As those of you who’ve been paying attention know, the Monitor has been trying to make up for a brief absence by catching up with some of the more objectionable American media coverage of recent events in and around Israel. We’ll return to that task with next week’s column, which should, hopefully, bring us up to date.
This week, though, we turn to the babbling of a man burdened with a well-deserved reputation as one of the nation’s most undistinguished presidents – a man who, three years into his lone term in office, had approval ratings lower than Richard Nixon’s at the height – or depth – of the Watergate crisis.
Despite the testimonials to his abiding love of peace and altruistic concern for Israel offered up ad nauseam by such remaining devotees as Manhattan attorney and talk-show host Leon Charney, it’s as sure as tomorrow’s sunrise that any anti-Israel media brigade taking up formation will soon be fortified by the dreary Southern-fried cadences of our toothy hero: Jimmy Carter reporting for duty, sir.
R. Emmett Tyrrell described Carter this way while the man was stumbling his way through his disastrous presidency: “[F]ew pols have ever been more banal, more tedious, and more stupendously uninteresting….His politics reveal the vagaries of a really cheap mind. He has no ideals and no ideas worthy of scrutiny….His philosophy is a stew of jealousy, superstition, and banality. He is without dignity. If ever he were to be impeached, my guess is that, after a review of his policies and locutions, he would be acquitted by reason of inanity.”
Nearly 25 years after those words were written, the inane Jimmy Earl continues to confirm their abiding truth. His latest imposition on Americans’ collective sanity came via a New York Times op-ed piece on April 21. Almost from the start of the article Carter (or his ghostwriter) adopted the language of Ariel Sharon’s hard-left critics, charging that virtually everything the Israeli prime minister had done in his career has “been orchestrated to accomplish his ultimate goals: to establish Israeli settlements as widely as possible throughout occupied territories and to deny Palestinians a cohesive political existence.”
After paying some liver-lip service to Yasir Arafat’s various shortcomings (even here, Carter sympathetically suggested that Arafat “may well see the suicide attacks as one of the few ways to retaliate against his tormentors, to dramatize the suffering of his people, or as a means for him, vicariously, to be a martyr”), Carter turned back to Sharon and spent most of the rest of his piece hectoring Israel and blaming Sharon for policies that have “greatly strengthened [Palestinian] criminal elements, enhanced their popular support, and encouraged misguided young men and women to sacrifice their own lives in attacking innocent Israeli civilians.”
Of course, the sage from Plains ignored the inconvenient fact that the phenomenon of suicide bombings began at a time when Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister and thoughts of Oslo still set young men’s hearts aflutter; a time when to even question Arafat’s credentials for sainthood was to be decried – by most Israelis and American Jews – as a warmongering fascist too unsophisticated to grasp the nuances of Arafat’s remarkable evolution from terror kingpin to peace-loving statesman.
Following a few paragraphs outlining his suggestion for “an ultimate avenue to peace” (the bulk of which was remarkably similar to the offer rejected by Arafat at Camp David in 2000), columnist Carter arrived at his bottom line: The U.S. should seriously consider using the billions of dollars of annual aid and military assistance it provides Israel as leverage if Sharon won’t fall into line with American demands.
Carter knows that won’t happen anytime soon, not with a Congress as solidly supportive of Israel as this one and a president whose own good instincts are buttressed by widespread pro-Israel sentiment among his conservative base of supporters.
But Jimmy from Georgia deserves a nice hand nonetheless – for reminding us, with this as he does with each of his periodic pronouncements, how fortunate the country was to be rid of him after his mercifully short tenure in the White House.
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org