FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

the Draw

After “Intifada” (shaking off) and “Shahid” (martyr), another Arabic term has entered the world’s vocabulary: “Hudna” (truce).

In Islamic tradition, the word evokes an historical event. The first Islamic truce was declared in the year 628 AD at Hodaibiya, in the course of Muhammad’s war against the pagan chiefs of Mecca. According to the version now doing the rounds in Israel, Muhammad broke the truce and conquered Mecca. Ergo: Don’t believe the Arabs, don’t believe in the Hudna.

In Arab history books, the same event is presented quite differently. The Hudna allowed the adherents of the new faith to enter Mecca on a pilgrimage to the holy rock. The pilgrims used the opportunity to make converts. When most citizens had accepted Islam, Muhammad entered the city almost without bloodshed and was received with open arms. Ergo: already in their earliest history, Muslims realized that persuasion is better than force.

Therein lies the answer to the questions that are being asked now: Will the Hudna last? Will it continue after the initial three-month period? Will Arafat and Abu-Mazen succeed in bringing Hamas along with them?

The answers depend completely on the mood of the Palestinian population. If it wants the Hudna, the Hudna will last. If it detests the Hudna, it will collapse. Hamas does not want to lose public sympathy by breaking a popular Hudna. On the contrary, it wants to play a major role in the future Palestinian state. But if the population comes to the conclusion that the Hudna has borne no fruit, Hamas will be the first to break it.

On what will this depend? If the Hudna delivers a major political achievement to the nation and a marked improvement in the quality of life to individuals, it will be popular and take root.

That is logical, and that corresponds with my own personal experience. I have already mentioned in these columns that in my early youth I was a member of a liberation and/or terrorist organization (the definition depends on your point of view). At that time, I learned that such an organization needs public support and cannot operate without it. It needs money, means of propaganda, hiding places, new members. For an organization like Hamas, that has also political and social ambitions, popularity is doubly important. As long as the Hudna is popular, Hamas will abide by it.

This is primarily a test for Abu-Mazen. What can he do to make the Hudna popular? He must secure the wide-scale release of Palestinian prisoners; the amelioration of the horrible living conditions; the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the towns and villages; the removal of the checkpoints that make Palestinian life miserable; the restoration of freedom of access to the urban centers, the work places, hospitals and universities; an ending of targeted assassinations, deportations, demolition of homes and uprooting of groves; the freeze on building activities in the settlements and an end to the construction of the “fence” that is biting off large chunks of land from the West Bank.

If there is no progress in all these matters, the Hudna will collapse. Should this happen, the Israeli military and political establishment will shed no tears. There the Hudna was received with much gnashing of teeth, as if it were imposed by some hostile force. As a matter of fact, it came about by sheer American pressure. The Israeli media, all of whom have long ago become propaganda instruments of the “security establishment”, received the Hudna in unison, as if by order, with comments like “It has no chance. It will not last”–a prophecy that may well prove to be self-realizing.

The army command opposed the cease-fire. As always, the officers explained that victory was just around the corner, that all it needed was one last decisive blow. Exactly this, in the very same words, was said by the French generals who opposed ending the war in Algeria, and by the American generals when Nixon finally gave up in Vietnam. This was said by the Russian generals in Afghanistan, and now they are saying it again in Chechnya. They are always just about to win. They always need to deliver just one more blow. And it’s always the corrupt politicians who stick a knife in their backs and bring about defeat.

The truth is that the army commanders have failed dismally. They have had many small successes, but they have failed to achieve their main aim: to break the will of the Palestinian people. For every “local leader” who was “targeted” and “liquidated”, two new ones arose. The “terrorist infrastructure” was not destroyed, because there is no way to destroy it. It is not composed of arms workshops and leaders, but of popular support and the number of youngsters ready to risk and abandon their lives.

After 1000 days, in spite of the killing and the destruction, the Palestinian spirit of resistance and their fighting capacity were not broken. The Palestinian people has not given up the demands expressed at Camp David and Taba. At the beginning of this Intifada, some individuals volunteered for suicide missions; at its end, hundreds stood in line.

The Palestinians did not win, either. They have proved that they can not be brought to their knees. They have prevented the Palestinian cause from being struck from the world agenda. The Israeli economy has been hit hard. The Intifada has cast its shadow over daily life in Israel. Many of the acts that are considered criminal by Israelis look to the Palestinians like glorious acts of heroism. The destruction of Israeli tanks, the elimination of a major checkpoint by one solitary sniper, the attack by Palestinian commandos who crawled under the “separation wall”–acts like these have filled the Palestinians with pride. And the very fact that after 1000 days the Palestinian David remains standing and facing the mighty Israeli Goliath is by itself an achievement that will be proudly passed down to the coming generations of Palestinians.

But the Palestinians have not succeeded in imposing their will on Israel, just as Israel has not succeeded in imposing its will on the Palestinians. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians are exhausted. This Intifada has ended, for the time being, in a draw.

Mosh Ya’alon, a chief-of-staff with an unquenchable thirst for talking, has proclaimed victory. But on the same day, in a respected Israeli public opinion poll, 73% of those polled expressed the opinion that Israel has not won, and 33% even saw the Palestinians as the victors. The largest circulation newspaper in the country headlined a story about the chief-of-staff with the ironic words: “For your information, We Have Won!” The majority does not believe that the Hudna will hold. But in the meantime, every day that passes without human sacrifice on either side is a pure gain for all of us.

What now? Real negotiations? Negotiations that are nothing other than make-believe? Efforts by both sides to court the Americans? American pressure on both parties to come up with some real actions?

Ask Condoleezza.

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is one of the writers featured in The Other Israel: Voices of Dissent and Refusal. He can be reached at: avnery@counterpunch.org.

 

More articles by:

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
Nick Pemberton
There Are More Important Things Than The Truth
Brian Cloughley
How Trump’s Insults and Lies are Harming America
David Rosen
Sexual Predators in the Era of Trump
Tamara Pearson
Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries
Richard E. Rubenstein
Trump vs. the Anti-Trumps: It’s the System That Needs Changing Not Just the Personnel
Christopher Ketcham
A Walk in the Woods, Away from the Screens
Basav Sen
Democrats Failed Their First Big Test on Climate
Lauren Smith
Nicaragua – The Irony of the NICA Act Being Signed into Law by Trump
Joseph Natoli
Will Trumpism Outlive Trump?
Olivia Alperstein
The EPA Rule Change That Could Kill Thousands
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise
Ramzy Baroud
When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are ‘Brothers’: Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model
Mitchell Zimmerman
Government by Extortion
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail