The Gaza conflict: Our hypocrisies exposed

A version of this article first appeared in The Star Editor’s Choice application for iOS and Android tablets.

Last week, a truce was reached between Israel and Hamas, ending days of intense fighting between the two sides. While Hamas fired rockets into Israel, the Israel Defence Force (“IDF”) laid siege on Gaza. This operation, known as ‘Pillar of Defence’, left more than 100 Palestinians dead and nearly a thousand wounded.

Palestine is the rallying cry of the Muslim world. The cause resonates with Muslims all over the globe, from Sudan to Sumatra, India to Indonesia. The occupation of Palestine is seen as a great injustice inflicted by the West upon the Palestinians and perpetuated by the unwavering support given by the United States of America for the state of Israel.

We Malay-Muslims are no different. This latest round of violence dominated our headlines. On Facebook walls and Twitter feeds, we talk of boycotts and donating funds to Gaza. We kept ourselves updated with what was happening, sharing stories and photos, giving our two cents worth of opinions and we demonstrated after Jumaat prayers.

The issue even warranted an emergency motion in the Dewan Rakyat. Members of Parliament took turns to denounce Israel and declare their support for the Palestinians. The Dewan Rakyat unanimously (would anyone dare to disagree?) adopted a motion to condemn Israel’s attack on Gaza. Bi-partisanship seems like such an elusive commodity when it comes to local issues, yet an international cause with no direct bearing on Malaysia managed a bi-partisan response.

From this outpouring of emotions and of outrage, we bring to fore our deep-rooted prejudices against the Jews. Most of us have never met a Jewish person before, but we have nothing but hatred for them. We use phrases like ‘Yahudi laknatullah’ (translation: Jews, damned by God). A book known as ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, already denounced as a hoax for decades, is still referenced frequently as proof of ‘Jewish conspiracy’ to control the world. Some of us even condoned the holocaust, citing how Adolf Hitler should have ‘finished the job’ back then. The actions of the Israeli government are equated with every single Jewish person in the world.

But the Jews are a nation and Judaism is a religion. Zionism, which gave rise to Israel, is an ideology. Israel is a country and Israeli is a nationality. There are Israeli-Jews that ordered the attacks, and there are Israeli-Jews who are trying to attain a peaceful solution to the conflict. There are also movements by some Jews against the very creation of the state of Israel itself. So how can we hold every single Jew and every single Israeli responsible for the plight of the Palestinians and the larger Muslim world?

Have we forgotten when we were ourselves labeled ‘terrorists’ because of the actions of a few Muslims? Yet we have no qualms with tarring a whole nation with the same brush as the actions of some.

The conflict is not a religious war, despite what our sermons tell us. It is a humanitarian issue. We should care about what is happening to the people of Gaza not just because they are Muslims, but because they are humans. We may have a certain affinity to them as fellow Muslims, but that in itself should not be our sole motivation. The loss of any life, whether by an Israeli missile or a Hamas rocket, should be mourned, for it is humanity that suffers.

That is not to say we blind ourselves to how disproportionate this conflict really is. That we try to pretend as if this is an even war, the belligerents on almost equal footing, in a misguided attempt to be neutral. Being objective and fair, does not mean that we cannot take sides and we cannot condemn Israel for the atrocities it has committed with impunity, simply because it has the backing of its allies.

In our clamour to stand with the Gazans, to show that we care and to display our altruism, we expose our own hypocrisies. We are all experts in the Middle East conflict, we are all keyboard jihadists and we are all Free Palestine activists. Once the bombings stopped, we forget the Gazans as easily as how we suddenly remembered them. Our Palestinian fervor dissipates until the next time the Israeli government decides to flex its military muscle for ‘self defence’.

Meanwhile, not very far from Palestine, the Syrian uprising has been raging for more than a year. Nearly 40,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the conflict, thousands more injured and nearly 500,000 displaced. Yet, we hardly batted an eyelid. Where are the fundraisers, the social media chatter and the emergency motion?


Syahredzan Johan adalah seorang peguam muda dan seorang rakan kongsi di sebuah firma guaman di Kuala Lumpur. Dia melihat dirinya sebagai seorang pengkritik politik dan pengulas sosial. Tetapi dia sebenarnya hanyalah seorang warga Malaysia yang mempunyai terlalu banyak pendapat. Dia adalah seorang yang patriotik, walaupun bukan dengan cara biasa seperti mengibar bendera. Dia percaya Malaysia mempunyai potensi yang hanya dapat direalisasi sekiranya rakyatnya belajar bersatu-padu dan bukannya berpecah-belah. Ikutilah Syah di Refleksi Minda.

Posted on 3 December 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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26 Responses to The Gaza conflict: Our hypocrisies exposed

  1. Stella

    Assuming that Israel were to disappear (as fantasized by many anti-Zionist, notably Iran), will the Palestinian issue be resolved? Fatah and Hamas are bitterly and viciously opposed to each other, will there be more explosives deployed amongst the Palestinian bretheren in the struggle for absolute power? Perhaps, these bellicose people needs a strongman and tyrant like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi to whip them all into fear and submission to establish stability.

  2. JAMALUDIN BIN ISMAIL

    Back in the 1960's I remember a documentary in the Readers Digest about "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" which, among other things, described how Hitler as a roving brat witnessed to his utter contempt all the clandestine activities and crimes – gambling, brothels, murders – perpetrated by the Jews in Vienna, Berlin and other places in Germany to inflict immense corruption of his society. How then do we blame Hitler for the persecution when he rose to become the Fuhrer? One does not have to be a Nazi or Muslim to condone what he did.

  3. Andy M

    I agree that this is a humanitarian issue and not a religious one but the writer seems to be making a wildly sweeping assumption that this is a minority view and that support for the Palestinians in some way equates to a 'deep rooted prejudice of Jews'. The 'Jews' are not a nation any more than the Muslims or Christians or Hindus or for that matter the Knights of Jedi. I have followed the recent crisis closely, which is only the latest in decades of unjust and illegal oppression against a people, a nation, which has had there homeland taken from them and left to survive as unwelcome refugees abroad or trapped amid extreme restrictions within the shrinking territory allowed them. Israel, not 'the Jews' are the illegal occupiers, oppressors and aggressors. The United Nations agrees, but they are toothless against the might of the Western creators and supporters of Israel aided and abetted by the laissez-faire attitude of the Muslim Arab states. This is Zionist ideology and the writer is making a dangerous equation between a dislike of this and of the Jewish religion or people.

  4. delia zamir

    loyar burok is most definitely a thought provoking site and a wonderful conduit of thoughts and ideas. but may i state that to me – in a twist of irony – this article exposes your own hypocrisy towards general malaysian muslims as well. i see a few sweeping statements regarding malaysian muslims and nary a proof to back those up. may i therefore suggest that you update this article with addendum and cite documentation and/or evidence to back up some of the accusations you're hurling around here. it would be a more compelling read… at least to me! thank you. delia zamir

    • Antidot

      Trying to be smart eh? I'll just copy n paste from ur post to save my time from being wasted further by responding to u.
      "may i therefore suggest that you update this article with addendum and cite documentation and/or evidence to back up some of the accusations you're hurling around here."
      Y don't u come with ur own addendum and cite documentation and/or evidence to prove it wrong?
      Oh ya.. action speaks louder than words.

      • Delia Zamir

        Syahredzan Johan, is that you…? :)

        To respond, I'm merely addressing the fact that a certain type of professional level needs to be kept and upkept by the writer – or any writer – if he or she would like his or her article to be taken as strong and fact-based, rather than an armchair philosopher fluff piece.

        I'm sure anybody with a set of eyeballs would clearly see what I mean, but since you're a little troubled on that aspect may I you to respond with an email address (or your real name, I can easily FB you) – I'll guide you along :)

  5. Alex

    only the Muslim themselves can correct this narrow mindset. Non-Muslim can only wait for the Muslim renaissance. the christian has gone thru their dark ages but the Muslim are still in their.

  6. Aston Paiva

    Syah,

    A great read. Thanks for this.

  7. An article that puts forth most of my view on Gaza conflict. Sadly most Malay Muslims I know (I am one too) do not realize this.

  8. Pepper Lim

    nice!

  9. Musa_Ng

    Solve the problems in Malaysia first before worrying about what is happening elsewhere.

    There is NOTHING Malaysia can offer, at the moment, as a solution to the troubles in the Middle East – besides empty words and some token aid.

    The main protagonists in the Middle Eastern conflicts don't want peace – they want POWER because that brings them MONEY. They are not interested in the welfare of their citizens. Sounds familiar?

    Sometimes, I feel that all this attention on the problems in the Middle East is simply to distract Malaysians from our own problems at home.

    Fix Malaysia first before trying to fix somebody else's country.

  10. Reality

    Noam Chomsky Quote:
    "When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing…You can't defend yourself when you're militarily occupying someone else's land. That's not defense. Call it what you like, it's not defense

    ? Isaac Asimov, Asimov Quote:
    “I am frequently asked if I have visited Israel, whereas yet, it is simply assumed that I have. Well, I don’t travel. I really don’t, and if I did, I probably wouldn’t visit Israel. I remember how it was in 1948 when Israel was being established and all my Jewish friends were ecstatic, I was not. I said: what are we doing? We are establishing ourselves in a ghetto, in a small corner of a vast Muslim sea. The Muslims will never forget nor forgive, and Israel, as long as it exists, will be embattled. I was laughed at, but I was right. I can’t help but feel that the Jews didn’t really have the right to appropriate a territory only because 2000 years ago, people they consider their ancestors, were living there. History moves on and you can’t really turn it back. (#92 ff.)”

  11. Joseph George

    Malaysians has the right to protest against Israel for what is happening in Palestine but it is so sad that everyone is turning a blind eye to whats happening in Syria. Even Marina Mahathir raised the same thing but her dad’s reply was basically no one is fighting for the Palestinians cause while some else can fight for Syria’s – ‘Not His Problem’

  12. typistavenger

    I don't understand the hatred directed towards Jews. Just shows how antisemitism is deeply ingrained into our culture.

    Our hatred against Jews is driven primarily by ignorance and our obsession with conspiracies. The latter is more evident.

  13. Jon

    Thank you for highlighting this. When I started seeing posts on Facebook by friends with hatred for Israel, I felt disappointed and sad. We seem to forget that we are all humans living in a cramped space called Earth.

  14. pengtuck

    Interesting take on the situation in Gaza.

    As Malaysians we are hypocrites when it comes to the suffering of others. I'd say look in our own backyard – can't even treat animals, maids, suspects, prisoners etc.. properly and we make a ruckus about the suffering in Gaza.

    The thing about Gaza is that you can't talk about Gaza without involving Hamas, Hezbollah and Fatah. They are organizations which have their own interests in mind. Until that's sorted out there's little that can be done for the Palestinian plight .

  15. luqmancis

    Nice story, but I can't agree with you.. Sorry.

  16. anon

    Sorry Adam, I meant to click thumbs up instead of thumbs down!:( cannot undo/redo.

  17. Adam

    The Palestinians should have been a sovereign nation in 1948 together with Israel but the surrounding Arab Nations instigated them to object to the formation of Israel and thus started the conflict to this day.

    Who would believe that a progressive nation like Israel would want to harass the Palestinians? It is better to advise the Palestinians to concentrate on building up their own Gaza and not to harass Israel and tempt fate.

    • MHI

      'It is better to advise the Palestinians to concentrate on building up their own Gaza and not to harass Israel and tempt fate?' Clearly your knowledge about the current conflict going on in that particular region of middle east is still very limited. Israel shouldn't have existed in the first place, no matter how progressive the nation is today to your external eyes. You wouldn't like it if someone breaks into your house and call it his home, would you? So how do you explain the 'righteousness' of the European Jews to push for the establishment of THE FALSE STATE OF ISRAEL in history? And again, how the 'f' would the Palestinians be able to concentrate on building up their own Gaza with all the oppression and atrocities committed by Israel on the Palestinians??? Cakap pakai otak la.

    • MHI

      And the claim that they are the ones (Arabs) started the conflict today, is absolutely a FALSE CLAIM. God, please look into the history first before blatantly making claims and comments like that or blindly starting to talk about things as serious as this. I know many people who dedicate their lives to studying about the conflicts in the middle east, and many of them are non-Muslims, some are even Jews, and they would never make claims as such.

  18. A_Malaysian

    Even fewer refuse to look at the fact that the Palestinians refuses to acknowledge Israel, nor negotiate for peace. Even it's constitution is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. If ever there's a fault, its the Palestinian's own leadership wishing to put pride first and sacrifice their people and dooming them to a miserable life. Stir a hornet's nest and you cannot expect not to be stung.

  19. DanieLoHH73

    Sometimes I wondered if the disproportional attention given to Gaza and Palestinians were really motivated by hatreds against Jews than sympathy for the Palestinians.

  20. There are many more instances of this mindset. The world allowed the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka in 2009, and still many are resisting calls for there to be a full investigation. And it took years for the atrocities in Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia and elsewhere to be finally brought to light. International relations and geopolitics can get you depressed if you start thinking about it.