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.