize from my faith wanes. I have searched, and continue to search, for meaning. My travels and studies have led me to appreciate much of what Buddhism has to offer: a desire to ease the suffering of all sentient beings, that serenity comes from the inside outward, that life is to be enjoyed and not endured, that fear has no place—even in my day-to-day living. The Dalai Lama is a spiritual man, and a religious leader not threatened by advances in medicine and science, one who sees rationality as an adjunct to rather than a threat to his religious beliefs and worldview. I congratulate Emory for developing the program and inviting His Holiness to be part of the Emory community.
Mark Aarons
Emory Medicine Fellowship 1988–­1990
Southern Pines, North Carolina

Your article discussing the visit of former President Carter to Emory in February did a poor job of explaining the criticism of his book [Palestine Peace not Apartheid] and the reasons for the resignations of The Carter Center staff members. This book, particularly the absolution of Arab terrorism, has done great harm. After September 11, there was a brief period of self-examination in the Western and Arab worlds. Self-examination held the promise that political, diplomatic, or educational reforms could prevent another September 11. That period is over. Mr. Carter’s book has fueled conspiracy theories that Americans—if freed to form their own opinions—would agree Palestinians are always victims and that Israelis deserve their fate. By decreasing willingness to engage in painful self-evaluation and self-criticism, Mr. Carter has extended the war of hatred between Israelis and Arabs.
Jonathan D. Reich MR95
Lakeland, Florida

Emory Magazine’s spring 2007 issue discusses the controversy surrounding President [Jimmy] Carter’s book, Palestine Peace not Apartheid. As an Emory law graduate, I am amazed and disappointed that Emory is not disturbed by Carter’s poor scholarship, one-sidedness, and bizarre public statements. While people are certainly entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to create their own set of facts. As someone born in South Africa who abhors the former apartheid regimes, I was deeply offended that Mr. Carter would advance Arab extremists and other anti-Semite goals of deligitimizing Israel by applying this hateful and inaccurate title. Unfortunately, Mr. Carter’s ex-presidency seems to have drifted from a mission to improve health care in Africa and other good deeds to advancing his obsessive dislike of Israel and support for the world’s worst despots. President Wagner is simply wrong to state that charges of anti-Semitism against Mr. Carter are unfounded.
Et Gentin 96L
Gainesville, Georgia

President James Wagner made a cogent point concerning “Impossible Conversations” in Emory Magazine, spring 2007. He appropriately cited the controversy and spirited on-campus discussion surrounding the book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, authored by University Distinguished Professor Jimmy Carter.In effect, Wagner validated the message in Voltaire’s famous quote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” To this end, Emory should step out of its liberal sociopolitical comfort zone and invite some conservative speakers to the campus. Inviting decidedly conservative speakers to a decidedly liberal university would indeed provide impetus to the practice of impossible conversations.
Professor Emeritus Dale E. Hunt
Atlanta, Georgia

I was disappointed to infer from your story in the spring 2007 issue on President Carter’s latest book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, that the author did not agree with “a number of Emory community members” who had wanted his presentation on his book last February at Glenn Memorial Auditorium to be a part of a debate with another Middle East expert such as Ambassador Dennis Ross. The fact that such a debate did not take place and Mr. Carter took to the stage as the only speaker on such a controversial topic seems to fly in the face of the open spirit that had characterized his symposiums on the Middle East that convened on the Emory campus in the mid-eighties when I was a student. Indeed,
I remember that even President Gerald Ford was invited to comment on the issues side by side with President Carter, thus offering a fuller spectrum to the subject at hand. It seems that although President Carter “defended the message and accuracy” of his book in his solo presentation, he did not wish at this time to debate these very things. Regrettably, I find this (inferred) reluctance on his part to contradict the spirit of unmitigated pursuit for the truth, a value well instilled in me since my years at Emory.
Yossi Feintuch 85G
Columbia, Missouri



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