Friday, June 19, 2009

Former President Jimmy Carter said this week that he plans to ask the Obama administration to take Hamas off the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. This prompts the question, what part of the word “terrorist” doesn’t Mr. Carter understand?

President Clinton designated Hamas a foreign terrorist organization in 1995 during a suicide bombing campaign against Israel. Since then Hamas, formally known as the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, has routinely engaged in bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and other undeniably terroristic activities. After violently seizing control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas radically escalated attacks on cities in southern Israel with thousands of rockets and mortars. When Israel responded with force last January, Mr. Carter roundly denounced the move.

“I have to hold back tears when I see the deliberate destruction that has been wreaked against your people,” Mr. Carter said from Gaza on Tuesday, “by bombs from F-16s made in my country.” Mr. Carter may have been feeling guilty about deals his administration made to sell the aircraft to Israel and the $800 million in grants he supplied to construct air bases in Israel’s southern Negev desert. But he had nothing to say about the destruction wrought by Hamas’ Iranian-made rockets, even though in 2008 he described attacks on the Israeli city of Sderot “a despicable crime.” Mr. Carter further noted the “grief and despair” he felt at the “destruction perpetrated against innocent people,” but was silent on Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields.

Mr. Carter called the blockade Israel and Egypt have imposed on Gaza since Hamas took over an “atrocity” and blamed Jerusalem, Cairo, Washington and the rest of the world for “this terrible human rights crime.” Hamas was conspicuously left off his blame list. He claimed that “never before in history has a large community been savaged by bombs and missiles and then deprived of the means to repair itself,” even though the Obama administration has pledged $900 million in relief aid to Gaza. Most of this is wisely being channeled away for Hamas and toward the Fatah faction, which may be Mr. Carter’s main objection.

Mr. Carter stated that Hamas leaders “want peace” and want to “live side by side” with Israel, a curious statement given that Hamas is pledged to the total destruction of the Jewish state. Last week, the former president met in Syria with Khaled Meshal, the exiled Hamas political leader, and stated that Israeli-Palestinian peace would be impossible unless Hamas was “involved directly.” It strikes us that peace will be impossible if Hamas is involved in any way.

Hamas has well earned its place on the terrorist list. It has been and remains a violent extremist group. Hamas is also part of Iran’s state-sponsored terror network, receiving an estimated $20 million to $30 million per year from Tehran. The Jerusalem Post reported this week that as a sign of gratitude for Iran’s largesse, Hamas is supplying thugs to beat anti-Ahmadinejad demonstrators in Iran. The Obama administration has not commented on Mr. Carter’s private diplomatic efforts, but most reports indicate they are trying studiously to ignore him. Maybe they hope he’ll go away.

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