He's a senator from Illinois.
"Senator Obama does not agree with President Carter's decision to go forward with this meeting because he does not support negotiations with Hamas until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and abide by past agreements."
--Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki, April 10, 2008
Jimmy Carter met with Hamas anyway, of course. He embraced Khaled Meshal, its leader, in Damascus on April 18. On April 19--Passover Eve--Hamas terrorists driving armored personnel carriers and car bombs disguised as Israeli Defense Force jeeps attacked border crossings in the Gaza Strip, wounding more than a dozen Israeli soldiers. All as Hamas fired rockets into the Israeli city of Sderot, home to some 20,000 men, women, and children. The goal? Same as always: terror and death.
On April 21, Carter announced to the world that Hamas would honor a peace deal with Israel negotiated by the Palestinian Authority if a majority of Palestinians also assented in a referendum. A few hours later, Carter's new friend Meshal contradicted him in public. Meeting the former president and Nobel Laureate had not swayed Meshal from his position that "peace" is just a pit stop on the road to Israel's extinction. The Carter mission was a bust.
He never should have gone. There was no good reason. Carter's defenders say the trip was justified because Hamas "won an election" in 2006. It did win parliamentary elections. But it nullified those elections in 2007 when it took over the Gaza Strip by force. The president of the Palestinian Authority is Mahmoud Abbas, elected in 2005. He is the head of state. He says he accepts the renunciation of violence and Israeli annihilation that is at the core of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which created the Palestinian government in the first place. Hamas rejected Oslo in 1993. It still does.
No one elected Meshal. He does not live in Gaza or the West Bank. He directs Hamas's war against Israel from afar at the behest of his Syrian and Iranian patrons. To visit him--to grant him legitimacy--is to prove that the Gazans are pawns in a larger conflict.
Mark Perry of the Conflicts Forum says Carter was right to meet with Hamas because it retains "prestige among the Palestinian people." But that is precisely a reason not to talk to Hamas. A faction recognized as an international terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union is not a legitimate political actor. This is something the Palestinians must understand if they are ever to join the community of democratic nation-states. That can't happen--it won't happen, it shouldn't happen--until groups that deploy murder to achieve genocidal ends face popular rejection and destruction. For Carter to grant Hamas more prestige by meeting its representatives delays that reckoning.
Perry argues that Hamas's "leaders have been showing real moderation." Unbelievable. Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005. But the rocket assaults continue. Meantime, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, an Israeli think tank, writes that "Hamas has accelerated its military buildup." This includes "increasing the size of its forces," now at 20,000 terrorists, and "developing powerful IEDs and placing them near roads."
Moderation? Writing in the Washington Post the day before Carter's visit, Hamas's "foreign minister," Mahmoud al-Zahar, stated that "resistance"--read: terror--"remains our only option." Zahar attacked Israel's "falsified history," its "foundational crime," the "material crimes of 1948." Not 1973. Not 1967. Only 1948, the year Israel was founded. That is the "crime" Hamas wants redressed. On what planet is it unreasonable to demand that a terrorist entity disavow ending your country before you--or an American ex-president engaging in self-parody--enter into negotiations with it?
Columnist Joe Klein blogs that "people who want to negotiate with our enemies almost always have a stronger argument than people who don't." It's a revealing statement, a window into the world of Carter-Obama liberalism: the make-believe land of treaties and conferences and "dialogue" where there is no distinction between friend and foe and evil men are routinely rewarded for flouting international law. This was the reigning doctrine during the 1990s. It is the reigning doctrine of Carter's Democratic party. And it may well be that Carter's trip is the shape of things to come.