Without question, Gaza suffered immense physical damage when Israeli forces invaded last year. We’ve all seen the footage and the photographs, and we all regret the loss of life suffered by the civilian population.
But many of us – at least those of us who read Jewish newspapers – have also seen the damage inflicted on Israeli towns by Hamas rockets. And if the physical scale of the damage is not commensurate with the damage done by Israeli tanks, the effects on the civilian population – fear, trauma, dislocation – are no less real. Our hearts go out to all the victims.
Jimmy Carter, however – who is not known for expressing emotion on behalf of Israeli civilians (who, incidentally, did nothing to provoke the attacks) – this week told Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, “I must hold back my tears at seeing the destruction that was inflicted on your people.”
He told this to Hamas, the very party whose unending missile attacks precipitated the crisis in the first place? The former president never ceases to amaze.
According to a JTA report, Haniyeh reportedly told Carter that the Palestinians would accept the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and that Jerusalem must be the capital of the state. Did Carter say “amen” to that as well? Does he, does anyone, remember that only under Israel’s control has the city truly been open to all religious groups?
Of course, Israel may yet decide simply to recognize the facts on the ground – that East Jerusalem is already an Arab enclave – and grant nominal control of the area to the Palestine Authority (not, it should be stressed, to Hamas). But to have the acceptable terms of a peace agreement vetted by terrorists is beyond the pale.
Finally, since lovers of Israel are increasingly called upon to restate the obvious, we must ask why it is so important – actually, why it is allowable – to require that lands ultimately dubbed “Palestinian” must be devoid of Jews? Israel has Arab citizens (though, in truth, they have not always been treated fairly). Still, there are Arab neighborhoods, Arab businesses, and Arab members of Knesset. And yet, Jews would not be welcome in a Palestinian state. Did you have an opinion on that, Mr. Carter?