05 September 09
Jimmy Carter brings us his report, fresh from his Middle East visit with his fellow ”Elders,” including the Medal of Freedom prize-winning duo of Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson. Carter and crew go to the Middle East and see “despair.”
Not the despair of Jews in Israel who would like to live in peace with their neighbors and have tried repeatedly to give the Palestinians their own state. Not the despair of victims of Hamas violence or of honor killings. Not the despair of the Palestinian people who would like a government free from corruption. Not the despair of Jews who find it incomprehensible that teaching the Holocaust is considered to be a human-rights violation by Hamas. Not the despair of Israel and its neighbors who are contemplating a nuclear-armed Iran and a timid U.S. response. And certainly not the despair that Israelis must feel as a U.S. administration renounces past obligations and delights in picking a fight with its ally.
No, all Carter sees and all he writes about (I know, you’ll be shocked) is the “despair that settlement expansion is continuing apace.” And he divines that Israel is bent on a one-state solution, aiming to “colonize” East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Using unmistakable Holocaust terminology, he terms Gaza a “ghetto.” How perfectly Carter-esque. And Robinson-esque. (Anyone in the White House still think that Medal of Freedom thing was a grand idea?)
In his account, the terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians from Gaza get no mention, so readers are left to wonder why it is that traffic doesn’t flow freely between Gaza and Israel. And in Carter’s view, one supposes, the Israelis must be awfully clever to mask their plot to dominate the Palestinians with repeated offers of statehood. How sneaky of the Jews to have repeatedly given up land for “peace” and dismantled their own settlements when all they really want is to “colonize.”
Well this is pretty much par for the Carter course. But really, how different is this from the administration’s Middle East outlook? The same obsession with settlements that animates Carter seems to dictate all that Obama and George Mitchell say and do these days with regard to the Middle East. The same Carter-esque refusal to recount accurately the history of the Middle East, let alone America’s own agreements, permeates Obama’s rhetoric. The same muteness grips the Obama administration when it comes to Palestinian rhetoric. It’s almost enough to fill one with despair.