In Malaysia, the narrative for the long-standing Palestinian issue has been largely formulated and driven by the Muslims, with support from the government.
Not surprisingly, the non-Muslims in Malaysia feel disconnected with the issue, which is perceived as confined to the Muslims or the Arabs only, leading to an apathetic attitude towards the issue. On the contrary, while there are religious and historical dimensions, the issue is a humanitarian one and should be recognized and treated as such.
For decades, the Israeli Zionist regime inflicted injustices upon the Palestinians, not only through desecration of the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest mosque in Islam, but also through numerous human rights violations.
In the recent escalation in May, more than 200 people perished, including more than 60 Palestinian children. Disproportionate and excessive use of force by the Israelis is well established, supported by the US military aids of close to US$ 4 billion annually. Not only that, a Gaza tower that housed several international media establishments was destroyed through a targeted Israeli air raid at the peak of the escalation in May.
In April 2021, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report highlighted severe deprivations of human rights, amounting to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. This is on top of numerous UN resolutions affirming that the Israeli occupation in Palestine is illegal.
The Israeli expansionist policy is evident through illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank over the years, often through brute force at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian residents. The policy is condemned by the international community, irrespective of religious belief or ethnicity.
The Palestinian struggle is therefore a fight for human dignity, for human rights and for independence to a homeland of the displaced Palestinians. Unfortunately, all previous peace accords have not led to any solution, instead only resulted in more suffering for the Palestinians and further expansion of illegal settlements.
Despite decades of human rights violations and violence, solution for peace is very complex given the besiegement of Gaza, denial of basic human rights to existence, food and medicine and persecution in the occupied areas of Palestine.
According to Dr Azzam Tamimi, a prominent British Palestinian academic and political analyst, to move forward, there must be an end to Zionism, occupation, colonialism and oppression in Palestine. For as long as these conditions remain, huge hurdles remain before a true peaceful solution can be achieved.
Certainly, this complex topic cannot be covered in this short article. Dialogues and engagements should be conducted to foster understanding on the issue among Malaysians, regardless of their religious beliefs or ethnicities.
Badlishah Sham Baharin, Deputy President, IKRAM
Mohammad Abdul Hamid, Public Policy Consultant