LAT Blog: Iran Warming Up to Hamas-embracing, Israel-denouncing Carter

Sandwiched neatly between the U.S. papal visit and the Keystone Primary, former President Jimmy Carter picked an excellent time to visit U.S. State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) Hamas and yet receive scant press coverage.

Yet Carter's embrace of Hamas, his newfound respect in the state-run Iranian media, and his all-but-explicitly leveled allegations of a Zionist conspiracy behind U.S. foreign policy present a strong case for media scrutiny, as well as the media's role in presenting the comments for denunciation by presidential contenders Sens. Clinton, McCain, and Obama.

For its part the Los Angeles Times appears to be taking notice, judging from the coverage from its Middle East affairs blog Babylon & Beyond. From an April 21 posting by Borzou Daragahi in Beirut and Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran (emphasis mine):

Today, Carter told a news conference in Jerusalem that Hamas is willing to recognize Israel so long as a peace settlement is approved in a Palestinian referendum. Some Hamas officials later backed away, saying they might not accept a referendum, and Carter, a 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner has heaped scorn on Hamas for its continued rocketing of southern Israel.

Nevertheless, the man who was burned in effigy by Iranian demonstrators in Tehran three decades ago has become a respectable statesman in the eyes of the Iranian media.

"Former President Carter puts blames on the Zionist regime for refusing talks with Hamas," said a report on state-controlled Iranian television.

A report published by the official Islamic Republic News Agency under the headline "Carter criticizes US for excluding Hamas from peace talks" notes that the man from Plains, Ga., "criticized the US for lobbying to exclude Hamas from the Middle East peace talks."

The hard-right English-language daily Tehran Times published excerpts of an opinion piece by Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar originally published in the Washington Post:

Now, finally, we have the welcome tonic of Carter saying what any independent, uncorrupted thinker should conclude: that no 'peace plan,' 'road map' or 'legacy' can succeed unless we are sitting at the negotiating table and without any preconditions.

Baghdad & Beyond noted in a separate blog post by Ashraf Khalil that Carter has all but alleged a big, bad Jewish conspiracy in American politics:

"There’s no chance for debate there,” he said, because the public discourse is hopelessly tilted in favor of Israel. “You can have the debate in Israel, but you can’t in America.”

“A debate in America is an absolutely hopeless dream,” Carter continued. “There is not a single candidate in America, for governor, for House of Representatives, for Senate or for president that would dare say anything that was not acceptable to Israel.”

Foreign Policy Iran Israel/Palestine Los Angeles Times Online Media Ramin Mostaghim Borzou Daragahi Ashraf Khalil