Ben-Gurion University (BGU) has announced that it will be hosting Palestinian Authority (PA) official Mahmoud Al-Habbash to talk about “The religious aspects of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the need for religious tolerance.” On paper, this sounds like a welcome event: with religious tensions spiraling in Israel, calling for tolerance is certainly the right thing to do. Except that asking Al-Habbash to talk about religious tolerance is like asking Al Capone to talk about tax compliance.
Al-Habbash is the “Supreme Shari’ah Judge of the Palestinian Authority” and “Advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs” of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. On 22 October 2014, the PA-controlled newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that Al-Habbash declared that, according to Islamic Shari’ah law, the “entire land of Palestine” is Islamic waqf and it is forbidden to make peace with Israel. On 5 November 2014, commenting on the Palestinian terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, Al-Habbash declared on PA television: “We kiss every forehead, every hand and even every foot that carries out ribat (i.e. religious war over land claimed to be Islamic) at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and in Jerusalem… We are behind them. The leadership is with them… We are with them in every movement, in every action and every deed, and we welcome what they are doing at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Al-Habbash used the term “ribat” to describe the recent murder of Israelis by stabbing and hit-and-run car attacks. Referring to the recent Palestinian terrorist attacks, Al-Habbash said in his Nov. 5 TV interview: “A few days ago, President [Mahmoud Abbas] greeted them, reinforced them and requested more ribat from them. This statement may have angered the Israelis and the occupation, that the President is inciting the Palestinians from Jerusalem to [perform] ribat. Yes, we are inciting the people in Jerusalem to [perform] ribat. Ribat means to protect and to hold on to your ground.”
Two days later, on 7 November 2014, Al-Habbash explained on PA television his views on the Western Wall: “All of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, including its plazas, stone benches, prayer niches and walls, including the Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., the Western Wall), including the blessed Al-Buraq Wall – all these are waqf to us (i.e., an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law). All this is waqf and kharaj land (i.e., land belonging to Muslims) and no one is permitted to sell it or negotiate over it or forfeit it. It is ours and will remain ours. The occupation is the one that will leave.”
Al-Habbash also has interesting insights on what the “peace process” means to him, to his boss, and to Islam in general. On 19 July 2013, he delivered a sermon in the presence of Mahmoud Abbas, a sermon that was broadcast on PA television. In it, Al-Habbash explained that when the PLO signed the Oslo agreements with Israel, it did so in order to walk “the right path, which leads to achievement, exactly like the Prophet [Muhammad] did in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.” The Hudaybiyyah peace treaty was a 10-year truce that Muhammad signed with the Quraish Tribe of Mecca in 628 AD. Two years after signing the truce, however, Muhammad attacked and conquered Mecca. Al-Habbash stressed that Muhammad’s agreeing to the Hudaybiyyah treaty was not “disobedience” to Allah, but rather “politics” and “conflict management.” He added that in spite of the peace treaty (or, rather, because of it), Muhammad did eventually conquer Mecca. The Hudaybiyyah agreement, Al-Habbash emphasized, is not just past history but a religiously permissible deceit for lack of a better option.
This is the man who was invited by BGU to talk about “religious tolerance.” Like Muhammad in 628, the PLO today is blessed with an unlimited number of useful idiots, especially in academia – both in Israel and in the United States. In the past few years, Hillel (the Foundation for Jewish campus life in the US) has opened its gates to the most anti-Israel organizations, supposedly to encourage “dialogue” under the euphemism “Open Hillel.” In December 2013, the Hillel branch of Swarthmore College became the first Open Hillel by declaring that it would no longer abide by the organization’s “Standards of Partnership,” which bar Hillel from hosting speakers who support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel, or demonize or delegitimize the State of Israel. Other Hillel chapters have followed suit, such as the one at Berkley. This trend is encouraged, and often funded, by J-Street and by the New Israel Fund.
What Al-Habbash means by “religious tolerance” is that Islam’s enemies can be tolerated only after being subjugated or eliminated. And if the enemy is willing to cooperate with his own demise, blessed be the useful idiots.