Jimmy Carter is the David Irving of Middle East revisionism. Whatever reputation Irving had as a military history writer he destroyed with Holocaust revisionism and denial. Carter, whose anti-Israel tantrums reveal him as much an authority on Arab-Israeli matters as Irving on the Holocaust, still finds an audience – recurrently through The Washington Post’s Op-Ed pages. His latest, An Unnecessary War (January 8, 2009), amounts to a Hamas’ public relations release. Apparently, being a former president means never having to check your facts or logic.
Carter’s pro-Hamas column seems to stem from unbridled narcissism. His lead sentence reads: “I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.” The piece contains 11 more personal references (my, we, us) in its 11 paragraphs. The text may be Gaza, but the subtext is how important Jimmy Carter is. According to Carter, he played a key role in securing the Egyptian-mediated six-month Israeli-Hamas truce last spring. This singular delusion lets him misrepresent Arab-Israeli realities.
The ex-president claims the “fundamental difference between the two sides,” Israel and Hamas, is that the former “wanted a comprehensive cease-fire in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the Israelis refused to discuss anything other than Gaza.” The fundamental difference is that Israel seeks peace with the Arabs and Hamas seeks the destruction of the Jewish state and establishment of an Islamic theocracy in its place. It uses cease-fires to gain strength and to subvert the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Carter relies on an anti-Israel U.N. source to claim “we knew that the 1.5 million inhabitants of [the] Gaza [Strip] were being starved.” A libel, not a fact. There was no food shortage, let alone starvation, prior to Hamas’ termination of a six-month cease-fire on December 19.
The former president labels a Hamas tunnel dug as part of a scheme to kidnap Israelis as “defensive.” As if such a tunnel wasn’t used to facilitate the killing of two soldiers in Israel and capture of a third, Cpt. Gilad Shalit, in 2006. Carter decries Israel’s November 4 tunnel destruction as a “partial” breaking of the truce, though Hamas and its allies had resumed rocket and mortar fire at Israel.
He describes the fence helping to control terrorist infiltration as “the wall that encloses Gaza.” What “enclosed” Gaza – there are a half-dozen crossing points between Israel and the Strip and one major one between it and Egypt – was the Palestinians’ 2006 election of a terrorist organization, Hamas, to lead them and Hamas’ bloody ouster of its former Fatah partners in the PA the following year.
He portrays positively Hamas’ leaders consideration of a Gaza-only cease-fire, “provided Israel would not attack Gaza and would permit normal humanitarian supplies to be delivered ….” This imputes good-faith to Hamas and implies Israel was attacking Gaza, not conducting limited counter-terrorism operations, and that it was not permitting humanitarian deliveries when it was.
Carter claims Hamas agreed to accept any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas “approved by a majority vote of Palestinians in a referendum or by an elected unity government.” Coming from Hamas, these are vitiating conditions: it could undermine or invalidate a referendum outcome it opposed, and do the same in a unity government.
The ex-president writes of “military activity by both sides ….” Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, European Union, Canada and other countries in large part because its “military activity” consists primarily of attacking non-combatants, a basic violation of military law.
Carter faults Israel for allegedly not restoring delivery of humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip to the level before Israeli withdrawal in 2005. He doesn’t mention that Israel withdrew in the expectation of peace, not the firing of thousands of rockets and mortars by Hamas and its terrorist allies. Carter also ignores that even though Israel continued to supply the Strip with much of its electricity and other basic goods and services, plus significant amounts of water, it was under no obligation to do so for a “hostile entity.”
The ex-president puts the word in quotation marks when writing of Israeli “combat” in Gaza and implies targeting certain mosques, a school, some private homes is not legitimate. Nothing from Carter on Hamas’ use of such places as firing positions, weapons storage, terrorist shelters, and so on.
He implies Israel intentionally destroys water, sanitation and other infrastructure and refers to “heavy civilian casualties.” Infrastructure damage as has occurred is inevitable, given the Hamas strategy of hiding behind Palestinian civilians. Though tragic, civilian fatality rates of 25 – 30 percent – as reported by U.N. and Palestinian medical sources, which may not be reliable – only underscore Israeli attempts to limit such casualties.
Joshua Muravchik’s February, 2007 Commentary essay about Jimmy Carter was headlined, “Our Worst Ex-President.” Unfortunately, when it comes to Arab-Israeli pontificating, Mr. Carter is also The Washington Post‘s worst – and most frequent – revisionist.