Friday, January 16, 2009

Are we really anti-war or simply just anti-Israel?

-A commentary-

Disclaimer: Due to some unfortunate assumptions by certain parties, this is an anti-war article. It neither supports Hamas nor Israel but is against all kinds of violence i.e war - this is the theme the author is attempting to present.


On 27 December, 2008, Israel launched massive air raids over the skies of Gaza in response to Hamas rocket fires into Israeli territory. The six-month ceasefire treaty expired only a week before and the Israel-Palestine conflict took off to ignite mass protests around the world. Malaysia have since had her fair share of protests condemning Israel's mega-militaristic approach to the issue.

As of today, the current death toll in Gaza resulted by the clashes between Hamas and Israeli forces have peaked over 1,000 - many of whom are innocent civilians who are literally held hostage in their own land. While we hold our banners and flags up high in protest, we need to stop and ask ourselves: What are we protesting for? Are we protesting against violence or are we simply protesting just because it is Israel?

The 2008/09 Gaza conflict

There is a thin line that separates politics and human rights in the latest Gaza conflict. I must say that while we take to the streets to condemn Israel's attack on Gaza, we are evermore at risk of crossing that line.

On January 2, UMNO Youth led a rally to protest against Israel and marched to the Palestinian embassy in Kuala Lumpur to show their solidarity towards the Palestinian people. The 200-strong group, which included Palestinian students studying here in Malaysia. The rally was headed by Umno Youth deputy chief and the Prime Minister's son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin.

Their show of support for the Palestinian war victims soon turned into an argument when the Palestinian ambassador to Malaysia , Abdel Aziz Abu Ghoush told several protesters to put away large portraits of slained Hamas leaders. He wanted the portraits removed from the crowd as he "did not want to show divisions in the internal affairs of Palestine”. [link]

“There should be no individual photos. We should show our support to all the Palestinians regardless of who they are. We should show our unity against Israel,” screamed Abdel Aziz from the balcony of the embassy building. [Malaysiakini, 2/1/09]
There were reports saying that it was the Palestinian students who were responsible for carrying those portraits of dead Hamas militant leaders. But the fact that the organisers of the rally did not even 'realise' that their event was on the brink of turning into a political support rally is enough to support my point. Their actions would imply that there are many who are clueless to the complex socio-politics of Palestine and its even more complex relation with Israel.

By jostling their way around with portraits of political leaders, the protesters have thread into supporting a political party-Hamas instead of really showing support for the Palestinian people. Many may not know this but Hamas is not Palestine and Palestine is not Hamas. The Palestinian state itself is divided into 'two seats of power' where Fatah (another political party) has control in the West Bank while Hamas asserts its authority firmly in Gaza.

The 2008/09 Gaza conflict is a conflict between Hamas and Israel. Malaysians should therefore stand behind the people of Palestine who are the real victims of the war.

The risk of us turning into 'activists' for political parties is not confined only to our country. On January 3, Palestinian police have banned pro-Hamas protests in the streets [link]. This clearly indicates that even the Palestinian themselves are aware that the current predicament is a human issue and it should not be politicised by any party.

Are we being selective in our protests?

There is also the risk of us jumping onto the bandwagon when we make our stand against the conflict in Gaza. Are we protesting against violence or are we really protesting simply because it is Israel?

The police have indeed acted inconsiderately when they dispersed an anti-war vigil organised by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) at Dataran Merdeka; claiming it was an 'illegal' assembly. It was understood that the group was protesting against war, including the Sri Lankan government's attack on the separatist Tamil Tigers recently [link]

I am disappointed to see the indiscretion shown by the police when such gatherings are for the right cause -peace. It was reported that 21 people, including DAP Klang MP Charles Santiago were arrested in that incident.

On January 12, Home Minister Datuk
Seri Syed Hamid Albar issued a statement to defend the arrests made by the police, claiming that the Sri Lankan government's attack on the rebels should not be included in PSM's anti-war protest.

"If you want to demonstrate in respect of the Palestinian cause, then don't mix it up with the Sri Lanka cause. The PSM protests were more for Sri Lanka which is a different cause. We cannot have protests in support of separatists movements...They had many placards in support of separatists in Sri Lanka," Syed Hamid told The Malaysian Insider. [The Malaysian Insider, 12/1/09]
If this is not a display of selective protest then I don't know what is. Syed Hamid did no one any favours by implying that civil war in Sri Lanka is less important than the Israel-Palestine crisis. In fact, are the lives of Tamils or Sri Lankans less precious than of those in Palestine? Therefore, I would say the government and the general public are being biased in this matter, ranking one crisis above the other. Are these people only so hyped-up simply because it is Israel?

If in all honesty these streets protest were meant to denounce violence and war, then the Palestinian conflict would be no different than any other war or genocide currently taking place somewhere across the globe.

So, why aren't there any similar protests against the corrupt Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe or the eternal civil war in Somalia? Or what about the time when Hamas and Fatah members were senselessly killing each other to control Gaza a few years ago? Where were the appropriate 'protests for peace' back then?

Racial and religious extremism?

Our protests can and will slowly turn into a platform for extremism like anti-Semitic sentiments witnessed across the world recently. Many were calling for the extermination of the entire Jewish population with banners that carry derogatory statements against the Jewish community. Some demonstrations in Europe have even expanded into an almost pro-Nazi rally to call for the death of every Jew; thus reviving one of Europe's darkest history to potentially repeat itself. That sounds like racism to me.

Apart from racism, we should also prevent our protests from escalating into a religious cause. The crisis grappling the people of Gaza currently should be viewed from a humanitarian perspective. Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin was quoted earlier saying the Gaza conflict is a 'humanitarian issue which transcends religion' . And I believe he is right. However, that does not mean religious groups may not come forward to condemn Israel's actions. The Gaza conflict cannot simply be a religious war as people in Gaza are getting killed for the politics of their government, not because of their faith.

The United Kingdom is currently on high alert as they fear that the Gaza conflict may fan religious extremist thoughts among the general public [link]. France and Sweden are also monitoring the situation as violence due to racial and religious extremism are currently on the rise [link].

(Images from an anti-Jewish rally in London)

It's not about religion or politics, it's about the innocent people of Palestine

If we do take to the streets again, it is only right to ensure that the rallies organised are in support of the Palestinian people. Recent events have already shown that there are many who are oblivious to the harsh reality of Palestinian politics while there are also some who protest simply because it is against Israel. Thus, we must also not allow religious and racial extremism to take root in our society while we protest against the Israeli aggression.

The Socialist Party of Malaysia has done the right thing by organising an anti-war rally to protest against violence and war. But it is a shame to see the double standards currently employed by our government and the Home Minister as we occupy ourselves to condemn Israel. War is war. Gaza is no different from any other war where innocent lives are lost over conflicting ideologies.

Only the Palestinian people deserve our support and deepest sympathy - not Hamas, Fatah or Israel. The world must understand that innocent civilians in Gaza are paying the price of war- not with money but with their lives.

15 comments :

  1. Rizwan said...

    Are you kidding me? Religious extremism? LOL. Those American and Israeili Zionists are a bunch of hypocrites! I could see it in front of my eyes. I hate to say it but this is the fact!

    More than 1000 died, 335 children and more than 100 women within 20 days. What would you call that? War crime of course!

    Anti-Semite? Do you even know what semite means? LOL. Semites are descendants of Abraham (pbuh) and it's not only Jews, Arabs are Semites as well. Those European "Jews" in "Israel" are not 100% Jewish blood. They are mostly mixed with European or Aryan blood. That's why some of them are BLONDE!! Jesus pbuh was totally not blonde! Even Arabs are more authentic semites if you don't know!

    The pictures don't show anti-jews at all. How could we be anti-jews when almost all of our beloved prophets were from the Children of Israel? Israel itself is the name of one of our mightiest prophet which other name is Ya'cub pbuh. We are not anti-jews but we are anti-zionists. Those pictures show zionists logos not of judaism!

    You better educate yourself when writing about one of the most vital issues in the world!

    Malaysian

  2. Anonymous said...

    @Rizwan,

    Zionist are people living in Israel, it does not imply that they are evil or money grubbing Jews.

    "Those American and Israeli Zionists are a bunch of hypocrites!"

    I think all of us have little hypocrites in us. Where were you during the London Subway bombing incident? Where were you during the USS Cole attack? Where were you during the Bali bombings? It looks like the OIC are a bunch of hypocrites too.

    "More than 1000 died, 335 children and more than 100 women within 20 days. What would you call that? War crime of course!"

    Does that mean rockets landing on Israels' side isn't a war crime?

    "Those European "Jews" in "Israel" are not 100% Jewish blood. They are mostly mixed with European or Aryan blood."

    Does blood relations make them less worthy of rights?

  3. Anonymous said...

    this has obviously becoming an opportunity for those 'blindfolded' & so-called 'anti-war' supporters in our country to voice out their racism & anti-israelism without knowing the whole story behind the formation of Palestine-Israel land 30 years ago.

    Yes we should stand behind those innocent civilians regardless of palestinians or israel victims, but i couldnt help but to be disgusted by the so-called anti-war rally in msia. Its just simply a political activity rather than a proper peace rally campaign. Shame on Msia.

  4. z said...

    Rizwan,

    I find some parts of your comment/argument flawed. I will not argue with your who are the hypocrites and what not because it will go no where. Nevertheless, i will point out certain FACTS which escaped you because you are "(We are not anti-Jews but we are) anti-Zionists".

    "More than 1000 died, 335 children and more than 100 women within 20 days. What would you call that? War crime of course!"

    Firstly, let me stress that there ARE casualties on both sides of this war women and children alike. Secondly, with 1000 deaths within 20 days wouldn't be considered a war crime but casualties of war. The numbers here pale in comparison to war crimes committed by Adolf Hitler. Lastly, you have to understand both sides are responsible for the deaths of the innocent children and women mentioned. Hamas launch rockets from rooftops of schools, mosque, civilian houses etc. (even around the UN embassy) and Israel bombards the area where the rocket where launched from automatically. I would say although Israel pulled the trigger, it was Hamas who used the civilians as human shields, so both sides are at fault.

    "Those European "Jews" in "Israel" are not 100% Jewish blood. They are mostly mixed with European or Aryan blood. That's why some of them are BLONDE!!"

    It is a FACT that the Aryans that you mentioned DO NOT EXIST!! "Blonde" Aryans are a concept race created by Adolf Hitler. He believes Aryans are the superior race/human.

    YOU better educate yourself when writing (commenting) about one of the most vital issues in the world!

  5. amoker said...

    I do agree with this writting. If we say that we are into defending the unjust, we need to be impartial on all wars. We kept quiet at many wars that we do not have interest in. And it is rather unfortunate that the majority of humanitarian initiatives ( Bosnia, Kosovo, Palestin, Iraq, Southen Philipines etc.) happens only for Muslim population. Even in SEA, we kept quiet with Myammar & Indonesia.

  6. jonathan ong said...

    #

    Dear Rizwan,

    Antisemitism (alternatively spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism; also rarely known as judeophobia) is prejudice and hostility toward Jews. Please read your dictionary first before lecturing me on that word. I know "semite" does not only refer to the Jews. But "anti-semitism" has been used to exclusively target the Jews. Please read up on your vocabulary first before correcting my terms.

    Are you also implying that Hamas are totally innocent in this war too? It takes two hands to clap, my friend.

    I am not supporting Israel or Hamas, please understand this article. I am saying we should protest against Israel for their war crimes but also let's not forget the other wars too. We should therefore stand up against all violence and not just take up banners simply because it is Israel this time. Isn't that hypocrisy? Where were these protesters when Bin Laden's men flew those planes into the twin towers? Is not that a crime against humanity as well?

    I'm saying we should comdemn all sorts of wars and violence! How can I be any more clearer?

    Rallies that cry "death to the jews" or "God bless Hitler" are not anti-Jew, hmm?

    So I urge you educate yourself first and to read my article carefully before you come here with your flawed reasoning.

    And by the way, "Semite" refers not to the descendants of Abraham but Shem which encompasses a larger group of people since Shem was Abraham's grandfather.

    "Are you kidding me? Religious extremism? LOL. Those American and Israeili Zionists are a bunch of hypocrites! I could see it in front of my eyes. I hate to say it but this is the fact!" -quote

    Hypocrites they may be but Hamas are not too different either. I'm sure you know about how Hamas killed Fatah members coldbloodedly in 2007?

  7. Anonymous said...

    "The pictures don't show anti-jews at all. How could we be anti-jews when almost all of our beloved prophets were from the Children of Israel? Israel itself is the name of one of our mightiest prophet which other name is Ya'cub pbuh. We are not anti-jews but we are anti-zionists. Those pictures show zionists logos not of judaism!" - quote

    Rizwan,
    I'm afraid you do not understand words like "Jahanam Yahudi" or "Boikot semua barangan Yahudi" during such protests. So please don't say you are only being anti-Zionist when we hear cries like that!

  8. The Man said...

    I don't really care for the government but Israel weapon manufacturers produce sweet weapons. Anyways, when Hitler was eliminating the Jews, people bitch. Now that the Jews are out of control, people bitch. Töten Sie die Juden! Wir können nicht stillstehen, bis sie alle tot sind! Wir müssen die Juden ausrotten!

  9. Anonymous said...

    I'm hearing of Uztaz and Uztazah's telling school children to hate and boycott anything Isreaeli, American or Jewish. What's troubling is the fact that they are quoting the Quran which they claim says that Allah cursed the Jews to become monkeys and pigs so that they can be killed. I suggest that you also read http://margeemar.blogspot.com

  10. Anonymous said...

    Fellows,

    The fact is, in the arab-muslim world there is this knee jerk reaction when it comes to Israel's existence as a country. So far I have not heard a completely sensible and impartial analysis on mid-east conflict from any of my muslim friends! Not 1! over the last 30 years.
    I suspect this is from a deep rooted hatred more than just territorial dispute.
    If it is just territory then a map of mid-east will show Israel landmass is just a tiny % of the whole middle east, so why is it so difficult to come to an accomodation.
    So I guess only BIG GUNS can blast away extreme hatred!

  11. Anonymous said...

    why should muslims march protesting the 911? That is an act of terrorism. It has no connection with Islam. I believe many muslims have condemned the acts.It is however not a state sponsored act of terror. The gaza incursion shows that it is sytematically done and through deliberate actions on the part of the Israelis and approval by the US. The Gaza incident is the latest in a long history of abuse the Palestinian suffered over 60 years. Generations born and died in refugee camps. Whatever justification one come up to justify the zionist action pales in comparison to the Palestinian suffering. It makes me wanna puke when someone justifies the zionist killings compared to what hitler did. By that rational i can come to your house, takeover, evict you out and kill your relatives? And if you fight back, i'll kill somem kore? After all theyre less than 6 million.


    I understand if you people dont want to stand with the muslims on this issue because its not your problem and you gain notheing monetarily from it, but dont add fuel to the fire by saying what Israel does is right. Palestinian are fighting for their lands, zionists are the occupiers. The oppressors vs the freedom fighters. The Occupier has no rights in the land to begin with what nonsense are you guys preaching? Its like saying the indonesians have no right to kill the dutch when the country was invaded and colonized by the dutch.

    Palestine like rizwan said before, is the land of many Islamic prophets. These are the prophets of Islam (not just Jews) who were sent to corrrect the ways of the ISraelites. We consider them as prophets of God not as prophets of the Jews. Some were even slain by the ancient Israelites. I believe many muslim feels that it is their responsibility to stand up for Gaza being the homeland of many of our muslim palestinian brothers. That deep connection alone is above any humanitarian reason. What sensible anylysis do you need? That its okay to take peoples lands? That people have to recognize your zionist state simply because you have superior weaponry obtained through monetary influence?


    It is true that many protesters equate zionism with jews. Who is really to blame for that? Zionism is created to promote the ideals of a Jewish state and the Jewish people above others. It is becoming increasingly hard to seperate zionist from jews because the two are often intertwined. Majority of the rich Jews support zionism. If theres anyone guilty of confusing the two it must be the zionist themselves. So much so that term Zionism is now known as Yahudi in teh muslim world, while the true Jews are acdcepted as the believers. Antisemite is a panic button that the zionist press everytime they commit a crime. To criticize them means being antisemite. The guilt of the third reich crimes makes the europeans turn a blind eye to the zionists atrocities.Obvously many here fall in this brainwashed category. These are the very people who think the zionist have the right to kill and main simply because of their materialistic advantage over the palestinians. Perhaps many also have interests in the companies the muslims are boycotting, hence the rebellion against the anti-zionist stance. Religion was not brought down to justify worldy gains but Right or Wrong.

    How many of the 10 commandments have the ISraelis broken? I'm not sure what the ustaza said but it was refered many times in the Koran and also the bible by God himself and through Prophets to the ISraelites warning them of sinning and evildoing and against driving people from their homelands. God spoke to them because they were initially chosed\n sort of like a test population. God also has made it clear that his covenant does not include evildoers even those from the Bani ISrael. That they are not the chosen one exempt from the day of judgement.

    Israel is a religious name God gave Jacob, the zionist have no right using that name as a banner for their atrocities. btw, I dont think Big Guns has blasted away any hatred toward the zionists. Big Guns have blasted away any chance of Israel living a peaceful existence.

  12. jonathan ong said...

    But the people responsible for 911 used the name of Islam, didn't they? I am not implying that all Muslims are terrorists, but what I am questioning is that whenever terrorists carry out acts in the name of Islam, where are your protests against them? Yes, Israel is inhumane and cruel but what makes these terrorists any different from the Israelis then? So, my take is that Muslims should not just only protest against Israel, if what you are protesting is against violence and injustice, but take the similiar magnitude of discontentment you are showing against Israel to the terrorists who misuse your religion to inflict evil on others.

  13. VoiceOfPolitics said...

    Jonathan,

    I agree with you, and you did highlight the blind spot of Malaysian : Anti-war or anti-Israel, Peace-lovers or Islam-defenders.

    And, I am looking forward to read more commentaries from you. Your viewpoints are sharp, direct and simple.

    Cheers!

  14. Anonymous said...

    There is no difference between the terrorist and ISrael. Terrosism pevert Islam to justify their actions, the same way zionist pevert the word ISrael. If you claim that antisemitism in the general context refers to anti jews, then the term has already been hijacked. As pointed out by riddzwan, all children of Abraham are semitic. If they can corrupt the word antisemitic to be used in defense of criticism against jewish criminal actions, then the word Yahudi is also twisted thrugh their actions to represent zionism. Muslims can also use the same tactic of guilt projection by saying if you dont support Palestinian cause, youre therefore anti muslim. Is this logical?

    Gods covenant with Abraham does not include evildoer be it the children of Ishmael or Isaac. Much less should there exist any covenant with terrorists. As shown in the Quran.

    2:124 And [remember this:] when his Sustainer tried Abraham by [His] commandments and the latter fulfilled them, He said: "Behold, I shall make thee a leader of men. "Abraham asked: "And [wilt Thou make leaders] of my offspring as well? "[God] answered: "My covenant does not embrace the evildoers."

    Also God has seen that "Yahudi" has the penchant of turning away from God's covenants even though tehy were the first ones to receive the scripture through moses. Even after receiving many prohets, they still turn to evildoing. Prophets were slain, denied as messengers, they turned to idol worshipping, murder, incest, homosexuality etc etc.This is not mention in the Koran alone but the Bible as well.The initial covenant elevated them as the chosen people but subsequent violations made that covenant null and a covenant only apply between God and believers not the descendants of a particular patriach.


    The fact remains that the zionists stole Palestinian lands in 1948, then stole more in 1967. And are using the 67 land gains as a ransom for peace over the original theft of 48. As they did with Egypyt over Sinai. God has already seen this happening,God spoke of it the Quran more than 1600 years ago. Below are just a few of these words God spoke to the Israelites:

    2:72 For, O children of Israel, because you had slain a human being and then cast the blame for this [crime] upon one another -although God will bring to light what you would conceals

    2:81 Yea! Those who earn evil and by their sinfulness are engulfed - they are destined for the fire. therein to abide;

    2:83 AND LO! We accepted this solemn pledge from [you,] ' the children of Israel: "You shall worship none but God; and you shall do good unto your parents and kinsfolk, and the orphans, and the poor; and you shall speak unto all people in a kindly way; and you shall be constant in prayer; and you shall spend in charity. ”And yet, save for a few of you, you turned away: for you are obstinate folk!

    2:84 And lo! We accepted your solemn pledge that you would not shed one another's blood, and would not drive one another from your homelands - whereupon you acknowledged it; and thereto you bear witness [even now].

    2:85 (Asad) And yet, it is you who slay one another and drive some of your own people from their homelands, aiding one another against them in sin and hatred; but if they come to you as captives, you ransom them - although the very [act of] driving them away has been made unlawful to you! . Do you, then, believe in some parts of the divine writ and deny the truth pf other parts? What, then, could be the reward of those among you who do such things but ignominy in the life of this world and, on the Day of Resurrection, commitment to most grievous suffering? For God is not unmindful of what you do.


    It needs to be made clear that Those who comitted 911 mostly are saudis and many of these people follow wahabism. Do you think the Saud got Saudi arabia by being nice to the Hashemites? Not only are they destroying buildings and killing people but wahabism also is responsible for the destruction of many Islamic historiical sites in arabia. They even consider other muslims as apostates. So are we anti whatever since muslims keep quiet about this? Muslims dont stand united against the act of terriosism because those that commit them are answerable to God and these acts dont represent Islam. On the other hand We stand against opression of our own brothers and sisters. If Hindraf fights for Hindu rights, why cant muslims fight for muslims? We stand united without creating an organization on this Palestinian cause.If you want to stand up for hindraf and what not go ahead but dont expect muslims to devoutly follow you. Just as we dont expect your kind to stand together in the Palestinian issue. That is all. What have you achieved by hurting muslims feelings and support the Zionist in the name of liberalism? Has it brought us closer?

    -Tamerlane

  15. Anonymous said...

    @anonymous(Tamerlane),

    The Ottoman Empire lost in WWI. The Allied forces then proceeded to divide the conquered lands according to the Treaty of Sèvres. After the collapse of Axis forces, the British Empire inherited Palestine. They gave these lands to the Jews in accordance to a League of Nations Mandate.

    "The fact remains that the zionists stole Palestinian lands in 1948, then stole more in 1967."

    No, not fact; Simply, your opinion. There is no right or wrong in fact. Israel was invaded after its independence in 1948, but expanded its borders through the 1949 Armistice Agreements at the end of the war. That is fact.

    "God has already seen this happening,God spoke of it the Quran more than 1600 years ago."

    God will only act when its convenient on behalf of the writers of history.

    "Muslims dont stand united against the act of terriosism because those that commit them are answerable to God and these acts dont represent Islam."

    Apathy in the face of a clearly evil act is malice.

    "It needs to be made clear that Those who comitted 911 mostly are saudis and many of these people follow wahabism."

    It also needs to be made clear religion is double edged blade. People are always divided, whether its race, class, or culture. When one group thinks itself more superior than others, the usual bigotry and prejudice apply.

    "If Hindraf fights for Hindu rights, why cant muslims fight for muslims?"

    Those "Muslims" are Muslims only because they proclaim to be. It doesn't matter what they claim, it will not make them right or wrong.

    The Hindraf group has yet to demonstrate its supposed violent tendencies. They have yet to fire rockets into populated areas. Nobody is trying to demolish mosques.

    The act of sympathizing another simply due to common articles of faith is flawed. It does not make it right for those who share your faith to do evil.

    "What have you achieved by hurting muslims feelings and support the Zionist in the name of liberalism?"

    Nobody is trying to hurt your feelings. Nobody is supporting the ongoing violence in the Middle East.

There was an error in this gadget