Pining for President Carter

Say what you will about former President Jimmy Carter, be it that his presidency was a failure, or that he was once the head of the U.S. war machine.  Those sentiments about Carter may be true, but his advocacy for Palestinians in recent years has been unflinching, even in the face of vicious smears, like Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League calling Carter an “anti-Semite” after the publication of Carter’s book titled Palestine:  Peace Not Apartheid.

Carter’s now at it again.  Yesterday, while in Syria with a group of respected statesmen known as the “Elders,” Carter called for Hamas, the Islamist party that controls the Gaza Strip and was elected democratically in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, to be included in the current “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 

The Associated Press reports, via

Former President Jimmy Carter said on Tuesday that Palestinians are “living in a cage” in Gaza and that the militant group Hamas must be included in all major efforts for peace.

Carter was in Syria with an international group of veteran statesmen known as the Elders, which includes Ireland’s former President Mary Robinson.

“We believe that Hamas should be included in all the major efforts to peace … It is part of the Palestinian people,” Carter said. He added that “1.5 million Palestinians are held in a cage or prison while their human rights are taken away.”

Carter has previously called the the siege of Gaza an “atrocity,” a “crime” and an “abomination.”

Carter’s strong stance on the immorality of the blockade and the importance of including Hamas in any sort of “peace talks” is a striking contrast to the complete and utter failure of Barack Obama’s policy on Israel/Palestine.  Obama has been largely silent about the illegal siege of Gaza and has continued the Bush administration’s policy of propping up an unaccountable Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and staying silent on Israel’s “strangulation” of the Gazan economy. 

How about a Carter primary run against Obama in the 2012 elections?  At the very least, Carter should replace George Mitchell and Dennis Ross as the chief policy formulator on Israel and Palestine.

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