Carter Offers Apology...
Israel frequently irritates me. It is difficult to criticize the policies of their nation without being branded an anti-Semite. Carter may have failed as a US president, but as a man of peace and diplomacy I believe he has had a rather noble and distinguished career.
Israel and American Jews can say what they will, but there has been, perhaps, no greater friend to the state of Israel then Jimmy Carter whose has spent a larger portion of his career trying to establish a lasting peace in the Middle East.
Israel may take issue with Carter comparing their policies toward the Palestinians to that of the South African Apartheid. Maybe the truth hurts. Regardless of whether or not the title of Carter’s book was ill advised he is correct on many of the issues regarding the politics of the area, including the Palestinians “whose future status must be a focal point for progress toward peace.”(Carter, p.55)
Martin Luther King observed that a riot is the language of the unheard. Acts of terrorism are perhaps best compared to a sustained long term riot. Hamas and other such groups commit acts of horrible atrocity. They are violent murders and think nothing of treating their civilians as human shields. They use public schools, Mosques and residential dwellings as part of their weapons storehouses and military strategies. Then they lob missiles into Israel. But, when you are not heard it often seems that violence is the only option.
How long should Israel be expected to show restraint? How do you fight an enemy that is willing to kill innocent bystanders whether it is Israelis or Palestinians? When your enemy chooses to blur the lines of morality in their pursuit of their goals you are often left little choice – attack or allow yourself to be destroyed. On the other hand how much oppression should the Palestinians be expected to tolerate?
Revolution is not pretty. It’s bloody, violent and painful. We forget that living in the relative safety of the United States, our revolution being over 200 years in our past. The experience is long forgotten even as we take our civil liberties for granted. To the British Government the armies of George Washington may well have seemed guerilla and each soldier a terrorist.
I empathize with the people of Israel and their government. But, at the same time they are their own worst enemy. When you strip a people of their identity and their homeland you are asking for the worst most violent kind of trouble. The oppression started long before 1947 when the United Nations portioned Palestine allocating over 55% of the former British protectorate to what is now the nation of Israel. Between the Ottomans, the British Empire and Israel the Palestinians have been a marginalized people for centuries.
The whole area is a very complicated blend of religious and socio-economic issues that go back thousands of years. The Palestinian question of today is just another manifestation of what can only be thought of as an ancient blood feud.
Arabs and Jews are technically both Semitic. In order to be a true anti-Semite one must hate both groups. Carter hates neither. His affection for Israel is obvious. He is often the kind, but stern father trying hard to reconcile warring siblings who just as soon fight. The problem is you can’t reason with unreasonable people. You cannot reach compromise and broker peace when people have murder in their hearts.
I am not suggesting Israel has murder in their hearts. Quite the contrary and their apparent heavy handedness recently in the Gaza Strip was the direct result of Hamas acts of terrorism.
The whole area seems destined toward genocide. For as much blame as Israel’s enemies like to lay at their feet Israel may actually be more of a stabilizing force then they are given credit for. Israel gives the Arab world and Iran a common enemy to rally against. If they were suddenly not there the Middle East would implode and erupt in civil wars. Sunnis and Shiites can barely keep themselves from blowing each other up as it is now.
Carter’s meeting with Hamas should be recognized for what it is – an attempt to reach out to the “enemy” and offer a hand of peace. There are not many options at this juncture. The choices are simple either, sustained violence or compromise, which starts with a Palestinian state and an elevation of their status from the margins of the Middle East.
There are those who see Carter’s act as foolishly attempting to negotiate with terrorists. But, as pointed out above to the British government the American Revolutionaries were terrorists to be brought into line. Because their goals are not pro Israel or The United States, for that matter, we simply label them terrorist. To the Palestinians they may simply be revolutionaries fighting for their liberation and their rights against a nation that oppresses them. It’s always about perspective.
Israel has been beleaguered but they are not without their own venality. They stubbornly refuse to accept this. They are quick to state their right to the land they occupy, but they have a short memory it seems. Their nation was a gift of the United Nations. Israel exists because they have powerful allies. The armies of Rome sacked Jerusalem in 70 CE and brought the end of their nation. They were a scattered people, a marginalized ethnic minority throughout Europe for centuries until the atrocities of Nazi Germany nearly destroyed European Jewry. It seems unjust that they would be complicit in the marginalizing of others.
Before someone makes the hot headed mistake thinking that I am comparing Israel to Nazi Germany take a deep breath and read deeper between the lines...