All I can say is–it’s about time. About time someone stood up and said this policy is stupid and not working and counter-productive. About time that we talked to Hamas. Former Mossad director Ephraim Levy has been saying it for a long time. Other former Israeli generals and leading academic analysts have been saying it. Even Israeli public opinion is in favor. Who’s against? The pols: Olmert and those farther to his right are opposed. And the Bushites and the remaining neo-cons are agin’ it.
But the problem with the policy is that like much of the Bush’s approach it’s based on a theory that just doesn’t hold up on closer examination. The three no’s (remember the Arab League’s three No’s?): no contact without Hamas recognition of Israel, renunciation of terror, & acceptance of previous agreements, are largely a smokescreen. Neither the U.S. nor Israel made such demands before negotiating with the PLO. Despite this the PLO DID eventually recognize Israel and renounce violence as part of a negotiation process…the same type of negotiation process that should happen with Hamas.
Before the carpers start carping, I need to make clear that Carter will doubtless go into this meeting with no illusions about who Khaled Meshal is and what he represents. Carter won’t be starry-eyed and unduly impressed with his interlocutor. Meshal represents a lot of what is bad about Hamas. But he also represents a powerful faction within the group and there is no possible way to effect any sort of agreement with Hamas in the long term without Meshal’s at least tacit agreement.
There are those in Israel and people like Dick Cheney who believe the only good Hamas is a dead one. They’re prepared for a fight to the death. But no matter how attractive such a prospect may be to some extremists it would be an abject failure should anyone try to implement it.
No matter how odious anyone may find Hamas, there simply is no alternative to dealing with them. So Democrats and the Israeli government can rail at him all they want. But Carter’s only doing what they should be doing themselves. What they will eventually be doing themselves despite all protestations to the contrary. For we will negotiate with Hamas (Israel is already doing it indirectly through Egyptian auspices). The question is not “if” but “when.”
Unfortunately, this Forward report is yet another example of the clueless approach the Jewish communal leadership is taking on this one:
Carter’s decision to meet with the leader of Hamas, which is listed by the State Department as a terrorist group, is yet another step in the former president’s shift away from the mainstream approach in Washington to Middle East peacemaking. It is also seen as distancing him even further from the Jewish and pro-Israel community in the United States…
What Guttman really meant was this is yet another step away from the AIPAC approach to Mideast peacemaking. It certainly isn’t a step away from a mainstream approach since as I already wrote, Israel is currently negotiating with Hamas. And Carter isn’t distancing himself from the Jewish community. He’s distancing himself from the nostrums of the Israel lobby organizations, the very ones whose ideas have fallen flat over many years in dealing with these peacemaking issues.
All I can say is “Go Jimmy. Give ’em hell (both Meshal AND the Israel lobby).”
The Forward also notes Israel’s typical cutting off its nose to spite its face in regards to its treatment of Carter. It refused him permission to meet Hamas’ more moderate Gaza leadership. Not to be outmanuvered, Carter one-upped the Israelis. He said if they won’t let me meet with Hamas in Gaza I’ll meet with Hamas leadership that Israel detests even more deeply–in Syria. Instead of playing games with Carter, the Israelis should’ve let him meet with Haniya and the other Gaza leaders. Now they have a real problem on their hands in trying to put back the genie into the bottle that Carter has opened.
I was tickled by this ludicrous statement from the State Department:
…The State Department had not commented on Carter’s reported plans to meet Meshaal, but did say that Carter was advised by administration official that meetings with Syrian officials in the past “had not produced positive results.”
And U.S. policy toward Hamas HAS “produced positive results??” What could be worse than our current bankrupt policy? A full-tilt regional war involving Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel, Iran, etc.? That’s still a possibility if we don’t do something better quickly.
Bill Pearlman says
On the contrary, Jimmy Carters history has shown that he will go into this precisely “starry eyed and unduly impressed”. It never ceases to amaze me that self described liberals and progressives see Israel has the problem and line up behind groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. But I digresss, how about an Israeli government official being invited to Damascus for direct talks. Livni for example, the foreign minister. I must have missed that one.
Bill, I fail to see how Jimmy Carter meeting with the leader of Hamas is *lining up behind Hamas*. Not unless you think when he met with Israeli leaders when he was US President he was lining up behind Israel, and that’d mean he’s lined up behind Israel an awful lot. Does that mean back when Israeli officials were meeting ‘unofficially’ with the PLO in the lead-up to Oslo that they were lining up behind the PLO? Of course not, and it’s clear that Jimmy Carter isn’t lining up behind anyone by meeting with them…
He’s doing what Israel, the US, and the international community should be doing – engaging Hamas in dialogue in the hope that Hamas will moderate its stance and something constructive will happen, because nothing constructive has come of the destructive and pointless boycott of Hamas and the blockade of Gaza…
I don’t understand all of the hatred between, the European Jew and the Palestinians living in the West Bank. Ok, I’m looking at this from a Biblical perspective. God has given Israel to the Jews. The true
Jews and the Arabs are the same people. The Arabs are not part of the ten or 12 tribes of Israel.
The European Jew is a convert as is the Russian Jew. The only ones that should show any animosity is the Israeli Jew. As I stated earlier, the Israeli Jew and the Arab are the same group. Now, from a political stand point. It seems that the Israeli’s want to control the Palestinians and are doing so. I’m speaking from traveling to Israel and studying in Hebron. The settelers came to this part of the Palestinian part of the West Bank in the early 80’s and think they run things. These are the European jews doing this.
The Euopean Jew is white, and therfore believes he is superior. This is a battle for control over a very Holy land a very sacred land. As I stated earlier, I’m all for Israel because this is God’s home. I will never go against God. The only problem I have is with the treatment of the Palestinians.
“Ok, I’m looking at this from a Biblical perspective. God has given Israel to the Jews.”
What god giveth, god taketh away. It’s a little known biblical fact that the ever-fickle god changed her mind one night after losing at a game of poker, and gave Israel, as well as Switzerland and Nauru to a passing insurance salesman, who was mightily pissed off when god didn’t come through with any title deeds….
god was last seen enrolling at a real estate course and proclaiming loudly that living on a fluffy white cloud made her superior to everyone…
Chris you’re scary, religious, condescending and racist all at the same time
Richard S –
a) The US and Israel have been engaging in direct and indirect talks with Hamas for years. This has been going on since the beginning of time as in the French and British using messengers, go betweens etc… In this case the Egyptians regularly talk directly to Hamas and communicate direct messages between the two. The only difference now is Hamas gets a photo op to use in their propoganda.
b) Hamas has OPENLY stated that they were just using Carter for PR and status. They don’t even try to hide it… but maybe that was just those shadowy Israel first extremists again making false conspiracies with their bad translations?? yeah that musta been it.
c) If you ask your neighbor to have his kids stop throwing rocks through the windows of your house and and he laughs at you and then throws bigger rocks and then you don’t invite them to dinner to your house to directly talk with them, then its all your fault bcs you insulted your neighbor. Sound logic there…
SO THE SOLUTION –
Send Jimmy Carter to go talk directly with unrepentant murderers bcs his track record of engaging – The Jimmah Carter solo school of politics has been realllllll successful…
Iran hostages – North Korea – Yasser Arafat….. all shining examples of his success… like when he enraged Clinton by deciding he’d talk to North Korea himself. and then self congratulating himself bcs the Kim jung Il assured him he just wanted Nuke technology for power so he’d better be able to feed his people he’s got in concentration camps and forced labor…. Yet, shockingly Jimmy never seems to talk about that now 10+ years later?
All this trip is – is a media propaganda score for Hamas and Utopian fantasy towards something for far left progressives who imagine that most if not all of the failure is due to the intrasurgence, maximalist and stubborn dreams of the Israeli gov’t – left – middle – right – secular – religious etc… versus the unrelenting, unchanging behavior and attitude from the Palestinian side.
Thus, anything short of Yossi Beilin and far left academics of course excluding Benny Morris whom almost all of these academic revisionist historians copy and get their history from – Pappe, Finkelstein etc….. are thus – Israel first extremists…..
Its only the likes of the above and Mr. Silverstein who have the magic crystal ball and can see things clearly… even though he doesn’t live in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank.