Monday, April 21, 2008

20-Apr-08: Saying no to Carter... and meaning it

If you read our blog entry from Friday ("Removing the leaven"), you'll have an idea of just how incensed we are by the irresponsible antics and double-dealing hypocrisy of a certain former president of the United States.

The Haaretz Washington columnist Shmuel Rosner has penned some paragraphs that we feel an obligation to share here.

Just say no to Carter
Shmuel Rosner

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.

American administrations from Reagan to the second Bush were forced to grit their teeth and live with his endless activities, and in particular his amazing talent for public relations. When the Clinton administration reached a deal with North Korea, Carter played a role in reaching the controversial agreement. Senior officials then had to watch the ex-president steal the credit in a broadcast to the nation by a CNN crew Carter had invited in advance. 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 mistake the Americans made when they elected him president in 1976 was mostly an act to punish the Republican Party after the Watergate affair, and they corrected their mistake at the next available opportunity. But Carter is a gift that continues to give - even when no one wants to receive it any more. 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 Haaretz'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. A painful reminder of the electorate's failure. His views do not represent the American public, his actions are not viewed favorably by the administrations that followed him - Democrats and Republicans alike - 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.
Carter spent the past two days in meetings with the Syrian dictator and with a Damascus-based Hamas terrorist ring-leader. Feh.

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