Jimmy Carter was on the West Bank today. He met with, and reportedly hugged, a senior Hamas official. He placed a wreath on Yasser Arafat’s grave. (One of Carter’s hosts helpfully explained that “Arafat’s resting place was temporary, and the Palestinians hope to move his remains to Jerusalem one day.”) The U.S. government has criticized Carter’s determination to meet with Hamas, and Israeli officials are more or less shunning the former President.
Carter defends his mission to Hamas in these terms:
Carter acknowledged Tuesday he was not on an official mission and had “no authority at all.”
“I’m not a negotiator. I’m just trying to understand different opinions and provide communication between people,” Carter said.
Hamas proclaims that it wants to destroy the state of Israel and kill the Jews who live there. Israelis want to preserve their country and don’t want to be murdered. These are not “different opinions.” The desire to murder and the desire to avoid being murdered are not on an equal footing, and cannot be reconciled through talk or through understanding.
It’s always an open question whether Carter is a knave or a fool, but in this instance, with everyone from the Secretary of State to Israel’s Prime Minister pointing out the folly of his mission, the balance tilts toward “knave.”