Displaying items by tag: Palestine struggle
If we did a survey today and asked if Malaysians care about the plight of the Palestinians, we may be surprised to discover that there may not be as enormous support as we would have thought.
For one, we were never made aware of the Israeli-Palestinian issue other than from what we read, watch or hear.
We have no diplomatic relations with Israel and most Malaysians have no contact with an Israeli Jew. The only connection Muslims here have of them is found in the verses of the Quran, where the behaviour of the "children of Israel" is mentioned in several chapters.
Malaysia has an official policy of not recognising the state of Israel for as long as it continues to grab, occupy and settle in Palestinian land. This is also the policy of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for which our first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was lauded when he was appointed its first secretary-general in 1969.
After the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank, Gaza, and some of the land belonging to Jordan, Syria and Egypt, the Arab states acted in unison to fight back the Israelis.
The Peace Treaty of 1979, brokered by the United States, saw the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, but not the territories belonging to the Palestinians. Even worse, the Palestinians who took refuge outside during the war were not allowed to return to their homeland.
The Arab League, a coalition of 22 Arab countries, made it their national duty and issued the Khartoum Resolution, often remembered for its three "nos": no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.
Unfortunately, today, the Arab League is little more than "a talk shop" with half of the OIC members abandoning their pledge, recognising and establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. These countries include Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, several African states, including Nigeria, the Gambia and Senegal, and some Central Asian states such as Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
The latest Arab country to have diplomatic relations with Israel is the United Arab Emirates and there are intensive efforts made by the US to persuade Sudan, Bahrain and Oman to do likewise. The shift in policy of these OIC members relate to their own national interests — some did it for economic benefits, some were carolled and dangled with carrots, some did it for security reasons and many because of their fear of the rise of Iran.
Iran, which used to be a monarchy like most of the Arab states, became a populous Islamic state under Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 and there is fear that its ideology would spread in the Middle East. The Arab Spring of 2011 signalled that ordinary people are wary of the autocratic system of their monarchs.
To keep the status quo, many of these Arab leaders would not mind seeking alliances with Israel, which does not see eye to eye with Iran. This is why Saudi's recent move to allow Israeli planes to fly in their airspace is seen as a tactical political move in the interests of the monarchy, but not necessarily the people. However, within the OIC, there remains some strong-willed countries that would not tolerate Israel and its policies.
Malaysia is one of them. The few others include Indonesia and Pakistan — and these are not Arab states. Today, the Israel military has maintained a tight cordon along the Gaza Strip, making it impossible for the Palestinians living there to receive food and medical supplies from outside. A 708km wall constructed in 2002 borders the West Bank, making it difficult for its inhabitants to move at ease.
Thousands of Israeli settlements were built within the wall to saturate the Palestinian population. The biggest insult came in May 2018 when the US, under Donald Trump's administration, decided to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognising it as Israel's new capital.
It is not for Islamic solidarity that hardcore supporters like Malaysia must hold firmly to the Palestinian cause. It has to do with humanitarian rights of the people who are slowly being forced to abandon their own land to give way to the colonisers.
After all, if 400 million Arabs who worship the same God and write the same alphabet and recite the same poetry cannot unite for the Palestinian cause, the international community should. This is not an Arab issue. It has to do with the sufferings of people who are oppressed and in the midst of being thrown out of their land.
The writer is Malaysia's former ambassador to the Netherlands and the Fiji Islands
Published in: New Straits Times, Monday, 07 September 2020
When the United Arab Emirates recognised Israel as a full state, the most basic condition attached to the process that Israel cease and desist from any settlement activities in the West Bank.
However, there was no effort to specify when Israel should do that, merely an aspiration, which the UAE would like to see on the ground.
Another important point, there are more then 650,000 settlers in Israel, staying in the occupied land of Palestine wrested from King Hussein of Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.
If the settlers had already considered these occupied land as their homes, which are against the Geneva Convention, the action of the UAE has amounted to rewarding the action of the Likud government, especially the coalition lead by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The fact is that since the Madrid Dialogue in 1990, as approved by the late United States president George Bush, with the consent of then Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, a two-state solution has always been in the offing.
To the degree the Spanish peace process could not make any head ways, Professor Herbert Kelman at Harvard University helped it along.
Kelman invited scholars and government officials from both sides to speak in their private albeit semi official capacity, in what is otherwise known as a "Track 2 Dialogue", a field explored in great detail by Phar Kim Beng, a former Harvard teaching fellow from 1998 to 2001.
When the confidence was gained by both sides, the Norwegian government took over to sponsor the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks leading to the 1994 Oslo Peace Accord signed between the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, who was representing the People's Liberation Organisation.
Regrettably, since then, Netanyahu, who has won five elections, has never taken this Oslo Accord seriously.
If the UAE does not understand the peril of the peace process, especially how brittle it can be, the Gulf country should not unilaterally recognise Israel.
There are three dire strategic implications.
First, the ultra-conservative elements in Iran have considered UAE a "legitimate target", potentially to be attacked. This is not healthy for regional dynamics.
Secondly, with Turkey against the plan too, it will lobby the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) to challenge the leadership of the United States and Israel to hamper any progress.
This will create a split in Nato at a point when the organisation is already very weak due to the absence of American leadership.
Finally, if UAE works with the US and Israel, the much sought-after Muslim unity will fray, not that it hasn't, because the Muslim world will begin to question
the legitimacy of the global order.
A two-state solution is the only gold standard that can satisfy the Palestinians, and all those who have had the misfortune to witness their displacement for decades.
The writer is president and chief executive officer of Emir Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times
Published in: New Straits Times on Tuesday, 01 September 2020
KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today lambasted “powerful nations” for their silence over the prolonged Israeli war crimes on Palestinian land.
In expressing his anger towards such atrocities, the interim prime minister said sufferings of the Palestinian people persist despite demands for justice against the oppression.
“I am also angry that powerful nations and self-proclaimed defenders of justice, freedom and democracy are keeping silent or worse, a party to the perpetrations of injustices and cruelties inflicted on the Palestinians, wantonly by the Tel Aviv regime.
“Most hurtful is at times when despair creeps in, and the sense of helplessness overwhelms us. Everyone speaks of justice and freedom but turns a blind eye when friends and allies commit all these wrong deeds. But I hope that such feelings are fleeting.
“While Malaysia wants to be friends with all countries and respect their sovereignty regardless of their ideological beliefs, we must continue to speak against injustices and in defending the rights of the oppressed,” he said in his keynote address at the opening session of the International Conference on the Question of Palestine, themed ‘Southeast Asian Support for the Rights of the Palestinian People’ at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here today.
He said Malaysia reaffirmed its commitment to the cause until the Palestinians were provided with the justice, freedom, peace and security they deserve.
Dr Mahathir also urged Asean member states to continue the pursuit of justice and peace for the oppressed.
“Our collective voice regionally should espouse more than just economic development. We should also extend a united front in supporting the rights of the Palestinians. This is the primary purpose of this peace conference.
“This conference today is a congregation of global representatives – individually and collectively we can utilise all the platforms available, both Asean and non-Asean, for us to continue voicing our concerns and register our outrage over the inhumane and barbaric acts that the Tel Aviv regime has inflicted on the Palestinians.
“We are duty-bound and this responsibility is further amplified when powerful nations that had styled themselves as defenders of justice and freedom choose to be silent while the atrocities are being committed.
“And we cannot afford to practise double standards where gross injustice is concerned.”
Dr Mahathir reiterated Malaysia’s stand against the United States President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan, dubbed by proponents as “the deal of the century”, which was announced on Jan 28.
Malaysia, he said, stands by its position for the creation of an independent State of Palestine through a two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
“The unilateral announcement endorsed and instigated by the Israelis without any attempts for dialogue or negotiation with Palestinian representatives from the West Bank or Gaza is a mockery of international efforts to find a solution to the Palestinian – Israeli ongoing crisis.
“Furthermore, to call it the Deal of the Century bespeaks of the ultimate in dishonest brokerage.
“The deal foregoes key issues at stake for a just solution. The plan would abolish the right of return for Palestinian refugees displaced by the 1948 war and their descendants, a key Palestinian stand.”
The deal, he said, is contrary to Security Council resolutions and the principle of a permanent two-State solution based on the 1967 borders, the realisation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the right of all States in the region to live in peace and security.
It does not respect previously signed agreements and commitments, he said.
“To suggest East Jerusalem as Israel’s national capital would grant Palestine limited autonomy in parts of the West Bank, if at all. At the same time, it would allow Israel to annex all its settlements there and keep nearly all of East Jerusalem. Thankfully, this has been deemed illegal by the international community.
“Israel will get Washington’s permission to annex all of its illegal settlements, now littered across the West Bank, as well as the vast agricultural basin of the Jordan Valley. I believe that under international law, the annexation of an occupied territory is considered a War Crime!
“Israel will continue to have military control over the entire West Bank. In the proposed agreement, Palestine would not be allowed an army, whereas Israel will control its security, borders, coastal waters and airspace. The occupied state would be forced to accept the plan within four years. Otherwise, Israel will have a free hand to start plundering yet more Palestinian territory.
“Malaysia finds the proposal utterly unacceptable and grossly unjust.
“Let us not forget that the international community back then was responsible for the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and drowning the existing state of Palestine into anonymity and oblivion.”
He said it was on May 14, 1948, that Israel came into being through a bloody forcible seizure of villages and land from the Palestinians who had lived there from historical times.
The declaration of independence by Israel, he said, contrasts with the fate of Palestinians so much that the latter deems the date as the day of catastrophe.
“The Holocaust lasted six years and the Nakba (catastrophe) has been going on for more than 70 years! The pro-Israel nations were quick to hold a tribunal at Nuremberg to try Nazi war criminals but have any tribunal been established for the Palestinian victims?
“Palestinians have always been advised to forget the past and start anew wherever they may be. The paradox is that they live out the consequences of the past every day as oppressed people under a violent military occupation; as a powerless minority in Israel, or as marginalised exiles in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.
“Yet the Israelis will not allow the world to forget the Holocaust and ironically it is the Palestinians who have been made to pay a heavy price.
“Some of you may recall that in November 2013 the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War held a tribunal against the state of Israel for war crimes and crimes of genocide.
“Along with other civil society initiatives across the world, we hope that the International Criminal Court will take note of this blatant case of the injustice of the century and institute proceedings against Israel.”
Published in: The New Straits Times, Satruday 29 February 2020
At the coffee house of a hotel here, people were moving about oblivious to the presence of a renowned Israeli historian.
“I only arrived just hours ago, but I am impressed with what I have seen and heard so far.
“I envy all of you for the peace and harmony that you enjoy here. Hopefully, we can have this one day back home.”
Professor Ilan Pappe, 65, is a professor at the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.
He was on his first visit to Malaysia. Pappe has for many years fought against the Zionist regime’s oppressive policies towards the Palestinians.
Because of his views, he has not only come under fire and criticism from fellow Jews, but has also suffered in many ways.
“As an Israeli with such a stand in support of the Palestinians and for peace as well, I have paid a heavy price. I was kicked out of the University of Haifa in 2007.
“Since then, I am unable to teach in any academic capacity in Israel, so this is why I moved partly to England because I needed an academic position.
“The effect of this is that you lose contact with your society, and in a way in their eyes (Jews), you are seen and labelled as a traitor, so it has been anything but easy.
“But I’m not the only one, as there are several of us. When I talk to colleagues or compatriots who underwent a similar journey or trajectory, there is an interesting point.
“Despite the fact that we cannot go back any more to where and what we once were, we are at total peace with ourselves, because we know we are doing the right thing and it’s much stronger than tribal affiliations.
“Despite losing some of our reference points in society, I should also make it clear that I am very strongly supported by the Palestinians which gives me a lot of strength.
“My suffering is nothing compared to what they have and are still going through,” said Pappe.
He also revealed that when more of the Jewish public began to know of his efforts in defending the human and civil rights of the Palestinians, things began to get out of hand. The safety of his family came under threat.
“The main problem were the death threats. This is the main reason why I left for England.
“Such threats started when my children were very young. But then a few years ago, the situation got better so my wife and children went back because I wanted them to know and see first-hand the struggles on both sides of the divide.
“With Israel being such an indoctrinated society, the Israeli government does not have to deal directly with people like me.
“It is society, as in the university, the neighbours from who we bore the brunt of most of the dissent and dissatisfaction. Even some of our family members and relatives shunned us.”
Being an accomplished academician, for years Pappe has been trying to change the mindset of fellow Israeli Jews towards their Palestinian neighbours through education and subtle social engagement.
“I do what I can with other people. I am not just working for the Palestinians, which is the most important thing for me.
“I am also of the opinion that I am doing a good service for my fellow Jews despite the fact that they think otherwise.”
Growing up in Israel, at the age of 18, Pappe was drafted into the Israeli Defence Force.
He saw action in the Golan Heights during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, and the experience was just part of what shaped his outlook and stand against Zionism.
“For me, it’s very difficult to talk about an epiphany or the big event that started or changed it all. As a soldier during the war, I never thought philosophically, all I wanted was to survive the war and get home.
“The big moment was getting out of Israel for the first time, going to study abroad in England
“While I was at Oxford University in the early 80s pursuing my tertiary education, I chose an Arab supervisor and then suddenly I began to see things from a different perspective.
“I do not think that I would be who I am today if I had stayed back in Israel and completed my education there,” stressed Pappe.
From a young age, he already had a different outlook from his peers and he was not afraid to speak up or question what he thought was incorrect or a fabrication of the truth.
“I was born and grew up in Haifa, and there is a big piazza called the Liberation Piazza. And once, during a school field trip there, I remember asking my teacher how and why did such a place get its name.
“My teacher replied that it was to commemorate liberation from the Palestinians.
“Then I retorted that the Palestinians did not occupy us and in fact it was the other way around.
“For me it should have been called the Piazza of Occupation,” he recalled.
At present, Pappe is the director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies and a fellow of the Institute of the Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter.
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and 1978 and after he received a doctorate in history from Oxford University in 1984, he taught at the University of Haifa until 2007.
During those years, he was also the chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies in Haifa.
Pappe is also the author of 20 books and many articles on the history of the Middle East in general and Palestine in particular.
Among his works are A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (2003); The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2007) and On Palestine (with Noam Chomsky 2014).
His most recent book is The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Israeli Occupation (2018).
Pappe delivered his lecture entitled ‘Palestine is still the issue’ at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation on Saturday, organised by the International Movement for a Just World (in cooperation with the institute)
Published in: New Straits Times, Monday 20 January 2020
Kuala Lumpur: Ascertaining the cause is one thing but finding the solution is quite another for panellists and participants at The Palestine-Kashmir Forum: The Struggle for Freedom & Self Determination, as the question that hit hardest and most lingered on was ‘What more can we do?’
It was posed during a question-and-answer session by a participant who acknowledged all the points raised and debated by the panellists but was unconvinced on the plan forward in terms of protecting the rights of Palestinians and Kashmiris for self-determination in the face of hostile forces.
In her keynote address at the forum held at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) on Monday, Pakistan High Commissioner to Malaysia, Amna Baloch, described the Indian government’s action on Kashmir as crossing all lines of cruelty after sending thousands of troops there upon withdrawing Kashmir’s special status.
“Kashmir is burning,” she said, referring to a communication shutdown that brought daily life to a standstill and contributed to a shortage of commodities. Soldiers targeted Kashmiri youths, sending those arrested to distant locations outside the territory despite protests from some of India’s well-known opposition leaders and non-governmental organisations.
To recap, the government of India revoked the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir on Aug 5 this year. Article 370 conferred power on Jammu and Kashmir to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal administration of the state.
Now no longer bound by the article, Kashmir is ruled directly from New Delhi. However, some including Amna’s deputy, Atif Sharif Mian, believe that India was planning to annex the territory by revoking Kashmir’s special status.
However, revoking the special status would permit outsiders to reside in the territory which could reduce and replace the Muslims as the majority populace there. With such a demographic change, Kashmir would no longer be a majority Muslim state which may be the intent.
As for Palestine, Director for Palestine Cultural Organisation Malaysia, Muslim Imran, said that US President Donald Trump’s adminisration has only worsened the situation for Palestinians by declaring Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel while the Jewish nation continued to usurp Palestinian land.
Trump also became the first US president to stop funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.
Other developments that hamper the Palestinian cause come from Arab countries themselves attempting to normalise relations with Israel and the failure among Palestinian factions to establish a unified platform.
Despite that, Palestinian resistance endures because the Palestinians themselves are fighting Israel’s subjugation and oppression while the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement has so far been more and more successful.
Talking among the panellists, the president of the Malaysian Consultative Council For Islamic Organisation, Azmi Abdul Hamid, made a stark observation — that 1.8 billion Muslims can make a difference but are hesitant due to the narrative that Muslims can’t do much.
“Muslims have the will to not go down (easily). They must speak about oppression like we are doing through this forum. Don’t wait for government to act,” he said
Back to the question of “what more can we do?” Being united as an ummah is one, continuing to support BDS and trying to seek ways to reconcile one another’s interest despite differing opinions and methods is another.
To that is another question — do Muslims have the will to do so?
Published in: The New Straits Times, Wednesday 16 October 2019
The event was held at IAIS Malaysia on 14 October 2019, click here for more information about the event.
A TRUCE to last some 72 hours has started in Gaza and the Israeli army is being pulled back to the borders. Brokered by Egypt, the ceasefire should allow some breathing space for Gazans to bury their dead — if they can find space for them — salvage whatever they can and stock up on supplies in case talks break down and they are back to square one. According to the latest reports, Gazans remain nervous; fearing the worst. However, after declaring that they have achieved their objective of destroying the tunnels, Zionist Israel has begun pulling back their army, but not before perpetrating a long list of war crimes, including the latest attack on the United Nations (UN) school-cum-shelter, which drew condemnation even from their allies, especially the French.
After four weeks of ceaselessly pounding Gaza and killing more than 1,800 Palestinians, mainly civilians, the world leaders have suddenly woken up to the grizzly reality of Tel Aviv’s “defensive” action against the defenceless. Not that the Israeli-friendly governments and the UN have stopped blaming Hamas, firstly, for triggering this latest assault by the occupying power and, secondly, for raining rockets on an Iron Dome-protected Israel. Against such blatant bias, how can there be a lasting peace? Instead, if the statement of the French foreign minister is anything to go by, the intransigence of both parties has become an excuse for calls for the international community to impose peace. There are even suggestions that it revert to some form of mandated territory administered by the UN, which is not the solution desired by Palestinians surely, who expect self-determination in a sovereign Palestine.
Not too many days ago, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister called for supranational organisations, including the UN Security Council and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, to act or lose their legitimacy. The Security Council has voiced its support for an immediate halt on attacks that have taken a high civilian toll, especially on Gaza’s children. This, however, did not take the form of binding resolutions. The UN General Assembly will also be convening to figure out a solution. Meanwhile in Teheran, the foreign ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement’s Palestinian Committee are meeting. The committee, consisting of Algeria, Bangladesh, Cuba, Iran, Egypt, India, Senegal, South Africa, Palestine, Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Malaysia, has been urged by the Iranian president to focus on working out practical ways of helping the people of Gaza whom he says are “caught in a web of colonial plots”.
In short, while the world has awoken to the need to pressure Israel to stop the bloodbath, the voice is not homogenous. Rather, the agendas being pursued may not match the aspirations of the Palestinians, in both Gaza and the West Bank. Israel, however, has managed to exact its extreme and indiscriminate punishment on Palestine with impunity once again.
Every morning when I listen to the news update about Gaza I stop breathing. I couldn’t breathe last Wednesday when I read that four Palestinian children were killed while playing soccer on the beach; I couldn’t breathe two days later when I heard that three Palestinian children were killed while feeding their ducks on the roof; and I couldn’t breathe yesterday when a strike hit the building of the Abu Jameh family killing 26 people—19 of them children ages 4 months to 14 years—while they were gathered for breaking the Ramadan fast. I often weep and wonder how fellow Palestinians living under the most brutal military occupation imaginable can endure these horrors over and over and over again. Do Palestinians have a right to life?......................Click here to Read More
THE year 2014 has been designated as an International Year of Solidarity for the Palestinian People. Last year, the General Assembly just barely managed to scrape up enough support to adopt (by a vote of 110 in favour, seven against, and 56 countries abstaining) resolution A/Res/68/12 to proclaim 2014 as Palestine’s year. The resolution came on the heels of two consecutive years of Palestine making ripples within the United Nations — first in requesting for full membership to the UN, and then in gaining admittance to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco)......................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)