The Damage of Jimmy Carter

Carter's Hamas meeting legitimizes terrorism.

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There he goes again! Former President Jimmy Carter, acting out his stubborn, self-righteous moralism and his stunning vanity, persists in legitimizing terrorism. How else can the Middle East see Carter's meeting in Syria with no less than the terrorist mastermind Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas?

This man Mashaal is responsible for dozens of deadly suicide bombings and thousands of mortar and rocket attacks that have killed more than 250 Israelis, not to speak of the violent takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas last June, which undercut newly revived efforts by Israel and the Palestinians to strike a final peace deal. And, oh, yes, several of Mashaal's victims have been Americans.

There is bipartisan condemnation of Carter's meeting, but Carter has a long history of support for Hamas. This is what Carter said on Nov. 28, 2006, on pbs: "Since August of 2004 [Hamas] has not committed a single act of terrorism that cost an Israeli life, not a single one."

That is flatly untrue.

Hamas itself claimed responsibility, for example, for the 16 people who were killed and 100 wounded in August 2004 in nearly simultaneous suicide bombings of two city buses in Beersheba; for an attack on September 29 of that year when two preschool children were killed by Kassam rockets fired from Gaza; for an attack on Jan. 13, 2005, at the Karni Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which killed six civilians. And the list goes on. Carter spoke out on behalf of Hamas and against the secular party Fatah last year at the very time that Hamas thugs were throwing Fatah members to their death from Gaza rooftops.

Blind spot. Something has gone badly wrong with the always erratic Jimmy Carter. At Camp David, he effected the rapprochement between Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin that led to real progress. Good work. But then he abandoned the shah of Iran by sending senior American military personnel to restrain the shah's resistance to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's radical uprising in 1979. It was poetic justice that the Islamic revolution and hostage-taking destroyed Carter's chances of a second term, but that's small blessing for us now as we cope with a worldwide Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist regime that is learning how to make nuclear weapons. And who could forget the first Gulf War? This same Jimmy Carter, as an ex-president, urged members of the Security Council to vote against the efforts of President George H. W. Bush and the U.S. and Arab coalition to eject Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.

Carter has a blind spot about terrorism. Even his history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a departure from reality. He asserts that the initial violence occurred when "Jewish militants" attacked Arabs in 1939. He ignores the fact that Arabs launched terrorism against unarmed Jews in 1920, 1921, 1929, and 1936 to 1939, murdering hundreds of Jewish civilians. In 1929, the grand mufti of Jerusalem ordered the slaughter of more than a hundred rabbis, students, and others whose ancestors had lived in Hebron for millenniums. Nor will you hear him mention the long history of Palestinian terrorism such as the Munich massacre and plane hijackings and other atrocities originated by Yasser Arafat.

He quotes Arafat to assert again that the Palestine Liberation Organization never advocated the annihilation of Israel. Oh, no? The very founding charter of the plo calls for the destruction of Israel. Arafat himself said as much many times: "The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel." No surprise, then, that Carter exonerated Arafat for the failure of Camp David ii, rejecting eyewitness accounts by both President Bill Clinton and Ambassador Dennis Ross. The Saudi Prince Bandar said that Arafat's refusal to accept 95 percent of the West Bank and all of Gaza was "a crime" and his account of the circumstances was "not truthful."

If only Carter's opinions could be dismissed as hot air from a politician losing the limelight. But he does real damage. Even the moderate and soft-spoken Israeli President Shimon Peres is dismayed at the Carter effect. After meeting him in Jerusalem, Peres uncharacteristically lashed out at activities over the past few years that he felt have caused great damage to Israel and to the peace process.