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Jimmy Carter (Before): “I Oppose a Palestinian State”

By Jeff Ballabon
December 1, 2006

This was Carter, THEN:

… I am opposed to an independent Palestinian state, because in my own judgement and in the judgement of many leaders in the Middle East, including Arab leaders, this would be a destabilizing factor in the Middle East and would certainly not serve the United States interests. (Jimmy Carter at the United Jewish Appeal National Young Leadership Conference, February 25, 1980).


we oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The United States, as all of you know, has a warm and unique relationship of friendship with Israel that is morally right. It is compatible with our deepest religious convictions, and it is right in terms of America’s own strategic interests. We are committed to Israel’s security, prosperity, and future as a land that has so much to offer to the world. A strong Israel and a strong Egypt serve our own security interests.We are committed to Israel’s right to live in peace with all its neighbors, within secure and recognized borders, free from terrorism. We are committed to a Jerusalem that will forever remain undivided with free access to all faiths to the holy places. Nothing will deflect us from these fundamental principles and committments. (Source: First anniversary of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty / White House joint conference, March 23, 1980).

What has changed in the last 25 years? Not Israel’s 1948 independence. Not the 1967 war. Not the cynical, ignominous treatment of Arab refugees by the Arab world.

So why, 25 years later, is Israel’s right to exist a matter of debate, while Palestine’s right to exist is presumed by everyone from the United Nations to Jimmy Carter to George Bush to Ehud Olmert?

Why, when the Palestinian leaderships - PA and Hamas - the first imposed and the second popularly elected, demonstrate that their chief characteristics are, respectively, corrupt thuggery and bloody holy war, why then is endless-concession-making, negotiating, retreating, disengaging, humanitarian-aid-giving, appeasing Israel viewed as the “destabilizing factor?”

Did a massive land-grab by Israel precede Carter’s new book? On the contrary: a massive land-surrender preceded the book. And, in fact, when it retreats, morally, intellectually, politically, physically, Israel does become the destabilizing factor - or at least surrenders its role as the stabilizer of the world’s most volatile region.

What has changed is Israel’s own resolve. Why should anyone else fight to support a nation whose political elite takes every opportunity and advantage we give it and squanders it? Why should anyone else fight for a nation which sacrifices its soldiers rather than vanquishes its enemy? Why should anyone else fight for a nation which has ceased believing in itself? Which cravenly begs forgiveness on the rare occasions it actually defends its citizens? Why should anyone fight for a Jewish homeland which seems bent on denying its Jewishness? Why should anyone care about a state which retreats from its victories? Which sheds its democratic veneer to brutalize and displace its most patriotic and committed citizens, its idealists, its pioneers? Why should anyone care for an Israel that is willing, even eager, in its quest for a “secular revolution” to declare that the Jewish heritage is an albatross, that Judea and Samaria are a burden, and that Jerusalem is negotiable? That the State of Israel is, in fact, seeking to disengage from the Holy Land?

The turning point, perhaps the catalyst, was Oslo; the Bill Clinton/Ehud Barak plan to (in Clinton negotiator Dennis Ross’ terminology) dispense with the “mythologies” in order to negotiate. How very modern and enlightened and liberal and civilized. And how very destructive and foolish and deadly. The ideas, the principles, the vision, the morals, the truths which they disdain as mythologies were and are the very heart of Israel’s national aspiration. It was the vision that kept Jews alive through millenia of diaspora and dispersion, crusade, expulsion, forced conversion, blood libel and pogrom, and, finally, Holocaust And the heart may be romanticized as the seat of emotion, but only the hopelessly deluded excises it and thinks the body will survive. Only the deluded excises the heart. Or the suicidal.

What has changed, in consequence, is the resolve of Israel’s enemies as well. And, because they are not burdened by the selfish inanity of modern liberalism, they have not lost their willingness to suffer and to sacrifice. The suicides they are committing are anything but deluded; their terror is a winning strategy. Rather than eliciting disgust and fury, rather than being condemned as unutterably barbaric, the use of civilians as targets, children as bombs and grandmothers as bunkers has even brought them the sympathies of the deluded West. Not only in the corridors of the UN or the salons of Europe - but even in those enlightened liberal precincts in Israel where the stubborn, unruly Jewish “mythologies” have long since been relegated, surrendered, sublimated to an oh-so-superior modern Israeli multicultural consciousness.

[UPDATE: New ending added on December 4]

In the end, what is most frustrating is also that which is the greatest cause for hope. Israel, but for its recent governments’ moral blindness and appetite for appeasement, really is in a position of strength. Its military still is excellent, its weapons still superior, its citizens still doughty.

It lacks just one element to recapture the momentum in its struggle against its enemies and that is resolve. And, as we witnessed this summer, even that resolve is just a moment away, waiting for the right leadership with a bold message.

This summer, Olmert hampered and ultimately reined in the IDF. But before he did so, when Israel first seemed poised to respond with force, Israeli morale skyrocketed.

Was it a successful “peace” negotiation? Diplomatic recognition by a heretofore implacable enemy? A truce with Hamas? Quite the contrary: it was an uninstigated assault by Hizballah. Israeli soldiers were kidnapped. Rockets came raining down on major population centers. 1 million Israelis had to live in bomb shelters. A war was being waged in the North and the South and terror activity was up in the West.

But morale was higher than at any time since before Oslo. The knowledge that it was embarking on a mission, no matter how perilous, to defend the homeland, unified and electrified the nation. “Finally!” declared pundits on the Israeli Right and Left. Record numbers of citizen-reservists showed up to fight, far more than the IDF had even called. It was a return to moral clarity.

But it was short-lived. Within days, hope was turned to despair as Israel’s apologetic, retreat-oriented, pretentiously post-ideological, post-moral government, defeated the Israeli people and the IDF. And today, Israeli morale is at an all time low.

Even before Iran’s nuclear threat, the question more and more of Israel’s friends have been asking is “Will Israel still exist in ten years?”

If Israel’s leaders continue to travel the path of Oslo, of phony peace processes, of concession and retreat and halfhearted military objectives, surely not. For Israel will never appease its enemies. It will vanquish them or it will die.

“If you will it,” said Herzl, “it is no dream.”

“If you will it…” today, as then, it remains the only question.

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