On May 10th, 1994, just a few months after signing the Oslo Accords (September, 1993), Yasir Arafat addressed an assembly of Muslims in a Johannesburg mosque where he justified his actions by explaining: “This agreement, I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our prophet Muhammad and Quraysh.” And he concluded by calling on the worshipers “to come and to fight and to start the jihad to liberate Jerusalem.”
What did those words mean?
Muhammad signed a 10-year truce with the Arabian pagan Quraysh tribe in the city of Mecca (the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, 628 AD). At the beginning of the second year of that ten-year period he found a pretext to justify breaking the truce. He pounced on the Quraysh in a surprise attack, conquered Mecca and defeated the Quraysh, who were not prepared for more hostilities since they were honoring the 10-year accord and assumed that Muhammad was too. Since then this agreement between Muhammad and the Quraysh has been an example for Muslims world-wide of how to trick the enemy in wartime. In other words, Arafat explained to his Muslim audience that he gave his word to President Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin, and signed the Oslo Accords, only because he planned to annul his commitments and attack Israel as soon as it was expedient for him to do so. He lied to Clinton and Rabin; but once he was out from under the scrutiny of western media and in the comfort of a Muslim group whose support he could assume, he told the truth to his Muslim audience. He was not aware that his speech was recorded.
Arafat’s lies to Clinton and Rabin were an excellent example of a 1,400 year old Muslim tradition of Taqiyya: tricking the enemy in wartime by offering a false peace or truce, but preparing to attack once the enemy lets down its guard.
Taqiyya (lit. ‘caution’) denotes the deceit or dissimulation used by Shiites, who may lie and even commit blasphemous acts to conceal their religion when they are under threat of persecution from majority Sunnis. It has long been used in its other manifestation, as an integral part of Muslim military strategy, employing trickery and deceit to mislead the enemy (for a detailed discussion see John Esposito’s The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press, 2003).
The Qur’an in a variety of verses (2:225, 3:28, 3:54, 9:3, 16:106, 40:28, and 66:2) establishes the religious legitimacy of breaking oaths, lying, unilaterally violating treaties, and generally scheming against non-Muslims. Allah Himself is described as “the best of schemers” (3:54, 8:30, 10:21), and Muhammad declared, as a justification for murdering unarmed prisoners after offering them safe passage, “war is deceit” (see the Hadith collection of Bukhari, vol. 4, book 52, nos. 268-271). So during the negotiations of Oslo I and II, Arafat’s willingness to acquiesce to Israeli demands was merely his acting as a good Muslim warrior, using taqiyya, deceit in warfare, to put his enemy at a disadvantage.
Arafat’s taqiyya began long before Oslo. For decades he told the West that he was just a scruffy little guy doing his best to keep his rough-neck boys (Fatah, the PLO, the el-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas, inter alia) under control so that he could make peace with Israel; even as he called in Arabic for a million martyrs to march on Jerusalem to destroy Israel and create their “Palestine…from the river to the sea”. Similarly he told the west that he was trying to rein in Hamas and enforce the ban on terrorism to which he had agreed in the Oslo Accords. Yet, as became apparent when Israel invaded his muqata (military compound) in Ramallah during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, and translated thousands of documents taken from his files and computers, he in reality had partnered with Hamas, funded Hamas, armed Hamas, and aided in Hamas’ terrorism. Far too many in the West fell for his “good cop – bad cop” act.
Hamas too uses the taqiyya ruse at will, frequently telling the West that it really wants peace, but reminding its followers in Arabic that they must continue the ‘struggle’ (the terror war against Israel) until victory or martyrdom.
Examples of taqiyya are endless. To the west the PA explains its refusal to negotiate with Israel as a result of Israel’s settlement construction. But the reality is revealed in the Palestine Strategy Group’s 2009 proposal for a strategy of “intelligent resistance” (i.e., the priority of law fare, boycott campaigns and other anti-Israel propaganda over terrorism) as a means of continuing the struggle against Israel.
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