American Jews Apartheid Hamas Israel

Carter was, and is, “Good for the Jews”

Before his controversial book used the “A-word” (apartheid), I never understood the reflexive, visceral hostility harbored for Jimmy Carter in the mainstream American Jewish community. He made a good many political mistakes early in his admnistration, using code words like “Palestinian homeland” and almost casually intimating that the U.S. and Israel should deal with the PLO before the community was ready for ithat kind of language, along with other gaffes. But he deserved better at the time and he deserves better now.

His latest book was deeply flawed. But even if one judges the man on the basis of whether he was and is “good for the Jews,” the Manichean prism through which my grandmother viewed the universe, he passes the test. Let me spell it out plainly: THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO PEACE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND EGYPT WITHOUT JIMMY CARTER’S MEDIATION. Doesn’t he deserve a certain amount of gratitude for that? He gets none. Instead, he has become a kind of totemic hate object for both the mainstream Jewish community here and the Israeli government.

It made absolutely no sense for Israeli officials and politicians to shun him during his recent trip to the region, as noted by Akiva Eldar in Haaretz. Leaving aside the lack of good manners, the Israeli government unaccountably passed on an opportunity to get valuable information about Hamas from one of the world’s most skilled diplomats.

Dr. Robert Pastor, senior adviser to the Carter Center…says that up-to-date information about contacts concerning the release of Shalit would have helped Carter get more from Meshal than a promise of a letter from the captive soldier..Some see the impressions gained by Carter and his people during their Middle East trip, particularly those gleaned from Damascus, as a gold mine for those who determine policy and make assessments. Researchers from Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the intelligence community usually pounce on any diplomat who had coffee with a minor Syrian adviser. Pastor cannot recall any incident in which an entire establishment has forsaken the rare opportunity to receive a firsthand briefing about such major issues on the national agenda.

Ten days ago, Haaretz had an equally sensible editorial called Our Debt to Jimmy Carter.

The editorialist’s take on the controversy over the A-word is worth reading, if only because one doesn’t see arguments like this in the American media:

It is doubtful whether it is possible to complain when an outside observer, especially a former U.S. president who is well versed in international affairs, sees in the system of separate roads for Jews and Arabs, the lack of freedom of movement, Israel’s control over Palestinian lands and their confiscation, and especially the continued settlement activity, which contravenes all promises Israel made and signed, a matter that cannot be accepted. The interim political situation in the territories has crystallized into a kind of apartheid that has been ongoing for 40 years. In Europe there is talk of the establishment of a binational state in order to overcome this anomaly. In the peace agreement with Egypt, 30 years ago, Israel agreed to “full autonomy” for the occupied territories, not to settle there.

These promises have been forgotten by Israel, but Carter remembers.

Whether Carter’s approach to conflict resolution is considered by the Israeli government as appropriate or defeatist, no one can take away from the former U.S. president his international standing, nor the fact that he brought Israel and Egypt to a signed peace that has since held. Carter’s method, which says that it is necessary to talk with every one, has still not proven to be any less successful than the method that calls for boycotts and air strikes. In terms of results, at the end of the day, Carter beats out any of those who ostracize him. For the peace agreement with Egypt, he deserves the respect reserved for royalty for the rest of his life.

11 thoughts on “Carter was, and is, “Good for the Jews”

  1. You have to give Carter credit for believing, unlike me, that it’s not too late for the 2-state option. It seems to me that this is the ultimate expression of religious faith, a faith in some kind of impossible-to-define miracle. If the Israelis had taken his message about what you call the “A word” seriously about ten years ago, the option might have been possible.

  2. “”” it’s not too late for the 2-state option”””

    It’s not too late for the three-state option either.

    Maybe the Palestinians can have have two states, a Hamas state in Gaza that wars with Israel and a Fatah state in the West Bank that might not.

  3. Teddy,

    Jonathan, the only feasible way to make progress is to find the magic formula that prompts Hamas and Fatah to agree to be part of the same government, and reunite Gaza with the West Bank. Hamas prisoners teamed up with Barghouti and signed the “Prisoners’ Document” that clearly acepted the reality of the Jewish state. That shows there are some elements in Hamas who understand that they cannot lead their people forever down the fool’s path of violent confrontation. I don’t know what the magic formula is, but I do know that the status quo will be intolerable unless it is found….

  4. Dan,
    I agree with the gist of the article, but the Ha’Aretz editorialist is mistaken–the Israeli government never agreed to autonomy for the Palestinian territories, but rather to autonomy for the inhabitants of the territories. This is an important distinction. Begin viewed the Palestinians as entitled to the same sort of status as national minorities in Eastern Europe when he lived there in the interwar period. Begin also refused to refer to them as Palestinians, and insisted in the treaty that they be referred to in Hebrew as “the Arabs of Judea and Shomron.”

    Incidentally, the Israeli government made it easy for critics by referring to the barrier as the “geder hafrada” or “seperation fence.” The English translation of apartheid is separateness or separation.

  5. I always loved article seven of the Hamas Charter, kind of witty and to the point.

    Article Seven:
    As a result of the fact that those Moslems who adhere to the ways of the Islamic Resistance Movement spread all over the world, rally support for it and its stands, strive towards enhancing its struggle, the Movement is a universal one. It is well-equipped for that because of the clarity of its ideology, the nobility of its aim and the loftiness of its objectives.

    On this basis, the Movement should be viewed and evaluated, and its role be recognised. He who denies its right, evades supporting it and turns a blind eye to facts, whether intentionally or unintentionally, would awaken to see that events have overtaken him and with no logic to justify his attitude. One should certainly learn from past examples.

    The injustice of next-of-kin is harder to bear than the smite of the Indian sword.

    “We have also sent down unto thee the book of the Koran with truth, confirming that scripture which was revealed before it; and preserving the same safe from corruption. Judge therefore between them according to that which Allah hath revealed; and follow not their desires, by swerving from the truth which hath come unto thee. Unto every of you have we given a law, and an open path; and if Allah had pleased, he had surely made you one people; but he hath thought it fit to give you different laws, that he might try you in that which he hath given you respectively. Therefore strive to excel each other in good works; unto Allah shall ye all return, and then will he declare unto you that concerning which ye have disagreed.” (The Table, verse 48).

    The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders. It goes back to 1939, to the emergence of the martyr Izz al-Din al Kissam and his brethren the fighters, members of Moslem Brotherhood. It goes on to reach out and become one with another chain that includes the struggle of the Palestinians and Moslem Brotherhood in the 1948 war and the Jihad operations of the Moslem Brotherhood in 1968 and after.

    Moreover, if the links have been distant from each other and if obstacles, placed by those who are the lackeys of Zionism in the way of the fighters obstructed the continuation of the struggle, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

    “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).

  6. “””Hamas prisoners teamed up with Barghouti and signed the “Prisoners’ Document” that clearly acepted the reality of the Jewish state.”””

    They are prisoners, and clearly they know that someone or something is imprisoning them. It would be hard for them to deny the reality of Israel.

    On the other hand, the Israelis left Gaza, and the average Gazan never sees an Israeli except during periods of fighting, and maybe not even then. So it is easier for people in Gaza to pretend that there is no Israel and no Jewish state.


    U.S. fumes after Israeli envoy to UN brands Carter ‘a bigot’
    By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent
    Tags: Jimmy Carter, U.S., Hamas

    The United States registered an official protest with Israel against its ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, for calling former U.S. President Jimmy Carter an “enemy of Israel” prior to Carter’s recent visit to the region.

    A senior Foreign Ministry source said Saturday that the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv asked that Gillerman be made aware of the U.S. administration’s dissatisfaction with the disrespectful comments about the former U.S. President.

    Those that fear and hate Hamas (not an irrational attitude) regard Carter’s present actions as the subject of the question, not his past, which they do appreciate.

    As in earlier discussions here, the question of Hamas led to a concensus of “I don’t know what to do about Hamas”, many feel that in talking to Hamas about final reconciliation before talking to them about mutual humanization, is the cart before the horse.

    I think that Carter was courageous to speak with Hamas, an action that suggested that further contact was desirable.

    Even though Hamas has a reputation for “consistency”, “discipline”, “unity”, the world has now seen them (the same individuals) change their story daily.

    They are responsible to the world, to those that they are contracting with, and to their political constituencies. Until they join the PA in earnest, the balance of their “responsibility” will be to their political constituencies (angry, fanatic, dehumanizing). When they actually make agreements, then they will be accountable to multiple parties (constituency, Israel, Fatah, neighbors, constituencies).

    Its a mystery as to whether Hamas is mostly responsible to the constituency of Palestinian nationalism, or to global fanatic Islam. (They have felt obliged to respond to Al-Quaida condemnations for even entertaining any contact with Israel. They were called traitors at one point by an Al-Quaida spokesperson last year.)

  8. Rachel,

    People in the West somehow think every problem has an answer. The world doesn’t work that way. It seems pretty clear that unless something changes, eventually Hamas or Islamic Jihad cells in the West Bank will have rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv and coastal plain. So rightwngers like Bill Pearlman quote from the despicable Hamas charter and, if forced to provide an answer, say the only thing Israel can do is invade Gaza and obliterate them. And people like Richard Witty say or imply that it is better for Hamas to be accepted as part of a Palestinian government and hope that somehow their own fears of being irrelevant plus the agony of the occupation will make them stop armed struggle. I don’t think either of these is likely to work. Why pretend?

  9. “””I don’t think either of these is likely to work. Why pretend?”””

    Agreed. Even in 2000 a peace agreement was impossible. The two sides were close together on land, with the Palestinian Authority getting 97 percent of the West Bank, part of East Jerusalem, all of Gaza and about one percent of Israel.

    But the Palestinian Authority was demanding the right to settle 500,000 Palestinians inside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

    Now the sides are farther apart than that. But even if they got as close as they were in 2000 it would not be close enough. The Palestinian Authority will continue to demand right-of-refugees-to-return-plus-land for peace. The Israeli public will hold out for mere land-for-peace.

    The two sides will not agree. Supporters of the Palestinian cause will demand that the United States force Israel to agree to settle Palestinians inside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The US government will refuse.

    Supporters of Israel will demand that leftists and Peace-Now types press the Palestinians to accept land-for-peace and give up on right-of-refugees-to-return-plus-land-for-peace.

    Supporters of the Palestinian cause will refuse.

    Nothing will happen, and hopefully, at best, life will go on as it is now. In reality, Israelis prefer life as it is now to settling Palestinians inside of Israel, and Palestinians prefer life as it is now to giving up the so-called right of refugees to return.

    That is why nothing ever changes. Scratch the surface and you will see that the leftists who support the Palestinians would rather see the Palesinians keep fighting than to see them give up the demand to settle Palestinians inside of Israel.

    I once asked the blogger who calls himself Magnes Zionist if he would be in favor of the Palestinians accepting land-for-peace and giving up right-of-refugees-to-return-plus-land-for-peace.

    Magnes Zionist responded that he saw no reason for the Palestinians to give up their demands to settle Palestinians inside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders, and added that he believed that settling 300,000 Palestinians in Israel is the right number.

    Land-for-peace is dead. It has been for a long time. The pro-Palestinian side killed it by demanding right-of-refugees-to-return-plus-land-for-peace.

  10. MeretzUSA website (April 28) has an interview with one of the founders of the J Street lobby that explains how it fits in with existing organizations, the topic of the previous post.

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