Jimmy Carters one-term presidency ended 30 years ago. Its one notable foreign policy accomplishment, the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, originated in Egypt and Israels secret contacts, spurred by mutual abhorrence of Carters 1977 call for a Soviet-American Middle East conference. Carters subsequent mediation did aid Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in reaching agreement. But by quickly trying to involve a hostile Palestinian leadership before the new Cairo-Jerusalem accord took root, the U.S. president helped stunt the "peace process" hed promoted.
Carters Iranian policies, first toward the beleaguered Shah and then toward Ayatollah Khomeinis Islamic Republic marked by the 444-day kidnapping of 52 U.S. diplomats at the American embassy in Tehran inadvertently energized Islamic extremism.
From freelance "negotiations" with North Korean dictators to photo ops he describes as talks with Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon to his recent visit with Cubas Fidel and Raul Castro, ex-president Carter narcissistically seeks the spotlight. He also compulsively smears Israel, as epitomized in his discredited 2006 book, Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid. (For an itemization of Carters errors, see CAMERAs monograph, Bearing False Witness, Jimmy Carters Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, available through Amazon.com. For major errors click here.)
All the while he and his Atlanta-based Carter Center have relied heavily on contributions from Arab oil states, petroleum princes and businessmen, in particular Saudis. Yet for years, a chief enabler of the former presidents egotism has been The Washington Posts Op-Ed page.
In a May 4 Post commentary headlined "A partnership that could bring Mideast peace," Jimmy Carter urged readers and policy makers to give Hamas a chance. The May 4 Op-Ed marks at least the sixth time in five years The Post has granted Op-Ed space to the ex-president. His latest entry is a retread, with a new news-peg, of "Stop the Band-Aid Treatment; We Need Policies for a Real, Lasting Middle East Peace" (Aug. 1, 2006); "A New Chance for Peace?" (Jan. 18, 2007); and "The Elders View of the Middle East," Sept. 6, 2009).
Carter sprinkles his text with personal pronouns, "I" appearing four times, "my" once. He misconstrues key facts when he does not omit them altogether. Again he promotes Israels and Americas enemies. Carters Op-Ed appeared about the same time Hamass Gaza Strip prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, described Osama bin Laden, assassinated by U.S. forces, as "a Muslim and an Arab holy warrior." Haniyeh received a paragraph in a six-paragraph Post news brief; Carter got the Op-Ed.
How bad was it?
Among the columns many flaws:
* The former president complains that "in 2006, Hamas won the legislative election, but the Quartet the United States, The European Union, the United Nations and Russia rejected it and withheld aid, and the [Palestinian] unity government collapsed." This formulation is either forgetful or dishonest.
Hamas was allowed to contest the 2006 Palestinian elections only because the United States prevailed on Israel not to insist on a preliminary electoral rule, that parties whose platforms included calls to genocide (as Hamas charter does regarding Jews) would not be eligible. After winning a majority of seats in the Palestinian legislative council, Hamas refused to accept the Quartets conditions for diplomatic acceptance and aid. These were ending anti-Israel terrorism, recognizing Israels legitimacy and upholding previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements.
* Carter claims that the latest Hamas-Fatah "accord could be a vehicle to press for a final peace agreement for two states."
Hamas helped destroy such a "vehicle." The 1993 Oslo accords and subsequent Israeli-Palestinian pacts between Israel and the Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organization envisioned final status negotiations to begin in1998. These were expected by many to end with a "two-state solution." But the Oslo process was only months old when Hamas suicide bombers began attacking Israeli buses, restaurants and shopping malls.
Three other Israeli-U.S. or Israeli proposals for a West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinian state in exchange for Palestinian peace with Israel followed, at Camp David in 2000, Taba in 2001 and in 2008 between then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA President (and Fatah and PLO leader) Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian side rejected all three, the first two with the terror war called the "al-Aqsa intifada".
* This time things might be different, Carter says, because Hamas leaders told him they would accept a two-state agreement that is approved in a Palestinian referendum.
Hamas leaders have said the same before, and continued calling and fighting for Israels destruction. Bet on Hamas, in a Palestinian unity government, attempting to prevent such a referendum or, if one comes to a vote, wording it to ensure defeat.
* The former president writes that "suspicions of Hamas stem from its charter, which calls for Israels destruction. I find the charter repugnant. Yet it is worth remembering that Israel negotiated the Oslo Accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization while its charter had similar provisions. It took five more years before the PLO Charter was altered."
Carters Orwellian revisionism notwithstanding, the PLO though it made a show of referring the charter to a committee for amendment never produced a new document.
Continuing Palestinian Authority (Fatah/PLO) denial of the Jewish peoples historic ties to the land of Israel, lionization of Fatah terrorists, insistence that Israeli cities including Tiberias, Safat, Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheva and Jerusalem are part of "Palestine," and incitement to anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish violence all echo the rejectionist clauses of the PLO covenant. They are staples of PA communications media, educational curriculum and religious instruction. This is even though they violate the Oslo process anti-incitement, peace-building provisions. They resemble Hamas propaganda minus some Islamic veneer. Only by evading these facts can Carter argue for negotiating with an unreformed Hamas.
* Either as a dupe or taking his audience for dupes, the former president notes Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, then writes with more self-inflation, "I urged Hamas leaders to stop launching rockets, and they attempted to negotiate a lasting mutual cease-fire. The United States and other Quartet members should assist Hamas and Israels search for a cease-fire."
The Sunday school teacher and winner of a highly politicized Nobel Peace Prize jettisons moral instruction. Carter equates the victim of terrorism, Israel, with the perpetrator, Hamas, in a false mutual "search for a cease-fire." In fact, when Hamas has not wanted to be seen directly firing some of the thousands of rockets and mortars aimed from the Gaza Strip at Israel since Israeli withdrawal in 2005, its winked at Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and others doing so. During periods of quiet, Israel has not launched counter-terrorism strikes. Hamas is not searching for a cease-fire, its maneuvering for advantage, which Carter proposes to give it.
But wait, theres more
As if Carter werent enough, The Posts May 4 Op-Ed page beat readers with an "echo" column, "Give this deal a chance," by Robert Malley. Malleys piece lacks Carters self-reference and self-reverence, but skews in the same direction. The writer is a former Clinton administration Arab-Israeli adviser. He now serves as Middle East specialist for anti-Israel billionaire George Soros International Crisis Group. Contrary to senior colleagues like Amb. Dennis Ross, he has argued that PLO leader Yasser Arafat was right to reject the Israeli-U.S. offer of a two-state solution at Camp David in 2000 and Taba in 2001. His "Give this deal a chance" pretends that Hamas-Fatah cooperation is part of a new Middle East rather than a continuation of the worst of the old.
CAMERA called and e-mailed Post editorial page editors on May 4, asking if the paper planned to publish a counter-point column to Carter and Malley. The Post did not reply. The paper did publish two critical letters to the editor, one by U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). Engel was permitted four paragraphs, Carter and Malley 19.
Post readers could have used less tendentious commentary, like Michael Bells "Palestinian unity breakthrough isnt the real deal," in Torontos May 5 Globe and Mail. Bell, former Canadian ambassador to Egypt, Israel and Jordan, concluded that "Hamas ideological determinism forces rejection of any achievable option, despite what its members might whisper into the ears of Western sympathizers. Fundamentally different views are already emerging as to what the agreement involves: for Mr. Abbas, Gaza reconstruction and elections within a year: for Hamas, no peace with Israel beyond an interim ceasefire."
Carter is one of Bells "Western sympathizers" who chronically makes himself available for whispers from Hamas and Hezbollah. Readers must ask why The Post repeatedly makes itself available to Carter for transmission of such whispers