I'm not much for the Jimmy-Carter-is-an-anti-Semitic-Israel-hater line - I happen to believe Israel owes him a debt of gratitude for Camp David - but after reading today's news I have to ask: what is this guy thinking?
According to wire service reports, the ex-prez is embarking on a Middle East tour that will include Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank with a group called The Elders – and including former Irish President Mary Robinson. (As I write this, I'm thinking that "The Elders" probably wasn't a smart name choice for a group of older statesmen heading to Zion).
The goal, the group said in a statement, is to “encourage support across the region for the current final status negotiations with emphasis on the need to reach a just and secure peace."
Well, cool; I'm all for a just and secure peace.
But one of the big problems in the recently started and recently stalled Israeli- Palestinian peace talks is an Israeli public that believes outside forces involved in peace efforts are skewed against them – the Mideast Quartet, President Obama, the UN, the EU.
There are varying degrees of truth to that belief, but it's an undeniable fact that's how a lot of Israelis feel.
So then along comes Carter, author of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, who successfully brokered Israel's only real peace treaty but in the years since has been widely and accurately viewed as an advocate for the Palestinian cause and a strong critic of Israel.
How, exactly, is that going to build support for the peace process in a wary, nervous Israel?
How, exactly, is that going to make it easier for Prime Minister Netanyahu to navigate some treacherous political shoals if he is, in fact, serious about reaching an agreement with the Palestinians, and make the politically difficult compromises that will require?
And what happens when Carter opens his mouth and out comes more one-sided talk about Israel's sins and the Palestinians blamelessness?
Bringing Mary Robinson along will just compound the risk this trip will be just a big monkey wrench in the already-wheezing peace process machine. The former U.N. high commissioner for human rights isn't exactly known for her balanced approach to this most complex of conflicts.
If I was a Peace Now leader, I'd be fervently wishing he'd change his mind and decide to go solve some other world crisis, because chances are he's just going to make this one worse.
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