The Washington Post’s editors afford Elliott Abrams space to dismantle Jimmy Carter’s vile op-ed (which appeared in the Post over the weekend) accusing Israel of maintaining a “ghetto” for Palestinians and single-handedly preventing an outbreak of peace in the Middle East. Abrams explains that Carter’s anti-Israel rant ignored polling data that showed an uptick in Palestinians’ sense of personal security and also overlooked the 7 percent growth in GDP (“a rate of growth that would be far in excess of ours — or Israel’s”). In painting Israel as somehow holding Gaza hostage, Carter also ignored geography (Gaza is not an “enclave” of Israel) and all the relevant recent history, including the Israelis’ withdrawal from Gaza, which earned them only a shower of missiles and a war.
Most inaccurate of all, and most bizarre, is Carter’s claim that “a total freeze of settlement expansion is the key” to a peace agreement. Not a halt to terrorism, not the building of Palestinian institutions, not the rule of law in the West Bank, not the end of Hamas rule in Gaza — no, the sole “key” is Israeli settlements. Such a conclusion fits with Carter’s general approach, in which there are no real Palestinians, just victims of Israel. . . . Carter fantasizes about a “nonviolent civil rights struggle” that bears no relationship to the terrorist violence that has plagued Palestinian society, and killed Israelis, for decades. Carter’s portrait demonizes Israelis and, not coincidentally, it infantilizes Palestinians, who are accorded no real responsibility for their fate or future. If this is “the Elders’ view of the Middle East,” we and our friends in that region are fortunate that this group of former officials is no longer in power.
So the question remains: can Carter be this ignorant? Well, it would be hard to miss so much recent history and avoid so many facts unless you were trying. One can’t but conclude that Carter—and his fellow “Elders” Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu, fresh from their Medal of Freedom award ceremony—share an underlying animosity toward the Jewish state. Their determination to perpetuate falsehoods that all—like magic!—line up against Israel should be seen for what it is.
And while the Post deserves credit for providing Abrams the opportunity to debunk Carter’s lies and obvious bias, one has to wonder why the editors thought it appropriate to print Carter’s column in the first place. After all, it isn’t as if Carter doesn’t have a place to peddle his venom. He can always slink over to J Street’s website or Al Jazeera, both of which no doubt would be happy to have an Israel-bashing rant from an ex-president. It remains a mystery why the Post needs to give him respectable journalistic real estate to do his dirty work.