THE SPINE NOVEMBER 1, 2007
"Fruitless Conversations" was what I dubbed the round of talks Condi Rice was having -- pre-Annapolis -- with various folk who'd had experience navigating the shoals between Israel and the Palestinians. It was not an impressive calendar. Bill Clinton talked to her on the phone. Henry Kissinger, James Baker and Mrs. Albright actually saw her in person. And so did Jimmy Carter. The Ha'aretz story indicated that Rice had invited Carter to a two-way meeting. I wondered in print why anyone who wanted wisdom on the century-long war between the Jews and the Arabs would expect to get any from this former president. (I also wondered about what she might learn from James Baker whose only venture into this terrain was the Madrid Conference which accomplished zero.)In any case, it now turns out in a story by Nathan Guttman in this week's Forward that Rice did not invite Carter to meet with her at all. He came as supplicant for a meeting, and she, "out of respect," could not turn him down. That is "out of respect" for a former president.Carter has also been trying to mend his bridges to the Jewish community. He got to meet some marginal Jewish leaders, only one of whose names I know. (That does tell you something.) The rest stayed away. The only result of his meeting representatives of Jewish organizations would be, as one of them observed, that he'd be able to say that he met with some important Jews.Some Democratic congressmen actually did meet with him, and they gave him hell. And a cohort of Hispanic congressmen gave him hell, as well. You see, they are part of the Jewish lobby.