Saturday, April 26, 2008
The Sad End of Jimmy Carter
April 25, 2008; Page A15
The problem is not that he is, or is not, talking to the Syrians – everyone does it to some degree.
It isn't that he went to Damascus to meet with the exiled head of Hamas – everyone, including the Israelis, will one day have to do that too, in accordance with that old rule which says that in the end it is with your enemies not your friends that you have to come to an understanding and make peace.
The problem is how Jimmy Carter went about it.
The problem is the spectacular and useless embrace he exchanged with the senior Hamas dignitary, Nasser Shaer, in Ramallah. The problem is the wreath he laid piously at the grave of Yasser Arafat, who, as Mr. Carter knows better than anyone else, was a real obstacle to peace.
It is that in Cairo, if we are to believe another Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, whose statement has so far not been denied, Mr. Carter apparently described Hamas as a "national liberation movement" – this party which has made a cult of death, a mythology of blood and race, and an anti-Semitism along the lines of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion into the linchpin of its ideology.
The problem is also the formidable nose thumbing he got from Hamas's exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal, who, at the very moment he was receiving Mr. Carter, also triggered the first car bombing in several months in Keren Shalom on the Gaza strip – and that this event elicited from poor Mr. Carter, all tangled up in his small-time mediator calculations, not one disapproving or empathetic word.
The former president, it will be recalled, is an old hand at this sort of thing.
Going off track like this is not new for the man who 30 years ago was one of the architects of peace with Egypt, but who since then has not stopped vilifying Israel, comparing its political system to that of South Africa during apartheid, ignoring Israel's desire for peace, which is no less real than its errors, even denying its suffering.
A year ago, he told CBS that for years his beloved Hamas had not committed any terrorist attacks resulting in civilian casualties – this, a few months after the assassination of six people at the Karni Terminal, and the attack on Aug. 30, 2004, which killed 16 passengers in two buses in Beersheba.
And it is one thing to speak to CBS, and another to say these words, which are unofficial but have indisputable moral authority, to the belligerents.
It is one thing to say, in Dublin on June 19, 2007, that the true criminals are not those who proclaim, like Mashaal, that "before dying" Israel must be "humiliated and degraded," but those who would prefer that these charming characters be pushed out of the circles of power, sooner or later, with a distinct preference for "sooner." It is quite another to come over in person and put all one's weight behind the most radical elements, those who are the most hostile to peace, the most profoundly nihilistic in the Palestinian camp.
The truth is, if one wished to discredit the other side, to fully humiliate and ridicule the only Palestinian leader (Mahmoud Abbas) who at the risk of his life continues to believe in the solution of two states – if with a word one wanted to ruin the last dreams of men and women of goodwill who still believe in peace – one would be absolutely on the right track.
So what happened to this man, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate?
Is it the vanity of someone who is no longer so important, who wants a last 15 minutes in the spotlight before he has to leave the stage forever?
Is it the senility of a politician who has lost touch with reality and with his own party? Barack Obama, even more clearly than his rival, has just reminded us that it will not be possible to "sit down" with the leaders of Hamas unless they are prepared to "renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and respect past agreements."
Could he be suffering from a variant of self-hatred, or in this case a hatred of his own past as the Great Peacemaker?
All hypotheses are permitted. Whatever the reason, Mr. Carter has demonstrated an unusual capacity to transform a political error into a disastrous moral mistake.
Mr. Levy's new book, "Left in Dark Times: A Stand against the New Barbarism," will be published by Random House in September. This essay was translated from the French by Sara Sugihara.
See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal1.
And add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum2.
URL for this article:
Jimmy Carter must stop meddling
Last Updated: 5:01pm BST 22/04/2008
You have to marvel at the naivety of former American president Jimmy Carter. The man who gave us the Iranian revolution is now in Gaza trying to resolve the Palestinian crisis. And after meeting leaders of the radical Palestinian Hamas movement, Mr Carter emerges to inform us that Hamas is prepared to give up its onslaught on Israel if the Israeli government agrees to sit down and talk.
# Hamas will deal with Israel, says Jimmy Carter
Let's set aside for a moment the obvious fact that Israel is not going to negotiate with an organisation that is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state. Mr Carter himself must share much of the blame for the wretched state the Palestinians now find themselves in by ignoring their statehood aspirations when he negotiated the Camp David peace deal between Israel and Egypt in the late 1970s. At the time the majority of the Palestinian population supported the secular PLO movement led by Yasser Arafat. But Mr Carter's failure to address the Palestinian issue resulted in decades of neglect of the Palestinian cause, which ultimately led many Palestinians to desert the PLO in favour of Hamas.
But then when it came to handling difficult international issues, Mr Carter hardly covered himself in glory during his four-year term. It was his campaign for human rights in Iran under the Shah that ultimately resulted in the Islamic revolution that continues to haunt the West to this day. With a record like that Mr Carter would be better advised to reflect on the error of his ways than meddle in an issue where he no longer has the power or authority to influence the outcome.
Our view is the view of the Telegraph, written by our team of leader writers and commentators. This team includes David Hughes, Philip Johnston, Simon Heffer, Janet Daley, Con Coughlin, Robert Colvile and Iain Martin
PRESIDENT CARTER'S "PEACE"
CARTER'S TRUE COLORS
Editorial, New York Post, April 16, 2008
Kowtowing to the cutthroats who run Hamas obviously wasn't enough for Jimmy Carter, who yesterday also found it necessary to lay a wreath of red roses at the tomb of the bloody-handed terrorist Yasser Arafat. The increasingly bizarre ex-president and wife Rosalynn "wanted to pay their respects to President Arafat," said a spokesman.
Thereupon Carter proceeded to Gaza, where he played kissy-face with Hamas' Nasser al-Shaer, one-time education minister of the Palestinian Authority. "We hugged each other, and it was a warm reception," boasted Shaer, who reportedly got a peck on each cheek from the meddler-in-chief.
Even more amazingly, Carter then identified the one person best suited to "provide communication between people." That would be himself, of course. And just to drive home his point, Carter pointedly criticized what he termed Israel's "failure" to live up to its peacemaking obligations. (Little wonder that the Israelis basically—and quite justifiably—told Carter to take a hike, refusing even to provide him with the customary security detail to augment his Secret Service protection.)
Tellingly, even Democrats on Capitol Hill increasingly are begging him to cut short his hug-a-terrorist tour and go back home before he makes an even bigger fool of himself. …
At this point, can anyone really doubt the truth of what Carter's own Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, told then-Mayor Ed Koch back in 1980? Speaking at a private meeting shortly before that year's presidential election, Koch told Vance that Jewish voters were afraid that a reelected Carter "will sell them out."
"Vance," Koch recalled, "nodded and said, 'He will.' " And, clearly, Carter has—even without being reelected.
Now the fellow who set in motion the chain of events that resulted in the Iranian revolution is still hard at work making a hash of the Middle East. He's succeeding, sad to say.
JUST SAY NO TO CARTER
Ha'aretz, April 17, 2008
Senior Israeli officials were not the first to try to get out of meeting Jimmy Carter. A number of members of Bill Clinton's administration have already tried, including the former president and his wife the candidate; most members of Bush senior's administration, including George H. W. himself; and it goes without saying the same applies to his son and his administration.
Carter has a strange characteristic: He finds it easier to make friends with dictators. If a person's companions testify to his personality and character, then here is a partial list of people with whom Carter has gotten along well: Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat and Kim Il Jong.
Carter has helped in no small number of humanitarian activities, said Brent Scowcroft, George H.W. Bush's former U.S. National Security Adviser, but "his political judgment was just awful."
After Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, Carter objected to using force to remove the invaders. He even had a creative idea of how to solve the crisis: "Now is a propitious time for Israel to come forward with a genuine peace initiative." In simple terms, an Israeli withdrawal from the territories in return for an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. He had quite a lot of such creative ideas, few of them useful, a few dangerous and most just eccentric….
Carter has turned self-promotion through scandalous behavior into an art form. This is exactly how he sold his books, including the one presenting Israel as an apartheid state. A book which revealed, even if that was not what he meant to do, the fundamental hypocrisy which is the basis for the political partisanship concerning Carter. Whoever attacks a president such as Bush for distorting facts in order to push a political goal has no problem accepting Carter's book, which is nothing but a concoction of exaggerations, inventions, distortions and lies. Whoever disagrees with Bush because of the religious faith that serves as the foundation of his political actions has no problem with the same religious motives of Carter's messianism….
The honor due Carter for his help in reaching the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt is written in the history books, but he did not come to the Middle East this week for honor, but to work. And his work, for years, has had one goal: undermining the status of Israel, thwarting its policies and ridiculing its hopes. That is why Israel acted correctly in having him meet with only the ceremonial echelon—President Shimon Peres—and avoided having him meet with those who are supposed to be doing the work: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
In an interview earlier this week, Carter told Ha'aretz's Akiva Eldar a number of amazing things. Carter seemingly was not particularly distressed by the refusal to meet with him: "In a democracy, I realize that you don't need to talk to the top leader to know how the country feels. When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that's the dictator, because he speaks for all the people," explained Carter knowledgeably.
The words were very well chosen, with a malicious message wrapped up inside: in a dictatorship it is impossible to trust the ruler to express society's views, but in a democracy such as Israel the opposite is true--the elected government is that which expresses the public's mood, otherwise it would not have been elected.
Carter, once the exaggerated attention is stripped away, is nothing but a nuisance…. His views do not represent the American public…and his righteous trouble making is just a guise for continued hostility to Israel, which he views as partially responsible for ending his presidential career after only a single term.
In any case, the choice of those who still continue to insist on the need to listen to Carter is based on lies—it is possible to ignore him, protest his manipulative tricks, and still continue to work for true peace between Israel and the Arabs. There is no contradiction.