The real Jimmy Carter

The real Jimmy Carter

We have never published a film review on our opinion page before, even though that’s essentially what a film review is — an opinion.
We’re not really doing it now, either, though we are blending the genre with that of the editorial, we believe for a good reason.
We hope you get to see the documentary “Family in Captivity,” — a film about the family of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who will have endured five years of captivity at the hands of Hamas this week. The film will be screened in Pittsburgh, June 28.
You will empathize with Shalit’s parents, Noam and Aviva, and be inspired by the courage of his brother and sister, Yoel and Hadas. Indeed, the whole Shalit mishpacha (family) will inspire you as you walk with them through their prolonged ordeal to seek freedom for their Gilad.
What won’t inspire you — what may in fact sadden or embarrass you — are the actions of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. And that is why you’re reading this semi-review on the opinion page.
It is one thing to read about Carter’s one-sided pro-Palestinian activities in the media. It is an entirely different thing to watch him in action in real time, in real settings. This film provides just such a rare glimpse.
The film shows Carter visiting the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in 2009, shortly after Operation Cast Lead, and seeing the ruins of what is said to be a school.
“I see it’s been deliberately destroyed,” he tells a gaggle of reporters, “by bombs made from F-16s made in my country and delivered to the Israelis.”
Why doesn’t he note the all-too-common Hamas practice of setting up rocket or gun positions at or near schools, hospitals and homes? How does he know the attack was deliberate if he wasn’t there during the fighting?
Clearly, Carter swallows whole Hamas’ propaganda.
The former president then rushes off to a meeting with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, during which he delivers a letter from Noam Shalit for his hostage son. Reporters afterward ask Carter if he received any assurances the letter would be delivered.
“I’ll have to tell his father about that,” Carter replies.
As it turns out, he tells Gilad’s father very little.
In a brief, almost curt, meeting with Noam Shalit, back in Israel, Carter opens the meeting by saying how distressing all the destruction in Gaza is, then he mentions that he delivered the letter.
“That’s all I asked them to do,” the former president said.
As for when (or if) it would be delivered? “They didn’t say when they would deliver the letter,” Carter said without indicating if he even asked.
Without confirmation of delivery, Shalit expresses concern that his son won’t receive the letter any time soon.
“Maybe you can get it from some other source,” Carter says, adding weakly that he hopes Shalit will have his son back soon.
To that, Shalit reminds the former president that it’s been a year without any sign of life from Gilad.
“Well, I did the best I could,” the former president says.
With that, he rises from his chair and politely but summarily ends the meeting with Shalit.
We’ll leave it to you to decide whether Carter really “did the best [he] could.” From our vantage point, though, the real Jimmy Carter is on display in this film, and the impression he makes is not a good one.