Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CARTER GETS ABUSE FROM AMERICAN POLS AND MEDIA

PHILIP GIRALDI, ANTI WAR Poor Jimmy Carter. All he wanted to do was talk peace. But all he got was the shaft, from the Bush administration, the secretary of state, the Israeli government, the mainstream media, and the presidential candidates. . .

Most discouraging were the comments from Barack Obama, who has been widely seen as a possible agent for change in U.S. foreign policy. Speaking to a group of American Jewish leaders gathered in a Philadelphia synagogue, he criticized Carter, saying, "Hamas is not a state, Hamas is a terrorist organization. They obviously have developed great influence within the Palestinian territories, but they do not control the apparatus of power." As Obama has frequently evinced a willingness to enter into discussions with nearly everyone and Hamas is actually a political party representing most of the Palestinian people and constituting a majority in the national parliament, the parsing is curious. If holding the position of prime minister after a democratic election is not controlling "the apparatus of power," it is not clear what the litmus test might be. Obama also went on to describe his friendship for Israel with obligatory effusiveness, saying that "he would make sure that it [Israel] can defend itself from any attack," though again the word choice was interesting, as he did not pledge the U.S. to go to war on behalf of Israel, as John McCain and Hillary Clinton have done.

Carter was also lacerated by the U.S. media, which did not report the visit in detail except to criticize it. The Washington Post's neocon-dominated editorial page was the most strident, denouncing Carter for embracing Hamas' terrorists. According to the Post, Hamas engages in "deliberate targeting of civilians," such as the Israeli town of Sderot, which "suffers daily rocket attacks." The Post seems unaware of Israeli targeting of civilians when it can't find an actual "militant" to kill. The relentless barrage on Sderot using crude, homemade rockets reportedly killed only one resident in the past year, a worker from Ecuador. Hundreds of Palestinians, mostly civilians and including many children, have been killed in Israeli reprisals during that same time period. . . .

Investor's Business Daily outdid the Post, opining that "Our worst ex-president honors the memory of Yasser Arafat while hugging Hamas-cidal terrorists. Instead of embracing terrorists, Jimmy Carter should be laying wreaths at the tombs of their victims." Benjamin Shapiro, writing for Townhall.com, put it slightly differently: "Jimmy Carter is an evil man. It is painful to label a past president of the United States as a force for darkness. But it is dangerous to let a man like Jimmy Carter stalk around the globe cloaked in the garb of American royalty, planting the seeds of Western Civilization's destruction." Rep. Joe Knollenberg of Michigan is so angry about Carter that he is proposing legislation blocking any federal funding for the Carter Center, saying that "America must speak with one voice against our terrorist enemies," while Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina has called on Condi Rice to revoke Carter's passport. The new head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman, complains that Carter holds "warped" views on the Middle East. Berman, who is a strong and vocal supporter of Israel at all times and under all circumstances, apparently believes that his own views are just fine.

Ironically, Carter is the one U.S. president who has actually done considerable good for Israel, not just for the hard-line right-wing politicians lately much beloved in Washington, having brokered the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. He has been an honest if sometimes overly sanctimonious spokesman, recognizing that Israel is creating an apartheid-like system on the West Bank, something that the Israeli media is free to say but which is taboo in the United States. . .

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