It’s a sad commentary on international affairs and an insult to the human mind when the terrorism scapegoat is continuously allowed to negate important issues.
The Pope should issue a global fatwa banning newspapers and policymakers around the world from engaging in this infantile, overused discussion of “but what about the terrorists.”
Perhaps then the American citizenry can read about Jimmy Carter man-hugging Hamas official Nasser Shaer with enough neutrality to form an informed opinion.
Carter paid tribute to Arafat by laying a wreath on his grave, before meeting Hamas officials in Egypt after Israel denied him access to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Undeterred, Carter said he would meet with exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal in Syria on Friday.
More annoying than the media’s portrayal of Carter as backstabbing terrorist (how could you not appreciate Sen. John McCain’s opinion on the matter?) is its dangerous disregard of far-reaching context. Anyone who understands history knows Carter owes Palestinians a little more than just a hug.
Carter, unlike any other U.S. President, tried to negotiate an evenhanded solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict, acting as the chief negotiator in the Camp David accords which called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, halt all settlements, and grant full autonomy to the Palestinians in exchange for peace with its Arab neighbors. However, Israel never disguised its intention to continue its settlements and obstruct a Palestinian state. Carter was wrong to convince the Arabs to accept an agreement that he could only hope Israel would meet.
Until this day, Arabs are bleeding from the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty Carter tempted them with. When Sadat fell for the trap, Israel’s main opposing force was eliminated and any aspiration for Arab unity was crushed, alongside Arab morale and hope for Palestine.
Carter helped solidify America’s role as Israel’s partner in crime and inexhaustible sugar daddy, so that Israel could continue systematic oppression without the threat of retaliation. Carter’s negotiation meant Israel would resume its role as a glorified bounty hunter: fencing-in the enemy, cutting-off electricity, water, and medical supplies, jailing, and settling on land are considered tactics of defense, even if they violate international law.
One would think Israel would provide the man with a warmer greeting. So why the cold shoulder? Israeli officials are afraid that in meeting with Hamas, Carter will subvert the myth that Hamas is out to destroy Israel, so in typical fashion, they refused to speak with him. They also dismiss Carter’s visit by using the issue of terrorism to divert attention away from the crimes they are committing in Gaza and the West Bank.
Despite America’s unsubtle attempts to cripple Hamas (shame on the European community for going along with it), Hamas remains a major player in Palestinian politics, not only because it’s the legislative majority in the Palestinian Council or because it controls Gaza, but because it is invested in the Palestinian cause. Any peace agreement that does not include Hamas is superficial. Unfortunately, Carter is the only U.S. politician bold enough to come out and say that.
Carter’s willingness to meet with Hamas should be seen as an act of honest diplomacy, a willingness to provide some retribution for a population that is continually made to suffer collective punishment. The former president’s courage and humanity should be emulated and applauded, instead it is being criticized and undermined simply because it turns the tables on the aggressor:
Israel is being asked to recognize Hamas, not the other way around.
Yusra Tekbali is a Journalism and Near Eastern studies major, impatiently awaiting her graduation from the University of Arizona this year. She is also an Arab nationalist.