What is a hudna
? Sayed Ahmed Youssef, adviser to Palestinian Hamas PM Haniyeh, explained the meaning of "hudna"
to us ignorant foreigners thuswise in the august pages of the New York Times:
A truce is referred to in Arabic as a ďhudna.Ē Typically covering 10 years, a hudna is recognized in Islamic jurisprudence as a legitimate and binding contract. A hudna extends beyond the Western concept of a cease-fire and obliges the parties to use the period to seek a permanent, nonviolent resolution to their differences.
Americans must thank the New York Times for this bit of enlightenment. As we know, the US lacks Arab speakers, and this lack is seriously hindering their war effort in Iraq.
The hudna, as marketed by Ahmed Youssef, has become very popular. There is a hudna in Gaza, and Israelis are urged to extend this hudna to the West Bank, and indeed to withdraw from all the territories and have a hudna for 5 years, for 10 years or perhaps for 20 years. The sons of the prophet are generous.
Many words have two meanings. One is a theoretical definition, and the other is the practical, operative one, which consists of how an action is implemented. The New York Times and other media have not troubled to update their audience on the operative, actual meaning of hudna. Media are theoretical. Life is empirical. There is also a difference between formal, literary Arabic of the Qur'an and of honored people like Sayed Ahmed Youssef, and spoken Arabic.
In practice, in spoken Arabic, hudna means a constant rain of Qassam rockets on the Western Negev, daily or almost daily. Sometimes the rockets hit nothing, sometimes they do damage. Sometimes they kill people. The headlines, reported in Israeli newspapers, though not in the USA or Europe, say that "rockets fall." The headlines are deceptive. The rockets do not fall spontaneously, as manna from heaven. They are not a meteorological phenomenon. The rockets are launched by Palestinians for the purpose of killing Israelis. Sometimes they kill Jewish Israelis, sometimes they kill Arab Israelis. Palestinians are not racists of course. The Palestinians were launching Qassam rockets in December, and the Palestinians are still at it. Yesterday was a typical "truce" day. The truce meant that four Qassam rockets "fell" in Western Galilee. Perhaps many more were launched, but the others may have fallen in Gaza. Additionally, IDF patrols found two bombs. The bombs don't count at all, because they were detonated harmlessly -- this time. Nobody was hurt, so there is no problem.
Unexploded bombs are boring, and are not news. What after all, is a mere trifle like an unexploded bomb, compared to the agony, the frustration and the humiliation of a Palestinian who has to wait at a checkpoint while the IDF checks for other bombs? That always makes headlines. It is always featured in PBS, in the BBC, on the French television, and in the Independent.
A Qassam a day keeps the peace away. A lot more than one a day have been falling. The Palestinians are making sure. Can't have too much of a good thing, right? That is how the Palestinians keep the truce, and that is the meaning of hudna in practical spoken Arabic. That is the truce that we are supposed to extend to the West Bank. Then we will have the same truce, and the same meteorological phenomena will be reported, in the heart of Israel. "Truce" will fall in Kfar Saba, in Jerusalem and on Lod airport. The truce will be extended from two bombs per day to ten bombs per day, and perhaps the IDF will not find all of them. The truce will be extended from Qassam rockets to Katyusha rockets. The Iranians are already training cadres of truce loving Palestinians in the upgraded Katyusha hudna, which will last for five years, for 10 years, or for 20 years.
We know also that it will not be the fault of the Hamas or the Fatah. They are blameless. Mr Abbas will condemn the terror, will he not? And Mr. Hanniyeh will prove that he was on the phone to Damascus at the time, getting his orders. He has his alibi. But of course there are other organizations. Palestinian terror organizations are always springing up like mushrooms after the rain: Black September, Green November, Front for liberation of Palestine, Islamic Jihad, Shi'ite Hudna, Popular Front, Popular Front General Command, Very Popular Front, Unpopular Back Office. Kulu wahad, they are all one. Just as Mr. Arafat directed the murder of US diplomats in the seventies, though it was credited to "Black September," and just as Mr. Abbas and Mr. Arafat were equally responsible for the murder of Israeli athletes in Munich, also credited to Black September, so Mr Abbas and Mr Hanniyeh are responsible for the daily manifestations of the "truce" in the form of rockets and bombs. They do not really deny it in fact. Didn't Mr Abbas, just the other day, in plain, spoken, Arabic, tell the Palestinians to aim their guns at the occupation? Isn't that a violation of the Oslo accords, that Mr. Abbas insists must be honored? So now we know both the meaning of hudna and of agreement in Palestinian Arabic. The guns of course, are supplied by the United States, ostensibly to allow the Fateh to fight the Hamas.
Mr Abbas and Mr Hanniyeh: "The Qassam rockets are killing us all." They kill people in Sderot, and they will kill people in Kfar Saba. Only so long will being pay the rent of seem. The hudna will kill us all, for it is only a matter of time before the IDF, which is anyhow not so competent any more as you are quick to point out, makes a mistake. Then one or two hudna bombers will get into what you call "occupied Palestine," in Tel Aviv and Nathanya, as they were doing a few years ago. Then there will be hudnas in our discotheques and pizza parlors, in our coffee houses and in our hotels, in our supermarkets and in all the other instruments of Zionist oppression. The body parts of evil Zionist occupiers, aged 8 months to 80 years old, occupiers with pig tails and diapers, will be all over the place. And then, as in 2002, the IDF will need to demonstrate what hudna means in Hebrew, and then the hudna will be killing Palestinian Arabs as well as Israeli Jews and Arabs.
The world will assuredly be horrified by the Hebrew meaning of hudna. The HRW will protest that in a real hudna, only Israelis are supposed to die. It is against international law to kill civilians, and all Palestinians are by definition civilians, while all Israelis, of whatever sex, age, ethnic group or religious persuastion, are occupiers. The UN General Assembly will praise the valiant Palestinian resistance, and the UN Human Rights Council will condemn the evil Zionist aggression.
Folks in Europe and USA will be be indignant. "After all," they wiill protest quite correctly, "the Palestinians were not doing anything to the Israelis, so why did Israel attack them? It is a disproportionate response, a war crime of the expansionist Zionists." "Qassam rockets, what Qassam rockets?. How could there have been any Qassam rockets, if none have been reported in our media?"
There exists a worthy organization called Machsomwatch, which reports constantly on the human rights violations of Israeli soldiers at checkpoints. I applaud this organization. Every democratic society needs watchdogs. By now, thanks to Machsomwatch everyone knows about "checkpoint brutality" of Israeli soldiers. But Machsomwatch is not enough, because, curiously enough, they fail to report on the number of bombs discovered by IDF soldiers in checkpoints and on patrols, the number of suicide bombers caught, and the number of terror attacks that are foiled in the framework of the hudna.
Therefore, I propose that you and I and all of us together form a new organization, to be called "Hudna watch." For our part, we shall take care to announce all the manifestations of the hudna through our news blog - Israel News . What you can do, if you do not want to monitor Israeli media, is to sign up for our daily Israel News mailings at our Israel News Web site. Then remind local media in your country each time there is another manifestation of the hudna, each time another batch of hudna rockets fall, each time another hudna bomb or hudna bomber is discovered. Write to your local media, write it up in your Web logs and Op-Ed columns. Write to your elected representatives.
We don't want there to be any misunderstanding. It is important for foreigners to learn the meaning of Arabic words, to increase understanding between civilizations. There should be no misunderstanding of the term hudna.
If you want to know even more about the hudna, contact people in Sderot and the Western Negev. A list is appended below.
Contacts Available for Comment in Sderot and Western Negev Region
Municipality and Council Representatives
Yossi Cohen, Sderot Spokesman
Shalom Halevi, Assistant to Sderot Spokesman
Tel.: 972-8-662-0206; cell: 972-57-899-4586
Alon Schuster, Head of Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council
Eliahu Segel, General Manager of Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council
Tel.: 972-8-689-7223; cell: 972-54-675-5112
Michal Shaban, Assistant to Head of Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council
Community Leaders and Organizations
Gvanim, Community organization dedicated to several different projects in Sderot
Cell: 972-54-668-9902 (ask for Hen)
Aron Poulet, Head of social work services in Sderot
Tami Sagie, Head Psychologist
Miriam Sasi, Head of Sderot's Education Department
'Sela' - A community project for Russian-speaking residents of Sderot
Natasha, Cell: 972-50-795-5051
Raneta Shulomov, Russian speaking-resident and head of a social project in Sderot
Dalia Yosef, Heads a project that deals with community protection services
School Principals and Teachers
Eli Edri, Principal of school in Sderot
Sari Kalimi, Resident of Sderot, mother of three, special education teacher and therapist
Tel.: 972-8-661-2821; cell: 972-52-476-972
Adina Mastbaum, Resident of Sderot, mother of three, and special education teacher
Tel.: 972-08-932-2221; cell: 972-50-753-3363
Amit Orbach, Principal of school in Sderot
Atara Orenbuch, Mother of six and teacher in Sderot
Tel.: 927-8-661-2869; cell: 972-54-443-5588
Matin Ovadia, Principal of a school in Sderot
Shusha Sido, Head of a Sderot kindergarten
Mutti and Rivka Spanglet, Parents of three and teachers at a local school in Sderot
Tel.: 972-8-684-9964; cell: 972-50-865-2991
Russian-Speaking Residents of Sderot
Sderot City Council, Elena Biryukova
Tel.: 972-8-662-0208; cell: 972-54-694-4149
Alexander Rieman, Historian and journalist
Cell: 972-50-562-5571; email: Rieman1@012.net.il
Anat Weinstein-Berkowitz, Spokeswoman of the Ashkelon Municipality
Tel.:972-8-679-2385; cell: 972-50-899-8385
Gregory Mezin, Assistant to Ashkelon Spokeswoman (Russian-speaker)
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