Are you pro-Palestine or pro-Israel? Who cares?

THE polarisation caused by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has caused many Malaysians to become polarised or even paranoid.

Viewing the conflict from the tinted glasses of religions further complicates the matter. There are not only Muslim Palestinians; there are also Christian Palestinians. Even among the Palestinians and Arab Muslims, not everyone agrees with Hamas. Likewise, not every Christian in Malaysia agrees with Israel.

As a member state of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Malaysia should remain neutral instead of taking sides, especially since it is difficult to establish who is right and who is wrong in the war.

Because the propaganda machinery used is often too powerful, it is difficult to determine who the aggressors and the victims are or whether there is even perhaps a hidden hand behind it.

When there is ongoing tension between China and the US, many netizens in Malaysia actively participated in discussions. When war broke out between Russia and Ukraine on Feb 24 last year, pundit wannabes commented heavily on the war – and again when conflict escalated between Israel and Palestine, Gaza suddenly becomes a hot topic among Malaysians.

Day and night since the Oct 7 sneak attack by armed Hamas fighters on Israel, news and propaganda messages have been bombarding netizens like wildfire on social media. It is as though nothing else matters.

Who wins a war, after all?

Like it or not, wars are the creation of politicians in the pursuit of their personal agenda. Sometimes, they hardly care for the well-being of their own people. They are prepared to distort the facts and use their propaganda machinery to influence the rest of the world towards their own cause.

We must not forget that the world superpowers are also eyeing for a more powerful position worldwide. In the conflict between Israel and Gaza, even pundits have been asking, “With the US potentially pivoting away from the Middle East, will China rush in to fill the gap?

Everyone knows that propaganda is spread with a particular objective. Yet, no one is asking why – right here in Malaysia which are some few thousand kilometres away – we are all sucked into the Palestinian-Israel conflict.

Instead of standing united as a nation in light of adversities such as the falling ringgit, food shortages, corruption, scams and scandals, shortage of manpower, brain drain or even  cybersecurity breaches, people are now being judged as “pro-Israel” and “pro-Palestine.”

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim joins over 16,000 people at the ‘Malaysia stands with Palestine’ rally on Oct 24 (Pic credit: Anwar’s Facebook)

This is causing unnecessary tension between fellow Malaysians – even between siblings of different ideologies – especially when people start to take sides.

We cannot afford to become more polarised as a nation for the current situation is already bad enough with the widening gap in race relations that politicians created among the different races in the country.

Use diplomatic channels

What we should do as a nation is to use diplomatic channels to push for peace on both sides as a war can only happen when one side is attacked and the other side retaliates with more attacks. There is no one party that is in the right – and the other in the wrong – especially with the Middle East being a flashpoint.

After all, it takes two hands to clap. Aggression on both sides will mean only one thing – more casualties to the civilians on both sides.

The people’s money should only be given to independent bodies such as the Red Cross or the Red Crescent which are known to rescue victims of war from both sides.

Being a member of NAM, we do not need to take sides of the warring nations. And the Madani government should not be drawn into trying to outdo PAS – just like what former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak tried to do by holding the solidarity with the Rohingya refugees.

Likewise, the Education Ministry should not bring the Middle East conflict into schools especially when young and innocent children are taught to step on someone else’s flag.

Malaysia must remain neutral in order to build bridges with America as well as China, Ukraine and Russia – and if it cannot recognise Israel as a sovereign state – at least it should stay neutral or pile pressure on both Israel and Hamas to cease the fighting in the name of peace.  – Oct 26, 2023

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