Jimmy Carter is the only president that I have seen in person. I recall visiting the Air and Space Museum (part of the Smithsonian Institution) as a boy, and there he was, waving from the balcony as he left the Museum theater.
As I learned more about his presidency, I came to believe that he was a nice guy who just found himself completely out of his depth when it came to running the country. But at some point over the past several years, his writings concerning Israel and the Palestinians have forced me to revise that position; he’s really not a very nice guy at all. I know few people of similar stature on this side of the Atlantic who are quite so bigoted.
In his latest editorial, he eulogizes Arafat while blaming Israel and Israelis for Palestinian terrorism. He writes, for example, that the 1993 Oslo Agreements produced an “absence of serious violence [which] was broken when a Jewish nationalist assassinated Mr. Rabin.” Carter fails to explain how a single act of murder led to a series of Hamas bus bombings the following summer, Palestinian policemen firing upon Israelis shortly thereafter, or the war Arafat started in 2000. Nor does Carter explain his apparent belief that there were no homicides anywhere within Israel or PA territory from 1993 until 1996.
He then writes that “In effect, peace efforts of a long line of previous administrations have been abandoned by President Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. For the last three years of his life, Mr. Arafat was incapacitated and held as a prisoner.” It’s all the fault of Sharon and Bush; Arafat was the victim.
He speaks of “Mr. Arafat’s failure to control violence among his people.” Arafat failed to control the Karine-A boat, filled with Katyusha rockets and other terrorist weapons. Obviously Arafat’s lieutenant on board was trying to steer it away, he just couldn’t control it. Arafat couldn’t control the Tanzim suicide bombers, it wasn’t his fault that they spent the millions he gave them on terrorism, or that they insisted on forging his name on direct payments to bombers and then planted the records in his files.
Among the current obstacles to peace “not present in 1996” is “the decision by Hamas and other militant factions to resort to suicide bombings.” The bombings that happened in 1996 leading up to Netanyahu’s election were obviously Yigal Amir’s fault after all, for according to Carter, “Hamas and other militant factions” weren’t even involved.
It’s appalling. Carter is far too bright to attribute this to stupidity. And the only alternative explanation to this level of blindness is a level of bigotry that at least borders on anti-Semitism, and probably crosses the line.