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Hamas: The Nice Guys

by Carlos

November 7, 2006 - The Palestinian public relations campaign is becoming increasingly more sophisticated. Spokesmen for Hamas have been falsifying the news and presenting it in a way they hope will appeal to an American audience they feel they can manipulate.

The latest example is an op-ed piece in the New York Times by Ahmed Yousef, a senior advisor to Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. It is important to contrast this article with what Hamas really means and has stated on other occasions.

The article is entitled "Pause for Peace," implying that Hamas stands for peace. That is the first lie.

The "pause for peace" to which the article refers is called in Arabic a hudna, which means truce or cease-fire. Yousef claims that Hamas is ready to enter into a truce with Israel for the sake of achieving peace.

Typically covering 10 years, a hudna is recognized in Islamic jurisprudence as a legitimate and binding contract. A hudna extends beyond the Western concept of a cease-fire and obliges the parties to use the period to seek a permanent, nonviolent resolution to their differences. The Koran finds great merit in such efforts at promoting understanding among different people. Whereas war dehumanizes the enemy and makes it easier to kill, a hudna affords the opportunity to humanize one’s opponents and understand their position with the goal of resolving the intertribal or international dispute.

How reasonable, that Yousef wants to "humanize" his opponents. What Yousef neglects to mention is that Palestinian conduct flatly contradicts these noble sentiments. Even as he writes these words, Palestinian rockets are still flying into Israeli towns near the Gaza border.

In spite of this increase in Palestinian aggression, Yousef claims the Palestinians are willing to "stop the violence without ending the conflict."

After all, the Irish Republican Army agreed to halt its military struggle to free Northern Ireland from British rule without recognizing British sovereignty. Irish Republicans continue to aspire to a united Ireland free of British rule, but rely upon peaceful methods. Had the I.R.A. been forced to renounce its vision of reuniting Ireland before negotiations could occur, peace would never have prevailed. Why should more be demanded of the Palestinians, particularly when the spirit of our people will never permit it?

Again, Yousef fails to mention that the British never withdrew from Northern Ireland, and if they were to withdraw, the IRA would not respond with accelerating violence, as the Palestinians have. And note the fine print: the "spirit of our people will never permit" the vision of reuniting Palestine - which to Hamas means all of the land, including Israel.

Next Yousef tries to take advantage of Western ignorance of Muslim history, by mischaracterizing what a hudna historically means:

This offer of hudna is no ruse, as some assert, to strengthen our military machine, to buy time to organize better or to consolidate our hold on the Palestinian Authority.

But that is exactly what hudna has meant in Muslim history. Very often it is a code word for treaties made with non-Muslim entities that are meant to be broken. This goes back to the Treaty of Hudaybiyya that Muhammad made in 628 with his old enemies the Quraish. The treaty was to last for 10 years but Muhammad broke it in two under dubious circumstances, once he felt strong enough to conquer the Quraish tribe. Ever since then Muslims have used it as an example justifying the breaking of treaties with non-Muslims when it is expedient. Yasser Arafat did so, speaking to an Arabic audience on Egyptian television. He called Oslo an "inferior peace agreement" and compared it to Muhammad's treaty, thus reassuring his audience that he had no intention of abiding by it.

Yousef continues:

We Palestinians are prepared to enter into a hudna to bring about an immediate end to the occupation and to initiate a period of peaceful coexistence during which both sides would refrain from any form of military aggression or provocation.

Yousef is playing his audience for fools, hoping that Americans are not paying attention to the fact that the more gestures Israel makes towards peace, the more the Palestinians increase their violence. This was true all during the Oslo years. It is true today, as rocket attacks against Israeli cities have dramatically increased since Israel withdrew from Gaza, and the Palestinians are preparing even further escalations.

Here is how Yousef would use his "hudna":

During this period of calm and negotiation we can address the important issues like the right of return and the release of prisoners.

The "right of return" of Palestinians into Israel proper represents a total negation of the premise of two states, one for Arabs and one for Jews. It is clearly an attempt to turn Israel into another Palestinian state, yet the Palestinians demand it as if it were a "human right." Israel demands no comparable "right of return" for Jewish refugees from Arab lands - and for good reason. If those Jewish refugees did return, their lives would be miserable. The entire idea of a two-state solution is based on the understanding that both Jews and Palestinian Arabs have the right to determine their future in a land of their own. Israel is already 20% Arab. If the Palestinians keep insisting on a plan that would lead to a dominant Arab presence in Israel, it is hard to see how there can ever be peace.

Next Yousef states:

There can be no comprehensive solution of the conflict today, this week, this month, or even this year. A conflict that has festered for so long may, however, be resolved through a decade of peaceful coexistence and negotiations. This is the only sensible alternative to the current situation.... And when we dare to hope, this is what we see: a 10-year hudna during which, inshallah (God willing), we will learn again to dream of peace.

Here Yousef is again speaking in code. The "10-year hudna" is a direct reference to the treaty of Muhammad mentioned above - which Muslims may break when it pleases them. And what happens after the 10-year period? A return to terrorism? The Palestinians are not waiting nearly that long. The terrorism still continues.

Yousef's entire article is a carefully crafted piece of deception intended for consumption by a Western audience for whom he has contempt. To find out what Hamas really means, one must listen to what Hamas leaders say to their own people in their own language.

Only last month Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, addressing a feast at the end of a day of the fast of Ramadan, said Hamas would not recognize Israel even if Israel withdrew to the 1967 borders, as required by a peace plan put forward by the Saudis. He said nothing about a hudna that is supposed to "humanize" the Israelis.

Here are excerpts from an interview of Senior Hamas leader Mahnoud al-Zahar on al-Manar TV:

We will not give up the resistance in the sense of jihad, martyrdom-seeking, sacrifices, arrests, the demolition of homes, and the uprooting of trees, at the same time, nor the shattering of the Israeli enemy's honor in all the confrontations - the war of tunnels and of security against the Israeli enemy, which ultimately led to its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank....

Our education system will not represent Palestine as a coastal strip stretching from Rafah to Beit Hanoun. We will teach them their history and the geography of Palestine. Our Ministry of Culture will teach them how the martyr is turned into prose, literature, and poetry, and how a woman who used to cook and do the laundry turns into one of the heroes of Palestine....

Palestine means Palestine in its entirety - from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, from Ras Al-Naqura to Rafah. We cannot give up a single inch of it. Therefore, we will not recognize the Israeli enemy's [right] to a single inch.

And here is what Hamas leader Khaled Meshal had to say at the Al-Marabat Mosque in Damascus, broadcast on al-Jazeera:

We say to the West that you have been beaten in Palestine and the defeat has already begun. Israel will be vanquished, and all those who have supported and continue to support it will also be vanquished. America will be defeated in Iraq. The nation of Muhammad will triumph in Palestine and Iraq and on all Arab and Muslim soil. Tomorrow, our nation will rule the world; this is a fact. Tomorrow, we will rule the world.

Meanwhile in English Ahmed Yousef talks about a "Pause for Peace." How's that again?

In his own response to Ahmed Yousef, Mortimer Zuckerman, writing in the New York Daily News, counters with some facts about the true interest of Hamas in "humanizing" the enemy:

The long-run prospect is grim, because Hamas simply isn't interested in peace; in the latest survey, two-thirds of Gazans reject peace with Israel while almost as many believe in shelling Israeli cities. Hamas ensures further bloodshed by indoctrinating Palestinian children. They are not born hating, but from the age of 3 their radical leadership incites them to murder. The hate pervades the educational system, TV broadcasting, summer camps, children's trading cards, movies, music, even games that make martyrdom a major theme.

A Palestinian psychiatrist recently reported that more than half the Palestinian children between the ages of 6 and 11 dream of becoming suicide bombers. And in this perverse and tragic pursuit, they are urged on by their prime minister, Haniyeh. "One of the signs of victory," he told a rally recently, "is the Palestinian mother who prepares her son to be a warrior and then receives the news of his death for the sake of Allah with cries of happiness."

The Palestinians gain sympathy by selling a pack of lies designed to appeal to Western values of justice and fairness, while completely misrepresenting their true aims and behavior. The truth must be told and understood, or else the bloodshed will never come to an end.


"Arafat Invokes 1974 Phased Plan Calling for Israel's Destruction: Egyptian Orbit TV, April 18, 1998."

El Deeb, Sarah, Associated Press. "Haniyeh: Hamas won't recognize Israel." Boston Globe, October 8, 2006.

"Hamas Leader Khaled Meshaal: Before Israel Dies, It Must Be Humiliated." Israel Diplomatic Network: Israeli Embassy in London, February 23, 2006.

"Hamas Leader Mahmoud Zahar on Al-Manar TV." Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, February 3, 2006.

Yousef, Ahmed. "Pause for Peace." New York Times, November 1, 2006.

Zuckerman, Mortimer B. "Prepare for War in Gaza." New York Daily News, November 6, 2006.

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