Carter and Legitimacy
April 18, 2008, 7:30 pm
Filed under: Middle East, Peace, Politics | Tags: , , , , , ,


Bassem Tellawi/Associated Press

Under tight security, and perhaps greater scrutiny, former United States President Jimmy Carter today met with both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshal. Carter is on a nine-day tour of the Middle East, and has thus far visited Israel, the West Bank and Egypt. On Thursday, the former president met with Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Said Siam but the meeting took place in Egypt because Israel prohibited Carter from visiting the Gaza Strip.

According to Al-Jazeera’s Clayton Swisher

“Al Jazeera has learned, based on exclusive sources inside the Carter-Hamas talks, that a delegation of Hamas officials from the Gaza Strip, led by the Hamas foreign minister Mahmoud Zahar, is going to arrive in Damascus on Saturday to join the talks with President Carter and Hamas leadership”

The talks, which have drawn criticism from both the Israeli government and the Bush Administration, are aimed at brokering peace between Israel and its neighbors. Both governments argue that Carter’s trip will serve to legitimize a group that they are trying to isolate on the international arena. What really is the fear? Most Israeli’s support dialogue with Hamas and so it seems that Carter is doing exactly what is expected of him, mediating and brokering peace.

Craig Chamberlain writes in The Conservative Voice:

Jimmy Carter could have retired into quiet obscurity, and been forgotten, but the former President can’t stand the idea of being forgotten. Like a small child he must have attention even if it’s for doing bad things. And if he can’t get the adulation of the American people then he has determined that he will get it from America’s enemies. Instead he has waged his war of Propaganda against the United States, doing great harm to our nation and giving strength, aid and comfort to our enemies. I think I read somewhere that is the definition of treason.

How ridiculous. After the ‘war on terrorism’, the most parroted cliché in right wing American discourse is ‘aid and comfort to our enemies’. Every protest against the war in Iraq helps ‘our enemies’. Every court martial of a U.S. serviceman charged with committing a crime in Iraq helps ‘our enemies’. Indeed, it seems that anything not in line with right wing ideology aids and more importantly brings comfort to ‘our enemies’.

Specious to say the least.

On Friday, Israel’s housing ministry announced that it plans to build 100 more homes in two West Bank settlements. While settlements contravene international law, upwards of 400,000 Israelis live in Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Seen from this perspective, the idea that Israel is committed to peace and to creating a Palestinian state is not only laughable, its dangerously naïve. Why the Bush Administration is adamant that Carter not have dialogue with Hamas, Israel extends the settlements, an action that makes the dream of a Palestinian statehood a more distant reality. Does Israel and the United States believe they will isolate Hamas by building more homes on Palestinian land?

Carter is not legitimizing Hamas. Israel is. By building more illegal settlements and proving Hamas’ position that Israel is not interested in a contiguous Palestinian state, they bring more and more popularity to Hamas. Consider that while Hamas has openly embraced Carter, the Israeli government boycotted Carter’s trip altogether.

Per usual, Al-Jazeera covers Carter’s meeting with al-Assad and Hamas with accuracy, brevity and clarity.

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[…] quite expectantly, he was attacked by both the U.S. and Israel governments for meeting with Meshal (here). Representative Sue Myrick (R – NC, 9th District) asked Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to […]

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