i've seen a lot of people flipping out about carter's meeting with hamas representatives in cairo and his meeting with hamas leader khaled mashaal in damascus. but no one has really explained why the meets are so bad. if anyone has any ideas of their own, i'm curious to see what they are.
the closest i've seen to an explanation is the implication that meeting hamas legitimizes the group. i don't think it's a very strong argument. meeting with aging former presidents isn't the way that groups get legitimacy.
plus, hamas actually has a real claim to legitimacy already. it took part in and won the 2005 palestinian elections. i submit that elections are a legitimate way to get legitimacy. in fact, the refusal of israel, fatah and much of the west to fully recognize the outcome of that election itself denied hamas a degree of legitimacy that it had, in fact, earned.1 is there any reason that carter's meetings are out of bounds beyond the legitimacy argument? or is that all his critics have got?
and on a related note, check out helena cobban's post about khaled mashaal. cobban has also met with (and interviewed) mashaal. moreover, cobban's daughter was once a student of mrs. noz. which means that if evil meetings are contagious, i've met jimmy carter!
i suppose that also means that khaled mashaal effectively shook hands with hillary clinton yesterday. and, since h. clinton has met pretty much everyone in congress, the white house and the supreme court, that makes our entire government, even president bush, some kind of hamas-hand-shaking traitor!
this guilt-by-association thing can be fun. no wonder it's so popular.
1- don't get me wrong, believing a group has "legitimacy" is not the same thing as being in favor of the group. i don't like hamas, but my personal views about a group are a separate point from the issue of legitimacy. there are plenty of political groups around the world that have violent elements and that are still viewed as legitimate when they participate in the electoral process. like it or not, hamas is a political group with a fairly substantial degree of support among the palestinian population. pretending that they're nothing but an illegitimate band of criminals, in my opinion, is just closing your eyes to one of their major characteristics and a key point that must be addressed if you was not address the problem of hamas' actions. i also think that the israelis' and americans' willful blindness about the nature of the group is part of the reason that they have not been successful at dealing with them.