Jimmy Carter (Still) Shills for Hamas

Former President Jimmy Carter’s promotional tour in support of his book We Can Have Peace in the Middle East: A Plan that Will Work (Simon & Schuster, 2009) continued with an appearance on the Jan. 27, 2009 broadcast of the “Charlie Rose Show.” During his appearance, Carter cemented his position as a freelance spokesman for Hamas in the United States, echoing the group’s dishonest justifications for the group’s rocket attacks on Israel. Sadly, Charlie Rose, who typically does a better job challenging his guests than Larry King, failed to confront Carter on his misstatements, which include the assertion that Israelis are considering “for the first time” the creation of a Palestinian state and that Gazans are starving to death as a result of Israel’s border restrictions. Carter also repeats the false assertion that “only one” Israeli was killed by Hamas in the 12 months before the cease fire that began in June 2008.


Palestinian State


Carter offered a misstatement of fact as soon as he and Rose started talking about his book, asserting that the situation has gotten to a crisis stage where

Israel … maybe for the first time in generic terms or broad terms has to decide ‘do I want one nation or two nations?’ And that is a seminal question. If you can’t create a two-state solution, then you wind up with a one-state solution, and that is the way Israel is going now. And a lot of very top leaders in Israel, including Barak and including Olmert and including Ms. Livni all realize that this is a trend that must be reversed.


As Carter reports in his book, Israelis have supported some form of Palestinian autonomy since at least the 1970s. Carter’s own book – the book he was on Charlie Rose’s show to publicize – demonstrates the notion of a Palestinian homeland has been on the mind of the Israeli people for quite some time. On page 19 Carter writes of his 1973 trip to Israel:

It had seemed to me during my visit to the region [in 1973] that there was a consensus within Israel that the basic principles of United Nations resolutions would be honored, including the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories. It was obvious this would leave the Palestinians with some kind of homeland, but it had not been defined.


And on page 30, Carter writes that he prepared for his first meeting with Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1977 by studying public opinion polls in Israel. Here is what he reports:

Sixty-three percent of the Israelis wanted peace with the Arabs, 52 percent thought that that the Palestinians deserved a homeland, and 43 percent said the homeland ought to be on the West Bank of the Jordan River, while others preferred the East Bank (Jordan). By a 45-45 split, the people of Israel thought they should negotiate directly with the PLO if the PLO would recognize Israel’s right to exist.


Carter gives very short shrift to the Camp David/Taba negotiations of 2000 and 2001 in his book, but the whole point of Ehud Barak’s offer at Camp David in 2000 and his acceptance of the Clinton Parameters in early 2001 was to exchange land for peace and allow for the creation of a Palestinian state. It was Yasir Arafat, not Israel, who said no to Barak’s Camp David offer – without making a counteroffer – and to the Clinton Parameters – which also would have created a Palestinian state.


Despite the fact that Israelis were discussing the issue of Palestinian autonomy when he was president, and that Israeli officials made and accepted offers that would have resulted in the creation of a Palestinian state at Camp David and Taba at the beginning of this decade, former President Carter talks as if Israel is addressing the issue of a two-state solution for the first time.


 “Starving to Death”


Carter also relayed Hamas’ dishonest complaints about Israel, which sadly, Charlie Rose failed to challenge on a factual basis. Carter reported that during his recent meetings with Hamas leaders in Cairo that they told him

… the only reason they were lobbing the rockets was to bring international attention to the fact that they were starving to death, that the Israelis were not permitting food and water and fuel and medicine to come into them and that they had to publicize their plight. And they know that nobody was getting killed. In the entire 12 months [before the lull] one Israeli was killed. (Emphasis added.)

In these two sentences, there are numerous falsehoods. First off, while conditions have not been pleasant in the Gaza Strip since Hamas perpetrated its violent takeover of the territory during the summer of 2007, starvation has not been a problem. Israel has allowed food, fuel, water and medicine into the territory. As reported by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information center, between June 22, 2008 and Nov. 4, 2008, “large quantities of food, fuel, construction material and other necessities for renewing the Gaza Strip’s economic activity were delivered through the Karni and Sufa crossings. A daily average of 80-90 trucks passed through the crossings … Changes were made in the types of goods which could be delivered, permitting the entry of iron, cement and other vital raw materials into the Gaza Strip.” (Day to day details of the supplies delivered to Gaza and the numbers of trucks involved have been published by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and are available here. The figures confirm that the passages were indeed open and busy.)

“One Israeli Killed”


Also, in the statement quoted above, President Carter repeated yet again, the falsehood that only one Israeli was killed during the 12 months before the cease fire. In fact, ten civilians were killed in Israel during this period of time – nine Israelis and one visitor from Ecuador. Four were killed by rocket fire and another six were killed by by sniper fire, shootings, and a suicide bomb attack.

The four killed by rocket fire are:

May 9, 2008Jimmy Kadoshim, 48, of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, was killed by mortar fire from the Gaza Strip while tending his garden.

May 12, 2008Shuli Katz, 70, of Kibbutz Gevaram, was killed while visiting relatives at Moshav Yesha, some 15 kms (9 miles) from the Gaza Strip.

June 5, 2008Amnon Rosenberg, 51, of Kibbutz Nirim was killed and four other employees were wounded when a mortar bomb fired by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip exploded outside the Nirlat paint factory in Kibbutz Nir-Oz. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Feb 27, 2008Roni Yihye, 47, of Moshav Bitcha in southern Israel, a student at Sapir College, was killed Wednesday afternoon when a Kassam rocket exploded in a parking lot near the Sderot campus. He died shortly after sustaining massive wounds to his chest. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hamas also claimed responsibility for a Jan. 15, 2008 sniper attack that killed Carlos Andres Mosquera Chavez, a 21-year-old Ecuadorian volunteering at a Kibbutz in southern Israel; a Feb. 4, 2008 suicide bombing in Dimona that killed 73-year-old Lyubov Razdolskaya; and the April 25, 2008 shooting death of Shimon Mizrahi, 53, and Eli Wasserman, 51, at an industrial park near the West Bank. And Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who infiltrated Israel on April 9, 2008 murdered Oleg Lipson, 37, and Lev Cherniak, 53.


Rockets for Food


Carter reports that Hamas did agree to a cease fire on the condition that more food and water be let into the Gaza Strip, but fails to address one important fact – Egypt, which controls Rafah Crossing, has been reluctant to ease restrictions and increase the flow of goods into the Hamas-controlled territory for fear of allowing for more intense connections between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. (Egypt sealed its border with the Gaza Strip after Hamas’ violent takeover of the territory in June 2007.)


Moreover, Israel has allowed food, medicine and fuel into the Gaza Strip through the crossings it controls (and provides much of the Gaza Strip’s electrical needs through its power plant in Ashkelon), facts that are not made clear in the dialogue below:

CHARLIE ROSE: Let me just understand what you were saying, because it is an important point here with George Mitchell going overseas. That you believe and Hamas told you that if, in fact, there had not been sanctions against them in terms of food and other requirements…
JIMMY CARTER: That`s right.
CHARLIE ROSE: … to come across the border into Gaza, they would not have started the shelling or they would have stopped the shelling?
JIMMY CARTER: That is correct.
CHARLIE ROSE:: It was in a sense to get attention because the Israelis were not allowing things … ?
JIMMY CARTER: That`s correct.  …. Now, ones that told me that were the Hamas leaders from Gaza. They are not the ultimate boss. The ultimate bosses are in Damascus.
CHARLIE ROSE: Well, that`s right, and you met with him too. What did he tell you? What does he want? What does he believe is the future for Palestine?
JIMMY CARTER: His preeminent request to me was to get Israel to let food and water come into Gaza, and he was willing to stop the rockets if they would do so. Now…
CHARLIE ROSE: That just doesn`t — can I just ask a question because I don`t really understand it.
JIMMY CARTER: Yes, please, go ahead.
CHARLIE ROSE: If the Israelis don`t want the rockets, that seems so, to me, such an obvious thing to do. Don`t stop the food and water from going in there, if — because there will be no rockets.
JIMMY CARTER: But you have to talk to the Israelis about that.


Carter and Rose’s conversation here indicates to viewers that Israel’s decision to impose restriction on its border with the Gaza Strip causes rocket fire. In fact, rocket and mortar attacks have been an ongoing problem from the Gaza Strip since 2001 – long before Israel imposed restrictions after Hamas’ brutal takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.


It should be noted that goods flow freely into the West Bank, which is controlled by Fatah, indicating that Israel’s restrictions are a consequence of Hamas’ behavior, which includes its refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist, the continued captivity of Gilad Shalit, and the ongoing rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Leaders who are intent on maintaining open borders with their neighbors typically do not threaten to destroy their neighor, nor do they fire – or allow to be fired – any rockets into neighboring territory. And yet, when discussing the rocket attacks, Carter gives Hamas credit for stopping most of them during the lull.

Hamas basically stopped the rockets on the 19th – it took them a few day to stop all the rockets. But they had been firing 250 rockets a month on the average. They cut that down to one rocket … eight rockets, one rocket for a month. And those were mortar fires too. They can’t control it 100 percent, but they can control it more than 99 percent.


When Carter says that Hamas was firing 250 rockets a month on the average, he drastically downplays the number of projectiles launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip. According to the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC), a total of 2034 mortars and rockets landed in Israel during the first five months of 2008, yielding an average of just over 400 projectiles per month.


Hamas Will Accept Negotiations


At one point, Carter interrupts Rose’s questioning to say, “Your questions force me to defend Hamas, and I’m not here….” Carter does not even have to finish his sentence before Rose apologetically demurs with “I don’t mean to do that, as you know.”


The fact is, it was not Rose’s questions that forced Carter to defend Hamas. Carter made that decision all by himself when he wrote his book. The whole premise of his text and of his media appearances is that peace is possible despite Hamas’ hostility toward Israel and Jews. In order for this message to make any sense, Carter must defend Hamas, and downplay its responsibility for the suffering of the people in the Gaza Strip and for the violence it has perpetrated.

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