Israel's UN ambassador calls Jimmy Carter 'a bigot'
By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press Writer 43 minutes ago
NEW YORK - 's ambassador to the on Thursday called "a bigot" for meeting with the leader of the militant in Syria.
Carter, a , "went to the region with soiled hands and came back with bloody hands after shaking the hand of Khaled Mashaal, the leader of ," Ambassador Dan Gillerman told a luncheon briefing for reporters.
The diplomat was questioned about problems facing his country during a wide-ranging discussion with reporters lasting more than an hour. The briefing was sponsored by The Israel Project, a Washington-based, media-oriented advocacy group.
The ambassador's harsh words for Carter came days after the ex-president met with Mashaal for seven hours in to negotiate a cease-fire with Gaza's Hamas rulers. Carter then called Mashaal on Monday to try to get him to agree to a one-month truce without conditions, but the Hamas leader rejected the idea.
The ambassador called last weekend's encounter "a very sad episode in American history."
He said it was "a shame" to see Carter, who had done "good things" as a former president, "turn into what I believe to be a bigot."
Telephone calls by The Associated Press to two numbers for Carter were not immediately returned Thursday.
Gillerman said Hamas is armed and trained by , whose president once called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
"The real danger, the real problem is not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the real threat is Iran," he said.
Gillerman spoke with reporters from around the world at the offices of a on the day was in Washington meeting with .
The ambassador said he was "quite optimistic" about the chances for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement because Abbas and Israeli have met more times than any previous leaders of the two sides.
"I believe they've gone deeper and further than any other Israeli or Palestinian leader, and I believe that there is a very good chance (for a settlement)," he said.
Gillerman also was asked about another topic involving the U.S. government and Israel: the arrest last week in of an 84-year-old man accused of passing U.S. weapons program secrets to an Israeli agent a quarter-century ago.
Retired Ben-ami Kadish faces charges linking him to the same now-defunct that used Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel.
Gillerman called it "a very old matter."
"It pertains to something that may or may not have happened 25 years ago" and would be decided when Kadish goes to trial, he said.
In the wake of the Pollard case, the ambassador said Israel had made a pledge not to spy on the United States, "and that is something which I know that we have honored completely."
The ambassador declined to comment on U.S. government reports that was building a nuclear reactor with North assistance before it was bombed by Israeli planes last year.
Gillerman called Syria a "destabilizing influence" in the Middle East.
"You see Syria's hosting, very hospitably and warmly, over 10 terror organizations in ," the ambassador said, adding that the country also supports , an anti-Israeli Shiite group in with close ties to and Syria.
"Basically, , together with and Hezbollah, are the main axes of terror and evil in the world," the Israeli ambassador said.
You would think a benafactor of billions of dollars of my tax money would be friendlier to an ex-President, but then it is all the more hypocritical for Gillerman because this is the same Ambassador Gillerman who had no qualms during last year's war against Lebanon in dealing and negotiating with Hezbullah--another Iranian-backed terrorist organization that has killed an untold number of Israelis, as well as many Lebanese, in their struggle for the greater glory of their imaginary skygod.
Why is it an act of bigotry for President Carter to meet with Hamas, never mind negotiate with them as an ambassador of a state, and yet it is OK for Gillerman to negotiate with Hezbullah? In fact, for those who are not in the know, Hamas, the evil of all evils to Mr. Gillerman, was started two decades ago, in Israel. It has long been rumored that the Israelis encouraged the creation of militant Islamic organizations like Hamas to help divide and conquer the more secular nationalist Palestinian Liberation Organization. Notice how little attention is ever paid in the media, in the US anyway, about why an Islamic terrorist organization would first register itself inside of the heart of its ideological and religious enemy.
As for the talks, it is difficult to tell what good will come of them. Carter is no bigot, by any stretch, and was one of the few southern politicians, long before it was fashionable, to oppose racial segregation. Moreover, he is a man of good intent. Admittedly, good intentions do not always translate into achieving much in terms of negotiating agreements. His eleventh hour negotiations with the North Koreans back in 1994 created the framework for an agreement the DPRK deserted and answered by developing nuclear weapons. The same applies with Hamas. At this point, at the very least, it cannot hurt, although I would be surprised if anything substantive came from these meetings.
Another issue that is also downplayed in this fracas, outside of the fact that Israel is the only country in this dispute with a state, an army, and nuclear weapons, is how Hamas ever came to be in a position of authority, forcing someone like Jimmy Carter to come and meet with them to begin with. Remember a few years ago, when our dear leader, while in multiple private meetings with the 2,000 year old dead carpenter from his ranch in Crawford, preached the virtues of democracy and liberalism in the Middle East? About how the US needed to pressure the Palestinian Authority to hold honest and fair elections? As anticipated, or at least I predicted with my colleagues, this led to Hamas winning those elections. But for us pressing for those elections, Hamas would not be where it is right now in the Gaza Strip (and only missed ruling the rest of the Occupied Territories because the people they defeated in those democratic elections, the PLO-backed Fatah and PA, booted them from the West Bank and Jerusalem in a coup in 2007).
It seems rather hypocritical to complain about the group in power who were voted in at your insistence, and yet that is the case for Israel and the US. To be sure, it is perfectly logical why Israel and the US do not like Hamas, but then those countries helped nurture their empowerment, only to complain when the wrong party was elected.