I lacked space in an article published today, "[Al-Hudaybiya and] Lessons from the Prophet Muhammad's Diplomacy," to cite two Yasir Arafat interviews in 1998. First, one he gave to Egypt's Orbit television channel on April 18, 1998, and reported by Steve Rodan in the Jerusalem Post on April 28:
Everyone must know that all options are open before the Palestinian people and not just the Palestinian people but before the entire Arab nation," Arafat said in the interview. Arafat explained his orders to stop terrorist attacks against Israel, saying that Mohammed agreed to a 10-year truce with the Koreish tribe. The agreement was opposed by one of Mohammed's chief aides, Omar Bin Khatib, who called it the "inferior peace agreement."
"I do not compare myself to the prophet, but I do say that we must learn from his steps and those of Salah a-Din," Arafat said. "The peace agreement which we signed is an 'inferior peace.'" Arafat said he suggests "we maintain quiet. We respect agreements the way that the prophet Mohammed and Salah a-Din respected the agreements which they signed." Historians say that Mohammed and Salah a-Din agreed to a truce with the Crusaders and then broke it within a short time.
Second, an interview to Al-Quds on May 10, 1998:
Question: "Do you ever feel you made a mistake by accepting the Oslo [Accord]?"
Arafat: "No. No. The Messenger of Allah accepted the peace treaty of al-Hudaibiya and Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi accepted the peace treaty with Richard the Lion Hearted. 'Umar ibn al-Khattab referred to the Hudaibiya treaty as a humiliating peace treaty and said to the Messenger of Allah: How can we agree to the humiliation of our religion? This was when the Quraysh tribe insisted on erasing the name of Allah's Messenger from the treaty and told the Messenger: "Let us erase 'the Messenger of Allah' because if we had recognized you as the Messenger of Allah, we would not have fought you." The Messenger then said: "Erase it."
(September 1, 1999)
Sep. 10, 1999 update: In response to this article (in which, contrary to other American commentators, I found that "Muhammad was technically within his rights to abrogate the treaty"), CAIR sent out a bulletin titled "Daniel Pipes Smears Prophet Muhammad" – fighting words for many Muslims – and called me a "hard-core Islamophobic ideologue."
July 11, 2000 update: Charles Krauthammer wrote in the Washington Post today that "Arafat has explicitly analogized Oslo to the 10-year treaty Mohammed made with the Quraysh tribe. It too marked an interlude. Two years later, when the tactical necessity had passed, the treaty was broken and the Quraysh were attacked and defeated." The same day, CAIR replied with an alert proclaiming, "Pro-Israel Columnist Defames Prophet Muhammad."
Aug. 3, 2001 update: Tom Lantos (Democrat of California) thus addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee:
Arafat walked away from a dream deal. Apparently, his approach to the peace process was based on the Treaty of 628 at Hudaibiyah, which was a treacherous treaty. Islamic forces made truce with non-Islamic elements, and they had no intention of keeping that agreement. They went on to attack, and destroyed those with whom they had made the treaty. Arafat's behavior suggests that this is the kind of peace he had in mind.
In response, American Islamist organizations lambasted Lantos in their press releases:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations called this a "demonstrably false smear" in a release titled "Muslims Demand Lantos Apologize for Smearing Prophet Muhammad."
The American Muslim Council decried the "slanderous comments" in a release titled "AMC Urges Muslims to Demand an Apology from Congressman Lantos for Slanderous Remarks Against Prophet Muhammad."
The Muslim Public Affairs Council termed them "offensive, superficial, ignorant and politically viscous" remarks in a release titled "Rep. Tom Lantos Bigoted Comments Against Islam."
Aug. 11, 2001 update: Lantos apologized for his comments:
Let me make very clear that I intended no offense to Muslim believers nor any defamation of the Prophet Muhammad... and I regret any pain caused, however inadvertently. I fully respect Islam as one of the world's great religions and civilizations and as a faith that provides spiritual comfort and uplift to hundreds of millions... Making a historical judgment on the events of 628-630 AD is well beyond my Congressional responsibilities. I had no desire to do so, and, to the extent that I allowed for such an understanding of my intent, I regret it.
But this did not satisfy CAIR. Nihad Awad responded:
Lantos apologized for hurting the feelings of Muslims. This is good, but not sufficient. He has to retract his false statement against the prophet. This is what prompted us to contact him, not because he hurt our feelings, but because he made a bold lie about the prophet. Even though he admits that he is not a historian, he still judges history. While Lantos says he had no intent to defame the Prophet Muhammad, he does not clearly retract his false allegation that the Prophet's actions were "treacherous."
Awad also criticized "representatives of the pro-Israel lobby" for continuing to promote "this slur against the Prophet Muhammad as an anti-Muslim 'talking point.'"
"It is known in history, even by Western historians, is that the prophet never broke any treaty, but that the other side broke the treaty. And once any treaty is broken, it is null and void," said Awad.
Oct. 11, 2002 update: MEMRI has translated an interview by Yasir Arafat with al-Hayat's Saida Hamad on October 5, 2002, "O Allah, Give Me Martyrdom," in which Arafat compared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Hudaybiya agreement and used that agreement to justify his decisions not being questioned:
Hamad: The Israeli army commanders boasted that they defeated the Palestinians and added that they want the Palestinians to acknowledge [this] defeat.
Arafat: They said after the Battle of Uhud [in 625, when the Meccan polytheists won against Muhammad and his followers] that the Prophet was defeated. And what happened? The Hudaybiya agreement, about which 'Umar ibn al-Khattab said [was] a humiliating agreement.
Hamad: The Palestinian street is insulted when the Authority issues a statement condemning the armed operations. After all, the Palestinians say that this is a natural response to the reality of the occupation in the heart of their country, so why do you condemn the resistance?
Arafat: Because there is a need to honor the decisions emanating from the Palestinian leadership. I gave you two examples - the Battle of Al-Mu'ta [which Muhammad fought in 629] and the Hudaybiya agreement. No one has the right to violate the decisions of the leadership.
June 21, 2012 update: Anwer Mahmood Khan devotes his entire article, "Perception vs. Reality: Is Islam a Militant Religion? Response to Daniel Pipes' Accusations," to a critique of my article on Hudaybiya.
Related Topics: Arab-Israel conflict & diplomacy, History, Palestinians
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