Gaza — warmongering and genocide

Datuk Seri Dr Shafiq Sit is a Rhodes scholar and investor. He says Malaysia should use diplomacy to advocate moderate responses, and help ensure that there is no escalation.

IN Shakespeare’s "Much Ado About Nothing", the scandals and war of words set the stage. Today, Israel is trying to prove that the world is but her stage. Since Oct 7, Israel has killed thousands of innocent Palestinians under the guise of war. There is no moral justification for this war.

For Israel, war is an act used to ensure its survival, and seldom as a last resort. Since Prime Minister Golda Meir, Israel has attacked at the drop of a hat, with overt support from the US.

Peace can no longer be defined as the absence of war, especially in the Middle East. To “preserve” the larger peace, wars will be fought to maintain the balance of power in favour of Pax-Americana served on a Jewish plate. The next item on the course is Iran.

Imagine if a resurgent Donald Trump wins the US elections and aims for a new world order. Current President Joe Biden has deftly discouraged any escalation by Israel after Iran fired drones at Israel. Biden cleverly narrated the Iranian attacks as a defence victory for Israel and urged Israel to claim victory over the destruction of drones fired by Iran.

One will notice that it was a prominently announced strike of slow drones, giving enough warning for the US allies to shoot down almost all the drones. Iran intentionally fired slow drones, knowing full well they would be shot down.

The bottom card in this high stake poker game, actually, is Iran’s support for Hamas. It forces Israel to recalibrate the Hamas axis.

As the shadow war between Iran and Israel surfaces, countries and former allies will have to realign foreign policies to declare allegiances. Even China is blamed for a lack of critical response against Iran’s attack on Israel.

Is all this warmongering new to us? Not really.

In 1978, when Vietnam invaded Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge were propped up by the West to fight a shadow war against Hanoi. And all the time, the West criticised the Khmer Rouge as terrorists — no different than what’s being played out now with Hamas.

What’s the danger? Well, populist politicians in the Middle East, Europe and the US will channel their warmongering to their parochial advantage and push for escalation.

Then, we will have to choose between the supposed “good guys” and the “bad guys”.

Where is Malaysia in this?

First, we must remind ourselves that neither ideology nor the support of Muslim allies helped Saddam Hussein much. He lost the war, lost his life and was hanged in 2006. Iraq then became a whiter shade of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Malaysia is a smallish Muslim-majority country, with GDP roughly that of Florida’s. With our own challenges and a weak ringgit nearing RM5 to the US$, we had best tone down our rhetoric and focus on alleviating poverty at home first.

Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and possibly even Indonesia may soon choose to go with the winning team. For Malaysia, a normalisation of Indonesia-Israel relations will test new waters.

Israel, meanwhile, has made it clear that Hamas must be totally destroyed. Netanyahu’s war on Hamas has no exit and is thus flawed. It’s a disaster from which he cannot back down until Hamas is eliminated.

What was he thinking? Kill all the Palestinians and occupy Gaza, and then carry on as usual? Surely, no right thinking Jew will allow Netanyahu to walk away with this crime.

One cannot destroy Hamas by killing innocent Palestinians as Hamas is but a name for a martyr status seeking group of people. The more innocent people you kill, the more will recruit themselves into Hamas.

Israel is small, smaller even than Pahang. It is 22,145 sq km and Pahang is 35,965 sq km. Already, Israel’s economy has been bleeding from the high defence spending. Opening up more war fronts could take its economy to destruction.

If Netanyahu, as he promises, does not hang on to Gaza even if Hamas is obliterated, then creating a new power vacuum in Gaza would be senseless.

It is also preposterous to believe that Israel will permanently occupy Gaza without a total loss of legitimacy as “people of the promised land”.

Already, the war has destroyed a longstanding image of the Jews being the good guys. From being victims of the Holocaust, they are now seen as genocidal participants.

As Israel adjusts to the new realities of war, Malaysia should use diplomacy to advocate moderate responses, and help ensure that there is no escalation. It should also work harder to maintain key strategic alliances.

Even the Philippines went ahead with commitments from Japan and the US to strengthen its position in the South China Sea.

To end this war in Gaza, the US has to reexamine how and why Hamas is promoting chaos and instability. Only then can we hope to remove the conditions that help Hamas stay in existence. At the same time, the international community should seek out the perpetrators of genocide.

If guilty, Netanyahu should be tried for war crimes and punished, like Saddam was. This will help ensure that the US can take the moral high ground again.

The responsibility for death of tens of thousands of murdered Palestinians rest not just on Hamas, but also Netanyahu’s immoral war.

This realisation is crucial; as Israel becomes emboldened to think that maybe even without the backing of the US, it is still armed with the latest AI supercomputers that can easily launch thousands of guided drones and kill most of Palestine without breaking a sweat. This massacre, if it ever happens, will be worse than the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There is still hope, though and it is heartening to see right thinking Jews, like Jonathan Glazer, who have spoken up.

I will end with an excerpt from the recent Oscar acceptance speech by Glazer: “Right now we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict and death for so many innocent people.”

This article first appeared in Star Biz7 weekly edition.

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