Democrats Are Cowards in the Face of Israel's Brutality
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Silencing Democratic Critics
Democratic Party leaders have made it clear that any dissent from within the party to their right-wing position rejecting any contact with Hamas will not be tolerated.
For example, Robert Malley, who served as a National Security Council member and special assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs under the Clinton administration, was already under fire for having the temerity to object to the Bush administration's effort to organize a coup against Hamas, noting how, "Almost every decision the United States has made to interfere with Palestinian politics has boomeranged." He had been serving as an informal adviser to Obama during the presidential race, but was forced to sever his ties with the campaign when it was revealed that, as part of his efforts to promote a cease-fire in his role with the International Crisis Group, he had met with Hamas officials. For the Obama campaign, such peace-making efforts simply could not be tolerated.
In an even better-known example, former President Jimmy Carter was quoted last spring as saying, "I think there's no doubt in anyone's mind that, if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next-door neighbors … Hamas will have to be included in the process," adding, "I think someone should be meeting with Hamas to see what we can do to encourage them to be cooperative." He then met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Syria.
Former presidents have historically been largely exempt from criticisms by elected officials of their own party. When it comes to expressing the opinion that the United States should figure out a way to include Hamas in negotiations, however, such courtesy quickly evaporated. Carter, winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, was immediately denounced by Democratic Party leaders. Steve Grossman, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee claimed, "Carter's views are antithetical to those in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. He does not speak for either [Clinton or Obama] in any shape or form, and I think there's pretty much unanimity on that point."
As a result of his efforts to avoid war, Carter was denied a major platform at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, the first time in memory that a former president had been denied such an honor at his party's quadrennial gathering.
It's important to remember that both Malley and Carter were leaders of NGOs whose very mandates are to engage in conflict resolution. What these Democrats appear to be saying is that the Bush administration's policy of not talking with those deemed undesirable should not just be the policy of the U.S. government, but every nongovernmental organization and private citizen as well.
But that policy is inconsistent. Through his role at the Carter Center, for example, Carter met with war criminals like Liberia's Charles Taylor, Haiti's Raoul Cedras and Uganda's Martin Ojul, with no complaints from these same Democratic leaders. Their opposition to Carter's willingness to speak with Hamas appears not to have been because of the group's role in war crimes but because Carter had hoped such dialogue might pave the way for a negotiated settlement. Indeed, a number of those who supported Carter's exclusion from the Democratic National Convention had themselves met with unsavory characters as well, including right-wing Cuban and Nicaraguan terrorist leaders, some of the worst dictators on the planet, and others with even more blood on their hands than Meshaal.
What Explains the Democrats' Position?
All this inevitably raises the question as to why, in a conflict where both sides are clearly at fault, the Democratic Party has chosen to put 100 percent of the blame on the Palestinian side and has unconditionally supported the actions of the Israelis, who are not only the more powerful of the two, but whose violations of international humanitarian law are many times greater than those of Hamas.