Jimmy Carter�s visit to the Middle
East will be remembered not for his meetings with Hamas leaders but for the
savagery of the reactions he received from the American media.
Although the Bush administration
refused to give its support to the Carter peace mission to the Middle East and
warned him not to meet with Hamas leaders, the vociferous reactions came from
journalists, media men and opinion writers which far outweighed the voices from
the political establishment, both presidency and Congress alike, and in the
most explicit of tones.
This time around the different
strands of the American media provide more extremist cannon fodder than the
Bush administration known for using iron fist in fighting terrorism and
lambasting those who would meet terrorist-labeled organizations like Hamas,
despite the fact Carter is on a peace mission.
Carter has been callously branded as a �citizen traitor,�
stripping him of his former presidential status -- a traitor to his cause and
country if you are willing to walk the extra mile and believe the US and Israel
are one and the same country.
He is further seen as someone
�embracing the enemy,� while in fact he is talking to a legitimate
organization, and, a fact-of-life, a body that is part and parcel of the
Palestinian people and won their support on numerous occasions.
In the Carter visit to the Middle
East, including Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia, the corporate
media have allowed themselves to scream and cry wolf, all in favor of a
hard-nosed Israel that believes to be under threat by continually fighting and
American editors have allowed
themselves to be used to support a country on the far end of the Mediterranean
as if it were a suburb of New York or Chicago. They cite chapter and verse
without question and with obedience.
blasting Carter,� the editor and newspaper of the headline clearly feel
delighted and cherish the fact that Carter was scolded by Israeli President
Shimon Peres for wanting to meet Hamas as if they don�t exist as a legitimate
source in Palestinian society and instead reproached him.
The ultimate irony lay in the fact
that Carter was refused to be seen by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the rest
of the Israeli cabinet washed their hands and would not meet the former
American president, the very country which bankrolls the Jewish state. But
would America do anything? No. Its leaders just grinned.
Now it was Israel playing the
superpower, refusing to grant Carter entry into Gaza and refusing to accord him
security protection as is normally the case with dignitaries who come to the
country. But Carter was not deterred from speaking out at the �despicable�
conditions which Palestinians in Gaza are forced to live under.
The US media continued to call
Carter �misguided� and a dreamer. They screamed with headlines such as �Carter
is a disgrace,� the regional visit is �a sordid affair� and �Carter to Hamas�
rescue,� and the fact his visit was being �shunned.�
Such headlines were being made by
educated American journalists who were supposedly equipped with the very basic
techniques of reporting, analysis and even opinion-making. Journalists, editors
and analysts were ashamed of what their former president was doing; it was
disgusting, dabbling in dirt, and should be pushed away and the fact he was somehow
rescuing Hamas from the legitimate wrath of the Israelis.
While media must in the end be
respected for trying to get at the truth, although many times they try to
suppress it, theirs is a game of trivialization while complex issues are
reduced to surface talk.
This might be forgiven however, if
the mockery and cynicism is left out. �Carter�s Middle East Pilgrimage . . ."
was grand and religious, with just a hint of silliness and maybe a waste of
time since the issues are precisely more complex than one would or could
On the other hand, he is being
directly accused of becoming the friend of the enemy of the US and that he
should be stopped with the writer of the headline reducing the intellectual
capacity of readers to that of a mouse, hiding the fact just why should Hamas
be an enemy of the United States if it merely wants back long occupied
But no, US readers are further
told �Carter has come to rehabilitate Hamas� as if they had been bad boys, and
he was going to make them into good ones so Israel would accept sitting with
them, a view that is actually totally rejected by both sides.
There is no mincing words in
�Carter lifts terrorists and undercuts peace;� he is clearly accused of helping
the terrorists and undercutting peacemaking as if peace were really around the
corner and it's not Israel that is foot-dragging on negotiations.
Carter, today an elder statesman
of 83 years of age and the man who first brokered the Middle East peace process
between Israel and Egypt in 1978, would not be put off by such headlines and
met Hamas leaders in Egypt and Syria, despite the strong Israeli-American
Some of the headlines were being
made in major US newspapers and websites like the Wall Street Journal,
Baltimore Sun, Kansas City Star and the New York Post which stated, �It�s
bad enough that Carter . . . will be putting a stamp of legitimacy on a gang of
cutthroats who�ve never hesitated to include Americans in their growing body
count,� and, �The saddest thing about this get-together is that it comes as no
real surprise. Indeed, it�s entirely in keeping with Carter�s recent embrace of
Palestinian extremism . . ."
For at least four decades, Israel has built itself a nice
cushion in the corporate American media; a very clever move, to ensure there is
an ongoing process of ideological cementation for its actions as a state that
has grown militarily strong, for pouring aid into it and occupying Palestinian
lands, thank you very much.
All this is preferred to be forgotten, and now it is Carter
who is the extremist!
Marwan Asmar is an Amman, Jordan-based writer.