WE have had decades of hate politics on the local front whereby social media facilitates narratives, optics and contents that promote anger and hatred. As a result of this literature and propaganda, Malaysians were nearly destroyed by a scourge of anger and a hate plague.
The Israel-Gaza war has witnessed a sharp spike in hate speech, violence and discrimination against both Palestinians and Jews. This has also created a deepening polarisation and caused greater social fractures across the globe – Malaysia included.
The world is now witnessing Israel’s troops being mobilised to crush Hamas, including civilians, women, children, the elderly and the sick. This attack was said to be in retaliation for the Oct 7 raids on Israel by Hamas that supposedly killed an estimated 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians.
Now Israel’s troops are said to have killed more than 9,400 people in their military offensive.
Back home in Malaysia, we are not spared from the impact of this crisis. The global surge of Islamophobia and anti-Semitic harassment has a multiplying effect. The inflammatory attacks and hate speeches are getting more vicious and toxic with social media having unfortunately aggravated the situation.
Feeling helpless and frustrated, some individuals and organisations are reacting actively or violently by hitting out at perceived and reachable targets without consideration for fairness to their targets.
There’s no room for deliberation or discourse on the actions and damage inflicted on the target who could be as innocent as the civilians and children in the Israel-Hamas war.
Ruining Muslim businesses
On another front, politicians and politician wannabes are riding on the bandwagon of a global movement to sanction Israel. The movement on social media sites such as X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and TikTok, among others, are naming brands with Israeli ties for their boycotts.
McDonald’s and Burger King have been targeted for boycotts after an Israel-based franchise announced free food for members of the Israeli military which immediately prompted a global consumer backlash.
Any lack of expression of sympathy or support for Palestinian civilians will be seen as pro-Israel.
Even our Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim claimed that he was threatened by some European parliamentarians for speaking up for Palestinians. On the local front, he was accused of being soft with his statements condemning Israel seen as too mild and did not reflect gravity of the situation in Gaza.
A picture of Anwar Ibrahim with the Israel flag on the backdrop is good enough to damage the PM optically.
Now here is the point: Are we going to be blind, deaf and dumb to how all these are impacting us negatively on the home front? Genuine Muslim businessmen, employees and related industry workers and their families are made to suffer or are punished first in this “emotional siege” against anything American or Jewish.
Our local workers at McDonald’s are also victims of this Israel-Gaza war. They have been subjected to mental and emotional abuse by being subject to harassment and verbal insult byt being labelled as “Jews”.
Aren’t they innocent victims of our siege mentality for anything or anybody related to the Jews or Israel? Is such treatment fair to them?
Our franchise holders are also 100% Muslim-owned. Many of the affected employees are Muslims too – some of whom are deaf or disabled and have families and kids that are dependent on their income.
Chloe Tong in her Instagram Stories shared that she “fell completely in love with Israel” after visiting the country twice this year and was “praying”.
This could have been another personal social media posting by an individual but in this instance, she is also the wife of Grab CEO Anthony Tan. This post went viral on social media and Malaysians have since begun uninstalling and calling for a boycott of the Super app.
Indeed, the damage inflicted on a particular industry can be unthinkable. So are we losing it? Where’s the humanity in us when we are effectively punishing our “own” people and industry who are innocent in this war? Are we going to continue punishing our people so as to hit out at the US, Jews or Israel?
Our people are also human and entitled to rights, liberties and dignity. Should we discriminate, harass or pressure them just because another country or entity has taken sides in the Israel-Hamas war?
Isn’t this akin to cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face which means that we are pursuing revenge by over-reacting and damaging ourselves more than the object of our anger?
Having said all that, I truly pray and wish that we can all contribute to the peace process and contain the war in Gaza. Let’s pray that we do not aggravate or expand their conflicts to the rest of the world. – Nov 12, 2023
Senator Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker was MCA’s former vice president from November 2018 to September 2023.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main pic credit: Reuters