So, who are these Elders? According to their website:
Among the members whose names stand out are Kofi Annan (who was cited by a UN investigation for corruption), Jimmy Carter (who made the Iran of today possible), Mary Robinson (who presided over the Durban I debacle), Desmond Tutu (whose anti-Israel bias is well documented), and Nelson Mandela. Mandela, who founded the Elders, wrote an autobiography that separates the myth from the man:
The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.
Fortunately for readers, not to mention for South Africa, the Nelson Mandela who emerges from his memoir, "Long Walk to Freedom," is considerably more human than the icon of legend. He is a naive and headstrong youth, a neglectful husband, a distracted father. He misleads his allies and manipulates his followers. He is uncritical of despots who support his liberation struggle. Time after time, he chooses tactics over principles. Mr. Mandela is, on the evidence of his amazing life, neither a messiah nor a moralist nor really a revolutionary, but a pragmatist to the core, a shrewd balancer of honor and interests. He is, to use a word unhappily fallen into disrepute, a politician, though one distinguished from lesser practitioners of his calling mainly by his unwavering faith in his ultimate objective, ending white minority rule.
...In the most dramatic of many tacks, Mr. Mandela, in 1953, was among the first African National Congress leaders to argue for a shift from peaceful civil disobedience to armed insurrection. Even after his colleagues rejected violence as premature, he arranged an unauthorized mission to China to request weapons for the cause. The A.N.C. leadership finally endorsed armed struggle in 1961, just a few weeks after Mr. Mandela and his compatriots, in the course of winning acquittal on charges of treason, had insisted that nonviolence was an inalterable principle of the organization. "For me," he writes, "nonviolence was not a moral principle but a strategy; there is no moral goodness in using an ineffective weapon."And now the Elders are in the Middle East "to listen to the people affected by the conflict and to offer their support to all those working for peace."
So how is that supporting "all those working for peace" thing going? In a letter to the editor of the Jerusalem Post, Jacob Shrybman of Sderot Media Center writes:
Sir, - Re "Int'l Elders to meet cross-section of Israeli and Palestinian societies" (August 25): Three weeks ago, the organizer of the Elders NGO contacted the Sderot Media Center about bringing a Sderot resident to Jerusalem to talk to the influential group.For all the platitudes these Elders dish out, the fact remains that giving a fancy title to some of the corrupt, incompetent, and dishonest leaders of yesteryear doesn't change their biases in the least.
Wouldn't they, we asked, visit not only the worst Arab parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but also come to Sderot to meet with some of the countless families whose lives have been terrorized by the near-decade of rocket fire? The visit wouldn't take them far out of their way, we explained, reminding them that it takes only 15 seconds for a Kassam rocket from Gaza to hit Sderot.
The Elders organizer, while insisting that the trip was structured "to show both sides of the conflict," replied that they had no time to visit Sderot and refused a small donation to the Sderot resident who would lose a day's work in order to travel to Jerusalem.
The following quote is prominently placed on the Elder website:
"The Elders can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes. They will reach out to those who most need their help. They will support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict and inspire hope where there is despair." Nelson Mandela.If nothing else, they still talk a good game.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad