Wrong approach to peace
US, Israel ignore leading scholar’s insights about Muslim attitude to peace deals
Policy makers in Israel
and the United States are premising the Annapolis Conference on foundations that have led to a series of bloody collapses in Oslo, Cairo, Hebron, Wye, Sharm el-Sheikh, Camp David 2, and the disengagement. They are formulating the conference on the assumption that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has adopted a mentality of peace, thus granting yet another victory to the simplistic world of delusions in the Mideast’s complex reality.
Professor Majid Khadduri, may he rest in peace, from Johns Hopkins University in the US was the world’s leading authority on Arab definitions of peace and war, and he noted that they view peace as a tactical means for achieving their strategic objective – defeating the enemy. Peace constitutes a temporary break in the ongoing war against the enemy and/or infidel.
Khadduri’s book, War and Peace in the Law of Islam, clarifies the meaning of the amazing 1,400-year sequence – since the 7th century - of wars, terrorism, and the violent violation of agreements, alliances, and conventions between Arabs, between Muslims, and between Arabs and non-Arabs.
The insights in the book include the following: “If a catastrophe had befallen the Muslims, (they) might come to terms with the enemy…provided that the Muslims should resume the Jihad after the expiration of the treaty…treaties must be of temporary duration, for in Muslim legal theory the normal relations between Muslim and non-Muslim territories are not peaceful, but warlike…If the (leader) entered a treaty which he was incapable of fulfilling, the treaty was regarded as void…the Prophet Muhammad has set the classic example by concluding a (628 A.D.) treaty with the Makkans, known as the Hudayabiya Treaty (whereby) a peace treaty with the enemy is a valid instrument if it serves Muslim interests…the Prophet and his successors always reserved their right to repudiate any treaty or arrangement which they considered as harmful…Muslim authorities might come to terms with (the enemy), provided it was only for a temporary period…a temporary peace with the enemy is not inconsistent with Islam’s interests….”
Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas’ textbooks, religious clerics, newspapers, and official TV and radio stations resonate with Khadduri’s theories day and night while preaching for the “liberation” of Jerusalem, the Galilee, Jaffa, Ashdod, and the Negev desert, the destruction of the Jewish State, glorification of suicide bombers, and Jihad. The Palestinian educational system, which promotes deep hatred, supports the main conclusion from Professor Khadduri’s book: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not over the size, but rather, is about the existence of a Jewish State located in a region defined as an “Islamic estate” by the Arabs.
Khadduri adds that “Jihad, reflecting the normal war relations between Arabs and non-Muslims” and says it was “a product of a warlike people.” He says that while the “concept of Jihad underwent certain changes, these changes did not imply abandonment of the Jihad duty, it only meant the entry of the obligation into a period of suspension – it assumed a dormant status, from which the (leader) may revive it at any time he deems necessary…No (permanent) compromise is permitted with those who fail to believe in God.”
The Annapolis conference is premised on the notion of “land for peace” and the “two state solution,” which constitute a timeout that would enable the Arab side to improve its positions in this constant war – just a phase in realizing Jihad’s objectives.
The continued disregard to Khadduri’s theory, which predicted the lessons of the last 14 years since Oslo, gives Israel’s enemies an adrenaline boost, radicalizes Arab expectations and demands, pours oil instead of water on the terror fire, inflames passions in the Middle East, brings Israel closer to an all-out war under worse conditions, adds friction points with the US, and minimizes the chances of peace.
This is not the way to prepare a peace conference!
Yoram Ettinger is an expert on Middle Eastern and American affairs and a former envoy in the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.