LETTER | I thank Francis Paul Siah for his article. It brings to the fore matters which need discussion in our country.
But I’m afraid I have to say at the very outset that for someone who is the head of a movement for change, Siah displays very astonishing "under the coconut shell" thinking and ignorance about the Palestine-Israel issue. Maybe it is his obsessive hatred of Dr Mahathir Mohamad that prevents him from thinking straight and looking at the issue objectively and clearly. That’s a pity – for him and the movement that he leads.
Putting aside one’s personal views about Mahathir’s words and actions on Malaysian political issues, one has to admit that his stance on Palestine is or was shared by prominent statesmen and human rights figures such as Nelson Mandela who declared that South African freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians; Bishop Desmond Tutu who said that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians reminds him of South African apartheid plus Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X and others.
It is shared by almost 200 UN General Assembly resolutions passed from 1947 to 2019 which overwhelmingly call for justice and self-determination for the Palestinians.
In addition, Mahathir’s views are shared by more than 150 UN Security Council resolutions which generally demand that Israel respect the human rights of Palestinians and cease stealing land in the occupied Palestinian territories for Israeli colonies which are illegal under international law.
Siah should try to look beyond his coconut shell and reflect on the reasons why Mandela, Tutu, Gandhi, Malcolm X and all those countries of the UN, very much unlike Siah, cared about what the Israelis and Palestinians do to each other.
The reason is that in essence no one with any substantive ability for moral deliberation can ignore the systemic oppression and violation of human rights that the Palestinians are suffering at the hands of the Israelis over the past 70 years. As stated by Mandela, the question of Palestine is the greatest moral issue of our time.
It should, therefore, be mentioned that at least in the Palestine-Israel issue, Mahathir does speak for a great majority of the Malaysian public.
Siah describes Golda Meir’s act in having PLO figures assassinated as heroic. Having people assassinated is an act of terrorism, no matter if it was state-sponsored or otherwise. Siah’s inability to see this is quite shocking. To consider it as heroic is to invite the law of the jungle and "might is right" to be the basis for international order.
The film Munich that Siah is a fan of did not care to mention the fact that the "heroic" Israeli terror teams in some instances ended up killing Palestinians who were not at all involved at all in the Munich attack.
Siah takes issue with the decision to bar Israelis from entering the country to take part in the international swimming championship last year – without bothering to mention the context in which the decision was taken.
Throughout 2018, hundreds of unarmed Palestinian civilians were shot in cold blood by Israeli military sharpshooters. The decision to bar the Israeli swimmers was to register Malaysia’s outrage at the massacre of these innocents and in keeping with the prohibition against Israeli passport holders from entering Malaysia.
One cannot help but wonder if Siah is able to hold any substantive moral deliberation at all: he is angry over the cancellation of a sports event but completely silent over the massacre of human beings. Also, as someone from a state who has in the past barred individuals from the peninsula from entry for much lesser reasons than killing people, surely Siah accepts the fact that Malaysia has every right to her decision regarding the Israeli swimmers. If that is not the case, has he then ever gone on record to protest Sarawak‘s barring of some Peninsular Malaysia people from entering?
Going by his undisguised admiration for Israeli leaders and actions and unquestioning acceptance that anyone who is anti-Zionist is automatically an anti-Semite, it is clear that Siah is an uncritical consumer of Zionist propaganda. He is probably not aware that there are thousands of Jews in and outside of Israel who are highly critical of or against Zionism. In no way can they be labelled anti-Semites.
I, therefore, would like to extend a hand of friendship to Francis Paul Siah and his followers (assuming that he has any) in the Movement for Change and invite them to be further educated and enlightened on the Palestine question by "Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Malaysia" (BDS Malaysia), the Malaysian chapter of a growing international movement which is open to everyone, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or nationality for promoting peaceful and non-violent campaigns to bring about justice, freedom and the end of apartheid oppression in Palestine.
The writer represents BDS Malaysia.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.