Jimmy Carter has a letter in the International Herald Tribune in which he plays the violins for the Palestinians because they aren’t getting the funding from the US they normally do.
Before we fall all over ourselves in sympathy for the Palestinian people, let’s examine Mr. Carter’s arguments.
In the first paragraph, Mr. Carter states the following:
Innocent Palestinian people are being treated like animals, with the presumption that they are guilty of some crime. Because they voted for candidates who are members of Hamas, the United States government has become the driving force behind an apparently effective scheme of depriving the general public of income, access to the outside world and the necessities of life.
The Palestinians may be innocent, but Hamas, their government, is not. Hamas is a terrorist organization of the worst kind that has ordered and participated in murders, assassinations, and executions. The Palestinians elected these terrorists to run their government knowing what they are and what they do.
Mr. Carter then writes, “because they voted for candidates who are members of Hamas,” as if the Palestinians’ voting for terrorism is a small, insignificant matter. It is neither small nor insignificant. Voting for terrorists to run their government in a post 9/11 world is especially dangerous.
Mr. Carter continues: “the United States government has become the driving force behind an apparently effective scheme of depriving the general public of income, access to the outside world and the necessities of life.” Scheme? Note the connotation that the US’s position is somehow underhanded. Depriving? The use of this word connotes a sense of entitlement. The Palestinian people are not entitled to US money. In the past, the US government chose to provide funding out of human goodness and charity. This is an option the US government chose not to exercise at this time. Besides, why aren’t the Palestinians providing their own income and necessities of life? The citizens of every other civilized nation do. Why not the Palestinians?
In his second paragraph, Mr. Carter writes this:
Overwhelmingly, these are school teachers, nurses, social workers, police officers, farm families, shopkeepers, and their employees and families who are just hoping for a better life. Public opinion polls conducted after the January parliamentary election show that 80 percent of Palestinians still want a peace agreement with Israel based on the international road map premises. Although Fatah party members refused to join Hamas in a coalition government, nearly 70 percent of Palestinians continue to support Fatah’s leader, Mahmoud Abbas, as their president.
Even if 80% of the Palestinians want a peace agreement with Israel, their terrorist government does not – it wants Israel destroyed. And the Palestinian people knew this when they voted for Hamas.
Mr. Carter also asserts that “nearly 70 percent of Palestinians continue to support Fatah’s leader, Mahmoud Abbas, as their president.” The Palestinians may support Mr. Abbas, but, again, Hamas does not; in fact, it planned to assassinate him because he was interfering with Hamas’ attempts to “govern.” That’s terrorist code for destroying Israel. Rather than trying to work out a compromise with Abbas, rather than doing what other civilized governments do when they run into an impasse, Hamas reverted to instinct: assassination.
Mr. Carter continues:
One clear reason for the surprising Hamas victory for legislative seats was that the voters were in despair about prospects for peace. With American acquiescence, the Israelis had avoided any substantive peace talks for more than five years, regardless of who had been chosen to represent the Palestinian side as interlocutor.
Is Mr. Carter admitting that the Palestinian people voted for Hamas out of anger because they felt Israel wasn’t holding up its end of the bargain? If so, then the Palestinian people weren’t just voting against the corruption of the Fatah party. They were voting for an anti-Israel party, which they got.
With all their faults, Hamas leaders have continued to honor a temporary cease-fire, or hudna, during the past 18 months, and their spokesman told me that this “can be extended for two, 10 or even 50 years if the Israelis will reciprocate.” Although Hamas leaders have refused to recognize the state of Israel while their territory is being occupied, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has expressed approval for peace talks between Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel. He added that if these negotiations result in an agreement that can be accepted by Palestinians, then the Hamas position regarding Israel would be changed.
Mr. Carter characterizes the systematic murder of Israelis as a “fault”? That’s the understatement of the year. Simply because Mr. Haniyeh has approved talks between Abbas and Olmert doesn’t mean anything until Hamas behaves like a civilized government. That means endorsing the use of diplomacy and compromise to deal with a problem rather than assassination.
Abbas and Olmert coming to an agreement the Palestinians could agree with doesn’t mean that Hamas will respect it. Hamas’ goal to destroy Israel isn’t based solely upon the fact that Israel is occupying Palestinian land. It’s based upon hatred for Jews, so Israel could completely withdraw from what Hamas defines as Palestinian territories and Hamas would still seek to destroy it.
Finally, Mr. Carter’s pro-Hamas essay ends this way:
There is no way to predict what will happen in Palestine, but it would be a tragedy for the international community to abandon the hope that a peaceful coexistence of two states in the Holy Land is possible. Like Egypt and all other Arab nations before the Camp David Accords of 1978, and the Palestine Liberation Organization before the Oslo peace agreement of 1993, Hamas has so far refused to recognize the sovereign state of Israel as legitimate, with a right to live in peace. This is a matter of great concern to all of us, and the international community needs to probe for an acceptable way out of this quagmire. There is no doubt that Israelis and Palestinians both want a durable two-state solution, but depriving the people of Palestine of their basic human rights just to punish their elected leaders is not a path to peace.
First, the international community hasn’t abandoned hope that peace can happen between Israel and the PA. The Palestinians essentially did with their selection of Hamas. Second, why is it the “way out of this quagmire” rests only on the shoulders of the international community and not on the shoulders of the Palestinians?
The Palestinian people chose the terrorists of Hamas as their leaders. Hamas uses assassination and suicide bombings to eliminate their political and religious opponents* instead of compromise and diplomacy to work with them as the rest of the civilized world does. If this is what the Palestinian people want for their government, fine; the US government will respect their choice. It just won’t fund it.
*changed from enemies. The word “opponents” is more precise.