The suicidal left has found itself a new hero: Jimmy Carter. Finally, someone is speaking the truth: Israel is an apartheid state. Finally, someone is exposing justice: Palestinian terrorism is tantamount to the actions of the Israel Defense Forces. Finally, someone is bringing peace: He is welcomed by that modern-day Sadat, Khaled Meshal.

For the suicidal left, Carter is the good American cop who is replacing the bad American cop and ending the dark era of George Bush. After eight lean years, we once again have a brave Southern sheriff chasing the true villain - Israel. Now, then, we can once again stretch out on the soft sofas of the 1990s divan and suck on a hookah of sweet illusions. As though Camp David never happened. As though Hamas did not exist. Because Jimmy has come home. Carter has brought back hope.

In the spring of 1979, President Carter made history: He led Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat to sign a peace accord. Carter did not initiate the accord. In some of his moves, Carter even jeopardized it. And yet ultimately the former president headed the peace summit and brought Egypt and Israel to the happy ending that they had had trouble reaching by themselves. That glowing hour on the White House lawn is the hour of grace in Carter's failed career in international politics. No one can take it away from him.

In the fall of 1979, however, President Carter once again made history: failing to understand that the Khomeini revolution was imminent, he prevented the Shah from preventing the revolution. He thus brought about a historical catastrophe whose dimensions remain difficult to grasp even today. In the name of his commitment to moderation and human rights, Carter allowed zealots to take over Iran and turn it into a regional power of evil. This power of evil is about to become nuclear. It is a threat to Israel's existence, to the stability of the Middle East and to world peace. Carter bears the heavy burden of responsibility for this development.

In November 1980, the Americans kicked Carter out of the White House in disgrace. They did so because they felt that he had destabilized America and brought it to its knees, and because they could no longer stand everything he represented: weakness, sanctimoniousness and groveling before evil.

For some 30 years, Carter has been perceived by most Americans as a self-righteous fool who does not understand the basic physics of the real world. The fact that the preacher from Georgia wrapped his alchemy of international politics in a moralizing theology only increased the repugnance he aroused. Just as Carter's policy is not really policy, his morality is not really morality. There is no zealous thug that Carter will not embrace. No third-world terrorist that he will not try to appease.

The problem, however, is not Carter, but Carterism. Carterism is a policy of appeasement: it is the unwillingness of those who seek good in the West to protect the values of the West when faced with an aggressor from the East. Carterism is the inability of the enlightened in North America and North Tel Aviv to face the fact that sometimes there is evil in the Third World. Sometimes there is evil in the Arab world. There is even Palestinian evil.

Carter himself is not very important. He did some damage to Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian moderates, but the damage is limited. He did talk peace with Hamas at the same time that Hamas was initiating a military offensive at Kerem Shalom, an act that might have sparked a war, but in this he only exposed his own shoddiness.

Carterism is far more important than Jimmy Carter. Carterism is a profound scourge found among certain elites in the U.S., in Western Europe and in Israel. Carterism is a dangerous distortion of thought and values among those who presume to be thinkers committed to values.

The possibility that a Democrat will be elected president of the United States in November makes the debate over Carterism relevant and vital. Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will have to choose whether to continue in the sober tradition of Roosevelt-Truman-Kennedy or to revive Carter's appeasement. That is why it is important to speak out strongly right now about the path chosen by the old man who came to visit us this week.

This path is not only delusional, but immoral. Carterism's cooperation with Hamas is cooperation with the oppression of women, with the jailing of homosexuals, with the persecution of Christians. It is cooperation with a religious tyranny that tramples the Palestinian individual and seeks to eradicate the Israeli-Jewish collective. True, George Bush too has wreaked calamity on the Middle East, but the way to correct Bush's mistake is not to return to Carter's abomination. If the Israeli, European and American left chooses to become a Carterist left, it will indeed become a suicidal left.