This edition looks at an ancient treaty that is still molding current peace talks and dooming them to failure.
SINCE YOU ASKED
Mid East Peace and the Treaty of Hudaibiyah
So, now that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have met, what are the prospects for peace? Is there any reason to expect anything different this time? After listening to both speeches, it’s not difficult to see what’s really going on. Netanyahu stressed the need for Israel’s sovereignty to be recognized and her security to be promoted. Abbas referred to the Palestinians’ supposed honoring of the 1993 Oslo Accords as proof that they are serious about peace. He referred to Yasser Arafat’s heroic efforts to bring about a lasting peace.
In the first place, who in their right mind would claim that the Palestinians have lived up to their Oslo obligations? Even more telling, however, is the use of Arafat as a model of peace. According to Arafat’s own words, his model for negotiating was the hudna, an Arabic term for a truce meant to produce a period of calm with an enemy in order to gain concessions, regroup, rearm, and re-attack at the appropriate time. This has been its purpose throughout Muslim history. Based on Islam’s understanding of Muhammad’s use of it, a hudna could last as long as ten years.
Yasser Arafat relied on the term when he spoke about his commitment to the Oslo Peace Accords at a Johannesburg mosque a month after the signing. Not realizing that he was being taped, he boasted that the Accords were merely a way to facilitate his jihad against Israel. When confronted regarding his statement, he resorted to the traditional fallback. He explained that he was using the term jihad as a struggle against inner negative forces.
Arafat also made frequent references to the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, calling it a model for his own brand of diplomacy. The treaty was made during the early days of Muhammad’s regional power grab between the prophet (with his out manned band of Muslims) and the Quraysh, the tribe that guarded the “holy city” of Mecca. Having been banished from Mecca to Medina, Muhammad and his followers were determined to join other Arabs in making the yearly pilgrimage to the pagan shrine known as the Ka’aba (the Square Building or the Cube). One day Muhammad received a revelation from Allah. He was to take heart. They would make the pilgrimage.
When they had made the 200-mile trip south and were attempting to sneak into the city by the Spring of Hudaibiyah, the men of Quraysh caught them, kept them out of the city, and shamed Muhammad in front of his men. They did, however, offer Muhammad and his men a rather sweet deal that became known as the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. Both parties agreed not to attack each other for a period of 10 years. Despite the benefits for the smaller and weaker group of Muslims, the agreement brought humiliation and shame. They were also disillusioned because their fearless leader had “rolled over” and agreed to the treaty. He had also prophesied falsely regarding their pilgrimage.
Muhammad’s response was that he never said they would make their pilgrimage that year. He meant some year. He went on to declare that they had actually won a great victory. We have seen this reenacted over and over in the clashes between some Muslim faction or nation and Israel. Despite the defeat, no matter how sound, they still declare victory. Two years after signing the treaty, Muhammad broke it by attacking and overtaking the city of Mecca.
AS I SEE IT
Remember that for Muslims, whatever Muhammad ever said or did is to be modeled. For Abbas to emulate Arafat leaves no doubt as to his intentions. The Muslim world gets the message. The non-Muslim world, for the most part, doesn’t. Like a broken record, U.S. leaders lead the charge, doing the same old things in the same old way, expecting the results to change. The other option, of course, is that the Obama administration knows full well what Abbas is doing and is a willing participant in the deception.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal?