Jimmy Rides Again

Atlanta Jewish Times

The former President has warmed up to dictators since he was in the White House, so his “negotiation” with Hamas is no surprise.

Ramblin' Jimmy Carter, once the top lawman in Washington, has ridden out of Plains again, one lone cowboy against the sunset in the Wild (Middle) East. His saddle bags were empty – since he deputized himself, no one stuffed his diplomatic pouch. But he had a few tricks of an old rogue diplomat in his pockets as he faced down every bad guy for miles.

Or did he just cozy up to them? That was what it looked like to Americans. Even Barack Obama condemned him. As for Israel, it gave him a historic snub, having him meet with Shimon Peres, the ceremonial president, instead Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or anyone else with power.

But he sure did meet some bad'uns.

Khaled Mashaal, for instance.

He is wanted for terrorism against Palestinians and Jews. Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, won't meet with him, but Carter will.

Mashaal is committed to Israel's destruction, as the Hamas charter calls for. He claims responsibility for suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and is "credited" with the kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. He called Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad courageous for denying the Holocaust and promising to "wipe Israel off the map."

Carter met with Mashaal for seven hours, while Hamas, under his direction, attacked Israeli civilians with rockets launched from Gaza. Hamas also recently attacked Nahal Oz, which supplies Gaza with gasoline, and the Keren Shalom crossing, a main supply point for humanitarian aid.

Carter also met at length with Bashar Assad, who did collaborate with North Korea to build a weapons-grade nuclear reactor in Syria, which Israel destroyed.

Carter told Ha'aretz he didn't mind the refusal of Israel's elected leaders to meet with him because they don't speak for Israelis. "When I go to a dictatorship," he said, "I only have to talk to one person, and that's the dictator, because he speaks for all the people." Huh?

Oh, I forgot. Carter's an expert on this. He toasted the "enlightened leaders" of Stalinist Poland and claimed that they preserved human rights better than other Europeans. He met with Nicolae Ceausescu, the vicious Communist dictator of Romania, and said, "Our goals are the same. … We believe in enhancing human rights."

He met with North Korea's Kim Il-sung while that tyrant was murdering countless thousands of his people and building nuclear arms. Carter found the Korean people supportive of Kim's savage regime. He has been an obstacle to freedom. He has undermined the foreign policy of the United States since his defeat in 1980.

No wonder that Ari Shavit, a Ha'aretz journalist writing April 24, called Carter the "new hero" of "the suicidal left," "perceived by most Americans as a self-righteous fool." He added: "There is no zealous thug that Carter will not embrace, no Third World terrorist that he will not try to appease."

Nor is it surprising that Ha'aretz columnist Shmuel Rosner said Carter "is nothing but a nuisance," that his claims are "based on lies," and that "it is possible to ignore him … and still continue to work for true peace."

Carter announced proudly after his meeting with Mashaal that Hamas was ready to recognize Israel. For a fleeting moment I almost believed him. Then I remembered his history and asked myself, "Is Jimmy lying, or is he just dumb enough to believe Hamas' lies?"

I waited to hear what Hamas would say the next day, but I didn't have to wait that long. Within a few hours, Mashaal made Carter look like a fool by declaring Hamas would never recognize Israel.

I favor a Palestinian state in the West Bank and (eventually) Gaza, with borders only a little different from those of 1967. I favor huge international investment in the economic and political success of such a state. I favor an immediate end to settlement expansion. I favor a determined pursuit of the Annapolis peace process. I just happen to think that the puerile, attention-grabbing, rogue diplomacy of our former president pushes all those goals further away.

Well, Jimmy, yuh sure did stir up a hornets' nest o' trouble. But that's your specialty, ain't it? Next time you ride out, maybe you should ride west. I hear tell there are bad guys aplenty in the Dakota Badlands and along the Rio Grande. I'm sure they'll be glad to meet with you and pull some good old American wool over your eyes. On the way there, you can use your rose-colored glasses to protect your eyes from the waning sun. And don't forget the blinders for Old Paint.

Old cowboys never die. They just look sillier and sillier in the saddle.