Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wars and Boycotts: Do We Really Need Them?

11:30 am local time, 27 December 2008, the beginning of Israel's offensive against the Hamas in Gaza. Codenamed "Operation Cast Lead", it targets the members and infrastructure of Hamas, thus ending a 6-months truce between Israel and Hamas. Hamas accused Israel for not lifting the Gaza Strip blockade and their constant raids in Gaza, while Israel blamed Hamas for the increasing rocket and mortar attacks into its territories. 

After 15 days of raid (until January 10), the war claimed more than 800 lives with 3,700 injuries, mostly on the Palestinian side. Israel also blocked humanitarian aid into the Gaza territory although later allowed humanitarian cease-fire in between 1 to 4 pm in certain days. 

With humanitarian crisis looming in Gaza, the worst are yet to come and it leaves the civilian Palestinian, living in fear under gunfire, gun shells, mortars and bombs. Although the Israel primary objective is to target the Hamas militants, the civilians are unfortunately not spared as the collateral damages cause 25% of the casualties are from the civilians.


Since Israel announced its independence following the Civil War with the Arabs that led to the termination of the British Mandate of Palestine on 14 May 1948, the conflicts have resulted a never-ending saga. Thousands of lives have perished while millions became refugees. 

Contrary to popular belief, the war is not forged due to religious issues and I wish to clarify that these are not really a continuation from the Crusader War or specifically war against Islam. I cannot help but to notice that people nowadays seems to use religion or cultural belief to justify their attack over the innocents one across their borders. 

No matter if it is the Arabic-style-suicide-bombers or an Israeli-air-raid-bombardment or even the guerrilla-styles-attack on Mumbai, there are nothing on these actions that can be justified other than the disruption of peace and harmony. There is no proper justification on why a war must happen - but let us put the blames on our greediness, hunger for land and money, dissatisfaction and selfishness when the most losses were actually the civilian to suffer.

I particularly think that most of the Malaysians will think that the conflicts between Israel and Palestine for years were due to the religious issues, which is quite untrue. I heard one said before that Israel was committing genocide against the Palestine as an effort to destroy Islam and ethnic cleansing. Partly yes and partly no. 

The act of Israel in which they attack Palestine and killing many innocent civilian is no doubt an act of genocide but concerning any efforts towards Islam-demolishing, ethnic cleansing or Islamophobia, they are not true. The reason is that the causes of the conflict are something that most of us are not aware of.


There is no possible dateline on when the conflicts begin. 

Let us take the Bible first, from the exercpts of Genesis. Abraham's wife Sarah was barren but he bore a son, Ishmael with Hagar whom was Sarah's maid. Fourteen years later, Sarah became pregnant and bore a son, Isaac. Seeing this God promised to make a great nation of their people thus commanded Abraham to expel Hagar and Ishmael. Isaac's become the ancestor of the Jews, while Ishmael's the Arabs and Muslims.

Following years on invasion by the Roman Empire and Ottoman Turks Empire, the Jews fleed the land to other part of the world, especially Europe. By the end of 19th century, European Jews began arriving at the land of Palestine, seeking to establish a Jewish homeland with the tag "A people without a land for a land without people". The problem was while there were relatively small Jewish in the land and discovered that the land was occupied by Ishmael's descendants. Therefore both claimed sovereignity over the same piece of soil.

In 1947, British decided to withdrew from the land of Palestine which they took in war with the Ottoman and named in the British Mandate of Palestine. At that time the population was roughly 2/3 Arabs and 1/3 Jewish. United Nations proposed a partition plan of two states. Jewish were unhappy but accepted the proposal while the arabs rejected. 

A civil war broke and the Jewish won and called its independence in 1948 on 14 May 1948. Immediately, the Arab League nations sent troops to fight the Jewish which resulted in the victory of the Jewish with more expansion of land than originally allotted. The Jews celebrated but the Palestinians called it the "nakba". The Arabs fled their homes that caused the refugee issue that persists till today. The Jews also left their homes in Arab nations to settle in Israel.

In 1967 "Six-Day War", Israel conquered the Sinai Penisula, The Gaza strip, the West Bank, the eastern part of Jerusalem and Golan Heights. Gaza is deemed as an important bordering point between the Jews and Arabs which previously under Egypt's territories. 

20 years later, a Sunni Muslim organization called Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) was created. Hamas is a political party, a military component and provide social responsibilities in Gaza. Israel and the United States consider Hamas as a terrorist, taken into credit for suicide bombing and rocket attacks into southern Israel.

Israli blocked the relief supplies in measure to halt rocket attacks. The Palestinians link the tactic to the Holocaust, similar to Nazi siege of the Jewish in Warsaw. Hamas continued to fire rocket into Israel while Israel continued to raid the Gaza. A 6-months truce was offered by the Egypt in which both accepted back mid-2008. After the period over, the rocket attacks continued. Each say the other's actions caused the collapse of understanding.

Israel decided it no longer could tolerate and therefore 27 December 2008 attack on the Gaza strip occured till what we are 15 days later.


While most of the students in my college are currently busy with the program called "Untukmu Palestine", I decided to write this note to wonder if this program is based on religious reason or humanitarian reason. 

I begin to wonder what benefits this program will directly affect the suffering Palestinian? I cannot help to wonder how and where will the money will be channeled after the end of the program. It is just merely a program ran to provide merits to the students or an effort to really help the sufferings in Palestine? (In my college, you need to be active and obtain enough merit in order to get priority to get hostel accommodation for the next academic year.)


Let's look at the six core of the conflict that caused instability in the Palestine land: 
(1) Jerusalem, an ancient holy city among the Christianity, Islam and Judaism, is divided and unresolved as both parties claim assertions over the city. 
(2) Palestinian refugees that amounted to 4 million who wished to return to their home where they lived before 1948 and 1967. 
(3) Israeli settlements which expanded into Palestinian territories, but 2005 Ariel Sharon's plan was enacted to vacate Israeli settlements in Gaza, therefore returning Gaza into the hands of Palestine. 
(4) Security issues pertaining to both parties. 
(5) International status due to seperate partition of their state. 
(6) Resources distribution especially water supply among the two states due to the availability of the water resources. 

Looking at the six core issues themselves, none states the issues revolving the religious rights and so on. The efforts to end all of these fightings are not by Holy War by the Arabs or air-raids by the Israel. Diplomacy and tolerancy are the answers. It is difficult to achieve but that is the only answer to end the issues. 

Because of the near impossible, the war will just never end and the problems will never resolved. I cannot help to wonder myself how all of these core problems can be solved just like that. It only works when both states united under one nation two states that are autonomous with sharing is the only possibility towards peace! I think my idea is too ambitious, ideal and too much resembling "You Don't Mess With The Zohan".


Boycotting brand names like McDonald, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Manhattan Fish Market, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Microsoft and more to name of - does not it sounds hypocrite? It sounds hypocrite because all these while you spend money on them, consume their products and you end up boycotting something that are virtually part of your life. Ironic and hypocrite at the same time. There are few reasons why I think boycotting any US-made or Israel-associated products are not the answers.

(1) As mention earlier, you pay, you consume all these while and suddenly you decided to jump ship by boycotting.
(2) Why punish products that have been part of your life for years when it was the policy-makers or governments who were the one forging out and using people's money to go for some war? In recent survey, most of American and Israelites are not in favour for war. The outcome is obvious in the United States when Barack Obama won the presidential election, instead of John McCain whom will definitely following Bush's policy on wars. Going for a war requires billions of dollars been spent! Whose money are they using by the way? And how you will run your computer if you decides to boycott Microsoft as well.
(3) Boycotting products during the economy meltdown doesn't seems like a brilliant idea. In recent years many big companies offer jobs and opportunity of business to the locals and the same goes in Malaysia itself too. McDonalds offers thousands of jobs to school kids everytime holidays were around the corner. Boycotting is similar as making economy meltdown even worst indirectly. Well, this is what you get when you mix politics into daily life too much.


Before you go and blindly boycott or attend some street demonstration, just be wise and don't look on the history and current facts based on only one side. I will not joining any boycott and street protest because I think it will not bring any differences. But it doesn't mean I support Israel or against the suffering Palestinian. I choose to be neutral because I believe both conflicting parties should hold responsibles when war claimed the lives of civilians. Don't be blinded by the facts that going into war is something to be so proud about. Going into war put people's life at stacks.

To Israel: please stop all these non-sense raid when you say you are targetting the Hamas but it was the lifes of civilians which were perished.

To Palestine: I support you all the time because I believe in peace but I still think Hamas should hold responsibility for putting the life of civilians at stacks.

To my fellow friends at college: Read your facts right before making assumption. It is not that I don't support the program but I wonder how sincere the personels behind this program is...just ask yourself, you do this program to get merits or you really sympathy for them?


SuSaNe said...

OMG~ I thought just my uni got this kind of stupid d*mn a** merit system:p well welcome to ipta world!=) I used to be forced to joint this kind of program(street protest&etc) I remembered I was in my 1st year at uni. Luckily I'm able too escape eventually ^_^ Like u said, it doesn't mean that I'm supporting cruelty but all this kind of program it seemed pointless to me.Totaly agreed with u =)

renaye said...

it's a sad thing. it's the messiest war on earth. there's always a solution but no political will. always tepuk sebelah tangan. and i don't think israel wants to have peace with the palestinians. i think they just want every one of them dead.

twenty-six said...

good one..the moral is don't simply boycott..get the knowledge first.

now my muslim friends won't lepak with me at starbuck..can't go to other place coz the people there is so friendly..

Gempakz!!! said...

Did u know,when u buy something like McDonald, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Manhattan Fish Market, Kentucky Fried Chicken and others ,u have donate to Israel to buy weapons,boms and other..
They use to kill all palestinians...
All palestinians protect by hamas from Israel..
For more pic..

Thanka 4 Suport Palestine..

~Wong~ said...

Boycott Microsoft by using pirated software!!
Wait, almost all of us are doing it before doing this anyway. :P

It was never a religious issue, though Islamic countries prefer to abide by the "brotherhood" of Islam. So, there we go, doing what we believe is right. War starts because everyone thinks that they are right.

I think the boycott should not be done at food level, but expensive products like cars, can be done since we are in a recession anyway. But then again, it won't affect Israel in any way as they are the invisible force of US economics, and those are not in the war.

If Israel and Palestine keep staying at war, I'm sure this would be keeping their population at an all time low. Wat an ironic way to help control te world population. *Sigh*

Arth Akal said...

this is a well written post.

firdaus said...

boycotting products?

All cash(donations) are interconnected. Big companies are owned by investestment corpaorations like Meryll Lynch. And they are invested by other organisatios, maybe Zionist linked.
So that means we must boycott everything? I mean, all the manufacturers of suppliers of suppliers of retailers are all owned by big companies? And these companies are invested by big companies. So boycott everything, even roti canai, isit?
I'm just saying boycotting is a small & short-term solution...its nt even a solution. It's better to think long term and strengthen economically, become entrepreneurs, offer alternatives and reduce the dependancy.

Anonymous said...

When u buy Americans/ Israeli products:
U give them money -> they buy weapon -> Kill people.

How to stop them from killing people?
Dont give them money -> cannot buy weapon -> Cannot kill people.

I dont think Hamas put civilians in danger. Palestinians were attacked and no-one were protecting them at that time. They gathered to protect themselves, and there was the birth of Hamas.

Yes, its true that partly it is because of religion and partly not. But being a Muslim, there are also facts that we know which are masked from the knowledge of the world.

What if Israel only attack Buddhist Chinese in China but not other-religion Chinese? Is it because of land/money/religion?

What if Israel only attack Hindu Indians in India but not other-religion Indians? is it because of land/money/religion?

Yeah, its hard to answer.

Thank you for not supporting the war. Yes, we are all humans and war is not the answer to anything. It makes things worst.

Thank you for the sympathy towards the Palestinians. We are all human and can think what if we were in their shoes.

kyoll said...

yes..... agree with GEMPAKZ

Kritz said...

What's the point of boycotting those products?
Wouldn't that affect other innocent peoples too?
Wouldn't that be the same?

Neutral :D
Nice article.

Harmony said...

War will never end and things will never be boycotted, unless they have melamine in there. I'm not going to just boycott my fast food and other stuffs so easily, and my my , this is such a long post. Took me awhile to read.

acura said...

This is really well written. The war has been going on for so long, it's really tiring to hear about such news.

It's sad watching images of the destruction in Palestine. I am not going to take sides, because both sides uses violence to achieve their means. But the Israelis are targeting children & civilians.

There are bodies of children killed by sniper fire. Surely, that's too much. And Israel deserves the worldwide condemnation

But boycotting American goods isn't a smart solution. Protesting on the streets aren't going to solve the prob. UN & the US need to do something or else the war is just going to go on & on

acura said...

Very well written post. I am not going to take sides here as both of them resort to violence which will only lead to more violence.

But you must sympathise with the Palestinians. I have seen images of children killed by sniper fire. Surely, these are too much & deserves condemnation.

But boycotting isn't going to work. The US & UN are the only ones capable of doing something or else the war is just going to go on n on...

Cher Linn Tang said...

Israel sings to Palestine: so you want a piece of me?

sorry, totally not related. I'm sick, you can't blame me.

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