TORRENS TALK Jimmy Carter’s discussions with Hamas are questionable

Israel has just celebrated its 60th birthday. The observance of Yom Hashoah also has passed. And former president Jimmy Carter just met with Hamas in Syria to discuss peace with Israel. The confluence of these events caused a very lively discussion among a group of friends gathered to observe Shabbat last Saturday.

Most everyone was very concerned with what Jimmy Carter was doing. In the past they have suspected his motives and some feel that he verges on being anti-Semitic. This comes from the things he has said and done which generally have shown little sensitivity and understanding of the Israeli position with regards to the Palestinians and like issues in the Middle East.

They see this latest move as another in the same path: force the Jews to once again negotiate away what is theirs in exchange for a promise of peace from a group that historically has sworn to obliterate them. Make no mistake, Hamas is and has been a terrorist group that has sworn death to Israel and the Jews.

It begs the question as to why Hamas should want to now change their position toward Israel. Could it be because they know that they can use the court of world opinion to get what they want? Of course, given that they have been given credibility by this move of Carter’s should make it much easier for them to get what they want: Israel out of land they believe belongs to them.

It is sad that people expect Israel to believe Hamas now when they have already shown how easily they break their promises. They promised they would work with the duly elected leader of Palestine to keep the peace. Instead they have agitated against the leadership, carried out raids on Israel, used suicide bombers and done everything they can to achieve the upper hand.

All this posturing with Carter sounds like a rerun of what happened with Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin and Yassar Arafat. Rabin, like most Israelis then and now, wanted peace. Yet, the question is at what price? Israel has consistently given up land — Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, for example — in exchange for promises of peace. Yet, since its founding, Israel has gotten very little peace in exchange for land.

Still, Rabin was willing to give away more to ensure Israel’s existence and achieve the cessation of hostilities. He sat down with Arafat, the leader of the PLO, a terrorist organization like Hamas, and bargained. Everyone was thrilled when the famous handshake took place with Clinton looking on.

Call me skeptical, pessimistic, whatever, but my reaction was “I will believe it when I see it.” To date, there has been no semblance of any long lasting peace with the PLO. The peace Israel did obtain, eventually, with Egypt after returning the Sinai, has become the exception, not the rule.

I really do not expect any more with this round of giveaways. It is certainly understandable why the Israelis want peace — they have been fighting ever since their country’s independence to protect themselves and what is rightfully theirs.

So, now we have Hamas following a similar path as the PLO. Is it really reasonable to expect that Hamas will honor any agreement brokered between them and Israel? The terrorists were rewarded for their behavior the minute that Rabin sat down with Arafat. It showed them that if they kept up their killing and destruction, eventually their enemy would be made to bargain with them by outside forces. And, they were right: Carter is essentially forcing Israel to sit down at the table with Hamas, a heretofore sworn enemy. He is being aided by all those who truly believe this is the best way for the Jewish state to achieve peace and stability.

I really wish I could believe this time will be different. I truly hope I will be proven wrong in my misgivings.

Val Torrens appears Wednesdays in the CK Reporter.

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