Thursday, December 14, 2006

Praying with the Devil?

Former President Jimmy Carter prayed with rabbis who are angered by his new book's reference to apartheid in describing the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, but he didn't change their minds.

The Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix said they wouldn't call for a boycott of Carter's book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," but they also won't suggest that anyone read it.

"I don't know if he gets the evil that we are facing," said Rabbi Bonnie Koppell of Scottsdale.

Carter, 82, was met by a crowd of protesters as he appeared at a book store in suburban Tempe to autograph copies of the book.

He said he chose the title to shine light on the festering conflict and give Americans a different point of view than what they're used to.

"I wanted to provoke debate," Carter said. "I wanted to provoke discussion."

Carter met with the rabbis' group for almost an hour, prayed with them and invited them to help him teach Sunday school.

Koppell said she was surprised that he spent so much time with them and felt he would try to be more balanced in the future.

Rabbi Ayla Grafstein of Scottsdale said it didn't matter what promises Carter made.

"In the end, he's not going to change what's in his book," Grafstein said.

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