The Duck Rule

I listened to the CNN chat with the Hamas fellow from Gaza. I thought he was remarkable frank. Mahmoud al-Zahhar is his name and he is a surgeon. He said (roughly):

-We are Islamic. This is an Islamic government and it will stay that way.

-We will not be threatened over money. There are other sources of money in addition to the wallets of Americans.

-We will not recognize Israel. If they allow us to create our state then we will make Hudna with them (renewable)

-We will not give perpetual recognition to Israel because religiously we can not give up recovery of the land as a long term goal.

-We are willing to make short term arrangements (10 years, 20 years) but not sign any permanent cessions of land.

-We could live next to them on that basis.

Already the rationalizing has begun in the chattering classes. The dimly sighted want the election result to be about “Corruption!!!! (NOT THAT!), “Inefficiency” anything, anything but religious nationalism. President Bush is remarkably insensitive to the power of religion. The neocons and some Israelis want desperately to believe that Hamas, the religious revolutionary group, will prove to be really “agrarian reformers,” “crypto-socialists” “pragmatists” “moderates,” etc. These things were all said of the Mullahs in Iran and look where we are.

The Hudna thing is interesting. They would observe a truce. The Muslims just about always do. In the life of the Latin States (Crusader states.) there were many Hudna (jama’ aysh? “Hadaneh” mumkin?). Most were for 10 years, some longer. See Joshua Prawer for details. The Muslims never gave up on their duty to return Palestine to the Umma. They won’t this time either. Last time it took 190 odd years. I suppose the inference insures that the Israelis don’t like that analysis.


1-Duck Rule: If it walks like a duck, squawks like a duck and has feathers, it probably is a duck.

2 – Sherlock’s Rule: When considering a problem, remove everything from consideration which seems untrue. What is left is probably the truth.

3-Occam’s Razor: In considering a complex phenomenon with many factors and a variety of explanations, remember that the simplest explanation that accounts for the factors is probably correct.

4- The KISS principal” “Keep it Simple, Stupid.” (Army Rule)

On the basis of the application of these philosophical tools, I judge that Hamas is exactly what it says it is and that Israel will re-occupy the Palestinian Territories after Natanyahu returns to power. It may take him a while but his analysis will resemble mine.

Pat Lang

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24 Responses to The Duck Rule

  1. Curious says:

    I am not sure why people are running around as if this is the end of the world, just because Hamas won.
    my take:
    1. Everybody has been undermining Fatah and PLO for a long time. Now they are gone/weak/useless. … suddenly everybody is crying “why Hamas”… WHAT ya expect? (whtta bunch of dumbass, just watch how same rehash will unfold in Lebanon and Syria again.)
    2. Hamas is obviously credible. It has the organisational coherency to sustain itself. It doesn’t need anybody’s money. It is legitimate in the eyes of Palestinian people.
    3. That mean, we are dealing with LESS BULLSHIT. Hamas doesn’t need to kiss our ass, and we can get real with Hamas. We dont’ need to protect/play politics/doing propaganda/undermining them. No more Bullshit. Each side can say. Fuck off, I don’t need you and you don’t need me. Now either we make real deal or we part our way.
    4. I guess Israel will finally get real about Palestinian state. Let’s see if they will start killing Hamas people and declare war. Hamas is not Fatah and far harder to penetrate since Hamas has always been marginalized/not corrupt yet. So If Israel takes a hardline, then they will start a long and painfull war. Arafat’s intifada will look like picnic.
    5. Welcome to democracy.
    6. What’s the big deal. They always will fight and kill each other. Fatah, Hamas, Likud,…
    they all bunch of dumbasses. Frankly, we should give all of them nukes and be done with those idiots.
    7. So much for ‘Condi Rice/neocon’ pro Israel diplomatic skill. Now they have to handle legitimate Hamas. (… amazing ain’t it?)
    8. more pop corn.
    My prediction: more of same thing. They will start blowing and shooting each other. *shrug* what’s new.

  2. Curious says:

    incidentally, frankly if Hamas is half as dangerous as people make it to be,…
    they will let Israel re-occupy gaza/west bank, make entire Israel front line, and force Israel troop to deploy in as wide area as possible. Then just do guerilla war. Israel economy will grind to a halt after 2 years.
    within 5-10 years they will get their independence.

  3. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Not the end of our world, just the end of the possibility of a decent life for all those folks. Just my opinion, but, I liked the Holy Land when I could wander around in it going from Jewish to Arab areas and back without problems. That is gone because ambition for a solution has overcome common sense and a willingness to settle for a quarter of a loaf. The perfect has once again driven out the merely good. pl

  4. searp says:

    PL: over the long term, don’t we all get about what we deserve?
    I feel sorry for those that want to live in peace, but if voting patterns are any indication, the conflict option is what has the juices flowing over there.

  5. Rider says:

    I concur with Pat’s appraisal of Zahhar. When asked (repeatedly) if Hamas would acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, he pointed out that Israel was a nuclear power and that they were a minority people with Israel standing on their necks and not in a position to destroy Israel. The interesting thing though was he said (roughly), Allow us to establish our independence, we will give a hudna, after ten or fifteen years of peace ask me again this question and we will discuss it. I took the no-right-to-exist bit to be more contingent and less rooted in Hamas’s ideological DNA than I would have thought. I’m not sure that’s true of the other side. The situations of Israel and Palestine are wildly asymmetrical. Anything resembling parity in terms of right-to-exist is a long way off and academic in the context of such incredible asymmetry. For now, they recognize Israel does exist.

  6. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Sounds right to me. pl

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes. Let us not hope for justice, just compassion. Bang. pl

  8. Rider says:

    Juan Cole has an article at on the elections. An extended hudna rather than “peace” may be the breakthrough concept here. Interesting passage in Cole’s article:
    “Bush implied that Hamas is dedicated to unremitting violence against Israel. And since 1994 its military wing has launched many suicide attacks against Israelis, killing hundreds of people, most of them civilians. But in fact it has observed a more or less effective truce for about a year — indeed, as an important study carried out by the respected International Crisis Group pointed out, it has observed the truce far more reliably than Fatah. And Hamas’ leaders have affirmed that they are willing to continue the truce if Israel refrains from aggressive violence toward them.
    Despite Hamas’ founding position that the Israeli state is illegitimate, violence is not foreordained. A Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, told the Associated Press that his party would continue what he called its year-old “truce” if Israel did the same. “If not,” he added, “then I think we will have no option but to protect our people and our land.” More fundamentally, even Hamas’ charter could change. As the ICG points out, Hamas “has accepted the principle that there is no religious prohibition against negotiating or co-existing with Israel and that the provisions in its charter providing for Israel’s destruction are not indelible.” Even President Bush, in his measured response to the elections, seemed to hold out hope that Hamas would adopt a more pragmatic stance.”

  9. Rider says:

    On the other hand, now Japan, Germany, and the US are threatening to withhold aid. Having found the first price quoted for the rug unacceptable, we are cutting off electricity and water to the shop. That might work if we would make the same threat against the other side should they refuse to negotiate.

  10. J says:

    Mahmoud al-Zahhar, as i understand it, is a pediatrician/surgeon.

  11. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Go see “The Kingdom of Heaven.” In spite of all the ignorant crap about the Templars, the film contains a number of truths, filled with “truthiness.”
    A Hudna is under way as the film begins.
    Nothing more than a Hudna was ever possible in the present situation. I proposed this to a group of Saudi multi-millionaires a few years ago and they marveled at my supposed wisdom. One said, “sermons could be preached on this.” To which I replied, “Yes, but not by me.” pl

  12. John Howley says:

    The hudna is central. Words are important but not as important as an absence of bloodshed. Especially as the hudna requires Hamas to keep Islamic jihad, Al Aqsa Martyrs and everybody else in line, not only their own hotheads.

  13. Curious says:

    Not the end of our world, just the end of the possibility of a decent life for all those folks. Just my opinion, but, I liked the Holy Land when I could wander around in it going from Jewish to Arab areas and back without problems. That is gone because ambition for a solution has overcome common sense and a willingness to settle for a quarter of a loaf. The perfect has once again driven out the merely good. pl
    Posted by: W. Patrick Lang | 29 January 2006 at 06:05 PM
    That is not holy land at all. That place is cursed.
    How many people dies while screaming about the holiness of that place? Since the beginning of history? How many more people needs to die to realize that place is an ABSOLUTE source of evilness in the world and will always be?
    It is precisely that so called ‘holiness’ that brings so much misery.

  14. wtofd says:

    Oh, I don’t know, Curious. Not sure physical ground can be “an ABSOLUTE source of evilness.”
    Sometimes on Friday (after al-Aqsa has emptied after Jummah and Kotel is starting to fill up and the bells from the Holy Sepulcher start ringing) J-Town seems quite holy. The Old City wrapped in what a Christian choirist might call a “descant moment.”

  15. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes. I love the place. pl

  16. Curious says:

    Posted by: wtofd | 30 January 2006 at 10:41 AM
    It’s the religions. Those places are printed in the religious texts, and with it comes all the problems. The curses.
    (ie. The jewish wants to claim it because their holy book says so, same with christians and moslems.) It’s been like that since 3500 years ago, and will be like that for next 3500 years ago. unless that place is sealed forever or somebody once again make a new religion. (but 3 religion remodelings plus modernity and that place still eff up? so… I am not too optimistic.)
    next round it won’t be longbows, swords, molotovs or uzis… it will be bio-engineered weapons and short range nuclears.

  17. wtofd says:

    Curious, by your own use of “3500 years” you make the case that it isn’t always about religion. Christianity is only 2,000 years old. Islam is 600 years younger than Christianity. Perhaps you imply Babylonians and Romans?
    I agree fundamentalism plays a big role in the Holy Land. Of course. But there are other factors: land, houses and tribes, eg.
    Since Dave Roberts stole second I don’t believe in curses.
    As for “sealing” the place I wonder what PL thinks of alternative solutions for Jerusalem. The Old City turned into a city state along the line of the Vatican?

  18. searp says:

    There is an aspect to Hamas that nobody is emphasizing. It is a stepchild of the Muslim Brotherhood, and believes in the Ummah, maybe with an exception for the Shia.
    That is, it is part and parcel of the pan-Islamic (Sunni) movement. I think this constrains them ideologically. Probably disliked/feared by most Arab governments. This may end up being the most important factor.

  19. BadTux says:

    I think it is unlikely that Israel will re-occupy the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian portions of the West Bank. A more likely scenario is a continuation of the policy of containment, including continued fortification of the Wall to prevent infiltration of Israel proper by the Palestinians and occasional reprisal raids.
    The other major issue facing Israel is demographic. They engaged in widespread ethnic cleansing during and in the aftermath of the ’48 war, expelling 3/4ths of the pre-war Arab population of Palestine (the Arab population that, segregated off into refugee camps and denied compensation for their damages, became the “Palestinians”). This insured that Israel would be a majority-Jewish state. But the remaining Arabs have been reproducing like crazy, while the Jews have not. Haifa U. professor Arnon Sofer claims that within 15 years, demographics say that Israel will be majority-Arab. If Likud continues to be the predominant party in Israel, this means that a “final solution” of sorts is going to end up being implemented — the Arab population segregated out and expelled to the “Palestinian” areas, which will by that time be veritable concentration camps, seperated by walls from Israel proper and strictly segregated. This implies that Israel has a national interest in keeping the Palestinian areas as segregated Palestinian areas, rather than going back and re-occupying them and attempting to put more “settlements” in them.
    The notion of living in peace, apparently, has not occurred to anybody involved here. Pity.
    – BT

  20. wtofd says:

    BT, do you have a source for those demo #’s? Are you saying that the Israeli Arabs (Israel’s language for Palestinians with Israeli citizenship) are a kind of Trojan Horse planted inside the walls before the walls were built?
    Just googled Sofer and saw lots of outdated links. Not doubting you, simply, looking forward to your response.

  21. wtofd says:

    I would treat Sofer’s #’s cautiously.
    Looks like he’s got an ax to grind.

  22. BadTux says:

    Indeed, I would treat any numbers coming out of the Middle East cautiously. As far as I know, Sofer’s numbers are the only extant numbers regarding the ethnic projections for Israel. Asking a couple of Israeli friends, they appear to believe that any more recent projections are classified as a state secret, but agree that the issue of the Arab population out-breeding the Jewish population of Israel does appear to be a concern extant in Israel, whether a real problem or not. The example of Iraqi WMD’s goes to show that a problem doesn’t have to be real in order to affect the actions of politicians. All that matters, politically, is that a large number of people *believe* that it is real. Given that, the notion of the “demographic crisis” affecting Israeli politicians’ treatment of the “Palestinian” problem (as they would put it, with “Palestinian” in quotes) is certainly not far-fetched.

  23. wtofd says:

    BT, gotcha. Perception is reality. Point taken. Doesn’t look good if Bibi takes over.

  24. RJJ says:

    Completely different situation, but The Duck Rule applies here —
    Would someone with access to good satellite imagery please check to see if the Canadians are massing on the border?

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