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Carter’s “Peace” Train Print E-mail

By Jay Bushinsky 
April 28, 2008

Former President Jimmy Carter is an honest man and a humble one as well.  He made no secret of his intention to meet the Palestinian Hamas organization's political leadership in Syria from which it approves, schedules and supervises fatal terrorist attacks against Israelis.

In so doing, he disregarded his own eminence as the American government's one time chief executive, commander and chief of the armed forces and governor of Georgia.

A devout Christian, the ex-President seemed to be fulfilling the verse from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (a site he visited in Israel): "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God."
 

But his strenuous effort to wind down the seven-year long conflict in the Gaza Strip was skewed, ill-timed and harmful to the cause it was meant to serve.  Carter should have realized this before and during his high-profile visit to Damascus for talks with Hamas' supremo, Khaled Mash'al.  While he was in the Syrian capital, Hamas gunmen made an abortive, but potentially catastrophic, attempt to penetrate the Kerem Shalom transfer point through which food and other supplies were being sent to the adjacent Gaza Strip. 
 
The gunmen began their attack by detonating a suicide bomber's vehicle near the security fence after which, using tactics similar to those of the Hizbollah guerrillas of southern Lebanon, they tried to enter the Israeli compound and kill as many soldiers, security guards and civilians as possible.  The operation failed at the cost of three Palestinian lives.
 
The ex-President urged Mash'al to declare a cease fire with Israel, oblivious of the fact that one already was being worked out by Egypt.  The latter had tentative Hamas approval and was due to be submitted to the Israelis.  Thus, Carter's mission was superfluous.
 
Only one tangible success could be credited to the ex-President: Mash'al's consent to order his underlings in Gaza to convey a letter from kidnapped Sgt. Gil'ad Shalit, who was abducted by Hamas gunmen nearly two years ago and has not been seen since by Red Cross or other self-styled humanitarian agents.  Two weeks after Carter's departure, the letter had yet to reach Sgt. Shalit's parents.
 
To understand how a presumably well-intentioned mission could go so wrong one should read Carter's latest book, "Palestine, Not Peace But Apartheid." Its text may have ingratiated him with the Hamas personnel with whom he was determined to meet, but it infuriated the Israelis.

The book depicts them as the main villains in the prolonged Middle East dispute. It is so one-sided, distorted and historically-inaccurate that the credit Carter earned here as a catalyst for peace between Israel and Egypt 30 years ago was totally destroyed.  He describes Israel's behavior in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, since the start of its military occupation at the end of the Six-Day War, as a premeditated program of repression and colonization designed to impoverish the Palestinians and render them incapable of establishing an independent state.
 
There are scant references to the crescendo of violence orchestrated by the Palestinian "resistance" that began in late 1967, with hit-and-run shooting sprees and culminated in mass murder by means of bombs smuggled aboard civilian buses and suicide bombers who blew themselves up in Israeli hotels, shopping malls and restaurants. 
He laments the construction of Israel's security fence or wall, allowing for its declared purpose of keeping would-be terrorists away from Israeli territory while contending that its concurrent function is to annex territory beyond the pre-1967 armistice line.
 
His information about Israel's conduct was obtained in large part from Palestinian politicians and spokespersons whose slant always has been self-serving and bereft of any credit to their Israeli adversaries.  On the other hand, his contact with Israelis mainly was with so-called left wingers and peace advocates without any input from the hard core and unapologetic center and right wing.

The underlying error is his contention that Israel's occupation still is in effect, a line often pursued by Palestinian activists, whereas it was largely dismantled in the West Bank by the Oslo Accords of 1993 and in its entirety by the disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
 
As a journalist, foreign correspondent and broadcaster who has been covering the Middle East for the past 42 years, I resent one of Carter's bottom lines.  He refers to the "perpetration of violence and regional upheaval" including the "condoning of illegal Israeli actions from a submissive White House and U.S. Congress during recent years," stating: "There are constant and vehement political and media debates in Israel concerning its policies in the West Bank, but because of powerful political, economic and religious forces in the U.S., Israeli government decisions are rarely questioned or condemned, VOICES FROM JERUSALEM DOMINATE IN OUR MEDIA (emphasis mine) and most American citizens are unaware of the circumstances in the occupied territories." 

Readers with sensitive eyes and ears may detect an unwarranted slur in the above.

 

 

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