The resignations at the Carter Center are the latest backlash against the former president's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." The book has also drawn fire from Jewish groups and fellow Democrats, and led to the resignation last month of Kenneth Stein, a center fellow and a longtime Carter adviser.
"You have clearly abandoned your historic role of broker in favor of becoming an advocate for one side," the departing members of the center's Board of Councilors told Carter in their letter of resignation.
The 200-member board is responsible for building public support for the Carter Center. It is not the organization's governing board.
The board's members "are not engaged in implementing work of the Center," Carter Center Executive Director John Hardman said Thursday in a news release.
The book follows the Israeli-Palestinian peace process starting with Carter's 1977-1980 presidency and the peace accord he negotiated between Israel and Egypt. It doles out blame to Israel, the Palestinians, the United States and others — but it is most critical of Israeli policy.
Steve Berman, an Atlanta real estate developer who is among those who resigned, said members have "watched with great dismay" as Carter defended the book, especially as he implied that Americans might be afraid to discuss the conflict in fear of a powerful Jewish lobby.
Berman said the religious affiliation of the resigning members, which include some prominent Jewish leaders in the Atlanta area, did not influence their decision.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said in a statement Thursday that Carter "has only himself to blame" for the resignations because the book was "blatantly one-sided and unbecoming of a former President."
Also Thursday, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which represents nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis, said it would cancel its visit to the Carter Center in protest over the book when the group holds its convention in Atlanta in March.
The resignations came a day after Carter spokeswoman Deanna Congileo and officials at Brandeis University said Carter will discuss the book at the Waltham, Mass., campus. However, the Nobel Peace Prize winner will not debate the book with outspoken Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, as Brandeis had originally proposed.