Carter-Obama Meeting Spooks Jewish Republicans
- RJC curious about Carter meeting
By Eric Fingerhut
March 31, 2009
The Republican Jewish Coalition wants the White House to "disclose the role of former President Jimmy Carter" in advising the administration on "critical foreign policy issues." That's after Seymour Hersh, in an article in this week's New Yorker magazine, reports that Carter and President Obama discussed the Middle East for an hour during a meeting the two men had shortly before the inauguration.
The article says Carter refused to get into any details of his meeting, but did write in an e-mail that he hoped the new President "would pursue a wide-ranging dialogue as soon as possible with the Assad government." An understanding between Washington and Damascus, he said, "could set the stage for successful Israeli-Syrian talks."
"Carter believes that pressuring Israel will result in peace between Israel and those still openly dedicated to her destruction," said RJC executive director Matt Brooks. "If this is the kind of advice that President Obama is turning to, that is indeed of great concern to us, to the Jewish community, and to the vast majority of Americans who support our ally Israel."
The RJC didn't mention the most fascinating paragraph in the Hersh article, which deals mostly with the prospects of a Syrian-Israel peace deal. Hersh reports that the Obama transition team struck a deal to convince Israel to halt the Gaza operation before the inauguration, while then-Vice President Dick Cheney was calling Obama "pro-Palestinian" to the Israelis:
The Obama transition team also helped persuade Israel to end the bombing of Gaza and to withdraw its ground troops before the Inauguration. According to the former senior intelligence official, who has access to sensitive information, "Cheney began getting messages from the Israelis about pressure from Obama" when he was President-elect. Cheney, who worked closely with the Israeli leadership in the lead-up to the Gaza war, portrayed Obama to the Israelis as a "pro-Palestinian," who would not support their efforts (and, in private, disparaged Obama, referring to him at one point as someone who would "never make it in the major leagues"). But the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of "smart bombs" and other high-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel. "It was Jones" -- retired Marine General James Jones, at the time designated to be the President's national-security adviser -- "who came up with the solution and told Obama, `You just can't tell the Israelis to get out.' " (General Jones said that he could not verify this account; Cheney's office declined to comment.)
The full RJC press release is after the jump:
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) today called on the Obama administration to disclose the role of former President Jimmy Carter in advising the administration on critical foreign policy issues.
RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks said, "In an in-depth article in the April 6, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh states that Carter has met with President Obama to discuss foreign policy, and that the administration was aware of Carter's trip to Syria in December 2008. Carter is calling for broader U.S.-Syrian relations.
"Former President Carter has never been perceived as a friend of Israel," Brooks continued. "In the years since his presidency, Carter has been openly hostile to Israel and has shown a naïve grasp of the realities in the Middle East.
"When Israel launched a limited defensive campaign against Hezbollah terrorist forces in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006, Carter stated, 'I don't think Israel has any legal or moral justification for their massive bombing of the entire nation of Lebanon.'
"Carter has called on the United States to recognize and give monetary support to the terrorist organization Hamas, which still has as its central goal the destruction of Israel. When Hamas won the election in Gaza in 2006, Carter told Larry King in an interview that 'there's a good chance' that Hamas would become a nonviolent government.
"Two and a half years later, this past January, Carter toured the Israeli city of Sderot, which has been hit by thousands of Hamas missiles fired from Gaza. He saw first-hand the horrifying results of Hamas' years-long bombing of Israeli civilians. Then Carter met with Hamas leaders from Gaza and Damascus. According to an op-ed he wrote for the Washington Post, he still believes that only Israeli concessions would stop Hamas' rocket attacks.
"Now Carter is advocating that the Obama administration become actively involved in Syrian-Israeli talks. Hersh quotes the Syrian President as saying that such talks would be predicated on Israel giving up the Golan Heights, including their strategic control over Israel's water sources. Carter hopes - and Assad has led him to believe - that such talks would be a step in moving Syria away from its strategic alliance with Iran and toward a more positive relationship with the West.
"The Jewish community is rightly concerned about how the Obama administration will relate to Israel," Brooks continued. "If the President is being advised to pursue warmer relations with Syria based on pressuring Israel to make strategic concessions, that would have a terrible effect on Israel's security, which has long been the top priority of American foreign policy in the region.
"We call on President Obama to disclose the role that Jimmy Carter has in his administration as an advisor on Middle East policy. Carter believes that pressuring Israel will result in peace between Israel and those still openly dedicated to her destruction. If this is the kind of advice that President Obama is turning to, that is indeed of great concern to us, to the Jewish community, and to the vast majority of Americans who support our ally Israel."
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