Hudna or Apocalypse: A Tipping Point for Palestine?
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
The greatest threat in the world today is the ideology of the religious state as advocated by Syed Qutb. This has been transmuted into an apocalyptical framework by Osama bin Laden’s blasphemy in manipulating the concept of an Islamic caliphate as political justification for takfir, which denies the right to existence of anybody who opposes his polytheism.
Even in America we now have at least 30,000,000 Christian fundamentalists who believe that God is calling them to do the same. The only difference is that the creative destruction envisaged by Al Qa’ida is limited to eliminating opponents, whereas the Christian takfiris in America want to bring about the end of the entire world so that Jesus will return and transport them to heaven. These Christians are more extreme and potentially more dangerous, because with the help of Neocon ideologists they have the wherewithal to create a world of terrorism and terroristic counter-terrorism that could result in the elimination of civilization for centuries to come.
In the Holy Land of Palestine people have long debated whether a two-state solution would be better than a single federation of peoples. The question is not whether a federation of nations in the Holy Land is humanly possible, but whether the determination of exclusivist Zionists to impose a religious state will bring about another holocaust, this time killing many millions of both Jews and Arabs. The “two scorpions in a bottle” scenario makes such an apocalyptical holocaust not merely humanly possible but humanly inevitable.
The Zionist madness in imposing an exclusivist state is suicidal. This has been my firm conviction ever since I took a leave of absence from Harvard in 1948 to join Vanny Voorhees, the daughter of the then Under-Secretary of the Army, Tracy Voorhees, in administering the command center based in my father’s house overlooking the Potomac near Mount Vernon for a concerted lobbying effort against official U.S. support in the United Nations for international recognition of the State of Israel. In my view, borne out by sixty years of experience, accepting a Zionist state alongside a Palestinian state in a so-called two-state solution is no solution. The only way to stop what now has become a mortal threat to humanity is for the Jews themselves to recognize that Israel as it was conceived is not only immoral but polytheistic, because no people should worship themselves. The same is true for Muslims and Christians who have been infected with this same disease in their hearts.
The first step in the Jewish process of reconceiving the Jewish identity must be an initiative by the Arabs, because existential fear among Jews is making it impossible for them to take the necessary initiatives to seek peace only through compassionate justice. The greatest strength among Arabs would come from recognition that they must take the first step by recognizing the existing state of Israel in order to start the long process of reconciliation. This is the only way to consolidate an alliance of peoples determined to sublimate the existing confrontation into a commitment to revive the mutual respect toward each other that enlivened their creative cooperation for a thousand years as each other’s most reliable friends.
This requires two simultaneous steps. The first is to revise the educational curriculum in order to restore respect for their common heritage by adopting the same history textbooks throughout the Holy Land. The second is to abandon the top-down political approach to human life that Americans, ignorant of their own heritage, have been imposing on peoples all over the world through slogans of freedom and democracy without any content or even reference to justice.
A bottom-up approach based on personalism, not collectivism, is possible as a generic approach to all political problems only if individual persons are willing to pursue economic democracy by working together in community as an act of social justice in order to perfect the economic institutions of society. The key is reform of the institutions that determine the creation of money and credit by pursuing a Just Third Way (beyond the envy of socialism and the greed of oligarchical capitalism) so that personal ownership of capital as the source of wealth in a capital-intensive world becomes a universal human right. The mechanisms for this approach to reducing the wealth gap both within and among nations have been spelled out in many books and position papers over the past quarter century by the Center for Economic and Social Justice and other institutions. This is spelled out in my latest book, The Natural Law of Compassionate Justice, Volume I, The Islamic Perspective, The International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2008, 220 pages. This economic approach to allegedly purely political problems may be politically incorrect, but it is not rocket science.
Economic power controls political power. In Iraq economic justice through the diffusion of economic power requires the demonopolization of oil ownership by issuing an equal, voting, inalienable share of stock in a newly formed private corporation to every resident in the Fertile Crescent, so that every Shi’a, Kurd, and Sunni has an equal stake in owning their common future. An Abraham Federation in the Holy Land would be based economically on a central bank that issues asset-backed currency for investment in productive employee-owned enterprises or in community investment corporations secured by the credit of future profits rather than by ownership of past wealth. Only by pulverizing economic control at the top by broadening access to future wealth, without redistribution from those who already own productive wealth, can we make possible true political democracy. Only true democracy can overcome the imposition of oppressive ideologies by modern utopians who reject the very paradigm that gave birth to America and is enshrined in the Preamble to the American Declaration of Independence, namely, that peace, prosperity, and freedom can come only through justice as both their source and ultimate aim.
This is the rationale for hudna. Hudna is a classical Islamic concept of a truce aimed at addressing the causes of injustice. This is a requirement of the “just war” doctrine, which was first developed in classical Islamic jurisprudence and now has become standard in the ethics or moral theology of every religion. It’s motto was advanced in my article in http://www.theamericanmuslim.org July ,23, 2006: “Recognize Israel now; take down that wall.”
The basic issue is whether “hard power” or “soft power” can most effectively shape a global future of compassionate justice. The hard power of military confrontation is de facto the strategy of choice throughout most of the world today, primarily because the world’s only super power sees no other alternative and thereby encourages both its supporters and opponents to follow suit. The strategy of hard power may be reflected in Israeli refusal to recognize the elected Palestinian government and in Palestinian refusal therefore to recognize Israel.
This majority Palestinian position is reflected in an official letter of December 2, 2007, to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by Dr. Ahmed Yousef on behalf of Prime Minister Isma’il Haniya, and in a position paper that Dr. Yousef prepared in conjunction with the Annapolis Conference of November 2007. Dr. Yousef was one of the two intellectual founders of Hamas in 1983, when he was a student in the UAE. In 1989, he founded of the United Association for Studies and Research in Springfield, Virginia, which was the first and America’s only real-life Muslim think-tank. For more than a decade until shortly after 9/11 he was Editor-in-Chief of its scholarly Middle East Affairs Journal, for which I served as Managing Editor. This position paper, entitled “the Genuine Face of Hamas,” addresses the legal arguments against recognition and is appended at the end of this article.
The legal arguments presented by Ahmed Yousef against recognition of the state of Israel in the present circumstances may be summarized as the following five:
1) Israel was defined at its founding as a state for the Jewish people. International
law, whether developed by classical Islam or by the United Nations, does not
recognize any religious state, because by definition such a state would violate the
human rights of those not of this religion. Proof of this is the track record of Israel
during the past half century.
2) Recognition now would violate all the U.N. resolutions imposing conditions on
Israel, including withdrawal to the 1967 border. Therefore the Quartet conditions are
3) Denial by the Quartet and Annapolis of an occupied people’s legitimate right to
armed resistance is illegal, because this is guaranteed under Article 51 of the United
Nation’s charter, as well as every objective system of ethics and morality. Launching primitive rockets across the border into Israel is part of armed resistance, even though it is merely symbolic.
4) The Hamas government is the only legitimately elected Palestinian government,
which means that the Fatah rump government is illegal and should not be a negotiating party to any peace agreement. Only the legal government has this right. Foreign nations therefore should seek reconciliation not conflict among Palestinians.
5) The legitimate Palestinian government led by Prime Minister Isma’il Haniya
has consistently offered a hudna or permanent truce as a means to start negotiations,
but Israel has never reciprocated
In addition to these five legal arguments there are five moral or religious arguments that re-enforce the legal ones:
1) Lasting peace can come only through justice. Therefore, to recognize Israel
now would amount to abandonment of the rule of law and to the legalization of
war crimes, which, in turn, would make humankind unworthy of the grace of God.
2) There is a divine plan for justice. Therefore, those who believe in human rights
should be patient and not seek peace without justice.
3) Divine revelation informs us that every human being and every community will
be tested. Constancy in the pursuit of justice is needed now more than ever before
and therefore is now a requirement of faith.
4) The forces of good are gaining ground, so we should not undermine them by
surrendering the search for human rights through compromise with evil and injustice.
5) Surrender to the evil of “might makes right” in jungle law amounts to the worship of a false God by acknowledging human power as the ultimate criterion of right versus wrong. The polytheism of denying the power of God is the ultimate sin,
which ushered in the human species and may usher it out again.
What are the counter arguments of what one might call the application of “soft power” by recognizing Israel now as a means to create a federation in the future? The following five come immediately to mind:
1) In international law, legal recognition of a state does not imply moral approval.
2) Creating two states in the Holy Land would merely create one large ghetto and
one small one, which eventually would succeed in destroying each other, together
with millions of other people throughout the Middle East.
3) An Abraham federation is the best solution for the equal rights of Jews and
Arabs to live as each other’s best friend in the Holy Land and as a model for the
rest of the world. This requires education throughout the school systems about their common heritage.
4) Humane policies should be based on hope not on fear. Both are self-fulfilling
prophecies. Men may plot, but God is the best Planner.
5) The shift from concentrated top-down political governance, as advocated by American policy makers throughout the world, to bottom-up or genuine political democracy is possible only by perfecting economic institutions to make capital ownership, which is the only real source of wealth in a capital intensive world, a universal human right. Economic democracy is the most powerful means to federation, whether in Iraq or any other part of the world.
A policy prescription based on the above five premises and goals would call for immediate Palestinian recognition of Israel as part of a truce or hudna designed to fulfill these five goals within a maximum of two decades. Failure to pursue them effectively through measurable milestones should end the hudna. This is the strategy of the moral high road.
This prescription recognizes that the summit conference in Annapolis was engineered largely to stop the growing influence of Iran. Since this is Israel’s
main foreign policy goal right now, the new National Intelligence Estimate, which
questioned Iran’s intentions to become a nuclear power, deflated the Neocons’ hope
for an attack against Iran while the Republicans are still in power. This, in turn, may
give the Palestinians more leverage over an isolated and weakened Israel. This, in turn, may bolster the courage of those Jews, probably the majority in both the Middle East and America, who can conceive of a shift from the threat mentality that has oppressed them for so long toward an opportunity mentality more fitting for their dignity in their own homeland.
We may agree with the arguments against immediate recognition of Israel, but these do not provide a constructive solution for peace in the Middle East. We need to think out of the box by overcoming mutual fear and hatred. Only tawakkul or trust in God can make this possible, and this is a rare commodity, but there is no other solution to any of the increasingly intractable problems in the world.
Official letter from the Government of Palestine, dated December 2, 2007:
The Honorable Secretary of State
Ms. Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Rice,
I am writing to you in light of the conference in Annapolis to fulfill our obligations to the Palestinian voters who have overwhelmingly legitimized our governance. Your administration cannot want peace more than the Palestinian people want and need peace. However, peace initiatives and conferences are ineffectual if the basic ingredients for success are not present. Meaningful steps toward a resolution cannot take place while the legitimacy of the elected government in Palestine continues to be ignored by your administration. Not only is the policy to isolate Hamas unethical it is ineffectual as well. Your administration ignores the realities on the ground. The Change and Reform Party, the name of the new political party we formed for the Palestinian elections, won an overwhelming majority in the occupied territories. To pretend otherwise is not only futile but detrimental to U.S. interests in the region for many years to come and likely to add to the anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world. You cannot preach about exporting democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan and ignore the democratic process in Palestine.
Many people make the mistake of presuming that we have some ideological aversion to making peace. Quite the opposite; we have consistently offered dialogue with the United States and Euro-ean Union to try and resolve the very issues that you are trying to deal with in Annapolis. Our conflict with the Israelis is a grievance-based conflict. We want to end the occupation of our land and the systematic human rights abuses that our people suffer from daily. We do not have any ideological problems with living side by side with Christians and Jews. When we have not been occupied we have successfully done this for thousands of years. However, they can not live in peace and security in a land that was usurped. Indeed if you asked a Jew where they would have been safest to live over the last two millennia, with Arabs or Europeans, the answer would be obvious. Nor do we have any ideological arguments with the West. We are not anti-American, anti-European or anti-anyone. The root of the problem, which neither Israel nor the United States is willing to acknowledge, let alone address, is the dispossession of the Palestinian people upon the creation in their homeland of Israel in 1948.
It would come as no surprise to us if this letter were to be met with dismissal, in keeping with this administration’s policy of not dealing with “terrorists”, despite the fact that we entered the democratic process and held a unilateral ceasefire of our own for over two years. But how do you think the Arab and Muslim worlds react to this American hypocrisy? Even our growing ranks of western supporters complain about U.S. narrow-mindedness and the bullying of its allies to toe the American line. The State Department should be looking for new solutions instead of reinforcing old stereotypes.
On a personal note we found it at least a little encouraging that someone with your background in the South can empathize with both Israeli deaths and Palestinian segregation, if media reports are accurate. It is an occupation Ms. Rice. Their citizens face insecurity and death because that is the situation they have created for themselves. We do not beg you to recognize us. Our party is the legitimately elected party in the occupied territories. You owe it to your sense of fairness to engage meaningfully with all relevant parties to the conflict.
The conference is faulty in its inception. It was conceived in a vacuum and hastily announced for political expediency. In addition, it ignores the inherent weaknesses of the negotiating parties involved. Furthermore, despite your efforts the conference has not secured the key Arab support you were hoping for. Arab leaders are leery of committing to an American initiative that exhibits no fundamental change from the past. Annapolis’ failure will have negative consequences for those Arab states that supported it further destabilizing the region.
Our skepticism is based on experience. You know that despite every call for restraint by the United States over the last twenty years the Israelis have continued to expand and develop their vast network of towns and roads on Palestinian land. While you sat and talked in Annapolis the sound of cranes and bulldozers were echoing across the West Bank as those networks continue to grow. It is therefore hard to imagine an Israeli government bent on a peaceful withdrawal from our land. We can only presume that they are paying lip-service to your request to participate, seeing it as a delaying tactic to talk about peace with no real intention to deliver.
Meanwhile the entire Palestinian people are being punished for having the temerity to hold a free and fair election and choosing us as their government. It is hard to get across the appalling level of privation that the Palestinian people and in particular the 1.3 million Palestinians who live in Gaza currently suffer from. Our isolation is complete, confining us in a ghetto (worse than the Jewish ghettos of Warsaw) where our sewage, power and water systems have been destroyed, all normal supplies constrained and even humanitarian aid withheld. Many people have not been paid for nearly two years, over 75% are unemployed and now the Israelis are threatening to cut off fuel and power supplies and to invade us once again.
You have made it a precondition to any engagement with us that we accept certain conditions. Yet you don’t apply the same preconditions to the Israelis. You don’t require of them recognition of Palestinian rights or a renunciation of the terrible violence that they daily invoke on us. Nor do you require that they comply with previous agreements or the settlement building would long since have stopped.
Your predecessor General Collin Powell stated that the United States has to find a way to engage with Hamas because it won the Palestinian elections and it continues to enjoy support among a large portion of the Palestinian people. He did not make that statement because he is less of an American or less committed to the service of America. He simply practiced at home what you are preaching about democracy abroad.
If you were even-handed in this conflict, if you engaged with us openly then the chances of peace would dramatically increase. As it is, you are setting yourself up for failure and with that failure will come more pain and anguish for the Palestinian people, a further colonization of our lands and a blank space in history for the Bush administration’s role in making peace in the Middle East.
In the meantime, the people will hold steadfast to their rights and national constants. The internationally sanctioned resistance will not be quashed until the occupier packs its bags and leaves. And the aspiration of a free and independent Palestinian state is realized.
Dr Ahmad Yousuf
Senior Political Advisor
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Position Paper by Ahmed Yousef:
The Genuine Face of Hamas
by Dr. Ahmed Yousef
Approaching nearly two years after fair and free elections in the Occupied Territories, unprecedented sanctions imposed on the legitimate government (collectively punishing the people), coups and attempted coups, and an ever ruthless occupation the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas is on the verge of a complete reevaluation of the status quo.
However, the Movement’s position has been consistent on the issues since the Reform and Change Party formed the lawful government. The ouster in Gaza of the illegitimate elements was a necessary measure to preserve stability, security and Palestinian democracy. What follows are a selection of key points that bear directly on the current situation:
The Right to Exist
There does not exist in international law recognition “of the right to exist” by another state, and certainly not by a non state actor. Therefore, as a matter of international law there is no legal mechanism binding the Palestinians to recognize the right of Israel to exist. Furthermore, there is sufficient confusion to warrant non recognition on more practical matters. The state of Israel has no defined borders. A Palestinian entity being a non state actor would be asked to recognize a state that has no defined borders. International law does not accept Israel’s occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Shabah Farms or East Jerusalem. These are not mere border disputes and would derail any meaningful attempt to recognize an undetermined state entity.
The founding principals of the state of Israel become a legal impediment to recognition as well. Israel is defined as a state for the Jewish people. By definition this excludes all of its non Jewish inhabitants both in Israel proper and those living under occupation. Arabs living in Israel are treated as second class citizens and face discriminatory laws that favor Jews over non Jews. The mere existence of a state does not confer legitimacy, and certainly not moral legitimacy.
In addition, recognition of the state of Israel is nothing more than a ruse to trick the Palestinians into giving up their legitimate legal rights. United Nations (U.N.) Resolution 194 states,
“The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return.”
United Nations resolution 273 admitted Israel into the United Nations on May 11, 1949. That admittance was conditioned upon Israel’s recognition of U.N. resolutions including U.N. resolution 194. To the extent Israel has failed to recognize that resolution and numerous others, it has violated its conditions for admission to U.N. membership and should be suspended on a de facto basis from any participation in the U.N. system.
If we are to believe that Israel does not have to recognize a Hamas led government because they are terrorists then would Israel not be held to the same standard? Their policies and tactics are in direct violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions, while their practices have been criticized by every major human right organization in the world, not to mention The Hague’s critical ruling on the Apartheid Wall.
Under these circumstances the Palestinians should not be asked to recognize Israel’s right to exist. That is akin to asking the Jews of their times to recognize Nazi Germany or asking the Africans of their times to recognize apartheid South-Africa. In addition, Israel has not recognized the Palestinians. Morally or legally, instead of asking the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to exist, the international community should ask itself whether Israel has a right to exist.
The Quartet conditions on the legitimately elected government in the occupied territories thoroughly undermine any quest for real peace. The conditions are (1) recognition of Israel’s right to exist; (2) implementation and adherence to all previous agreements signed by Israel and the PA [Palestinian Authority]; and (3) renunciation of violence (resistance). The legitimately elected government has been consistent on these points. No consideration of Israel’s recognition can take place unless and until equal conditions are placed on Israel and Israel adheres to all international law and U.N. resolutions including a retreat to 1967 borders. The legitimate government has an inherent right to assess and revaluate all past agreements in light of the interests of the Palestinian people which are consistent with international law requiring Israel’s adherence to U.N. resolutions. Armed resistance to occupation is a legitimate right of an occupied people under international law. Contrary to the Quartet statement that armed resistance activity is in fundamental contradiction to the building of a democratic state the legitimate Government has a right to resist occupation and defend its citizens against Israeli aggression. The Quartet conditions have been a non starter from the beginning and must be reconsidered and replaced with a platform in compliance with international law and in tune with an agenda of a fair and just peace.
UPCOMING U.S. CONFERENCE
The Bush administration’s call for a peace conference to take place in the US on an unspecified date is a welcome initiative if it guarantees something new. However, it promises nothing innovative, indeed ensures the status quo. It ignores the reality of the ineffectiveness of the parties involved. The Bush administration is a lame duck administration and can not guarantee Israeli compliance. Prime Minister Olmert’s approval rating is at an all time low in Israeli public opinion polls. President Abbas is in no position to negotiate for us while foreign meddling and internal discord still exists in Palestinian society. Israel has yet to demonstrate to any Palestinian that it understands anything more than the language of war. Under these unfortunate circumstances, we see no benefit in a process that alienates the legitimate government, does not promise sufficient progress to include meaningful regional Arab participation and brings together three ineffectual parties unable to break away from the unacceptable status quo.
PRIORITY OF THE PALESTINIAN
AUTHORITY’S POLITICAL PROGRAM
It is the long-term priority of the legitimate government to work to put an end to the Israeli occupation.
FATAH AND HAMAS
The outstanding issues between Fatah and Hamas revolve around the inability and unwillingness of some elements within Fatah to accept the outcome of the January 2006 parliamentary elections and the legitimacy of the then instated government. Hamas does not fight Fatah. The legitimate government fights the rebels within Fatah to bring stability, security and to enforce the will of the electorate that gave legitimacy to the government. The undermining of the Mecca agreements by Palestinian elements compromised by US intervention is a development that must be rejected by any party seeking true peace to the conflict.
In order for there to be security for both sides, the Palestinians have to witness security devoid of foreign manipulation. The legitimate government has consistently sought security internally and has consistently offered a hudna (Truce) to Israel and a cessation of the hostilities. There has been no reciprocity on the Israeli side.
In keeping with international law the Palestinians developed homemade projectiles as defense mechanism against Israeli aggression. The crude rockets served as deterrence against Israeli attacks. It is easy to get lost in the tit for tat cataloging of events, but what is clear is that Gaza is still occupied and vulnerable to Israeli incursions and attacks. To focus on homemade rockets while ignoring a nuclear armed Israel, not to mention Merkava tanks and F16’s, is to miss the point. The rockets are not the problem. The occupation is the problem. Not only do the rockets do little damage compared to Israeli firepower but they have turned out to be a more acceptable tactic in the west then martyrdom operations. Finally, it would be futile to pressure the factions to halt lobbying the rockets across the border unless the Israelis halted their aggressions against the civilian population of Gaza and the West Bank.
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WEST
The legitimate government seeks understanding with the west and not confrontation. The Legitimate government was very receptive and continues to be receptive to European calls for democratic change.
Despite the Bush administration’s policies towards the legitimate government and the Palestinian people the Movement has not held Europe or the west responsible for American hostilities against Hamas and the Palestinian people. However, we will judge the European position based on its actions.
The legitimate government seeks (1) an end to the occupation, (2) internal and external security and (3) mutually respected relations with the west.
Until Hamas further reassesses the situation the government calls on Europe to recognize the legitimate government, and welcomes facilitation of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas in accordance with the outcome of the January 2006 parliamentary elections. It further calls on our European partners to freeze all sanctions, peace initiatives and unconditional acquiescence to the bias American agenda until internal reconciliation is achieved.
Hudna Sabotaged: Israeli Invasion Torpedoes Hamas Strategy to Build a New M.E. Based on Justice, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
Preparing the Way for Hudna, Irfan Husain
The War Between Israel and the Neo-Cons: Can Muslims Save the Jews?, Dr. Robert D. Crane
Hudna: A Rationale and Platform for Peaceful Engagement, Dr. Robert D. Crane
Hudna: An Islamic Strategy in the Offing?, Dr. Robert D. Crane
Hudna: A Long-Range Islamic Strategy for Conflict Resolution, Dr. Robert D. Crane