Tag Archives: Arafat

Jimmy Carter Arouses Fury In Israel And With Bush

Former President Jimmy Carter’s visit to the Middle East has created turmoil in Israel and America because of his intention to discuss issues of war and peace with Hamas leaders. He will meet with Nasser al-Sher in the West Bank town of Ramallah and his meeting with the Hamas leader has upset those who believe talking with the enemy is equivalent to accepting the enemy’s kdeas. Carter will be off to Damascus where he will have extensive discusisons with top Hamas leaders. Critics claim having discussions grants legitimacy to the violently anti-Israel Hamas organization.

Carter said when he meets Khaled Mashaael, the exiled Hamas leader his goal is “I’m going to try everything possible I can to get him to agree to a peaceful resolution.” The Carter mission to the Middle East contains no evidence the former president is doing anything other than talk with people. It is certainly a novel idea to claim talking with those with whom you disagree grants legitimacy to their views. During the Cold War, American presidents and diplomats constantly met with leaders of the Soviet Union without anyone claiming such meetings meant the United States was granting “legitimacy” to communism. Nor, did American leaders ever insist prior to a meeting that communist leaders must promise to recognize capitalism and to abandon their goal of destroying it.

I may disagree with many of Jimmy Carter’s ideas, I certainly thought it was in bad taste to lay a wreath on the grave of Arafat, but his discussions with Hamas leaders are not aiding the forces of terrorism. If anything, they may actually help get Middle Eastern leaders to move toward peace.

Palestinians–We Don’t Trust Anyone!

New surveys of Palestinian attitudes toward their leaders revealed deep seated mistrust of either Hamas or Fatah. Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah organization received the endorsement of 39% of Palestinians, down from the 46% who had that feeling in November. Only 16% had a favorable attitude toward Hamas and as far as 41% think, a plague on both your houses! There is widespread dissatisfaction with leadership in Palestine and people are seeking honest government that will address their needs rather than play to the grandstand of rhetoric. A majority of those surveyed supported peace moves, but, they simply did not trust the current crop of leaders to actually make peace happen.

The Hamas figure is interesting, given that it probably was influenced by Israel bombings in Gaza. Most probably close to 12% of Palestinians actually endorse Hamas as an effective leadership group. The tragedy of the Palestinian movement from day one has been its inability to bring forth a statesman who could bring together divergent factions and work on a genuine compromise solution with Israel. Instead, Palestinians have been led by the corrupt and incompetent Arafat and today by an ineffective Abbas. Is there anyone around who can step up and exert effective leadership?

Disappearance Of Israeli Peace Voices Damages Peace Endeavors

There are several ignored sectors of Israeli society whose voices are now generally ignored when such ventures as the Annapolis conference emerge — the peace movement and Israeli Arab citizens. Left wing groups such as Labor, Meretz or the Arab political parties in Israel apparently are not able to come together and constitute a voice for peace and reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority. Labor MP Ophir Paz-Pines, noted that “instead of being a real step forward for the peace process, Annapolis has become a conference on the status quo.” Ophir-Pez took part in the Clinton Camp David summit which included Arafat and Barak and whose breakdown resulted in institution of the second intifada. One outcome of Arafat’s terrible mistake in walking away from peace and instituting violence has been to take the wind out of the Israel peace movement which has remained dormant these past seven years. MP Zehava Gal-On of Meretz says, “The Left is divided over how to treat Annapolis. Some want to ignore it by not going, others are simply scowling from afar.”

One of the sad commentaries on the Annapolis meeting is the failure of the Omert government to actively involve members of the Israel-Arab community as active participants. In fact, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni even suggested to Israel-Arabs they might feel m ore at home in a Palestinian state than in their current homes. Arab leaders have to become sensitive about their capacity to aid the process of peace by reaching out to Israel peace activists and ceasing actions which only hurt the power and influence of these factors in Israel society. The second intifada was a disaster for Israel peace groups and the actions of Arafat must not be repeated.