We can do peace…

"In Islamic legal theory, normal relations between the Dar al-Islam (the Muslims) and the Dar al-Harb (others) were not peaceful, and there existed a state of latent or open hostilities which jurists nowadays call a state of war. Short intervals of peace were, however, permitted by divine legislation (Quran Sura VIII, 63; IX, 1 and others) and the Muslims could establish peaceful relationships with non-Muslims, individually and collectively, if such a peace was not inconsistent with the interests of the Muslims."  Encyclopedia of Islam under "Hudna"


Gustave_dore_crusades_godfrey_imposes_tr_1 Such truces were/are not longer than 10 years but they are renewable.  I posited this means to peace once at a discussion in Saudi Arabia and one of the hosts said that "sermons could be preached on that," to which I replied, "yes, but not by me." 

It should be remembered that in the 200 year (almost) history of the Crusader States in the Levant there were numerous truces (hudna) They were sometimes for five years, often for ten and sometimes were re-newed.  the Muslims were famous for strictly observing these truces as did the more enlightened rulers of the Crusader States.  Under the terms of the truce, commerce prospered, people visited each other, real life was possible.

One of the Muslim chroniclers of the period (Usama ibn Munqhid) has recorded his many visits to the Kingdom of Jerusalem.  This man, who was from Damascus would stay in the Jerusalem area with the Templars who made a place for him to pray in one of their churches.  Doesn’t sound like the Templars in "Kingdom of Heaven?"  Well, I like the movie but the Templar thing was crapola.  Some will say that the comparison of that time and this is uselessly antiquarian.  Those that say that will be wrong.  For a great many of the Muslims, probably most, THEN is NOW.  All this rhetoric about "Crusaders" is not idle.  Americans tend to believe that history began about the time they individually were born.  "That’s History" as a dismissive saying is unique to the United States and our view of our own place in human development.  The Muslims live in history.

So.  There can be peace for a time between the Muslims and the Israelis (the rest are not numerous enough to matter in this).  If the Israelis give up all their 1967 gains, allow a general "right of return" for millions of Palestinians, then Hamas government might contemplate a Hudna with them.

Would that mean that the Palestinians under Hamas rule had decided to accept Israel as a permanent feature of life in the Middle East?  Not at all.  They would merely be waiting for the end of the truce to resume hostilities.  Would they observe the truce.  Yes.  they probably would.

Pat Lang



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39 Responses to We can do peace…

  1. hk says:

    The trouble with Israel, it always seemed to me, is that they always sought that one final victory that will settle things for good rather than incremental steps that may, in the long term, make things livable and hopefully, get people invested in maintaining such state of things. Since I doubt Israel could ever actually “win for good,” the sacrifice of the practical for the ideological seemed particularly unwise to me. Would anybody (the colonel or others) care to chime in on why Israel is so adamantly opposed to ideas like these?

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I will listen to others befor commenting on this question.
    Nice picture don’t you think. It represents Godfrey, Advocate of the Holy Sepulcher, setting terms for tribute with Muslim emirs whose lands are within the Kingdom of Jerusalem. pl

  3. hk says:

    Within feudal Europe, circumstances like that did exist and were practiced–people were literally at war and yet still paying tribute according to feudral laws/customs, so, no I don’t think that’s quite that weird, as they might appear from the modern perspective. (One dispute that arose following the revolutions of 1848 was whether the Habsburgs were obliged to transmit the Hungarian and Italian nobles exiled from their estates following nationalist agitations the revenues from their estates according to their feudal rights). What this does suggest, I think, is that they came to accept the coexistence as normal, even if legally temporary.
    If the Crusader States didn’t become militarily weak and thus vulnerable to military conquest, who knows, they might still be there, in relative peace with their Muslim neighbors–even if their theoretical right to exist isn’t recognized by the heirs of Saladin. In the same vein, it’s not like it’s the recognition of the Arabs, least of all, Hamas, that guarantees the existence of Israel–it’s the armed might of the Israeli Defense Forces. So I’ve always found “they must recognize Israel’s right to exist” rhetoric to be a bit too rich.

  4. ckrantz says:

    I take the point to be that Hamas is a organization you can do business with but you don’t have to trust them.
    The Israelis can if they so choose deal with Hamas like they have done in the past. Didn’t Tel Aviv give direct and indirect financial support to Hamas as a counterbalance to Fatah?

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    That is exactly the point.
    The Israelis nurtured the growth of HAMAS before and during the first intifada as a counter weight to the PLO.
    Now this image of the devil has come down from the wall to bite them.
    They can either seek to destroy HAMAS or make a deal for a truce.
    I would bet on destruction as their choice. pl

  6. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The relatively low manpower density of Europe at the time of the Latin States did not provide enough “settler” potential. In that probably lies the roots of the eventual destruction of these states.
    Recent research indicates that there was a Latin rural population engaged in agriculture and inter-married with the native Chistians, but there just were not enough of them. pl

  7. wtofd says:

    Israel won’t accept hudna, imo.
    Olmert isn’t strong enough/doesn’t have the background that Rabin/Barak/Arik had. I’m not sure he wants to even if he could.
    If Bibi takes over he won’t do business with Hamas either. Bibi would be in a similar position as Hamas. They both have to transition from the opposition to the ruling party. It’s just too tenuous for Likud to allow for engagement even though a truce is so clearly what’s needed right now. Especially with Miss Condi! 2006 and her Emcee in Chief. Their support for Fatah who allowed Al-Aqsa MB to break truces while the admin. slanders Hamas (who kept their word) makes me think:
    1. They don’t understand Palestine, or,
    2. They think Hamas can bring peace but on more level terms. They’d rather drag out the process and give Likud/Kadima a chance to increase settlement expansion.
    I guess, Col., I respect Hamas’ sticking to the terms of Hudna. I just don’t see the Kadima/Likud/Neo-Con bloc giving them any breathing room. Withholding taxes is the worst way to start the relationship.
    Also, Israel won’t allow the right of return, nor will it retreat to its ’67 borders. The Israelis laugh at UNSCR 242 and 383 the way Iran laughs at the IAEA.
    I wish the admin. understood the wisdom of your hudna strategy as the Saudi’s did.

  8. Curious says:

    They are not stupid. They know their current strategy is finally working. It is up to Israel to now realize if they want ever increasing unstable region + nuclear Iran and Syria. Or start behaving.
    But frankly, I am putting my money on major regional conflict within 2 decades.
    1. Bush will create worst situations after another in the coming weeks. And finally the whole thing will explode big way. Watch Iraq, at worst it will turn Lebanon in the 80’s. At best it will turn afghanistan under soviet.
    2. after that all worst case scenario will play out. Each small players will try to preserve the best self interest, which means situation will get worst and worst. (jordan and Lebanon will make their move and fall first. Syria, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Kuwait will all get dragged into the chaos sooner or later)
    3. Al qaeda is winning in Iraq now. Their anarchist/guerilla tactic has reached critical mass. Iraq is now in civil war phase. We are going to see a very deadly summer if things doesn’t get under control in the next few weeks.
    4. All arab states that Bush dis, will now watch Bush wilting with satisfying grin in their face. (let the sucker marinate in his own juice, so goes the saying) There is no goodwill left in the region.

  9. Curious says:

    Posted by: wtofd | 27 February 2006 at 12:50 AM
    It’s over for Israel if Iraq fall into chaos, then they have to go into Jordan and Syria the hard way. Their military doctrin is attack first before things get worst. Except they are prepared for war against coherent nation state military force instead of things like Al qaeda. Al qaeda will be able to manipulate all their inteligent point at will since Israel will go into paranoid mode. (ie. it’s easy for Al qaeda to start inciting war between states that Israel already wants to attack.)
    It’s the usual story really. Same stupid asses doig same old stupid things.

  10. RJJ says:

    Human types —
    PL’s chronicler may have been an earlier version of Ahmed Chalabi. Furthermore he was dealing with Franks who had gone native. The Bernards of the world have no use for accommodation. Not then. Not now.

  11. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Actually, I don’t get your point. Mine was that if there is a modicum of good will, then many things are possible.
    “Ahmad Chalabi?” This Arab’s great book begins with the words “The Franks are mighty men, may God curse them.”
    “Gone native?” So you are like the US Army generals who intervened in Afghanistan to make Green Berets wear Army uniforms and shave? pl

  12. RJJ says:

    the contest (then as now): men of good will and pragmatists versus zealots and purists.
    1. Which has the greater mass appeal?
    2. Do you think our contemporary St. Bernards (and other stakeholders) will allow it? It is not in their interest.
    “Gone native” is how the new arrivals must have perceived the Franks who had been in country (term ??) a while.
    Your chronicler is, even in translation, charismatic, witty, urbane – also an intriguer who lived by his wits (same as you know who). Makes it uncomfortably easy to see how the Neocons might have been dazzled by not dissimilar possibilities — if only …. etc. etc.

  13. RJJ says:

    File the above under half-baked+rewarmed.

  14. W. Patrick Lang says:

    No. That sounded pretty good. St. Bernard. Hmm.
    It appears to me that the neocons were in the mind of the new crusaders who expected everything to be easy in transforming or at least dominating the Levant. The “old guys” knew better. They had dealt with the Muslims long enough to know better.
    It has always surprised me that there seems to have been no serious effort to convert Muslims resident in the Latin States. They were the majority and you would think that the St. Bernards of the age would have been atracted to that task as they were a few hundred years later in Mexico, India, etc. pl

  15. taters says:

    Great points, Pat. To Iraq, the sack of Baghdad by the Mongols in the thirteenth century, is still relatively fresh. The same when Richard Lion Heart mass executed the “Saracens” in Acre.

  16. RJJ says:

    I like the question. What were the cities/towns of the ME like compared with those of Christendom?
    Absent huge incentives to convert, such as death if they refused, for the ordinary man with a large family the Muslim path to salvation was certainly more cost effective. The Church’s franchise on the ineffable exacts a toll at every step along the way – baptism, confirmation, masses, last rites. No sacrament, no salvation; no money, no sacrament. [maybe ??????? – I could be full of it about the fees for the sacraments]
    Muslims taxed unbelievers at higher rate. Perhaps Christians adopted the practice?
    Even at a higher taxation rate it would still be cheaper to remain a Muslim.
    Are you sure they made no attempt to convert? Perhaps it was a lost cause. Have this nagging but dim impression of some chronicler deploring the infidels’ lack of receptivity to The Word. Who but dregs and outcasts would be willing to become apostates? Reversing the situation, what sort of Christians converted to Islam when Europe was invaded? In Iberia it may have been the remnants of the old heretic Arians.
    Just guessing around.

  17. W. Patrick Lang says:

    In the Christian lands that they conquered, the passage of time, differential taxation and a denial of equality status under law resulted in the great majority of Christians and Jews eventually converting to Islam. The process goes on today with Muslims gnerally not marrying Kuffar without conversion on the part of the non-Muslim.
    There do not seem to have been serious tax penalties paid by Muslims within the Latin States and the crusader governments were not the rapacious barabarians of legend. Instead they administered the Muslim inhabitants in much the same way they did Christians in Europe and there never was a Muslim revolt from within, instead there akways invasions. They also did not attempt to conver the the native Christians to the Latin Rite.
    I don’t know the answer to my question. pl

  18. W. Patrick Lang says:

    To them these things are still fresh. Some of this has to do with the lack of tenses in the Arabic language. Arabic has two “aspects” of the verb one completed and the other not. It is difficult to conceptualize distance in time and sequences wth this instrument.
    In re Acre, Saladin butchered many more prisoners than this after Hattin. He gave all the knights and seregeant brothers of the military orders to a collection of sufis and ulema who had followed his army. Each received a Hospitaller or Templar to kill as he wished. Saladin also killed about 8000 Turcopoles (native cavalry of the Orders). Then he held for ransom those who could be ransomed and the rest were sold into slavery. The Muslims and their apologists never talk about this.
    This was common practise in those days, on all sides.

  19. wtofd says:

    My Judaic Studies professor told a story of going for his PhD with a Greek and an Iranian. He got along well with both. One day at lunch with the Iranian he saw the Greek looking for a place to sit. He hailed him over and introduced his two friends. The Iranian said nothing until finally the Greek got the message and moved on. My professor asked why the Iranian was so rude. With a straight face the reply came, “They burned Persepolis.” My professor said, “Yeah, 2,200 years ago.” That didn’t draw a smile from the Iranian.
    Slightly different neighborhood; same sense of history.

  20. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I have seen Greek officers weep in Aya Sofia. I have seen Southerners weep at Gettysburg. pl

  21. hk says:

    So what? I’ve also seen South Koreans still adamantly claiming that Jilin and Fengtian rightly belong to a greater Korea, too–but I doubt anyone does much good by buying into these nonsenses. Alsace and Lorraine were part of Germany for 48 years. France found ways to deal with them for 48 years. What got them back to France in 1918 wasn’t so much that they’d wanted them back badly enough, but that Germany lost the Great War. They’d no doubt have found ways to deal with not having them for another 100 years if they didn’t win.

  22. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You have to separate “rightness” from “effectiveness.” pl

  23. taters says:

    HK – Speaking of Alsace Lorraine, when they read the
    names of the dead from the Great War, you hear many French names of the German soldiers.
    In Metz, you can see where it went from rue to strasse back and forth.

  24. ali says:

    I do think the Hudna concept has merits, an honest agreement between irreconcilable adversaries is perhaps better than a false peace based on promises made in bad faith. As al-Rantissi said Hamas may have to wait 200 years for Israel to fall. Who knows; often there is nothing so permanent as a temporary solution.
    But every interview I’ve read with Hamas includes demands that the Israelis will never consider, the right of return etc before a Hudna will be offered. The Israelis may have abandoned the strategic madness of a greater Israel but seem set on consolidating a greater Jerusalem into their state and have no intention of returning to 67 borders.

  25. Norbert Schulz says:

    IMO for the Israelis the question of their country, even when we put the divine promise aside, is very much a blood-and-soil thing – and for the Israeli right wing even more so. Even an Israeli moderate might have a hard time giving back all of the ’67 territories. I guess an Israeli right-winger would rather kill, or die.
    While a good number of Israelis may be willing to give back land for peace, I do think that only a right-wing government could accomplish that, and overcome the zeal that eventually got Rabin murdered. It needed Sharon to give back land to the Palestinians.
    And I, too, think the right-wingers in Israel and their U.S. amen-club have always bet on a ‘Siegfrieden’ to end all their fears.
    The neo-con’s ‘A clean break’, too radical even for a radical like Netanyahu, is all about that.
    The invasion of Iraq and the subsequent intense U.S. pressure on Syria and Lebanon suggest to me that this concept played a role in U.S. policy deliberations for the Middle East.
    In all this I have a hard time to see the U.S. national interest.
    How bitter that these people gamble on such concept that served Germany so poorly already. Talk about unintended consequences:
    Germany’s ‘Siegfrieden’ over France brought 40 years of hostility between Germany and France, and helped to conjure up WW-I and Imperial Germany’s downfall.
    I think that a realistic engagement in one way or another is the best and most promising way for Israel. The Hudna concept might be a way.

  26. taters says:

    Lotsa good reads!

  27. wtofd says:

    NS, since PL posited the Hudna theory weeks ago I thought it the only way forward. Unfortunately, our administration seems intent on foiling any truce before it can be struck. The same with the Israelis. They’d rather deal with Fatah who broke truces than Hamas who kept them. I’m not sure why. Either stupidity or a grand plan that requires Palestinian violence to enact.

  28. Norbert Schulz says:

    Some second thoughts:
    I always found highly odd the notion ‘not to talk with evil’ some U.S. politicos have.
    Ideological rigidity is the flipside of a foreign policy that relies on the demonisation of other country’s leaders, or entire countries (France everyone?), to sell policy at home.
    Once a foreign leader is branded as ‘another Hitler’ you’re weak on defense and ‘waffle’ when you suggest just talking to him – appeasement! Treason! Frenchman Kerry!
    An American domestic political opponent will exploit that. IMO that weakens America, as it makes it an unreliable and unpredictable partner overseas, and, by limiting foreign policy options.
    For me one of the starkest and most irrational of such cases is Cuba, for those moored in the rational realm certainly not a threat to the U.S., much less an existential one. But anyway, as a foreign policy field, is in an ideological stranglehold of immigrant lobbies. Blasting other countries, or the U.N. makes for good domestic policy in the U.S. (but of course, other countries, blasting the U.S. ‘exploit’ the issue for domestic policy policy purposes, to distract from their own shortcomings, yes indeed, how rude. What a blessing the U.S. is above such ‘mob’ politics …)
    What did that crackpot Bolton utter about Cuba? ‘Offensive biological weapons programs’ … implying a threat to the U.S. The result of my random googling on the subject: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2005_05/Bolton_Cuba.asp
    Well, Bolton was alone in his ‘assessment’, and I doubt he could possibly be so stupid to believe what he sais. He’s smart, I guess, they say, I hope. I rather guess he, ever the attorney, pushed confrontation with Cuba because he was told so – to play the Miamy lobby and to deal the ‘enemy’ at Foggy Bottom a blow by contradicting them. That’s Kindergarten. (And if I’m optimistic, and he actually believes what he sais … oh dear.) But then, there are these true believers …
    Ghaddafi, ranking with Khomeini America’s 1980s bogeyman #1, practically begged to be allowed surrender for years, to no avail. When he was eventually allowed to, that was because of British negotiations and for the price the Lockerbie deal.
    Considering that Ghaddafi looked over the killing of personal relatives by U.S. bombs (iirc he lost a daughter) for the sake of a policy that benefits the country, he seems more rational to me than Bush who based his animosity towards Saddam at least in part on the fact that he allegedly tried to kill his daddy. Ghaddafi is capable of pragmatic decisions. I doubt Bush is.
    But of course, when Ghaddafi surrendered his ‘nuclear arsenal’ (the joke of the year) the Bushites quickly claimed he did so because he was so afraid after the drastic example of Iraq. Suuuuure … it certainly reads much more flattering that way.
    When America started the big fuss about Iran at the time Iran started to increasinly overt gain influence in Iran (what a coincidence), I wondered to a friend where that could possibly lead. After all, the U.S. could not offer anything to Iraq – lacking diplomatic relations, embargoing them already, the U.S. could offer Iran nothing but *not* to bomb them. U.S. policy in the Middle East relies, lacking true political pull with local allies, increasingly relies on force and force alone.
    U.S. ideological pre-occupations don’t help improving this.
    My take is that, had Bush after 9/11 offered Iran friendly diplomatic relations, now that would have been an offer Iran could not have refused. Had the Bush crew then stuck to Afghanistan and spared the world the invasion of Iraq, America’s position would be much better today. But no, the Bush crew didn’t negotiate with evil, it defeats it.
    Another advantage would have been that the U.S. wouldn’t need to solely rely on Al-Quaeda infested Pakistan as a key ally. Ah well …
    Same with Hamas. So they are evil and terrorists and cannot be talked with? Didn’t the Bushites say that about Arafat, too, when they gave Isral carte blance and withdrew from the Middle East peace process after Bush took office?
    U.S. foreign policy needs to be rid of ideological blinkers. They take away too many effective tools from the national security arsenal.
    Insofar … maybe the hudna concept might serve the U.S. ideologues well, too?
    Why not talk with evil for a change, at least for a while …

  29. wtofd says:

    PL, b/w ’93 and ’94 I had a few audiences with the Patriarch of Jerusalem and he still considered Hagia Sofia “ours.”

  30. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Sounds like it must have been the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. I doubt if the Latin one would have the chutzpah to say that. PL

  31. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Norbert et al
    “Half a loaf” looks good to me.
    The problem with idealogues is that they want too much and have a bad habit of letting the perfect drive out the good.
    I seem to remember that Bismark said that “genius lies in knowing when to stop.” If he did not say it, then I will take credit for it. Pat

  32. Robert Murray says:

    RJJ – “Muslims taxed unbelievers at higher rate…”
    Perhaps the prohibition of usury did/does not apply to non – believers?

  33. wtofd says:

    PL, my bad. It was the Greek Orthodox Patriarch. Until the West understands the immediacy of history to the East never the twain shall meet. You are dead on to keep bringing it up. There can be no dialogue w/o understanding this.

  34. W. Patrick Lang says:

    This was a capitation tax, so much per head. It was called the “jizya” I believe.
    Muslims were not taxed strictly speaking. they had the obligation of giving alms instead. pl

  35. taters says:

    Sometimes I accidentally post as Robert – my bad, hopefully I’m not trying to soak up multiple responses. I’ve seen some paintings by “converted” Muslims that were religious in theme – mostly Madonna and Child, but there would be a letter(s)? in Arabic which was undetected by the patrons. Was this an indication that the artist was not “totally” converted to Christianity? The works of art are indeed very beautiful, it is as if they are leading to the western Renaissance style which was yet to come.

  36. jonst says:

    You will see all kinds of people weep at Gettysburg if, and when, they allow gambling there.

  37. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Local option gambling = the Confederate dead at Gettysburg?
    My great grandfather was a first sergeant in the 2nd Vermont at Gettysburg. He always said that his primary worry there was that there would only be enough trees for the officers. He probably stopped thinking that when he became an officer. pl

  38. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Are you sure they were converts to Christianity?
    The Arab Christian populations are the original Christian populations and they have persisted throughout all this time. St. John of Damascus was one such. pl

  39. taters says:

    Pat – I’ll try to find something to substantiate. I seem to recall viewing it, so that makes me believe it was a video/film either about art or Islam.

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