Hamas and Hudna: Keys to Peace in the Holy Land
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
This week, George Mitchell, Secretary Clinton’s advance man for the Middle East is embarking on a “peace initiative” that excludes Hamas. This is a fatal omission, because it is based on a zero-sum game of exclusion and is basically negative. The opportunity paradigm for the Holy land must be inclusionary and focus on building the best for everyone, not merely for those who may do America’s myopic bidding, as Ameican policy makers have done everywhere else in the world.
America’s new president, Barack Obama, personally is inclusionary in his entire approach to life, but ruthlessly pragmatic in his idealism. He will be just as tough as Cheney was on terrorists (whatever they are) but his aim is to seek creative opportunities for peace, prosperity, and freedom through compassionate justice. This is the only way to drain the ocean of the injustices in which desperate people proverbially swim, but he will look for and pursue these opportunities for their own sake not as part of a ridiculous “war on terror” or even a “war on evil.”
Last week, the new DNI (Director of National Intelligence) called for a shift in emphasis from threat analysis to opportunity analysis, including suggesting to policy makers where the opportunities are. I have been advocating this for half a century, and was detailed by the State Department in 1973 as Deputy Director of a new Office of Product Improvement directly under the DCI (Director of Central Intelligence), James Schlesinger. I was fired in less than a month and the Office was deactivated shortly thereafter, because my marching orders from Ray Cline in State were to look at the opportunities to advance America’s enlightened interests, especially in the economic sphere, and to look at threats, especially the military ones, only within this new framework of thought. Since the end of World War II, with the advent of the Cold War, American policymakers have considered anything other than reactive defense as anathema, and even looked at things like the “democracy initiative” mainly as a defensive tactic in a war of public relations and propaganda.
The most chronic issue now being debated was announced on January 15th by the Prime Minister of Palestine, Isma’il Haniyah, who announced in a victory statement:
“Ultimately, the Palestinians are a people struggling for freedom from occupation and the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of refugees to their villages from which they were expelled. Whatever the cost, the continuation of Israel’s massacres will neither break our will nor our aspiration for freedom and independence.”
The question is whether this really is the ultimate goal of Hamas or should be. This “ultimate” solution, as stated by Prime Minister Haniya, does not appear at all doable. Both the dream of one religious state and the concept of two secular states living in eternal peace are utopian.
The most challenging issue is the Prime Minister’s reference to the “right of return.” This would never be acknowledged except in a single federation with freedom and independence for all. We have to think big. Anything less can bring inevitable annihilation for everyone.
For the first time it appears that the extremist leaders of Israel have gone too far and permanently alienated their political supporters in America. America does after all have its own vital national interests, both enlightened and unenlightened. Now is not the time to think small. Either we help both the Jews and the Arabs “undo” the 1948 nakba or a future global nakba worse than Gaza in 2008-2009 might undo us all.
The question then becomes how do we “undo” the nakba. How do we return the millions of refugees to their ancestral homes. I’ve never seen a map of all these villages, most of which were demolished and covered over with white shining new developments. Even back in 1967, when I saw them from the air during the war, they were very impressive, but they were built at the expense of the people whose land was confiscated in order to build them, with significant American funding. Perhaps most of them were in Judea and Samaria, what is now the “West Bank”, but, no doubt, hundreds of thousands of refugees originate from the cities in “Israel proper.”
Furthermore, why would anyone want to return to an economic wasteland in a Rump Palestine, which is what the Israeli government deliberately created for the Palestinians and has maintained for sixty years and would have to seek to maintain forever in order to keep the Palestinians down even in “their own country.”
For economic reasons alone the entire area of Palestine must be as free as Europe is today for building new industries owned individually by everyone who lives there, with investment funds coming in part from a land and natural resource bank designed to provide everyone with individually owned, equal, inalienable, and voting shares of stock in the large natural gas fields off the shore of Palestine all the way from Egypt to Lebanon. The first major step right now should be the immediate development of the gas fields off the coast of Gaza in a Gazan community investment corporation, backed by future profits rather than by past accumulations of wealth.
The right of return is meaningless unless everyone can return to build the prosperity at which both the Jews and Palestinians traditionally excel. How the Palestinians have even survived in their present circumstances is a modern miracle.
The best opportunity in the world today is building an Abraham Federation in the Holy Land so that the Muslims, Jews, and Christians can compete, as the Qur’an urges, in a race to do good. This must begin in a “hudna,” about which I published several position papers before, during, and after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006 in response to a request by Dr. Ahmad Yousef, who then was the principal foreign policy adviser to Isma’il Haniya and now is the new Deputy Foreign Minister. He was one of the two intellectual founders of Hamas when he lived in the UAE in 1983 and in his now defunct publication, The Middle East Affairs Journal (MEAJ), of which I was the Managing Editor, published a scholarly article on the past, present, and future of the bi-national state based on the renunciation of violence by all of its citizens.
Anything else as a “final solution” is at best marking time and at worst merely a prelude to total destruction. Anything less might be viewed from hindsight a century from now as a crime against humanity.