Inside the Middle East - Blog
April 18, 2008
Carter In The Middle East - Your reactions
For U.S. President Jimmy Carter meeting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus, April 18, 2008. (Photo AP)

Thanks to all of our viewers and readers this week for so passionately contributing to the discussion surrounding former American president Jimmy Carter's tour of the Middle East. His decision to meet with Hamas officials, including exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal in Syria today, generated a fascinating debate this week, both online and on CNN's Your World Today.

My round table with the Jerusalem Post's Calev Ben-David and former Palestinian authority advisor Diana Buttu on Thursday was heated and illustrated just how divided both sides are, not just about Carter's meetings with Hamas, but in the protracted and seemingly unresolvable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One side sees Hamas as terrorists only, akin to Al Qaeda: speaking to them means legitimizing evil. The other side says that no peace can be achieved without dialogue, even with those whose actions we condemn.

I am including more of your comments in the comments section below.

Thanks again,

If Carter is not supposed to speak with Hamas because they are devouted to destroying Israel, is he allowed to talk to Israel for destroying Palestine?

Peter Myrner
Mill Valley,CA
Old retired politicians & presidents, should not be allowed to interfere in politics, Jimmy Carter keeps sticking his nose where it is not supposed to be. He must watch out! He ought to go back to his peanut plantation, his brain is addled
with too much peanut oil.
His anti-semetic book & stance is causing more problems.
Hamas has no respect for him, but they will use him to the
max, to get as much support & coverage as possible.

While I am at it something must be done about Mugabe,
before this addle brained older politician starts a civil & ethnic war in Zimbabwe.

Marion Kotze
South Africa ex Zimb.
I believe that Jimmy Carter is a great Statesman as was demonstrated during his term as US President with the Camp David talks. It is important to hear all sides to the Middle East's political quagmire and personally I believe that its a monumental error to fail to come to the table with your adversary in order to fully understand him. Continuing to isolate Hamas and other such disagreable groups will not make the situation better in the region but talking with them may pay better dividends.

New Delhi
I think former President Carter`s meeting of Hamas leaders is wise thing to do and must be emulated by future presidents of America. Even the terrorist must be engaged in a contructive dialogue to determine their grievances, be encouraged and supported to change course.
Keeping them in isolation and sanctions coupled with daily bombardment from the Israelis make matters much worse.

Stephen Mankoe
I fully agree with the initiation taken by former president of America ,Jimmy Carter.Lets rally behind Carter and give him all the support he may need.We live in a world of globalisation and we should talk to our neighbours.

Regards - Carter's support

Botswana - Gaborone
Dear CNN,

Weak parties who maintain power by force always refuse to talk with strong parties who maintain popular support but lack military power. Congratulations to former President Jimmy Carter for initiating a public dialogue with HAMAS and bringing more attention to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

If Israel thinks it can simply keep the lid on the boiling kettle, it is going to be in for a very sad awakening. Hopefully, they will recognize they cannot oppress the Palestinians into submission and negotiate a political settlement before the top blows off the kettle.


Sam Ritchie
Taipei, Taiwan
Ralista and Hala,

This is Robert from Bangkok and I LOVE CNN.....

Being critical of a Nobel Peace Prize recipient like Jimmy Carter is unwarranted, he can do more to assist in resolving this mid-east crisis than anyone else or any other govt (or NGO).

Keep up your good work ladies!


It is a good strategy to ruin the president's war on terror!
I'd like to have been there when President Carter decided he'd had enough of the horror and decided to try and help. Of all people I think he's qualified; and I trust him explicitly.

Molly Cruz
costa rica
I believe one of the most effective steps towards peace in the Middle East today is one that Mr.Carter is taking; Bring every concern Group to the table(Regardless who...).The aim is PEACE and for want of peace one must try to sit even with the DEVIL if it is necessary. It's only a GENUINE peace maker who does GENUINE things.
I think its naive of the US government to think they can achieve a peace settlement. As Hamas controls Gaza they have to be involved in the process. So President Carter has to be applauded.

Leave Mr. Carter to do what he is doing. No one else is. He has 'peace' on his mind. Isn't that what we want. With age comes wisdom and he would not be doing this at his age if he didn't think it was absolutley necessary and it is. Dialogue MUST be better than dropping bombs. God save the children
Congratulations to Jimmy Carter for talking with Hamas and congratulations to CNN for covering the meeting. Thank you Mr Carter and CNN.

Conflicts have no chance of being solved until the ACTUAL people concerned are given a chance to put their own case. Until the US President, The European Union Leaders and Israel talk to Hamas there will not be any progress.

J Michael Swarbrick
Why does President Carter not meet with Osama Ben Laden or other Al Quaida leaders to discuss peace and negotiate? By what standard does he judge meeting with Hamas to be useful, but not Al Quaida? That is what I would like to know.

Philippe Chamy
wait a minute.Hamas was elected by popular Palestinian vote in a free they are a legitimate Government.before they recognize Israel right to exist,Israel should withdrew from Gaza and the west bank,they should stop blockading Palestinian territory.they should stop annexing Palestinian Land and build illegal settlement for Jewish colonists. after that,then the world has the right to ask Hamas to stop fighting for their can not ask an occupied people to recognize their oppressors right to oppress them.
If you have a problem with your wife, you sit down and talk it through. Right? So, what is different with sitting down with others with whom you have differences. It's the way problems are solved.

As long as there is conversation, there is hope. It is the absence of conversation that should worry us. If these last few years have shown us anything, it is that violence (military or otherwise) begets more violence. And in my opinion, more violence is the last thing we need.
"wait a minute.Hamas was elected by popular Palestinian vote in a free election"

So what?

Hitler was elected by popular German vote in a free election.

Carter would have met with Hitler too? Probably in Auschwitz?

get a life!!!
I just wonder why Israel doesn't want to give up the Palestinian occupied territories and the Syrian Golan Heights!! Why not start a serious and truthful peace negotiations with the Arabs on the basis of land for peace .The International community has been calling on Israel to comply to UN resolutions to withdraw from the occupied lands but in vain. I do believe that Israel is the only country on earth that is above the international law.
What's wrong with Carter's action? If George W. Bush and the Israelis don't want to talk with Hamas due to thier defunct "isolationism" policy, there should be somebody to do that and I think there's no one better at that than Carter. The US and Israel should not monopolize the right to talk to groups like Hamas because what they are doing to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan is much worse than the latter.
Elias Meseret
Addis Ababa
dear hala'
unfortunately president carter and other peace-loving people are wasting their and our time.the simple fact is that Israel does't want peace and never did.Israel is the best when it comes to warfare but is and will not be able to cope with the price of peace.The so called peace process is in a fact a sham to enable Israel to rob as much of the palestinian land and expand their settlements.Just to remind everyone all settlements are illegal and all settlers are war criminals according to international law.
thank you all for stating that one needs to talk to Hamas.

now please, tell me what about?

Hamas wants peace without israel, i.e. the destruction of the state of israel and the death of all of its jewish inhabitants.

so what do you talk to them about? How to kill the jews?
It is easy to make peace with your friends and it is hard to make peace with your enemy.
True, Carter is a bit of a weirdo and I imagine that the Israelis look down on him and Hammas uses him.
Nevertheless, I welcome his mission. It will takes years and years to make a breakthrough since there are no de Clerks nor Mandellas in our region.
This I welcome Carter's attempts.
Allon-Tel Aviv
I think Jimmy Carter did a good thing. He asked for a stop to all the attacks. Bessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the sons of God.
Good for you Mr. James Carter. Thank you for seeking peace instead of war. You did an admirable and honorable thing. Give yorself a big pat on the back. SiThey need to stop ruing families.signed one who is tired of seeing our armed forces personell dying because of selfish leaders of our Government. They need to stop ruining families lives.
People, particularly Americans, are forgetting that Jimmy Carter is not the government of the United States but a private citizens albeit acting in a semi-official capacity. These are the kind of people who can make a difference between the kind of nutual enemies Hamas and Israel are. I am tired of hearing of Condi Rice making visits to the middle east that bears no fruits. Give Carter a chance. If he succeeds everyone will be glad for it and if he fails...well, everything that has been tried has failed so far.
Wasn't it good old Jimmy who seriously destabilized the middle east when he supported the Ayatollah Khomeini and helped dethrone the Shah of Iran? ... his continual meddling will not make matters any better - just more anti-Semitic fuel for the fire.
Its one more futile exercise by non party to this conflict. Just like World War II, this conflict can be solved only by war, which needs to be won by either of the 2 parties. Otherwise there will be pain on one side and fear on other, for decades to come. This seems like bad advice but one which ca bring long lasting peace.
The only genuine peace deal between an Arab state and Israel was signed when Mr. Carter was President. Why not others listen to him? Then maybe we will have peace in that region. Mr. Bush's policy failed totally. Give Mr. Carter the credit to think boldly and taking unpopular measure.
How does that saying go? Live by the gun, die by the gun"? I think that no one should criticize Mr. Carter for trying to talk to ALL concerned in this very volatile situation. We have gotten no where so far, so why not see what he can do. Shame on those who look down on this statesman for trying to bridge the very wide gap between the two sides. Success.
I applaud President Carter for having the courage to do the right thing. How can there be peace between parties if you refuse to talk to them? I think when UN Resolutions are enforced against the Israeli occupation, there may be a chance for peace. How can one label resistance to occupation as terrorism?
President Carter is the only person of influence who understands the issues on both sides and continues to work for peace.
The question really is, are the actions of an ex-president necessarily reflective of a govt"s position.
I think Carter's visit would be sending the wrong signals to terrorists,that americans are getting soft.I disapprove of it strongly.
People ask; why doesn't Isreal want to give up land? The answer is as long as Hamas and other such groups are determined to destroy Isreal, then by giving them land they are only hurting themselves and giving Hamas and these groups a place to launch attacks against Isreal. The answer is simple, Hamas and Palistine have to say we are wiloing to live with Isreal and then stop their attacks and be peaceful, then the rest of the world will come to their aid and say to Isreal, "now it is time to do your part"".
I beleive jimmy carter has made a couragous decision to meet hamas who are the legally elected representatives of gaza in that they will have to be engaged in future negotiations concerning any viable peace deal with israel despite the hysterical protestations from the present incumbents in washington and jerusalem.Ultimately this state of mutual hostilities suit the israelis,as i do not beleive they want to establish any form of palestinian independence or cede any further occupied territory.
It is quite conceivable to believe that President Carter was requested to chat to Hamas by the US Government. It is quite believable to conceive that the outrage is a 'blue sky reality' ie unreal when you go beyond it.
It was outrageous for Tony Blair to speak to the leaders of the IRA, but frank talk and ultimate compromises on both sides worked.
I say well done to people like Carter who remain individually Presidential and at a most mature age are still actively persuing steps towards the ultimate peace.
We should admire the man. He should be supported. He's worth his weight in far more than peanuts.
The real problem is not with former president carter, who happens to be a giant compared to the imbecile occupying the White-House today.I still can not understand how the american people who are so bright when it comes to science,finance,art,music etc. elected an idiot who brought only disgrace to america war and hatred around the globe.
Kudos to President Carter. Seems he has more brains and guts than the present American President. Peace cannot be brought with guns and violence. At the end of the day, meeting with all parties and listening to them, will only bring about peace. Wish there were more heads of state like President Carter. And Marion, just because Carter is a "old retired politician and president" does not mean that he cannot work to bring about peace [even if his brain is addled with too much peanut oil (sic)]. If the world, especially America, had done more to bring peace to the Middle East and not bending backwards for Israel, then maybe President Carter wouldn't have had to make this trip.
God bless Jimmy Carter. He is brave and will face the AIPAC public relations' wrath upon his return to the US. Be strong and keep on speaking the truth Jimmy.
Israel has been destroying Palestinian lives for 60 years. Hamas has been bombing Israel for less than a year, as a legtimate government. Israel abuses the weak and poor of the west bank and Gaza without consideration to what it does to arab viewers. Jimmy Carter is a hero because he is not so easily swayed by the ignorance of western governments who forgive Israel so easily from its crimes against humanity, but ironically criticize Hamas's home-made rockets. The Palestinians voted for Hamas because they are sick of the empty promises of the Western world and their obvious favoring of Israel. Jimmy Carter is a neutral man who sides with the child without a safe home no matter what its race, religion or culture. That is why he is a nobel peace prize winner. Whereas most western politicians favor a strictly pro-Israeli policy, the palestinians want nothing more or less than a two-sided perspective such as that of Jimmy Carter.
isn't it better to use Bush's policy as a measuring stick of progres. Don't talk to anyone until they fully capitulate to your desires, Don't talk to anyone...ever. It's worked well so far. As for Israel, they publicly denounce the talks, but yet, have a back channel to Hamas. they have to. it's the only way to go.
Talk, it's better than the alternative.
Bush's policies are a complete failure, as has been Israel's response to Hamas, and to the Palestinian's situation.
Where is the harm?
People who tried to equate Hamas with Hitler missed a very important point. Hamas is fighting to liberate their land from foreign occupation. How can you equate the oppressed Palestinians with the Nazis? There is simply no comparison. In fact there is more similarity between racist Germans with racist Zionist Jews. Anybody familiar with the history of the conflict can see that. Congrats to Carter for his sincerity and courage!
President Carter is a good and just man. He is obviously deeply disturbed by the injustice of the Palestinian occupation and strongly believes that all parties to this terrible conflict must be heard. At least he understands the problems,unlike many people in the present US administration who are either ignorant or in bad faith or both. God bless you President Carter!
Two-state solution to the ME Crisis will not work. The divine solution is Single state, two nations and two peoples living as wedded couples. Regards. The small boy.
Peter Myrner

Palestine? What Palestine? The well known state Palestine?

Where were you when Egypt brutally occupied Gaza? Or during Jordan's occupation of the West Bank? Remember Black September when Jordanians massacred thousands of Palestinians in a few days?

Carter is an angel of Peace. Hamas explicitely wants to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews. This is their statement, not mine. They teach their 3 year old children that Jews are dogs, monkeys and pigs and should all be slaughtered. Their idea, not mine. Carter is doing well to meet them. Perhaps he can convince them to kill only half of the Jews. Perhaps he will convince them that the Jews are different kinds of animals. Perhaps he can convince them to aim their rockets at a smaller number of kindergardens in the towns near the Gaza border. He is a man of peace. He may even succeed. Thanks to him only 5 million Jews will be murdered by Hamas, not breaking the nazi record, and another million will be spared. If he succeeds, he should get a Nobel prize. Why not? Arafat did, for the Olympic massacre in 1972, for highjacking airplanes and for destroying Lebanon in 1978. I hope that the Saudis will continue to reward Carter for his peace efforts by generously funding him, as they have been doing in the last few years. Of course, he is not at all influenced by this.
President Carter is doing what the United States refuses to do, is to talk the differences out, hear each other and come to an understanding of what is going wrong and the fix it. We should not margins other because we differs from them, The current Government in the United States has no credibility to say anything about nothing.
Why can't the current american administration learn from him, a man that has respect for himself and his nation and tries to be a fair and unbiased brooker.

He actually takes actions not just show up and shake shoulders in a dumb way.

I am an arab and for the first time I do respect an american president that speaks wisdom and truth. while others can not even speak plain english.

One final thing I am egyptian, and we are proud that Moses was egyptian, so I am not anti-jews, but what they are doing to the palestineans is exactly what the nazis did to them, and as always Europe is watching.
Why can't the current american administration learn from him, a man that has respect for himself and his nation and tries to be a fair and unbiased brooker.

He actually takes actions not just show up and shake shoulders in a dumb way.

I am an arab and for the first time I do respect an american president that speaks wisdom and truth. while others can not even speak plain english.

One final thing I am egyptian, and we are proud that Moses was egyptian, so I am not anti-jews, but what they are doing to the palestineans is exactly what the nazis did to them, and as always Europe is watching.
Remember, we were considered 'terrorists' to England just prior to our independence.

I think Carter is brave to shed light on truths that very few, especially in this country, are willing to look at.

Could there really be a more important cause than peace for EVERYONE in the mideast?
Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy...tsk tsk. People are so willing to believe the spin on the whole Egypt-Israel thing but doesn't it speak volumes about the truth, that you met with Hamas in Egypt? And with that "win" under your belt how did you handle the repercussions when the Ayatolla Humeinie had our citizens kidnapped in Iran? Oh yeah! You hid under your desk and did nothing just as you were instructed. I am not sure why people think that you are a hero. You're a simp, a Nixon wanna-be, diplo-.
You say that you are not trying to be a diplomat you just...blah blah blah- THAT IS THE DEFINITION OF DIPLOMAT you doddering old fool. You make me ashamed of being a Democrat because it connects me to you somehow and that makes me feel dirty. Pride goeth before the fall, the question is, is this going to be your fall or our fall?

Hopefully this fool ends up on the no-fly list coming back so that he can have an inkling of what is like to be an air passenger in post 9-11 America. Peace out "Great White Hunter"
Carter should be commended and supported. It is sad but not surprising that U.S. and Israeli officials "believe Carter's meetings with Hamas will achieve little, and could actually harm the Middle East peace process." Who are they kidding? The "Middle East peace process" has been going on for about 40 years and has provided no major breakthroughs except for the time when Begin and Sadat came to Washington (under Carter).... AND TALKED. During the same time, it appears that the abused (Israel) have now become the abusers - (blame the government, not the people.) Someone has to break the cycle and it looks like Carter is couragous enough to tolerate the criticism of the nay-sayers and the "current process owners" who have failed and TRY for peace. Bravo.

Those who really want peace will find a way to make peace. Those who say they "cannot have a dialog" really don't want peace. I see it that simply. Blessed are the Peacemakers. Everywhere.
in answer to a.m.Europe here is not Just watching it is helping Israel in taking away Palestinian rights in their country. listen to the president of France or the prime minister of Italy talking about Israel, as if the Palestinians kicked the Jews out of their country.they have no regards to Palestinian lives they only care about the Jews.the European should really help the Jews in giving them land in Europe because they are the ones that are responsible for their misery in Europe.
I think that all American people should thank Carter for his peaceful and wise initiative.

At last we're seeing a white spot in the whole black board of US dreadful politics in the Middle East.
Hamas, by his ability to sustain a fight against israeli forces is an actor of this conflict.
It is with your enemy that you must talk with in order to find out a way to solve the conflict.
This basic assumption of foreign policy is well known by the former President Carter and it is good to see that there are some politicians in the US who remembered how international politics is working.
But to find a solution to the particular conflict in the Gaza strip will not be an easy task. It may be the most important issue of the next american president.
Since when is Hamas ever ready for peace talks with Israel. Hamas has dedicated there whole existence to destroying the Israeli people and their country. Former-President Jimmy Carter is a fool! If he thinks Hamas is sincere in their pledge to talk peace, he is still living in the
80's and needs to go back to his peanut farm. Hamas needs to dismantal their mantra and get down to real peace by stopping the attacks, and focusing on their own country and its people. Stop asking for land, and thrive on what they already have. Fix what is broken in their country now: feed the people, provide good housing, safety, and employment. That is the real steps toward peace. VB, USA
Carter is a crackpot and not worthy of any more air time. Please stop.
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