Tag Archives: Yasser Arafat

Happy 94th birthday, Mr. President

Today is a special day for one of America’s greatest citizens.

Jimmy Carter, the nation’s 39th president, turns 94 today. He is the second-oldest former president; the honor of oldest belongs to George H.W. Bush, another great American.

I feel the need to say something good about President Carter because of all that he did after he left office in January 1981 and, indeed, what he accomplished during his single term as our head of state.

It’s been said, perhaps so much that’s become cliché, that Jimmy Carter is the nation’s “greatest former president.” He became active with Habitat for Humanity, building homes for poor folks all across the globe; he isn’t swinging a hammer so much these days, but his legacy stands forever in the lives he enriched through his carpentry skills.

He has been called upon by his successors as president to monitor elections around the world, to ensure they are conducted freely and fairly. That work, too, has improved the lives of literally billions of citizens worldwide.

He has written numerous books, chronicling his years in public life, his dedication to public service and his intense and immense faith in God. Indeed, he still teaches Sunday school classes at his church in Plains, Ga.

While he was ridiculed and vilified for his single term in office, I want to remind readers of this blog that the president’s grit and determination produced a lasting peace agreement between two ancient enemies in the Middle East. The agreement has become known as the Camp David Accord. He took Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Primer Minister Menachem Begin to the presidential retreat in rural Maryland to hammer out a treaty that ended state of war between Egypt and Israel.

The 1978 treaty eventually would cost President Sadat his life, as he was murdered by Muslim fanatics while watching a military parade. That, though, is the nature of that part of the world, as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin would fall victim to a Zionist extremist after signing his own peace agreement with the Palestinian Liberation Organization leader, Yasser Arafat, in 1995.

Jimmy Carter’s work as president perhaps one day will get the full measure of respect that is due.

Today, though, I just want to join millions of other Americans in wishing this good man a happy birthday and thank him for making this world a better place because he came along to grace it.

Study your history, Sen. Rubio

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio needs a refresher course on 20th-century American history.

The Florida Republican — quite naturally — was critical the other day of President Obama’s decision to begin normalization of relations with Cuba, a nation with which we’ve had zero diplomatic contact for the past five decades.

Rubio ventured into Fox News Channel’s right-wing echo chamber and declared that Obama is the “worst negotiator since Jimmy Carter.”

I heard that and thought, “What in the world is that young man saying?” Chris Matthews noted correctly that Rubio was 7 years of age when President Carter worked some diplomatic magic.

Worst negotiator, eh?

To the young senator, here’s a bit of history for you to ponder.

President Carter summoned two enemy heads of government to the White House in 1978. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat sat down with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to hammer out a historic peace treaty between the ancient enemies.

They went to Camp David, took off their jackets and ties and worked day and night to agree to a peace treaty. Carter reportedly got along much better with Sadat than he did with Begin. Sadat and Begin couldn’t find their way past their ancient differences, dealing mostly with how their people could live together in places like Gaza.

Finally, after several days in the Maryland mountains, Carter got the two men together and the three of them agreed on a peace treaty that holds up today, nearly four decades later. It’s now known as the Camp David Accords.

The deal ended up costing Sadat his life when Muslim extremists assassinated him during a parade. An Israeli extremist would kill Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for hammering out a peace deal with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

For the young Florida Republican senator to suggest Jimmy Carter is a terrible presidential “negotiator” is to ignore the historical record.

Hit the books, senator, before popping off.

 

Ariel Sharon, the warrior’s warrior

Ariel Sharon was fearless in his belief in Israel.

He fought valiantly for its creation and fought against its enemies when they attacked it. Sharon, who died this week after lying in a coma for years, made no apologies for anything he ever said or did on behalf of his country.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/11/opinion/ariel-sharon-the-warrior-who-could-have-made-peace.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

As New York Times essayist Ronen Bergman notes, Sharon could have been the one to make peace with the Palestinians. Somehow he fell short of that noble goal.

I’m kind of reminded of the axiom of how “only Nixon could go to China,” referring to the notable cold warrior President Richard Nixon opening the diplomatic door to the People’s Republic of China, governed by the hated communists. President Nixon made the correct overture in the early 1970s and it changed the geopolitical landscape forever.

Sharon, who served as Israel’s prime minister, also had that kind of credibility is it related to the Palestinians, with whom he fought on the battlefield. He could have been the one to broker a deal with the hated neighbors who have been committed to the destruction of Israel.

As it turned out, it fell to another battle-hardened warrior, Israelis Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, to reach a peace accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization and its leader Yasser Arafat. The two men shook hands at the White House in a ceremony moderated by President Bill Clinton.

Two years later, Rabin would die at the hand of a rabid Israeli nationalist assassin who hated him for the deal he reached with Arafat.

Would such a fate have befallen Ariel Sharon? He could have shown additional courage by striking a peace deal. Sadly, he didn’t take fullest advantage of his own Nixon moment.