Only a man with a deep sense of personal mission could easily accept the changed circumstances which have confronted former US President Jimmy Carter on his visit to Israel.
He has said he is here on a self-imposed personal assignment this year to help bring peace to the Middle East. But the man who personally ramrodded through the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt has faced demonstrations, some hostility, cool reserve, and at best a modest warmth from the people whose future he sought to secure.
Israeli officials, while correct in their welcome, were angered by Carter's insistence in published reports and elsewhere that Prime Minister Menachem Begin had promised at Camp David that there would be no more Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank and Gaza until peace talks had been completed. Mr. Begin insists that the limitation was for three months only.
Mr. Carter did not endear himself to Israelis either by meeting with middle-level PLO officials in Cairo.
The ex-President was warm in his public praise of Mr. Begin's contributions to peace.
Perhaps nowhere were the trials of the peacemaker more apparent than in Mr. Carter's West Bank and Gaza visits to Palestinians. He is spending parts of three days there. Warmly greeted by Bethlehem's moderate mayor, Elias Freij, he was the focus of violent demonstrations at Bethlehem University and across the West Bank, as the ''architect'' of the Camp David accords which are opposed by nationalistic Palestinians.
Mr. Carter's next stop is Jordan where he will meet with King Hussein.