I bristled watching the news clip of former president Jimmy Carter as he lay a wreath at the grave site of Yasser Arafat. When I learned that the former president had traveled to the mid-east — illegally – to meet with Hamas leaders, and then give a hug to senior Hamas leader, Nasser Shaer, the hair rose on my arm.

In essence, an American statesman took it upon himself to pay homage to one of the most notorious terrorists in modern history, and then embrace a man who endorses hate, murder and genocide. Are we supposed to feel warm and fuzzy about that?

Now he is about to meet the leader of Hamas in a so-called “peace mission.” The terror group must be laughing their butts off.

In fact, by disregarding the wishes of the State Department and commiserating with a terrorist organization, Mr. Carter has violated the law.

I always considered Jimmy Carter a well-meaning, peace-loving man who would have never been president had it not been for the Nixon scandals. Moral as he may be, his presidency was considered incompetent by many, rife with blunder after blunder, not to mention an economy in the dumps. The Shah of Iran, the rise of the Ayatollah, the hostage crisis, the Mariel boatlift, and runaway inflation. Now, he blunders again.

His recent writings along with his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, revealed some disappointing views about his anti-Israeli and/or anti-Semitic leanings. That may have some bearing on his recent travails with Israel’s sworn enemy.

Some of my readers will draw the usual comparisons to George W. Bush, which is apples to oranges. Whether we like Bush or not, this country is still engaged in an armed conflict and fighting international terrorism. There are issues and processes going on every day which Mr. Carter is not privy to, and which he could very well screw up…a risk which can affect every man woman and child in the free world, including Palestine and Israel.

For those readers who have any doubts about the evil of Hamas, here are a few tid-bits:

* Hamas refuses to recognize the existence of Israel and is dedicated to one end: Its virtual elimination. That goal has never wavered. According to the Washington Institute For Near East Policy, Hamas views the Arab-Israeli conflict as a religious struggle between Islam and Judaism that can only be resolved by the destruction of the Jewish state.

* Hamas is united and determined. Example: A sermon was delivered last week by a Hamas Member of Parliament, Yunis al-Astal, and aired on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV in which he predicted that Rome would become “an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread though Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, even Eastern Europe.” Further, he declared, “Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered just like Constantinople, as was prophesized by our prophet Muhammad.” Click here: » Hamas Cleric

(Anyone think Mr. Carter can single-handedly undo the prophesy of Muhammad?)

* Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by Canada, Israel, Japan and the United States and is banned in Jordan. The European Union lists Hamas as a group known to be involved in terrorist attacks.

* Within days after Israel pulled thousands of citizens from Gaza, Hamas began firing rockets into Israel with no other intent but to murder innocent civilians. The assault continues.

By his actions, Jimmy Carter has dignified radical Islamic extremists who exist for the purpose of killing under the banner of a “resistence movement.” To some, his actions would be considered traitorous. There is no negotiating with a terrorist organization whose only purpose to exist is to annihilate a people.

Then, there is the despicable act of honoring Yasser Arafat. Here are a few accomplishments of the former PLO under Arafat’s leadership:

* Feb. 21, 1970: SwissAir flight 330, bound for Tel Aviv, is bombed in mid-flight by PFLP, a PLO member group. 47 people are killed.

* May 8, 1970: PLO terrorists attack an Israeli schoolbus with bazooka fire, killing nine pupils and three teachers from Moshav Avivim

* Sept. 6, 1970: TWA, Pan-Am, and BOAC airplanes are hijacked by PLO terrorists.

* May 1972: PFLP, part of the PLO, dispatches members of the Japanese Red Army to attack Lod Airport in Tel Aviv, killing 27 people.

* Sept. 5, 1972: Munich Massacre —11 Israeli athletes are murdered at the Munich Olympics by a group calling themselves “Black September,” an arm of Fatah, operating under Arafat’s direct command.

* March 1, 1973: Palestinian terrorists take over Saudi embassy in Khartoum. The next day, two Americans –including the United States’ ambassador to Sudan, Cleo Noel – and a Belgian were shot and killed.

* April 11, 1974: 11 people are killed by Palestinian terrorists who attack apartment building in Kiryat Shmona.

* May 15, 1974: PLO terrorists infiltrating from Lebanon hold children hostage in Ma’alot school. 26 people, 21 of them children, are killed.

How is that for a Start? The actual list would consume hundreds of pages, with thousands dead and thousands more terrorized. That’s not to mention the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro that was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists in 1985, when wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer was shot and thrown overboard. Instructions originated from Arafat’s headquarters in Tunis.

Yasser Arafat personified murder and terror, yet — in an era of international terror and Islamic extremism — our American statesman bestows honor upon the hero of terror.

I am a severe critic of G.W. Bush in many ways. Yet, as an American, I am not only angry, I am embarrassed by the actions of Jimmy Carter.

In a rare diplomatic snub, Carter was rightfully shunned by Israel this week by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who refused to meet with him.

Emboldened by his Nobel Peace Prize, Mr. Carter may be sensing a mission, that he will be the one person in the world who will end the conflicts between Israel and her neighbors. Never mind, that Israel has been under attack since the first day of its existence in 1948 by Arab nations dedicated to its destruction.

Perhaps, he sees himself as a Messiah of sorts, impervious to criticism and on the road to sainthood. To my mind, Jimmy Carter is utterly naive if he believes Israel has any chance of survival if and when there is any capitulation to Hamas. It’s what they are waiting for.

Meanwhile, Carter is an American citizen who has snubbed State Department policy and broken the law by traveling, meeting and hugging a certified terrorist organization. Any other American would, and should, be prosecuted. Is Mr. Carter above the law?