A plagiarism charge was leveled this week by a former close associate of Carter's, who has resigned from the Carter Center in protest over the ex-president's new book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.
It is the second high-profile plagiarism case involving Jewish affairs this year.
Prof. Kenneth Stein's resignation from the Atlanta-based Carter Center ends his 23 year-association with the institute, including ten years as its executive director. Stein also co-authored Carter's previous book about the Middle East, 'The Blood of Abraham: Insights in the Middle East.'
Prof. Stein, who teaches Mideast history at Emory University, where the Carter Center is based, is also director of the university's Middle East Research Program and its Institute for the Study of Modern Israel. Explaining his resignation from the Carter Center, Stein said that Palestine Peace Not Apartheid "is replete with factual errors" and Carter "simply invented segments." Stein's statement did not cite the book's title by name, saying it is "too inflammatory to even print."
Carter's publisher, Simon & Schuster, and his allies had expected supporters of Israel to criticize the book for its arguments. But they appear to have been taken by surprise by another of Prof. Stein's charges: that the book is "replete with... copied materials not cited."
Mr. Carter's spokeswoman, Deanna Coneglio, issued a statement in the former president's name which downplayed Prof. Stein's connection to the Center as "titular." Tthe statement did not address the plagiarism charge. Simon & Schuster publisher David Rosenthal told The New York Times that he is "confident in [Carter's] work," but then hedged slightly, saying, "Do we check every line in every book? No, but that's not the issue here. I have no reason to doubt President Carter's research."
Prof. Stein declined to name the book or books from which he says Carter copied words, because he is preparing an article that will reveal those details. He told The Times, "There are elements in the book that were lifted from another source. That source is now acting on his or her own advice about what to do because of this."
The Carter plagiarism controversy is the second such affair to seize the attention of the Jewish community in recent months. Earlier this year, The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies released a report which found that a new book defending President Franklin Roosevelt's Holocaust record "contains at least twenty-one passages that have language identical, or virtually identical, to language used in other published works," yet the author "does not use quotation marks to indicate that the words were composed by a different author." The book, 'Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust,' was authored by Robert N. Rosen, a divorce lawyer in South Carolina. Ironically, one of Rosen's first major speaking engagements when his book was released was at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, in Atlanta.
The report about Rosen's book was authored by Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff, Dr. Racelle Weiman, director of the Holocaust center at Reform Judaism's Hebrew Union College, and Dr. Bat-Ami Zucker, a Holocaust historian at Bar Ilan University. They found, for example, that on p. 296, Rosen, justifying FDR's reluctance to urge the British to open Palestine to Jews fleeing Hitler, wrote: "Any time the president touched the issue --even by merely receiving Zionists-- he triggered explosive reactions in Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia." But Rosen did not use quotation marks around the sentence, which appears to have been taken from the 1970 book 'Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom,' by James Burns. On p. 397, Burns wrote: "Any time the President touched the issue --even by merely receiving Zionists--he triggered explosive reactions in Egypt or Syria or Saudi Arabia."
A more serious instance is Rosen's statement, on p.442, that "the United States accepted about twice as many refugees as the rest of the world combined, 200,000 out of 300,000." This was apparently derived from an article by the historian Gerhard Weinberg, who wrote, "The United States accepted about twice as many Jewish refugees as the rest of the world put together: about 200,000 out of 300,000," i.e. 65% of the total.
According to the Wyman Institute, the problem is not just that Rosen used Weinberg's words without quotation marks, but that the numbers are serioiusly mistaken. According to Dr. Alex Grobman, writing recently in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, "in fact, 'the rest of the world' took in about 365,000 refugees, meaning the United States accepted about 35%, not 65%."
In other passages, Rosen uses language derived, without quotation marks, from the published writings of such noted Holocaust historians as Deborah Lipstadt, Richard Breitman, and Henry Feingold.
The controversy caught up to Rosen recently when he was invited to speak by the History Department at the University of New Mexico. In October, the History Department withdrew the invitation because of the plagiarism issue. "You can't take the exact words from somebody else without saying, 'I took that person's exact words,'" Prof. Andrew Sandoval-Strausz told the school's newspaper, The Daily Lobo. A dean at the college later reinstated the invitation to Rosen on the grounds that the school had already made a commitment to him. In the end, only twenty people showed up at Rosen's lecture.
Rosen told the Daily Lobo that "any charge of plagiarism is false," and added that his manuscript was reviewed before publication by Alexander Moore of the University of South Carolina Press, although it was published by a New York City publishing house, Thunder's Mouth Press. "This is a man who edits for a university press, so obviously he knows the proper way to cite and quote," Rosen said. Rosen did not say whether Moore had been asked to check all of Rosen's original sources and quotations, something that is not ordinarily expected of editors.
"Use of another's language without quotation marks and citation" contravenes the American Historical Association's official Statement on Plagiarism, but the association has no means of punishing offenders. In high-profile cases of plagiarism, the offending authors and their publishers usually took quick remedial action in response to public criticism. For example, in 2002, when Doris Kearns Goodwin was found to have plagiarized passages of her 1987 book, 'The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys,' her publisher, Simon & Schuster, announced that it was "destroying its inventory of paperback copies of the book," and would later release a "thoroughly corrected edition."
Simon & Schuster is also the publisher of Mr. Carter's book.