When he listens to Jimmy Cater talk about the Middle East, Kenneth Stein often hears the former president say that "Hamas told me" about particular conditions they might accept in a peace accord. And he wonders: Why does only Carter know about them?
"How come they don’t tell the rest of the world, how come we don’t learn about these things?" asked Stein,who was the first director of the Carter Center at Emory University from 1983-1986. He spoke on a conference call Wednesday afternoon sponsored by The Israel Project and called to respond to Carter’s media interviews promoting his new book, "We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work." Stein resigned as a senior fellow of the Carter Center two years ago after the publication of Carter’s last book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.
Stein charged the former president with telling audiences what he thinks they want to hear and distorting facts and history to adhere to his view of the world. He specfically flagged Carter’s interview on the National Public Radio show "Fresh Air" on Tuesday, in which the former president said Hamas had agreed to accept any peace agreement agreed to by the PLO and Israel, provided it was subsequently agreed to by a democratic referendum of "Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza." Stein noted that in his book, Carter says it would be a referendum of simply Palestinians, which he noted would include Palestinians in refugee camps and would be a much tougher electorate to recieve a majority for an accord.
Stein also noted, as another example of Carter’s distortions, that he told Larry King on Tuesday evening that he "helped to negotiate" the June 19th ceasefire last year between Hamas and Israel — even though he wasn’t in the Middle East in June, but in April and December.
"He understands the ingenuity of ambiguity," said Stein.