Quiet (for peace sake)

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As the Palestinians and Israelis work out the terms for cease fire, it might be an opportune time for us to review the concept of "quiet" and what might cause "quiet" to be the only rational, and desirable option for those who have been trapped in the Palestine/Israel conflict. The more preferable "peace" does not seem to be possible in Palestine in the present political or military climate. According to news reports, all Palestinian factions have premised peace upon an end to the occupation, which we perhaps all agree is not likely to take place soon enough to end the cycle of violence that has taken its toll on both Palestine and Israel. There is no obvious will, on either the part of the Palestinian people, or the Israeli people to take on the serious issues that are related to a permanent peace agreement. There is also no way that a real, and sustainable peace can be achieved without there being a popular consensus that would smooth the progress of the compromises that the Palestinian and Israeli people will have to make to achieve peace.

Unfortunately, quiet sometimes is as difficult to achieve as peace. This is especially true when leaders misread their constituent’s cooperation in that respect to be capitulation. People might agree to a cease-fire in principle, but making it happen could become very complicated if both sides are not careful. Keep in mind that the purpose of elections, and the right to honestly call, or even consider oneself a democracy, is premised upon the acceptance of the idea that the "people" and not the politicians are deciding. Power to the people, which is, what democracy means, suggests that elected officials understand that the influence they wield is entrusted to them by the people, and for a purpose. The purpose is to oversee the affairs of the state to the betterment of the people and the state, and not to appease foreign interests. The purpose of a Palestinian cease-fire is not to appease Israel, or the United States, and it is not to bolster the power of the! state over the people. The purpose of a cease-fire is to contract an end to violence, period. As Israel says, "Quiet for Quiet."

There are many reasons that quiet is a reasonable option, and most of them are obvious. Yet, quiet can become counter-productive when the ruling authority seeks to use periods of quiet, or cease fire to the detriment, rather than the betterment of the people. An example might be what happened in Algeria following the victory of the FIS in the municipal elections. Almost immediately, the Algerian government issued a weapons ban, and began to confiscate arms. What followed was an ongoing massacre that lasted months. The Algerian government took the lives of defenseless women, children the elderly, and the young men. Anyone who had supported the FIS, or who had opposed the authority in any way, was killed in brutal mass murders conducted many times at night, as villagers slept. Last week a political pundit wrote in the Washington Times, that following the Algerian elections, a civil war broke out in Algeria. There was no civil war. The majority of the people murdered were unarmed. There was simply a government sponsored massacre, that was tolerated, and perhaps even approved by the UN and the Western powers who thought the elimination of anyone who had demonstrated sympathies for Islamist was in their interests as well.

The Palestinian Authority perhaps unknowingly seems to be setting the stage for a similar type of situation. Weapons banning and confiscation represents an attempt to limit coercive power to the state, and to render the people helpless and subject to the dictates of an authority. Attempts to establish the legal paradigm suggesting that Geneva Convention rights be extended only to states, and not to civilians was an effort to create a legal framework for denying citizens the right to self defense against their own, or other governments. This of course opens the door to tyranny, and totalitarianism, trademarks of the secular Middle East governments. The Roadmap to peace strategy completely ignores Geneva Convention rights, and suggests that both Israel and the PA have the legal and moral right to collaborate to wipe out the Palestinian militias, and their supporters. The attempt to legalize torture might also have been an attempt to add torture to the governme! nt arsenals against civilians, and their militias. In short, throughout the world, and not only in Palestine, the people are increasingly being confronted by government schemes to usurp power, to increase government power, limit the people’s power, and to remove any semblance of legal sanction for civilian self-defense, or protection of civil rights.

As Muslims, we look to the Quran for guidance on all issues. The people of Palestine should not hesitate to do the same. Following the teachings of Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SA) is obligatory. Its benefits are available to Muslims and non-Muslims, to the extent that we follow the guidance. In respect to treaties, and especially treaties that require a cessation of military operations, in an ongoing conflict, the Quran says:

"The worst of beasts in the sight of God are those who reject Him. They will not believe. They are those with whom you made a covenant, but they break their covenant every time, and they have not the fear of God. If you gain mastery over them in war, separate from them, and those who follow them, so that they might remember (their covenant). If you fear treachery from them, throw back their covenant to them, so as to be on equal terms; for God loves not the treacherous. Let not the unbelievers think that they can get the better of the believers, they will never frustrate them. Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war to strike fear in the hearts of God’s enemies, and your enemies, and others along with them, who you may not know, but God knows. Whatever you spend on the cause of God, shall be repaid to you, and you shall not be treated unjustly.Yet, if your enemy inclines towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace, and put your trust in God. God is the one that hears and knows all things. Should they intend to deceive thee-verily God suffices thee. He has strengthened you with His aid, and with the company of the Believers" — Holy Quran 8:55-62.

Quiet is preferable to conflict, and peace is better than quiet. It is always necessary to balance the powers between the authority and the people in order to insure one or the other. "Quiet" is not merely a cessation of violence, it is also an end to acts of war and aggression that could include all forms of treachery and trickery, designed to give an unfair military advantage to one side over another. Weapons confiscation might fit into that category. In respect to this type of situation, where the potential for treachery exists, the Quran makes it clear that the believer should seek peace and quiet, while never yielding to tyranny, or totalitarianism, whether or not it is indigenous or foreign. "Sufficient unto thee is God, and unto those who follow thee among the believers" — 8:64.

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