On Israel and Malaysian hypocrisy

Hafidz Baharom

28 Jan 2019, 4:39 am

Updated 2 years ago


LETTER |  And so, Malaysia has been stripped of hosting a Paralympic Swimming event in Sarawak due to our insistence on banning Israel over their actions on Palestine. 

The way this is being justified by the government is that Israel is responsible of 'war crimes', and thus, their paralympic athletes should not be allowed in.

Really, are we really talking about banning nations due to their 'war crimes' from participating in international events?

Some have justified our actions by saying that in the past, Malaysia opted out of such sporting events such as the Moscow Olympics over Afghanistan, South African Olympics over apartheid. 

This is a false equivalence. In those instances, both Russia and South Africa did not ban athletes from other countries from participating – it was participating countries that opted out.

Therein lies the difference, but let us go back to this reasoning of not allowing people into our country over 'war crimes'. If such is truly the basis of our diplomatic policy, why in the world are we still friendly with the United States after their actions against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and even Syria?

Shouldn’t we be banning everyone to and from the United Kingdom for the same, since they participated in Iraq as well?

Why are we still friends with Russia after Ukraine? Why are we still friendly with Saudi Arabia after their continued actions with Yemen to the point of widespread famine and the death of kids from starvation?

So, due to such 'war crimes', should we ban Malaysians from going to Saudi Arabia, and even the United States? Should we ban their athletes from coming to participate in any of our events? Will we be boycotting whenever they host sports events?

If we change the basis from 'war crimes' to 'genocide', why are we still friends with Myanmar after the plight of the Rohingya and the Christian Chin community? If it is the 'oppression of Islam', then why are we friends with China considering the plight of the Uighur community?

I’m sure by now readers can come up with 1,001 one examples of why so many, many nations should be banned from entry here in Malaysia for whatever reason, from Italy’s burkini ban to the Swiss referendum to not allow mosques to have minarets, to even the jailing of Christians and oppression of peoples around the world.

And yet, the only nation both Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman seemed to be focused on is Israel. Why?

Probably because it is convenient, and that is all. It is easier to ban a small, tiny nation we don’t have to trade directly with rather than the superpowers of the world. It is easy to see how geopolitics makes hypocrites of the Malaysian government constantly.

After all, you won’t find Malaysian Muslims suddenly insisting of boycotting haj and umrah packages to Saudi Arabia over Yemen ever.

At the same time, it seems the government does not understand that you cannot play host to international events while saying that you want to disallow Israelites from participating, when it is under the auspices of the International Olympic Council, International Paralympic Council or even the United Nations – as former premier Najib discovered earlier when he hosted the UN’s World Urban Forum.

So now, we have a different challenge for New Malaysia – and that challenge is whether or not we are really looking to become part of the world, hosting international events such as forums, salons and even sporting events, for all to participate.

Or, will we let our narrow minded view cancel out our ability to host such events in the future, and thus push these events away before even thinking of hosting them, and then come up with lame excuses such as Israeli “war crimes” while letting others of the same label continue in total thick faced hypocrisy.

Because if this is the case, then we should really, really put our dreams of ever hosting the World Cup, or even the Olympics, to rest for evermore.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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