Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
I think Jimmy Carter is every bit the anti-Zionist, perhaps even the anti-Semite, that many Jews think he is.
And yet, as a father, I liked the idea of Carter talking to Hamas.
There have been denunciations of Jimmy Carter from coast to coast, attacking Carter for speaking to Hamas in defiance of requests not to from the American and Israeli governments. But in none of the editorials, columns and sermons that I’ve seen, I didn’t see anyone imagining what it would be like to be Noam Shalit.
Noam is the father of Gilad Shalit, held for nearly two years in a private Hamas Treblinka somewhere in Gaza. Israel has done nothing successful to free him. If anything, Israel is appeasing Hamas more than Carter is, sending the kidnappers 500,000 tons of cocoa, jam, tea, halava, hummus, and a lot of other treats that are hardly “humanitarian” necessities.
Here’s a partial list of the Hamas take-out orderat a time when Shalit is in shackles.
Once Israel sent soldiers in the night to rescue Jews in Entebbe. Now, Israel sends terrorists cocoa and jam.
What’s the point in doing that and not talking?
If it was my kid that might die, I’d talk to anyone. If it was your kid that might be killed, you’d talk to anyone, too. It’s Noam Shalit’s kid.
Jimmy Carter met with Noam Shalit before he met with Hamas. You can bet the father was fine with Carter talking to Hamas.
This is Yom HaShoah week so here’s a Shoah story. In 1944, in the heat of the Holocaust, Rudolf Yisroel Kastner, a Zionist leader of the Hungarian Relief and Rescue Committee, held talks with top Nazi Adolf Eichmann, the man in charge of deportations to concentration camps. They smoked cigarettes together, cigarettes drawn from silver cigarette holders, and conversed with ice cold calculation. In exchange for Kastner’s coming up with a ransom of gold, cash, stocks and military equipment, Eichmann allowed a “Kastner train” to take 1,684 Jews to Switzerland-and life. Another 20,000 Jews were saved by being diverted to labor camps instead of death camps.
Eichmann needed the money for his post-war getaway. Another Nazi in on the deal, SS officer Kurt Becher who handled the payoff, needed a post-war alibi. Kastner testified in Becher’s successful defense at the preliminary heaings to the Nuremberg trials. Becher was not indicted.
Some Jews thought Kastner was worse than Carter. Kastner, who became active in Israeli politics after the war, was assassinated in 1957 by a Holocaust survivor who accused Kastner of collaborating with Nazis, and not warning the remaining Hungarian Jews that they were bound for Auschwitz. (According to Yad Vashem, Kastner did the best he could under the circumstances.)
If I was a Hungarian Jew in 1944, and the most anyone was doing for me was waving a placard at a rally, I’d have been fine with Kastner talking to Nazis.
If I was Gilad Shalit, or his parents, or if I was living in Sderot and no one could stop the Hamas rockets, I’d be fine with anyone talking to Hamas, even if nothing came of it.
The problem isn’t talking to Hamas. The problem is not being prepared to fight Hamas to the death, like the Allies were fighting Germany while Kastner was talking to Eichmann.
You might remember that the Iranian hostage crisis ended the very day that Carter was replaced by Ronald Reagan, the man the Iranians knew was willing to fight, not just talk. A top leader of Hamas recently endorsed Barack Obama for president, the candidate everyone knows is the least likely to fight.
The first Kastner train left Budapest in June 1944. Eighteen Junes later, in 1962, Eichmann was hanged in Jerusalem.
The leaders of Hamas will get theirs yet.
In the meantime, as long as our gun is loaded, let’s talk to Hamas. As we learn from “The Godfather,” it’s not personal. It’s business.