Letter to editor
MALAYSIA has always been supportive of the Palestinians and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has only re-affirmed it with gusto!
“I won’t yield to Western pressure over the Palestinian issue,” he exclaimed. Malaysia has been a long-time supporter of the Palestinians ever since it gained independence in 1957.
Even during the Six Day Arab-Israeli War in 1967, the then premier Tunku Abdul Rahman fully sided with the Arabs in the conflict.
It was the same when Tun Abdul Razak supported Egypt and Syria and the Arabs during the Yom Kippur War in 1973 when Egypt took the Israelis by surprise and made some initial gains before losing out.
The Israelis then under prime minister Golda Meir were caught napping perhaps letting their guard down after the amazing ease with which they defeated Egypt, Jordan and Syria in 1967.
It was the same mistake that the Israelis did on Oct 7 when Hamas and Islamic Jihad took them by surprise. No country that is on a war footing or have enemies can afford to let their guard down. This is the case between Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah, Indian and Pakistan, North and South Korea and even China and Taiwan.
During Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first term in office, Malaysia began taking up not only the Palestinian cause but also a lot of sensitive Third World issues to the dislike and animosity of the West.
It was also during Tun Mahathir’s tenure that the Peace Agreements were signed by Egypt, Jordan and Israel which resulted in a partial resolution of the conflict. However, the main issue about the Palestinian Homeland was left out for another day.
It was during this period that many developing and non-aligned countries, including some in ASEAN recognised Israel and began diplomatic relations.
However, Malaysia did not follow suit to recognise Israel with Tun Mahathir and subsequent Prime Ministers (PM) continued to be supportive of the Palestinian struggle.
No PM including the hard-hitting Tun Mahathir hinted anytime that they were under any personal threats from any Western nations or the CIA, Mossad or others. In fact, it is the other way round as leaders of Islamic nations need to fear more from religious fundamentalists, Jihadists and other militants – and not from Western powers.
The West has accepted the fact that Malaysia will always be supporting the quest for a Palestinian Homeland come what may. As such one finds Anwar’s statement really astonishing.
I am sure despite Anwar’s claims to the contrary, no Western country is pressuring him to stay neutral or support the Israelis as the West understands the needs of the Malaysian Premier despite Western support for him in the past to do what is politically correct in the country given the volatile situation here.
When Anwar states the obvious, it is only to boost his Islamic credentials and prevent a chink in his armour which the opposition Perikatan Negara (PN) can exploit.
It is for this reason that the unity government organised a rally in support of the Palestinians on Oct 24. Almost all Islamic countries are pro-Palestinian and somewhat anti-Israel and this could be due to pressure from their own populations.
Ideally and diplomatically, it should not be the case of Muslims supporting Muslims no matter what the issue or problem is. Muslim nations need to take a broader and balanced outlook at the crisis involving by taking a rational – not emotional – stand.
Only then will their views and efforts be taken seriously and respected in diplomatic circles. Recent efforts by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to ease regional tensions by establishing diplomatic relations – though temporarily derailed at present – must be greatly appreciated. – Oct 29, 2023
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main pic caption: Bernama