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EVANS: Jimmy Carter’s myopia

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2009

OP-ED:

Former President Jimmy Carter has just released a new book, "We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan that Will Work." Carter's solution is straightforward, Israel should embrace the Quartet.

The plan is backed by a group known simply as The Elders, an idea formulated by British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and musician Peter Gabriel to create a world council of elders to tackle issues such as peace in the Middle East. Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center are heavily involved with this endeavor. Carter is one of three individuals appointed as Elders to the Middle East. The delegation's objectives were met with skepticism by the Israelis, but according to Mr. Carter, were eagerly embraced by the "Palestinians, peace groups and human rights activists in the region." How could he ask the Jewish people to embrace a group known as The Elders? The controversial Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is the biggest bestselling book in a bigoted world, and is charged with fueling anti-Semitism, from the Russian pogroms to the Holocaust. Carter's plan is to allow the Quartet to solve the Middle East problem. He calls for "peace-loving" organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas and states like Iran and Syria to be involved in the negotiating process in order to have peace in the Holy Land.

Carter refers to Jews again and again as "radicals," another word for terrorists. He called former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin a "radical" and then goes on to describe him as the "most notorious terrorist in the region." Of course, he said the British said that, not him. Carter describes Likud Party leaderBenjamin Netanyahu as a "key political associate and naysayer" who was strongly opposed to Israel relinquishing control over the Sinai.

It appears that Jimmy Carter is revising history. The Benjamin Netanyahu I know was attending college during the Camp David meetings. In fact, when I recommended him to Begin for a government job, the prime minister did not even know who Benjamin was. I have no idea how Carter was so aware of Benjamin Netanyahu's political ideology; he was selling furniture to help fund his schooling.

The former president writes that Begin agreed to divide Jerusalem. I found that to be astonishing … especially since Mr. Begin had given me a copy of the letter he wrote to Carter on Sept. 17, 1978. In the letter he wrote, "Dear Mr. President. … On the basis of this law, the government of Israel decreed in July 1967 that Jerusalem is one city indivisible, the capital of the State of Israel." According to Begin, Carter informed him that the U.S. government did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Begin told me he responded, "Excuse me sir, but the State of Israel does not recognize your non-recognition." The former president writes that Prime Minister Begin agreed to a freeze on building Jewish settlements. Begin told me he had not agreed to a total freeze; he only agreed not to build new settlements for three months, during the negotiations. Carter gives the impression that he and Begin were close friends by saying that Begin and Sadat visited him in Plains to reaffirm the personal commitments each had made to the other. I found that quite humorous; Mr. Begin told me he had refused to meet with Carter when the president traveled to Jerusalem. At that time, he was no longer prime minister but was outraged that Carter had misrepresented the events during their meetings.

Carter viewed PLO leader Yasser Arafat as a "little George Washington." He pens, "We pursued the concept of non-violent resistance of Hamas leaders and gave them documentation and video presentations on the successful experiences of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others." Peace in the Holy Land must include Palestinian militant leader, Marwan Barghouti, the serial killer. Carter calls him the "most intriguing player in the Middle East." He has run for the presidency in the Palestinian National Authority.

Begin told me of a meeting with Carter during which he gave the president a list of cities in the United States with Bible names, i.e., Shiloh, Hebron and Bethel. He asked Carter, "Could you imagine the governor of Pennsylvania would proclaim that anyone could live in the city of Bethlehem, Pa., except Jews?" President Carter agreed that such a man, if he did such a thing, would be guilty of racism. Begin replied that he was governor of the state in which the original Bethlehem, and the original Jericho, and the original Shiloh were located. He asked me, "Did Carter expect me to say that everybody could live in those cities except Jews?" Could it be that Carter's ideals are formulated by the number of zeros before the decimal on the contributions to the Carter Center by oil-rich Gulf States? These same states do not now nor will they ever allow Jews to worship freely within their borders, no matter how much land Israel relinquishes.

Carter's final plea is for President Barack Obama to "shape a comprehensive peace effort between Israel and the Palestinians ... then use persuasion and enticements to reach these reasonable goals with the full backing of other members of the International Quartet [Russia, the UN, the EU, and the United States] and the Arab nations." It is likely he would call on The Elders for their expertise. The best thing Obama could do is completely ignore Carter and his plan.

Michael D. Evans, a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author, is the author of "Jimmy Carter: The Liberal Left and World Chaos." A television special based on the book is currently being produced.