Hudna:  A Rationale and Platform for Peaceful Engagement

Hudna:  A Rationale and Platform for Peaceful Engagement

by Dr. Robert D. Crane

  Forty years ago, Zbigniew Brzenski introduced a new policy paradigm to replace the Cold War, which had been waged for decades with the then Axis of Evil, the so-called Sino-Soviet Bloc.  He called this new policy framework “peaceful engagement.”  The concept was to go beyond the mere tolerance of “peaceful co-existence,” which was regarded by the Communists and by many Anti-Communists as a temporary truce until it could permanently eliminate the enemy.

  In the current context, peaceful engagement would go beyond even the concept of diversity, which admits the permanent existence of the “other” but not as an equal.  Peaceful engagement rises to the level of civilizational pluralism, which calls for each to listen to the other, because each has so much to offer.

  This new policy paradigm was then developed at George Washington University in a multi-volume position paper, entitled the Phoenix Papers.  The set of volumes proposed an elaborate strategy for peace based on the Greek mythological bird that rose from the dead. 

  At the time Brzezinski was an adviser to President Lyndon Johnson.  He later gained fame as the person who introduced an unknown southerner, Jimmy Carter, to the permanent foreign policy establishment and shepherded him to the presidency.  On his first day in office, January 20, 1976, President Carter appointed Brzezinski as head of the National Security Council.  In the decades since, President Carter and Brzezinski have been bringing this same wisdom into the current war, both cold and hot, against the newest axis of evil, which consists of the Muslim countries that do not accept the legal existence of the State of Israel. 

  From the belly of the beast, namely the Palestinian Prime Minister Isma’il Haniya, has come a similar concept of peaceful engagement, known by the Arabic term hudna.  This posting on the Muslim website, is the last of eight essays on this concept of hudna.  The series was initiated by a request to help formulate the policy on hudna being developed for the first foreign policy statement by Prime Minister Haniya. 

  On August 1, 2006, Anders Strindberg published an article in the Christian Science Monitor that possibly for the first time in the mainstream American media during the past few decades states the framework for a hudna or policy of peaceful engagement leading toward an Abraham Federation of individual Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Holy Land based on the sovereignty and sacredness of the human person.

  Strindberg’s introductory position paper states what at least 90% of the people in the world have always known.  It also explains “why they hate us.”  Those who assert the moral legitimacy of the State of Israel, as distinct from its clear legal right to exist, consider that this elemental introduction to Middle East history poses an existential threat. 

  This almost breath-takingly objective perspective on the current war in the Middle East does not need to present a threat to anyone, least of all to the Jews.  All that is required is the spiritual dimension.  This can be provided only by Jews and Muslims and Christians who share a common vision and the courage to take common risks together. 

  Strindberg’s article provides the historical rationale for hudna.  If hudna as a strategy for peaceful engagement is adopted by Orthodox Jews and Muslims, this would be the most important outcome of the current Middle East war.  There is no other solution and never has been since the Middle East madness of the new third millennium started in 1896 more than a century ago. 

  Developing the essential transformation of individual and group identities for a successful hudna leading to an Abraham Federation may take years and decades to reach fruition, but this is why action to pursue it should start now.  Hudna is not merely an idea whose time has come but a movement already waiting to happen.