- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Jimmy Carter’s decision to meet with the terrorist organization Hamas is turning the former president into something of a political pariah. Before he left for the region, the State Department tried to persuade him not to meet with Hamas, but Mr. Carter rejected their advice. So, during a visit to the West Bank town of Ramallah yesterday, Mr. Carter hugged and kissed a leading Hamas official at a reception. He is scheduled to meet later this week with Hamas’ Damascus-based leader, Khaled Meshaal. Mr. Carter hopes to persuade Mr. Meshaal “to agree to a peaceful resolution of differences, both with the Israelis… and also with Fatah.”

After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a “myth” and said Israel should be “wiped off the map,” Mr. Meshaal congratulated Iranian leaders: “What Iranian officials say may not please some people, but these are just courageous declarations.” Retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, writing in Human Events, notes that in 2004 Mr. Meshaal signed a statement calling on all Muslims to join with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, head of Iraq’s Mahdi Army, in fighting against American forces in Iraq. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, here’s part of a February 2006 speech that Mr. Meshaal delivered at a mosque in Damascus. “Before Israel dies, it must be humiliated and degraded. Allah willing, before they die, they will experience humiliation and degradation every day,” Mr. Meshaal declared. “Allah willing, we will make them lose their eyesight, we will make them lose their brains.”

This is not mere rhetoric. Hamas has been behind scores of suicide attacks against Israel, and following that nation’s August 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Hamas has stepped up its firing of rockets and missiles at Israel. None of this has dissuaded Mr. Carter from reaching out to Hamas. According to the group, Mr. Carter sent an envoy to Damascus requesting a meeting with Mr. Meshaal. Hamas said it “welcomed the request.” Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, refused to meet with Mr. Carter. Israeli President Shimon Peres met with Mr. Carter, but gave him a rhetorical dressing down, accusing him of doing significant damage to the peace process in recent years.

As Mr. Carter prepared to leave for the Middle East, a Hamas cleric in Gaza declared in a televised sermon that “Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our Prophet Mohammad. Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam.” Perhaps Mr. Carter can convince this cleric to join Mr. Meshaal in “peacefully” resolving differences with Israel.

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