This is my letter to Malaysiakini sent on 19 Jan 2009 in response to a letter written by one Fernando Pastor. Mr. Pastor's letter is appended below.
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2009 11:11:39 +0800
I refer to a letter dated 16 January 2009 by Fernando Pastor to Malaysiakini entitled `Malaysia in a good position to advice Hamas' and would like to express my complete disagreement with him. Mr. Pastor said he studied Islam. However I think he did not study enough of the religion because if he had, he would have found out that Islam is a religion that do not tolerate injustice. Mr. Pastor, despite his visit to the West Bank also obviously did not study the history of the Palestine-Israeli conflict too because if he had he would have found out that Israel is actually an ilegitimate or illegal state. This is because its establishment in 1948 involved the killing of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians, the theft of their land and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of their country. To recognise the state of Israel is to legitimise all the atrocities mentioned above. Only people who are ignorant of history or devoid of any sense of justice will do such a thing. Fortunately the majority of Malaysians are not like that and I hope Mr. Pastor can take efforts to enlighten himself and join the majority of Malaysians.Furthermore Mr. Pastor also seems ignorant of the background of the recent Israeli massacres of the innocent Palestinians in Gaza. If he had bothered to do some investigation, he would have found out that Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election in 2006 but despite that was not treated as a legitimate organization by the US and Israel. Also for the last 18 months Gaza was under blockade by Israel causing deaths and sufferings for the 1.5 million people there due to lack of food and medications. The blockade was tightened further during the so-called 6-month truce period when Hamas did not shoot any rocket towards Israel. Moreover Israel killed 40 Palestinians during the truce period whilst no Israeli was killed during that time. As a result of these gross injustices as well as their sufferings, most people in Gaza were pressuring Hamas to fight against Israel with whatever weapons they have and that was the main reason the rockets were launched. In other words, the rockets were not launched by terrorists but by a group of desperate people who have been victims of atrocities committed against them for more than 60 years.Mr. Pastor, if he had done some readings beside walking the streets of the West Bank would have found out that the Israelis have been illegally occupying Palestinians lands and are still murdering the innocents, steal their lands and at the same time trying to starve Gazans to death. By the way Mr. Pastor may want to know that Israel, unlike Malaysia, is a racist state because Israel will not allow any Palestinian refugee to go back to their lands but will allow any Jew from any part of the world to emigrate to Israel.Lastly we should encourage Malaysians to educate themselves more bout the history of the conflict so that we can act justly towards the parties involved.
Dr. Mohd Nazari Ismail
Malaysia in good position to advise Hamas
Jan 16, 09 2:31pm
I should preface this letter by noting that I am far from being an Israel aficionado, a Zionist or whatever else you may wish to call me. I have no religious persuasion, yet have spent time in the Middle East, studied Arabic and Islam and had the pleasure of visiting the West Bank where I still have friends. I was in Ramallah during the funeral of Yasser Arafat. Whilst I was in Israel, at the height of the intifada, I was stripped to my boxer shorts and had guns put to my head by the Israeli Defence Forces. Malaysian responses to the current Israeli pummeling of the Gaza Strip have been interesting. Malaysians tend to view the crisis as a clear-cut attack on the ummah as a whole, a ‘clash of civilisations’ as some might call it. Given the timely death this week of Samuel P Huntington the eminent scholar (he was 91) famous for coining the notion of there being a post-Cold War stand off between the West and the Islamic world, it is important to recognise that the wider Muslim world must intervene to stop Hamas' feckless government from bringing more misery upon their own people who have already suffered enough. This conflict is not quite as black and white as the Malaysian (and Indonesian, for that matter) press have made it to be. Like many, I find the Israeli action in Gaza totally abhorrent. Nevertheless, some may argue that the actions of Israel (as disproportionate as it is - akin to the brief war with Hezbollah in the summer of 2006) were merited as a strong response from a sovereign state responding to terrorist attacks on their territory by a neighbouring territory.However, at the crux of this intractable conflict is not Israel. It is Hamas. When we repeatedly see Hamas firing rockets into Israel and in the process shunning the Egyptian-brokered cease fire, one has to question the motives of Hamas, who are, of course, the democratically-elected Palestinian Authority. With democracy comes responsibility. Hamas' whole cause de guerre is far too radical and has arguably won them few friends in a region where they need as much help as they can get. The Palestinian people deserve a homeland, rightly so as many Malaysian friends have told me over the last week or so. I couldn't agree more. Hamas (in Arabic 'Islamist Resistance Movement'), who project themselves as this, are not the party to make that peace happen. Let's just remind ourselves - Hamas' didn't even have an election manifesto when they swept to power in 2005 and four years on it appears as though they do not have a plan to get themselves (and their people) out of this terrible mess. Under their watch, we have seen infighting with Fatah, rampant corruption, not to mention the odd hijacking of a BBC journalist or scores of Katyusha rockets being fired towards Israel. This offers us the same salient message- Hamas do not want peace. A few years ago whilst in the West Bank myself, I witnessed young Palestinian men no older than myself (I am 23) firing machine-gun rounds in the air around the Muqatta, formerly Yasser Arafat's compound in downtown Ramallah. I asked the men, surely this wasn't the message they wanted the world to see? Kalashnikov fire aimed skywards that would only rain back down? That would never happen here in Malaysia, because the people know it's not the right thing to do. Successful moderate Muslim states like Malaysia can be doing a lot more to help the plight of the people they seem to care about so much. Perhaps when the dust has settled in a few days time, the wider Muslim world can start to stand up for the Palestinian people. Who has told Hamas that rupturing a cease-fire is not how to play ball with a neighbor with a penchant for excessive retaliation? It appears as though that while the quartet led by former British prime minister Tony Blair is unable to reach Hamas, maybe other Muslim states - like Malaysia - will be able to do so. The recent unofficial 'boycott' of US products like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s (who both, incidentally, employ a vast Muslim Malay workforce) does not send a good message to those suffering in Gaza. These boycotts largely damage the local economy, putting predominantly Malay Muslims at risk. Coca-Cola Malaysia employs 1,700 Malaysians - 60 percent of whom are Malay. What would be far more pro-active would be for moderate Muslim states like Malaysia, who have a good standing in the Arab world, to engage more directly with Hamas and other Arab governments in the region. But of course, for that to happen, they'd have to, at least, open a diplomatic representation there and recognise Israel as a sovereign state.