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Jimmy Carter made his presidency synonymous with the struggle for human rights. Who can forget his call to boycott the Olympic games in Moscow because of Soviet rights violations in Afghanistan? Around the world, Carter tried to pressure US supported regimes into respecting human rights, sometimes taking extreme measures. When Iranian generals wanted to suppress the Khomeini uprising, Carter administration officials were sent to warn them to respect human rights.
So perhaps there is cosmic irony in the meeting that dear old Jimmy held the other day with a certain Middle Eastern leader.
Recognize the people in the photo? On the left - Jimmy Carter, the human rights advocate. On the right, Bashar Assad, the "leader" of Syria. In the Middle East, an area outstanding for human rights violations, Bashar Assad's regime is an egregious leader in the field, competing with champs like Muammar Ghaddafi. Assad and his father organized the occupation of Lebanon, murdering anyone who disagreed with them. Syrian opposition leaders are routinely jailed - if they are lucky. Syria's Kurdish minority is brutally suppressed. Sure Syria has elections. Assad is very popular - he got 99% of the vote because nobody else was really running against him.
Carter isn't meeting only with Assad, but with Khaled Meshal, the real head of the genocidal religious fanatic group, Hamas. Hamas's idea of democracy and human rights is slicing up opposition leaders into steaks and sending the pieces to their families, or throwing them off of tall buildings after breaking their kneecaps.
That is the distinguished record in human rights advocacy of the two leaders that Carter has been meeting with in Damascus. Both leaders are boycotted by the US state department, but Carter doesn't believe in boycotts any more.
Seasoned Middle East observers understand that nothing can come of these meetings except legitimation of Assad and Meshal. Michael Young notes in the Daily Star that there is no point in negotiating with Hamas. He calls Carter A fool on a fool's errand. Tariq Alhomayed writes in as Sharq al Awsat:
Jimmy Carter has given Bashar Assad and Khaled Meshal a great gift - legitimation from a "supporter of human rights." It seems that fake elections, murder of opponents and suppression of minorities now have the "Halal" or "Kosher" stamp from a chief Rabbi/Imam of human rights. But in doing so, Carter has effectively destroyed his own reputation as a champion of freedom and decency.
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Replies: 3 comments
letter to tikkun magazine
One of the most valid points in your article about Annapolis was that each side--Palestinians and Israelis--should teach history in their own schools the way their enemies would teach it. So as a first step toward peace, I, a Jewish American, part of the diaspora Jews, will do just that right here in your magazine.
But I will take it one step further: I will teach that mutual history the way it is seen--not by the Palestinians--but as it is seen by fellow Jews and Zionists like Benny Morris and Ami Isseroff. I suspect you are familiar with them although 99% of Americans are not because of the biased and bigoted US corporate media.
I would also include in that teaching, Professor Ian G. Lustik of the University of Pennsylvania. He is an expert on the subject of Israeli-Palestinian history. I think you are also familiar with him since you published one of his articles in your magazine.
Mr. Morris, a renowned Zionist historian, has documented how Zionist terrorists stole the land of the Palestinians between 1947 and 1949, committing at least 24 massacres such as the one at Deir Yassin with the purpose of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians, a necessary element in establishing a majority Jewish state.
Professor Lustik points out how the first secretary of state of Israel called this terrorism the smaller holocaust indirectly caused by the larger holocaust committed by Hitler. The secretary even mentioned taking some of the German-paid reparations to Israel and diverting them to the Palestinian victims of "The Tragedy" as the Palestinians refer to it.
I believe Professor Lustik will also concede that the Israeli government doesn't even want to allow the refugees caused by The Tragedy and later acts of Israeli terrorism and ethnic cleansing to return to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, let alone the actual land that was stolen from them within the current borders of Israel.
Ami Isseroff, a Zionist for peace, gets into the nuts and bolts of one of the particular massacres committed by Zionist terrorists, the Irgun and the Stern Gang, at Deir Yassin. He explains how the terrorists shot and killed prisoners, women and children at close range. He also explains how the villagers of Deir Yassin had signed a peace treaty with the Zionists before they were attacked unmercifully.
Oh, and as part of our history lesson for peace I have another source that is not Palestinian or Arab: "The Surrogate Colonization of Palestine" by Scott Atran. Mr. Atran points out the cause behind the riots of the 1920s in which Palestinians killed Jews. Wealthy Zionists who purchased a small portion of the land later to become Israel, purchased the land from those who stole it from the Palestinians, the Ottoman landlords. Only the Ottomans allowed the Palestinians to continue to work the land and make a living without having "legal" ownership to it. After the Zionists purchased this land--bought fenced property--they proceeded to kick the Palestinians off of the land they had worked and lived on for generations. I presume these wealthy Zionist thieves had armed gangs to protect them so the displaced Palestinians took out their anger on less well-armed Jews who may have been illegally immigrating into Palestine.
And thus began the war that continues even now and extended itself into America on 911.
So how's that for our first history lesson for peace?
Posted by scottsoperson @ 04/25/2008 06:16 AM CST
Sadly, Jimmy Carter even during his administration did go against his image of Mr. Clean and did violate human rights. His actions also lead to the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
His administration started the funding of fundamentalists in those countries as a counter to the Russians, leading us on the road to 9/11.
He put the US bases in the Phillipines as a higher priority than human rights in that country (yes he gave lip service but when it came down to it, he went for the advantage of keeping US bases there). He helped the Khmer Rouge keep its seat in the UN despite the knowledge of the mass killing that had gone on under their government.
He picked and chose where he would recognize human rights and where he would not. I'm sure there are more examples but these are some very blatant ones. If you do more reading, you will find more examples of his two-handed policy.
He was a disaster as a president. He has done good things since being out of office but frankly he should probably stay out of politics as his judgement is not the best. I'm sure he means well in his school-marmish self-righteous way but his main drive is his ego and to prove what a 'good' person he is.
Posted by Karen @ 05/04/2008 07:38 PM CST
Coming from a Buddhist perspective which is conducive to dialog, I fail to understand how "meeting" (read: conducting dialog) with "enemies" is counterproductive. I am also non-violent, but I can understand boycotting a country while maintaining diplomacy to improve a situation.
Psychologically, I do have some understanding of the effectiveness of ignoring your enemies. For instance, there have been many times when people have targeted me as a victim of their unacceptable behavior. I have noticed that the best way for this behavior to stop is to essentially ignore it, to not react to it (we're talking non-violent resistance). However, the efficiency of this approach is limited. This essentially staves off the behavior away from myself. Hardly does it tend to teach a lesson, as the perpetrator quickly finds alternative victims.
I do not see war or death as a solution by any means to any situation (except in a last resort of self-defence), for my perspective of death is not one shared by monotheistic schools. Death is not the termination-- the end of life. Rather it is the latency of life, like leaves on a tree during the winter-- not visible (latent), but having the capacity to return come spring (manifestation).
People die, but ideas don't. That's the problem with the US approach to our "idealogical wars". They can't kill the ideas of people by destroying them. Education is the only real solution. That means if we have to go and education foreign leaders on the folly of their policies, so be it.
If you are a silent witness, you are as guilty as the perpetrator of the crime.
Posted by wikibuddha @ 05/20/2008 09:31 PM CST
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