Saturday, April 19, 2008

Carter Meetings Proof: Hamas a National Liberation Movement? Reality Check, Please

Former President Jimmy Carter's one-man peace initiative continues today.

This morning's news had some remarkable items. For starters, Hamas now has legitimacy, the American administration's policies are crumbling, and Palestinians are worse off than any group in Africa.

Reality Check, Please!

There's more to discuss in the news than what I'm going to write about, but another wave of, ah, information, is coming, and I've got to get ready to deal with that. So, here are my highlights.

Hamas: a Legitimate National Liberation Movement?

I don't think it's much of a surprise that the Carter meetings prove that Hamas is a National Liberation Movement. At least, according to prominent leaders in the region.

That's what Gaza Hamas leader, Mushir Al-Masri, said:
"Hamas officials have said the meetings with Carter have accorded the group legitimacy. Mushir Al-Masri, one of the group's leaders in Gaza, said the meetings with Carter were proof that Hamas was not a terrorist group, but a national liberation movement. According to him, countries and groups are beginning to understand that Hamas is a power to reckon with and the region will not have calm or stability without engaging the group. 'It confirms the failure of the US and European policies of ignoring Hamas,' he said. 'It confirms that all the countries that assume Hamas is a terrorist group should reconsider.' "
("Carter Defies Israeli & US Warnings, Meets Khaled Meshaal in Damascus" Arab News (April 19, 2008)) [emphasis mine]
But Carter is just a private citizen, right?

He doesn't represent the American government, right?

Or Israel, either, right?

Right. Just the same, this is what we're reading:

Carter-Hamas Meeting Proves American Administration's Policy Failure?

"Muhammad Nazzal, a top figure in the group's [Hamas] political bureau, endorsed Al-Masri's comments.

" 'Political isolation of Hamas by the American administration has begun to crumble,' he told reporters after the Carter-Meshaal meeting.

"Carter earlier met Syrian President Bashar Assad. Syrian news agency SANA said they discussed the peace process and relations between the two countries.

"The two men expressed 'their support for dialogue in arriving at political solutions to problems' and considered it important to 'mobilize efforts to reduce the suffering of the Palestinians and to lift the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.'

"Carter insists he is not acting as a mediator and has been urging talks with Hamas and Syria, saying peace cannot be reached without them.

" 'I think it's absolutely crucial that in a final dreamed-about and prayed-for peace agreement for this region that Hamas be involved and that Syria be involved,' he said in Tel Aviv.

"Carter in Cairo on Thursday described Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip as a crime and an atrocity. He said Palestinians in Gaza were being 'starved to death,' receiving fewer calories a day than people in the poorest parts of Africa.

" 'It's an atrocity that is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza,' he said."
("Carter meets top Hamas leader" IRNA (April 19, 2008)) [emphasis mine] [Comparison of the Arab News and IRNA articles show interesting parallels.]
It doesn't matter that "Carter insists he is not acting as a mediator and has been urging talks with Hamas and Syria, saying peace cannot be reached without them."

" 'Political isolation of Hamas by the American administration has begun to crumble,' " according to a VIP in the Middle East - and that's the line that the news is taking.

Former President Jimmy Carter's meetings with Hamas leaders, including Khaled Meshaal, proves that the American government is unwilling to use force against a former president. Whether the meetings prove that "Political isolation of Hamas by the American administration has begun to crumble," as Muhammad Nazzal said: that remains to be seen.

I do think that these remarkable proclamations of legitimacy and crumbling were predictable consequences of Mr. Carter's actions.

Reality Check: Calories per Day

Former President Jimmy Carter is, clearly, a compassionate man.

As that article in IRNA said:
"Carter in Cairo on Thursday described Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip as a crime and an atrocity. He said Palestinians in Gaza were being 'starved to death,' receiving fewer calories a day than people in the poorest parts of Africa.

" 'It's an atrocity that is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza,' he said."
Here's a bit of advice for persuasive speakers: Don't mix facts and emotion, unless the facts support your view!

Mr. Carter is, I think, genuinely compassionate. He is not, however, very well informed.

Someone made a serious mistake last month, in "Slaughter in Gaza- the Warsaw Ghetto of the 21st Century" (UNITYblogNZ.com / Hosted by Socialist Worker-New Zealand in the interests of broad left unity (March 2, 2008)). The post itself is a well-done example of persuasive writing, described - among other things - the appalling and horrible manner in which the Jews are oppressing and starving the Palestinians.

There was the usual:
"ALL OUT-
GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION
AGAINST WAR AND OCCUPATION
12 noon MARCH 15th
AOTEA SQUARE, AUCKLAND

(a) End the occupation of Iraq
(b) Freedom for Palestine
(c) No NZ Troops in Afghanistan
"
Then, in a section headed, "Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza: Disturbing Parallels Commentary: Steve Hutcheson, Arab News," I read a heartfelt appeal for the poor, suffering Palestinians. It included this paragraph:
"The Nazis reduced the average calorie intake of the Jewish inhabitants of the ghetto to 241 calories per day. So too have the Israelis reduced the calorie intake of the Palestinians in Gaza. According to a UN report, it is presently at 61 percent of the average daily requirements."
Big, big mistake. It's a well-written post: plenty of pathos; gobs of gut-wrenching descriptions of human misery heaped on oppressed masses by Jewish (and American) oppressors.

That paragraph is acceptable, in the context of that post. However, it contains numbers, and a comparison.

The post itself doesn't suffer. But, by introducing facts into a discourse on the plight of the Palestinians, it put a spike strip on the information highway: one that Former President Carter hit.

Sub-Standard Diets: Some Facts

I put a little chart together, based on resources I found today, about people with sub-standard diets:


K. Calories/Day

WFP Minimum Daily Requirement 2,100

Ghetto Jews241

Palestinians*1,281

Darfuris, 2006
1,050

Darfuris, 2008**
1,242
* 1,281 is 61 percent of 2,100.
** The situation in Darfur has changed since 2006. It's now about 1,242 kilocalories per day per person. ("UN cuts food rations in Darfur" Thaindian News (April 18, 2008))

Okay. Palestinians are getting about as many calories as an Americans on some freak diet, and Darfuris. Not good. And, maybe it is the fault of the Jews: although I don't entirely buy that.

Numbers for the minimum daily requirement, and the Darfuris' diet, are from the Environment News Service:
"U.S. Lawmakers Arrested at Sudanese Embassy Protesting Darfur Genocide"
Environment News Service (May 1, 2006)

"The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said Friday that a severe shortage of funds has forced it to make drastic cuts in food rations to displace Darfuris starting today.

"By reducing the daily rations to as little as 1,050 kilocalories, half the minimum daily requirement of 2,100 kilocalories per person, WFP says its limited food stocks will last longer during the 'hunger season,' the annual period from July to September when needs are the greatest before the next harvest."
Darfuris? Who's That? Darfur is a part of western Sudan, where people are being starved to death. It's a major scandal, or it should be.

There is, however, an important difference between Darfur and Gaza. "The Jews" can be blamed for the Gaza problems. The Darfur region is part of Sudan, and Sudan is not run by Jews.

I can't help think that this may part of the reason why it took so long for Darfur to get in the news, and why we hear so much about Gaza and the Palestinians.

Now, there's more in the news about Carter the Peacemaker.

Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.

2 comments:

Kay B. Day said...

Really well done post--Carter the Peacemaker aka Carter the Political Posturer in an election cycle.

Darfur is being explained away by everyone, including the UN. Catch Ki-moon's comments in the 4/28 issue of Time magazine. If his comments don't rile you up I'll be surprised.

Nice work--best, Kay

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Kay B. Day,

Thanks for the good words.

I may pass on the Ki-moon comments: I'm trying to get my blood pressure down.

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