Peace As A Strategic Option
by Hugh Fitzgerald (April 2008)
In his most recent taped broadcast, Ayman Al-Zawahiri doesn’t have a word to offer about the “legitimate rights” of the soi-disant “Palestinian people.” He notes that the perfidious Jews, or Israelis, have attacked Gaza. And so they have, in scrupulous fashion, in their attempt to end the rain and reign of rockets over Israel’s southern cities. For Al-Zawahiri it is “the Muslims” who have been hit and “the Muslims” who must avenge these attacks. There is not a secular or nationalist word in his speech.
But, some will claim, the “Palestinians” themselves are quite different. They truly, really, deeply, madly are interested not in Islam, or the triumph of Islam, but only in that “state” that will bring them, bring Israel, bring all of us, that “solution” we all – don’t we? – equally long for. And wasn’t Arafat, they will say, “secular”? Wasn’t he interested only in a “Palestinian” state, in the cause of “Palestinian” nationalism? Why do you try to transform, in your analysis, the completely “secular phenomenon” (see Rashid Khalidi, see Edward Said, see see see) of “Palestinian nationalism” into a Muslim, Islam-prompted phenomenon? Or are you doing this just to sinisterly transform, for your own purposes, what is so clearly “secular” in nature (just look at Fayyad, the technocratic accountant, or all those others, including Mahmoud Abbas, and all the other terrorist henchmen of yore, now carefully suited and tied, or fit-to-be-tied, just to show their Jizyah-demanding and Jizyah-receiving bonafides? Send your billions to us, those suits and ties and speeches about “we have chosen peace as a strategic option” tell us. “You can trust us, there’s nobody here but us accountants.”
It’s true. Arafat was a Muslim, but not fanatical about it. He had imbibed the attitudes of Islam, however, even if he was not a great mosque-goer. He was famously corrupt and even more famously (so famously, in the Arab world, that everyone managed to keep his little secrets from the Western world and Western press for almost his entire life), had a particular taste for blond German boys. His favorite forms of recreation were not likely to go down well among Muslim clerics. But he was forgiven, he was even protected from the prying, because, you see, for the “good of the cause” – the cause of opposing the Infidel nation-state of Israel – it was necessary to do so. As Magdi Allam said in his letter describing his abandonment of Islam in the “Corriere della Sera,” Islam encourages, and even at times offers religious sanction for, dissimulation and lies.
Of course, in one important sense, Arafat was indeed “a nationalist.” What was that sense? It was simply this: he wanted his very own state, a state that he, Yassir Arafat, could rule over. Or rather, when put to the test, he didn’t, really didn’t, want that very own state, because having that very own state would have limited his travel (and the ease of orgies with those blond German boys), and would have involved such tiresome things as arranging to have the garbage picked up, and having to collect taxes. Why do that when it was so much more fun to have the Infidels keep sending those infusions of cash (and so much easier, in that form, to divert it, as Arafat did by the billions, into off-shore and Swiss accounts)? It was important to keep up the patter about the “Palestinian people” (invented circa late 1967, after the Six-Day War), for that was the surest way to Western hearts and Western diplomatic support and Western pocketbooks. The throw-Israel-into-the-sea rhetoric of Ahmad Shukairy, though admirable in its sincerity, hadn’t been convincing, so why not limit that kind of threatening, although sincere, rhetoric only to Arab and Muslim audiences and speak differently to Western audiences eager to hear this kind of thing, because it could then justify, first indifference to Israel’s plight (too painful to consider, especially in the light of guilty consciences all over Western Europe – or, put more accurately, a little residual guilt about not having sufficiently guilty consciences), and then, not merely indifference, but active hostility, a hostility fed by the most outrageous kind of press coverage of Israel and of its attempts to defend itself.
Indeed, no one paid much attention to what Arafat continued to say, never indeed stopped saying, to Arab and Muslim audiences. Those who knew the truth, those in the American government who had access to those blue-papered FBIS reports (Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service), containing transcripts of radio and television programs, were few, and those few often, in their positions, were often willing to skew the material, and certainly not to push it forward. Not the least of the reasons that the Western world, and American policymakers, are in the fix they are in, is that they did not, decades ago, begin to comprehend the nature, the meaning, the menace, of Islam, for they were not permitted to find out, and they were monomaniacally preoccupied with the threat of Soviet Communism. For people at the mental level of the Dulles brothers, Turkey was an “ally” and Saudi Arabia, apparently doing us a favor – as Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s full time propagandist, insisted -- by selling us oil (and besides, hadn’t King Saud met Roosevelt on shipboard) and was therefore also an “ally.” And between Pakistan and India there was no contest. Pakistan’s ramrod-straight terry-thomassed moustachioed generals were so much more to the liking of American generals and civilians, than Nehru and especially anti-American Krishna Menon, both seen as so dangerously left-wing. Islam, you see, was just fine, indeed was admirable, because it was “a bulwark against Communism.” That it was also a collectivist, even totalitarian Total Belief-System, in the end far sturdier and therefore far more threatening, than Communism, was never understood.
And the Western policy-makers, and the Western publics, did not know what Arab and Muslim reality was all about. How could they? It was the apologists who were the “experts.” The few remaining Orientalists of the old school, the ones who started to be alarmed in the 1950s and 1960s, especially as they saw Muslims beginn to be allowed to settle, in large numbers, deep within Europe, were on their way out, and did not get any attention. And ARAMCO was busy in Washington presenting a view of Saudi Arabia that, as J. B. Kelly has written, "the ghost of Scheherezade could not have bettered." Had the peoples of Western Europe understood Islam, had those among their political and media elites who were capable of understanding what was to come been listened to, rather than ignored or pushed to one side, then a much stricter immigration policy would have been instituted, and the present woes, and future conceivable disasters, avoided.
And the same is true with Israel, and the war on Israel. Had Israelis themselves not been so desperately eager to “make peace” and therefore to engage in a “Peace Process” (a phrase that should immediately raise suspicion) they might have been able to pierce the “Palestinian-people” veil, focus attention on Islam, and in so doing, not only have saved themselves, but also those in Western Europe who might have been the unintended beneficiaries of such consciousness-raising about Islam. In the 1960s and even into the 1970s, those experts had not yet been replaced by others with shorter memories, and less experience of life, and had not yet been brainwashed into accepting either the “Palestinian-people” business or the monstrous misrepresentation of Israel, and could have stopped it.
How did all those Turks come to Germany? Those Algerians to France? Those Moroccans to Spain? Those Pakistanis to England? It was all based on the assumption, or a series of assumptions, in some cases about people coming to work and then returning home (those Gastarbeiten in Germany), but also about the nature of those immigrants, whose problems, whose un-assimilability, whose hostility, were at first likened to the problems that “all immigrant groups,” we were told, present or endure, and that eventually things would settle down, and like other immigrants, recent and not so recent, adjustment would be difficult but in the end achievable. That Muslims carried with them in their mental baggage not merely an alien creed, but an alien and a hostile creed, that the first generation, willing to work, and of course unacquainted with all the benefits of a welfare state (which their children and grandchildren have learned to exploit to the hilt, and then some), would not immediately present such a problem, and one might, if one did not know more about Islam, make all kinds of dreamy assumptions (assumptions that are still being made, not least in France, as for example, when Sarkozy talks about government-funded mosques and other vain attempts at large-scale “integration”—as if the handful of Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only Muslims in his cabinet were representative of the 6-8 million Muslims in France already).
But the Israelis, though in the midst of the Muslim world, were too wedded to finding a "partner for peace.” The people in the political class were so busy fighting day to day, that they never allowed themselves the necessary time to study and to think. And in the universities, the real scholars of Islam, the ones who were the earliest to warn, were not heeded, for their message was a disturbing one, one that no one wished to believe.
Note, too, that lately the usual NGOs have been lamenting the fact that "conditions in Gaza are worse than at any time since 1967." Think about that. What that means is that the conditions in Gaza were terrible under Egyptian rule, and then, once the Israelis took over in 1967, steadily improved as long as Israel was in control, and then, now that Israel has been entirely out of Gaza (so much for this "occupation" the local Arabs in Gaza keep screaming about -- they mean, of course, Israel itself is occupied by Jews, and that simply, to them, isn't right)--conditions have again, under Arab rule, slowly degenerated until conditions of life now approach, despite Israel turning over intact much-improved infrastructure, and those greenhouses that were promptly looted and destroyed by the "Palestinians," and the billions in aid money received from Infidels (strangely, nothing appears to come from fellow members of the Umma), what conditions were the last time Arabs were in control.
And yet these British NGOs dare to suggest that this is Israel's fault?! What nonsense people are allowed to get away with, if no one calls them to account.
Let’s go back, back before Al-Qaeda, back before Hamas, and Hezbollah, and the redundantly-named Islamic Jihad. Do we, indeed, see that there was a time when there was true secularism, true nationalism that was the impulse for the Arab effort, or was Islam always there, Islam disguised when necessary, but still the subtext, or substratum, of that supposed “nationalism” and “secularism”?
Start further back, back before Arafat, and look at the statements of his predecessor as the spokesman for the local Arabs (the ones who have been carefully renamed the "Palestinians" or "the Palestinian people") Ahmad Shukairy, and see if you find rhetoric that is "secular" or rhetoric that comes straight out of Islam.
Go back further. Go back to the leaders of the Arab Revolt (not the "Palestinian" revolt) of 1936-1938 and look at their rhetoric, at what moved them against both "the Jews" and "the British." Is it the language of secular nationalism, or the language, the imagery, the impulse, the promptings, the attitudes, the atmospherics, of Islam?
Go back further still, to the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin el Husseini. from one of the powerful local families. What did he say, in 1920? Or in 1930? Or in 1940, when he was in Berlin, offering Hitler his support and encouragement for the "Endlosung," the Final Solution, and talking not about "Palestinian nationalism" but about "the Arabs" and "the Muslims." When Hajj Amin el Husseini raised Muslim S.S. brigades in Bosnia, or when he went to Iraq to spread his message of hate that contributed to the Farhood, or massacre of the Jews in June 1-2, 1941, it was not in order to win points for some non-existent "Palestinian people" but rather to whip up, by appealing to the texts of Islam and the attitudes that were a natural result of those texts, those who might be made to take their Islam to heart, and then to act on it.
Long before there was a “Palestinian people” Arabs, in Mandatory Palestine, and in Ottoman-ruled areas that made up “Palestine,” were deeply opposed to Jews returning to, and buying up land, and starting farms, and making that desert bloom. They were opposed not because of any desire for a “Palestinian state” for they were quite content to continue under Ottoman rule, which meant rule as well by local (and absentee) Arab landlords, in the “ruin” and “desolation” that centuries of Muslim desertification – with nomadic grazing, not farming -- had brought to what had been described in the Bible as a “land of milk and honey.”
Arafat, in his heyday, carefully presented to the West a “secular” and “nationalist” face for his war against Israel. But under the rhetoric aimed at Muslims, he continued to reveal, in such things as his astonishing admission that “Palestine itself” is merely a tiny part of the “Arab domain” “from the Atlantic to the Gulf” in the early 1970s, and extending right through to his statement, to an audience of Muslims in Johannesburg, just a few weeks after signing the Oslo Accords, that he knew what he was doing, no one need worry, and then he mentioned the Treaty of Hudabiyya and his Muslim audience knew exactly what he meant.
Mahmoud Abbas, for his part, has always been a weak leader, and he and his other Fatah warlords are seen, correctly, as willing to mouth certain phrases for the Americans -- "we choose peace" are the first words, and the only words that the credulous willing-to-believe Americans hear, but never failing to add another phrase, which signals clearly to Arab audiences that Hudaibiyya is the model, Hudaibiyya the aim: "as a strategic option." (The Americans never understand what that phrase means. It is a little puzzling or troubling, so better for them, and for the "peace-process," not to think about it, much less discuss it).
Abbas is essentially running a criminal gang, a gang that is willing to set a few not very significant limits on its behavior, but that still serve to distinguish it from the rival gang, Hamas, in the eyes of the police -- that is, of the outside world. Like a gang most interested in turning a profit and willing, temporarily, here and there, to tamp down violence, or to deal in cocaine and heroin but virtuously abjuring dealing in methamphetamine, the warlords of Fatah are most interested in money, the money they get from the renewed Jizyah of the nearly eight billion dollars in foreign aid, and to keep that aid flowing, they occasionally have to give speeches suitable for Western ears.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government is run by an outstanding -- even for Israeli political leaders -- collection of fools of Chelm. These include, but are not limited to, the disgraced but still-in-office Olmert, the timid and confused Livni, the irrepressible Haim Ramon who deeply believes that all kinds of things should be given up -- and pronto -- to the Arabs, and that dreamer of dreams whose last twenty years have consisted of collecting awards from Jewish groups abroad, while at home he continues to prate about how history, the past, none of that matters, facts don't matter, what counts are dreams -- his, Shimon Peres's -- dreams. And this collection of four stooges is unlikely ever to exhibit the kind of sobriety and ability to think things through, even very unpleasant things, such as the nature of Islam, the promptings of texts and tenets, that explain not only Arab behavior in the past, but Arab behavior now, and in the future. For if that sobriety and studiousness were exhibited, the conclusions would be different, and there would be no faith at all put in peace-processing, and no reliance, none, on those in Fatah who are merely Slow Jihadists when compared to the Fast Jihadists of Hamas. They all share -- they must share -- the same goals, of removing the Infidel nation-state of Israel from land once possessed by Muslims. On the To-Do List of Muslims, re-taking land that was once possessed by Muslims is given priority, although now, with the new instruments of Jihad other than the use of military force -- the Money Weapon, Da'wa, demographic conquest -- that make more likely that other areas, as in parts of Western Europe or sub-Saharan Africa, may possibly yield even before all areas once held by Muslims are recaptured, it may be that the traditional prioritizing on that To-Do list will be less rigidly adhered to than it might once have been.
Why, despite all that aid money, that nearly eight billion dollars, is Abbas losing out? As stated above, it is in the first place because his hold was always that of a racketeer paying out money to obtain at most a temporary allegiance. But since that money has been promised in such abundance, and apparently will come anyway, to be distributed to everyone no matter whom they support, or what they think (in Gaza as in the "West Bank"), no real change in behavior is required from the "Palestinians" as long as Abbas (or his usefully technocratic accountant Fayyad, whom the Westerners all love, failing to realize that he is not quite what they take him to be, and in any case has no following at all, and no political power, but is merely a useful employee with reassuring eyeshades) remains in power or even if he is deposed.
It would be far better to deny any Western aid to the "Palestinians" and ask them to go, hat in hand, to the rich Arabs. If they get money, they will at least not be getting it from Infidels whose generosity they will not be grateful for, but which will merely reinforce their sense of aggrievement, that the money is given to them by Infidels because it is their do, because “Infidels” allowed Israel to come into existence (actually, no one allowed Israel to come into existence; it was fought for by Jews, and constructed by Jews in Israel with some help from others outside of Israel, but until after the second successful defense of the country, in 1967, no military or other aid came from the United States, or any significant aid arrived from anywhere else) and, furthermore, because “Palestinians” are Muslims and Infidels owe them a living, just as Infidels in Western Europe and North America owe Muslims in countries without oil wealth aid, or owe Muslims living in Infidel lands all kinds of benefits, including those that support monstrously large Muslim families, and even polygamous arrangements, by those who are keenly aware of the use of demographic increase as an instrument of domination and conquest. It is important to stop all acts that reinforce the historic relationship of dhimmi to Muslim overlord, and the best way to do so is to stop transferring more Infidel funds and other aid to Muslims, including the “Palestinian” Arabs who are the shock troops of the wider Jihad, the Lesser Jihad, conducted by Muslim Arabs (and seconded by non-Arab Muslims who take both Islam, and Arab supremacism, deeply to heart).
There is still no recognition of why it is that decades of peace-processing have led, and always will lead, essentially nowhere. Or at least, nowhere if the goal is a true and permanent peace between Israel and those who wish to see it removed from the face of the earth. Occasionally one reads someone recognizing that this is a long conflict, and that is when someone says something like “it has been going on for a hundred years.” No, not a hundred years. The inadmissibility of an Infidel nation-state within Dar al-Islam (and ultimately, anywhere in the world) is a doctrine that goes back not one hundred years, but 1350 years. It comes out of the texts and tenets of Islam. One can pretend otherwise. One can try now this, and now that. One can fly about, conducting “shuttle diplomacy.” One can force this tangible concession out of the Israelis, and now that one, in exchange, as always, for promises, only promises, and the statement – deeply disturbing – that “we have chosen peace as a strategic option.”
Or one can do something else. One can look steadily and whole at those texts and tenets of Islam, and read what the scholars say about treaty-making between Muslims and non-Muslims. The indispensable understanding of the relevant doctrines can be found in Majid Khadduri’s “War and Peace in Islam,” and if one wishes, one can find dozens or hundreds of other authoritative texts that will all say the same thing. How is it these books and articles never make it into the hands of those who make our policies in the Middle East? What keeps them from ever being consulted, or read by those who advise those who make policy?
And if a policy-maker were to do that, he would have to conclude that peace and a peace treaty are not the same thing. A durable peace can be maintained between Israel and those who do not wish it well, who wish it very ill, if Israel does not yield any further, and is seen by its enemies not merely as powerful, but as obviously, overwhelmingly more powerful. That, and that alone, will allow Arab and other Muslim leaders to explain to their own aggressive and permanently unsettled populations that “Darura” or the principle of necessity, requires that they wait, and wait, and wait. To do otherwise, to further reduce Israel’s size and therefore to place that country into conditions where self-defense goes from being fantastically difficult to being hellishly difficult, is to encourage attacks and encourage war.
Deterrence worked for the United States during the Cold War. It can be made to work again, especially as it is clear that the rest of the Western world, nolens-volens, is waking up to the meaning, and menace, of Islam. Even those who try to appease Muslims, by for example preventing or denouncing the showing of Geert Wilders's "Fitna," demonstrate unwittingly that they know what that meaning, and that menace, must be. Such new awareness, and such a shared apprehension of the same threat, will naturally increase. The Israelis need only hold on. The cavalry is coming – in the shape of greater knowledge – and that will make the rest of the West more sympathetic to Israel’s permanent plight. But Israel has to do its part. It has to recognize the nature of that threat itself, and unembarrassedly discuss it with Western allies -- behind closed doors, or possibly in front of them.
(This article is based on previous comments posted at Jihad Watch.)