Religious Extremism returns around the globe


October 3, 2014

Religious Extremism returns around the globe

by Pankaj Mishra@Bloomberg

Boko HaramDenunciations of “religious extremism,” always commonplace, have never sounded more persuasive as Islamic State and Boko Haram go on murderous rampages and sectarian killers enjoy political respectability in places such as Pakistan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken out a fresh lease on Christianity’s old compact with imperialism. Many prominent rabbis in Israel have ignored the 19th-century conflict between Judaism and Zionism to sanction the messianic aims of settlers in the West Bank.

Non-monotheistic religions do not seem to have fared much better despite their explicit commitments to diversity and pluralist practice. In the past two decades, Hindu nationalists have sought self-affirmation in grisly acts of violence against minorities. Buddhist monks have led lynch mobs in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and they have proudly turned out as soldiers in Thailand’s counterinsurgency campaign in the southern provinces.

If the so-called “return” of religion shocks us, it is because we are too accustomed to reading its premature obituary. A range from European prophets, from Marx to Max Weber, shared the belief that democracy, economic growth, technology and mass culture would wean people away from reliance on the supernatural and usher them into a truly “disenchanted” secular world. As the process of modernisation moved from the West to the non-West, religion would retreat from the public into the private sphere.

obama-isis-beheading-zerohedge

For much of the world’s population, however, religion has continued to provide the basic vocabulary for conversations about society, politics, law and the good life. In fact, the threatening incursions of the West and the modern world in the 19th century stimulated a reinterpretation of religious faith and identity in many Asian and African countries.

The calls for jihad against the British in India and the revolt of the Mahdi in Sudan are well-documented instances of Islamist mobilisation against the all-conquering West. Many of the leading thinkers of the non-Muslim world ― Han Yongun in Korea, Taixu in China, Anagarika Dharampala in Sri Lanka, U Dhammaloka in Burma, Swami Vivekananda in India ― also hoped for a properly organized Buddhism or Hinduism to provide the basis for national strength, solidarity and identity in the modern world.

In many cases, their fondest dreams ― and worst fears ― have been realised. Buddhist nationalism is no longer an oxymoron in Sri Lanka. Fringe believers in “Akhand Bharat” or Undivided India seem to have hijacked the mainstream discourse of secular nationalism in India.

But then, modern nationalism itself has the symbolism and ritual of religion: a missionary belief in cultural distinctiveness, a political theology that includes declarations of independence and constitutions, and civic liturgies demanding reverence for the flag and founding fathers. Religious symbols and narratives have long permeated even the evidently secularised West.

Irish nationalism identified itself with Catholicism; the Welsh broke en masse with Anglicanism in the 19th century to define their own national identity. The American Revolution was preceded and followed by a great efflorescence of Protestant denominations.

Republican France, from which the creed of progressive secularisation is drawn, has always been exceptional. Nevertheless, Nicolas Sarkozy revealed an unalterable fact when he claimed that Europe’s roots are essentially Christian.

Queen Elizabeth remains the Head of the Church of England. Even today, Germany finances its churches and allows them to tax their members. The constitutionally mandated separation of church and state doesn’t prevent religion from influencing politics in the US. A sense of providential mission infuses the rhetoric of US foreign policy.

Clearly, our faith in the miracle of secular modernization defies all evidence of the intensity, persistence and variety of religious belief in the West as well as the East. More fatefully, it hinders us from questioning whether there is such a thing as the purely secular.

Zionism was aggressively anti-religious in its European origins. But its basic goals ― redemption of the “promised land” and revival of the Hebrew language ― were informed by theological notions.

The Indian claim to an Undivided India, whose mythology-inspired map includes all of South Asia, has been advanced at different times by “secular” members of the Congress party as well as Hindu fanatics.

We have assumed too easily ― and complacently ― the moral superiority and eventual triumph of the “secular.” But Islamic State has more in common with the utopia of the fanatically secular Khmer Rouge than anything in the long history of Islam. We need fresher ideas to understand the great violence of our times, which is far from being explained by diehard secularists blustering against religious extremism. ― Bloomberg View

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com

Civilisational clash ‘not of our doing’


September 29, 2014

Civilisational clash ‘not of our doing’

by Dr. Farish M. Noor@www.nst.com,my

farish-a-noorTHE ongoing bombardment of Syria — ostensibly to remove the threat of the Islamic State (IS) — has sparked off a bout of serious questioning about the propriety of the campaign, and whether such a strategy would actually work.

Interestingly, many of these questions are also being raised in the Western press, where opinion makers have argued that such a strategy may well end up entrenching IS further and angering ordinary civilians, who will also be the victims of such attacks, for it is well-known that “smart weapons” are seldom truly smart, and that civilian casualties are bound to be incurred.

But more worrying still is the talk of a “war against evil” and the need to fight against IS in the defence of “civilisation”, “law and order”, and “justice”.The somewhat simplistic dialectics of such arguments are embarrassingly clear, where the insurgents of IS are being labelled as uncivilised and barbaric, while those who attack them have summarily assumed the mantle of a higher moral authority.

Under such circumstances, is it any wonder if critical thinkers the world over have opined that what we are seeing today is a nasty prelude to a larger conflict that will be fought along the fault-lines of culture and civilisation?

Lest it be forgotten, we need to remember that IS does not represent the civilisation of Arab-Muslims in any way. In their deeds and words IS does not represent the same grand civilisation that was the product of thinkers like al-Ghazali, Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd and Ibn Khaldun.

As many contemporary Muslim leaders have argued, what we see in the ranks of IS is a travesty of Arab civilisation that was once the fountainhead of science and rational thinking.  But equally worrisome is the language and vocabulary of IS’s opponents, who have applied to them a pathology that is general, sweeping and reductionist.

To argue, as some Western leaders and policymakers have, that IS is the result of blind hate and anger, would be to reduce the frustrations and anxieties of millions of Arabs to bare emotions and reactionary action, without any attempt to understand and recognise the very real political-economic underpinnings of such collective anxiety.

It is dumfounding that hardly any of these leaders have noted the obvious fact that IS has emerged in a region that has been torn apart for three decades, since the Iran-Iraq war, that was also supported by external states and other actors.

It is equally perplexing to note that none of these leaders have acknowledged their own culpability in their policy of intervening in that region — in the name of “regime change” — and by doing so, weakened the states of the Arab world to the point where none of them can really rein in radical movements and splinter groups like IS. Do we seriously expect a moderate society to emerge from a region that has been reduced to a war zone for so long?

It is for this reason that the term “Clash of Civilisations” is so misleading, and dangerously so. As a glib slogan that reduces and over-simplifies the complexity of the problems of the Arab world, it is a convenient by-word that allows external actors and players to absolve themselves of their own responsibility for the mess they have created.

The term is dangerous in the manner that it reduces the phenomenon of violent radical resistance to the level of primordial irrational sentiments, and reinforces the racist stereotype of Arabs as inherently violent and pathologically fatalistic.

In dealing with the real problem of groups like IS, a degree of honest, objective analysis is required that would also unveil the hidden hands at work, the connections with external agendas and interests.

What we do not need at the moment is some convenient slogan that white-washes the facts about intervention, regime change/manipulation and their monstrous outcomes.

And, we need to remember that the idea of the “Clash of Civilisations” itself is a concept that was never invented by us, but rather imposed upon us and other communities — perhaps in an effort to deny our genuine political-economic needs and aspirations, and to discard serious critical thinking for simplistic oppositional dialectics instead.

Rosli Dahlan wins Appeal against NST and MACC


September 17, 2014

Rosli Dahlan wins Appeal against NST and MACC

By Din Merican

rosli-dahlan2Unknown to many, this morning, the Court of Appeal presided by JCAs Clinton Albert, Hameed Sultan and Nalini Pathmanaban today heard NST’s appeal vs the High Court Judgment of Judge Siti Khadijah Badjenid which held NST and MACC liable for defamation vs Lawyer Rosli Dahlan and ordered NST and MACC to pay RM150, 000.00 each to Rosli (total RM300,000.00). The counsel for NST was Harjinder Kaur and counsel for Rosli was Chetan Jethwani and Parvinder Kaur.

The High Court had found that The NST and MACC had authored and published false news about Rosli by reporting that he was investigated and charged for hiding the assets of Dato Ramli Yusuff which they had dubbed as the RM27million Cop story.

Previously, Utusan Malaysia and The Star newspapers had published public apologies and paid damages to Rosli for publishing similar false stories.. Yet, The NST refused to apologise to Rosli. The NST’s misconduct was further aggravated by the fact that the NST’s reporter, V Anbalaga, had claimed that he had obtained the information from the MACC who wanted the news to be leaked, whereas during the trial the MACC denied leaking any information. Judge Khadijah had found that the MACC had breached s.21(4) of the ACA Act by leaking confidential investigation information.

What was comical about the whole thing was that the MACC even republished the NST article on its website and later claimed that the MACC Publication Unit did not know about the case but just adopted the false NST story. During the trial witnesses for NST and MACC blamed each other just to avoid liability. That is how these liars behaved when they are caught lying!

During the hearing this morning, the Court of Appeal Judges asked why the MACC did not appeal if they did not do any wrong to Rosli and if the story that was published on the MACC website was true. They also questioned NST’s lack of remorse by appealing when MACC did not appeal.

Judge Hamid Sultan asked why the NST started and popularised the RM27milion story when the charge against Rosli and Dato Ramli did not mention any amount at all. Judge Hamid Sultan also said there was no basis for stating that amount or that story which was false and indicated malice on the part of the NST- “News cannot add on untrue stories,embellished it to be a fairy tale. Only real news enjoy any privilege.”

Judge Linton Albert said- “The Sting of the Defamation is that you stated he hid RM27milion or that he was charged for RM27milion when that was totally untrue!” When Court resumed at 12.50pm, the Chairman of the Panel dismissed NST appeal and ordered NST to pay cost of RM20,000.00 to Rosli Dahlan.

Secession is not an Option


September 1, 2014

After 51 years of federalism in which the centre (Putrajaya) is dominant, the time has come for us Din MericanY to review the bases of our relationship with Sabah and Sarawak. Both states have grown and a few generations have gone, and now there is growing restlessness among Sabahans and Sarawakians. To some extent, Malaysia is already a success. We have created political awareness among the people there. But we have more work to do to achieve national integration.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has said that stern action will be taken against those in the two states who are advocating secession. They have threatened to take the issue of self-determination to the United Nations. The UN route to deal with our internal affairs is a retrogressive step since the issue was settled nearly three scores ago by both the Cobbold Commission and the United Nations team in 1963. Furthermore, I do not have much faith in the United Nations. I believe in our own ability to deal with our problems. We have the means and experience to manage our own affairs.

The idea of secession is not an option. Sabah and Sarawak are part of Malaysia. That means we cannot entertain the idea of political separation. People advocating this separation should be warned to stop playing with fire. But a better  and more equitable deal for Sabahans and Sarawakians? Yes. According to Dr. Puyok, “[T]he federal-state conflict in Malaysia is caused by an “ideological clash” between federal and state leaders, imbalance in centre-periphery relations, and lack of meaningful engagement between federal and state administrative officers.” I agree with his point of view.

Let us, therefore, not ignore the concerns of Sabah and Sarawak. In stead, we should begin a new era of constructive engagement with our brothers and sisters in East Malaysia. Take integration beyond the level of political rhetoric, and deal with the fundamental issues concerning federal-state relations that have been swept under the carpet for far too long. In this regard, the Najib administration must act in earnest based on a clear vision of national unity and integration.

najib and his deputyProject Malaysia must be taken to a new and perhaps a more enlightened level. The feeling that we at the centre are a bunch of neo-colonialists (and thereby lending credence to President Sukarno’s claim that Malaysia is a “neo-colonialist plot” hatched by the British) must be eliminated.

Let us recognise for starters that what politicians and public officials say and do at the centre affect Sabah and Sabah. One case in point is the Allah issue. Another matter of pressing concern is revenue sharing. Prime Minister Najib should begin the dialogue with leaders of Sabah and Sarawak and civil society as soon as possible.  –Din Merican

Secession is not an Option

by Dr. Arnold Puyok*

Merdeka--57

After 51 years since the formation of Malaysia, the issue of secession has come to haunt the country once again. While the calls for secession by some quarters in Sabah and Sarawak are not as serious as it looks in the social media, anti-federal feelings are real and growing.It is not too late to “save” Malaysia. The federal structure was designed in such a way to preserve the uniqueness of each state in the federation.

The main problem faced by the country lies in the weaknesses in the implementation of the Federal Constitution. It is time that Malaysians – the young especially – to take a hard look at the country’s origin by studying the Federal Constitution.

Now, the Federation of Malaysia is said to be on the brink of collapse. The federal-state conflict in Malaysia is caused by an “ideological clash” between federal and state leaders, imbalance in centre-periphery relations, and lack of meaningful engagement between federal and state administrative officers.

Ideological clash

The ideological approach in federalism discusses the “ideological and philosophical foundation of federalism”. Ideologies clash because of differences in language, culture and religion. Malaysia’s federal foundation is essentially driven by Malay-Muslim ideology – a “copycat” of the previous federal structure under the Federation of Malaya – even though the later federal structure (the Federation of Malaysia) was significantly altered to accommodate non-Islamic and non-Malay territories of Sabah and Sarawak.

From 1957 to 1963, efforts to “build” the country through language and education were done with a strong Malay-Muslim flavour. With a strong federal support, Sabah’s Third Chief Minister Tun Mustapha Harun promoted a policy of “one language (Malay), one religion (Islam) and one culture (Malay)” as a basis for creating national solidarity in Sabah. This was opposed by many non-Muslim Sabahans.

Imbalance in centre-periphery relations

This imbalance is marked by centralisation of power by the federal government.Under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for instance, the federal government would use its constitutional and political power to force the state to prioritise federal than state needs.

The federal government would “punish” stubborn state leaders who refuse to subscribe to its agenda by declaring them “persona non grata” in the country’s decision-making process and also by reducing the compulsory federal allocation to the state.

In education, school syllabi do not reflect Malaysia’s multicultural outlook. Sabah’s and Sarawak’s unique historical and cultural background were not given due consideration. On the economic front, the government’s revenue and total expenditure were dominated by the federal – 96% and 80% respectively in 1990.

Lack of engagement

Owning a satellite dish by private individuals in Sabah is one of the many thorny issues in federal-state relations.

The federal government disallowed the use of a private satellite dish without licence. Sabah counter-argued saying that the federal government was protecting Astro and was victimising Sabahans, especially those in the rural areas who did not have the means to access to information.

Licensing requirements caused unhappiness and led to perception of federal officers’ lack of sensitivity to local needs.

There is also this issue of Sabah wanting to proclaim its natural sites as World Heritage Site. But the federal government refused to support the initiative unless those sites are federalised. Another “hot-button” issue is the state’s lack of autonomy in educational affairs.

The state has charged that it cannot manage school projects below RM500,000. Many schools, especially in rural areas, are in dire need of repairs and maintenance. However, these are slow as state officers need to wait for approval from their federal counterparts. Work progress is also affected by delay in payment to local contractors by Putrajaya.

Clear vision of national unity and integration

The first point of the Vision 2020 is “to establish a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny – a nation at peace with itself, territorially and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership, made up of one Bangsa Malaysia with political loyalty and dedication to the nation”.

But the questions are: how are we going to become a united Malaysian nation if we are still arguing over the year of our country’s founding? How are we to achieve the Bangsa Malaysia race if we continue to exclusively defend our rights – race, religious, and regional?

Our leaders must be extremely clear about where they want to bring Malaysia to. The concept of 1Malaysia looks ideal on paper but it has to be made workable in practice: is it a concept for the purpose of nation-building? Is it a concept for rebranding of government commercial products? Is it a concept to promote the country’s tourism industry?

Equilibrium in centre-periphery relations

It is time the federal government decentralised power as a way to lessen its dominance and to allow the state to develop independently according to its needs.

Apart from checking and balancing the power of the federal government, decentralisation, if applied effectively and judiciously, can also ensure effectiveness in public-delivery system.

Crucially, the state should be allowed to deal independently with its socio-cultural policy. Sabah and Sarawak should determine how they wish to preserve their people’s diverse culture, just like India’s “territorial linguism” and Ethiopia’s “cultural and linguistic autonomy”.

Our leaders could also enact a Territorial Integration Act to renew the commitment of federal and state leaders to abide by the Federal Constitution.It is a kind of “oath fellowship” that can be found in Switzerland to conserve differences and diversity.

The government should also establish a constitutional court to arbiter conflict between the federal and state governments – i.e. a special court in Germany – the Federal Constitutional Court — to check against the centralising tendency of the federal government.

Before decentralisation of power can be fully implemented, a National Council of Decentralisation orbm_puyok2 National Decentralisation Commission should be established to review aspects that are over-centralised and need to be decentralised, areas that are under-centralised and need to be centralised, and to review the concept of power sharing between the federal and state governments in light of Malaysia’s multicultural make-up.

Constructive engagement

The role of the State Federal Office needs to be strengthened so that federal priorities do not clash with that of a state’s.The government can also organise a yearly conference between federal and state administrative officers to discuss issues in implementation of federal and state programmes.

Secession threats are culminated in dissatisfactions of some sections of society. People who promote secession should be engaged in a civil and rational manner.The government must double the efforts to increase the sense of belonging of people from various races and religions. Malaysia is worth preserving but it also needs changing.

* Dr Arnold Puyok is a lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/secession-not-the-solution-to-malaysias-problem-arnold-puyok

National Debate on Najib’s Leadership?


August 31, 2014

National Debate on Najib’s Leadership?

by Khoo Kay Peng

NajibTun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s criticism and his right to do so should be respected even if some of us may not agree entirely with his grouses against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. As a citizen and an ex-Premier of the country, Dr. Mahathir is entitled to his views on the leadership.

Mahathir has said that many policies, approaches and actions taken by the government under Najib have destroyed inter-racial ties, the economy and the country’s finances. As a result, he has withdrawn his support for the Prime Minister.

Mahathir claimed that the abolition of the Internal Security Act and the Restricted Residence Act has spiked crime activities because many gang leaders were released.  It is ironic that Mahathir has targeted Najib but did not mention anything about our law enforcement officers.

The abolition of the two draconian and archaic laws is not the reason for the spike in criminal activities. The government’s reluctance to fully restructure and rejuvenate the Police Force has played a large part in the failure to curb growing criminal activities.

Suggestions made by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the Police Force were largely restricted toKhalid Abu Bakar reporting purposes. Key recommendations contained in the report were largely left unimplemented. The RCI had comprehensively concluded that the Police Force needed to be reformed in order to recapture its past glory, to reclaim its credibility and to enhance its efficiency in keeping law and order.

Apart from the Police Force, other law enforcement agencies such as local councils and immigration department should be subjected to a thorough review too. In the Klang Valley and several key cities, illicit and illegal businesses such as clubs, massage parlours, gambling dens and others are mushrooming. This is the main financial lifeline to the gang leaders and a select few are raking in billions of ringgit a year.

Can the authorities safely say that they have been working very hard to cut the financial lifeline of these gangs by curbing these illegal and illicit businesses? Can they confirm that none of their enforcement officers are actively or passively “involved” in condoning these activities?

Why aren’t there any comprehensive actions taken against these organisations, for example the Police Force, the Immigration Department and the local councils? It is because it is difficult for the government to take action against any organisations or agencies that are dominated mainly by the race and the party “that had all this while supported and saved the government”.

PerkasaMahathir has criticised Najib for the failing inter-racial relations. Yet, it is not by accident that he is the patron of the right wing Malay Muslim pressure group PERKASA. The group has no qualms making some of the most absurd statements and demands to promote its right-wing agenda. To the leaders and supporters of this group, a particular racial denomination and religion shall be the basis that represents the right and wrong. There’s no moral compass or principle that the group’s viewpoint is subjected to for a fair justification.

But Najib should not be commended for his “achievements” (or a lack of it) in fostering better inter-racial relations through his 1Malaysia initiative. In fact, Najib was too afraid to go against organisations such as UMNO and PEKASA even if their actions may have contravened his administration’s own vision in inter-racial relations. In short, Najib is not willing to risk his position to do what is right for the country.

His inability to curb the racial sentiments from the organisations and to moderate the behaviour of their leaders has been his biggest failure in fostering better inter-racial relations. With a political figure such as Mahathir backing it, PERKASA is able to make all sorts of threats against the Najib administration to accept its wishes, demands and views.

If Najib has erred, he made a mistake for giving too much space and respect to leaders of the right-wingNajib2 organisations. If Mahathir is so concerned about the people, and the society’s multi-cultural and multi-racial fabric, he should not appear to speak for just a particular race or party. Although Mahathir’s criticism of Najib may have its merits, he missed the point by a mile. He should help to answer the question, “what has contributed to the deterioration of inter-racial relations in the country?”

Mahathir is right about the 1Malaysia cash handouts. Cash handout is being used as a means to show that the government cares for the people, especially the low-income group. Both the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat governments have used it. Sadly, supporters from both sides of the divide are eager to defend the programme, not based on its merits and effectiveness but blinded by their own political loyalty.

For this purpose, there is very little debate and serious scrutiny being conducted to study the impact of the policy. There’s very little interest from both coalitions to take up serious socio-economic policy research to seek the best solution and action plans to reverse the fortune of the faltering Malaysian economy.

Excessive politicking has been chronic and disastrous to the economy and nation. It is unfair to load the entire responsibility on just a man, the prime minister.  However, Mahathir’s criticism should be measured carefully and its only contribution would be to trigger a national debate on various key issues such as inter-racial relations, deteriorating economic competitiveness, rising crime, worsening education quality and others.  If this happens, it could yet be a huge contribution from Mahathir.

Khoo Kay Peng is a political analyst and a management consultant. He believes that this nation can only progress with the collective will of its people.

http://www.theantdaily.com/Outspoken/Mahathir-s-criticism-should-trigger-national-debate-on-key-issues/#sthash.msi1jJwK.dpuf

Israel’s Colonialism Must End


August 5, 2014

OPINION

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/05/opinion/ali-jarbawi-israels-colonialism-must-end.html?ref=opinion

Israel’s Colonialism Must End

Centuries of European colonialism have provided the world with certain basic lessons about subjugating colonized peoples: The longer any colonial occupation endures, the greater the settlers’ racism and extremism tend to grow. This is especially true if the occupiers encounter resistance; at that point, the occupied population becomes an obstacle that must either be forced to submit or removed through expulsion or murder.

PalestineIn the eyes of an occupying power, the humanity of those under its thumb depends on the degree of their submission to, or collaboration with, the occupation. If the occupied population chooses to stand in the way of the occupier’s goals, then they are demonized, which allows the occupier the supposed moral excuse of confronting them with all possible means, no matter how harsh.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine is one of the only remaining settler-colonial occupations in the world today.And it is not limited to East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Although Israel withdrew its settlers and army from Gaza in 2005, it is still recognized by the United Nations as an occupying power, due to its complete control of Gaza’s airspace, sea access and of almost all of its land borders.

Over the years, Israel has used all forms of pressure to prevent the Palestinians from achieving their national rights and gaining independence. It hasn’t been enough for Israelis to believe their own claims about Palestinians; they have sought incessantly to impose this narrative on the world and to have it adopted by their Western allies.

Unsurprisingly, all of this has led to complete shamelessness in mainstream Israeli rhetoric about Palestinians. After all, if one is not held accountable, then one has the freedom to think — and do — what one wants. With no internal or external checks, one can act with impunity.

The Israeli left is a relic, all but extinct, and the extremist right is entrenched in the Israeli political establishment. Attacking the Palestinians has become officially sanctioned policy, embedded in Israeli public consciousness and politely ignored in Western political circles.

There is now an extremist, racist ideological current in Israel that not only justifies the recent onslaught on the Gaza Strip, but actually encourages the use of enormous and disproportionate violence against civilians, which has led to the extermination of entire families.

Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, recently called on the Israeli army to attack and occupy Gaza, paying no heed to anything but the safety of Israeli soldiers. He then demanded that Gaza be annexed to Israel, and asked the army to use all means at its disposal to “conquer” Gaza, by which he meant that obedient Palestinians would be allowed to stay, while the rest — the majority — should be exiled to the Sinai Peninsula. This cannot be understood as anything less than a call for ethnic cleansing.

Ayelet Shaked, a Knesset member for the Jewish Home Party, a member of the governing coalition, called on the Israeli army to destroy the homes of terrorist “snakes,” and to murder their mothers as well, so that they would not be able to bring “little snakes” into the world.

And Mordechai Kedar, a Professor at Bar Ilan University, publicly suggested that raping the mothers and sisters of “terrorists” might deter further terrorism. The university did not take any measures against him.

Such statements are no longer isolated incidents, but reflective of the general sentiment within a country where chants of “Kill the Arabs” are increasingly common. It is no longer an aberration to hear these opinions expressed in public, or by politicians and academics. What is unexpected — and unacceptable — is that such statements are not met with any sort of condemnation in official Western circles that claim to oppose racism and extremism.

The rise in Israeli racism and extremism against Palestinians would not have happened without the unconditional support that Israel receives from its allies, most significantly the United States. Israel cannot continue to be the exception to the rule of international law and human rights. The international community must hold it accountable for its rhetoric and its actions, and begin to treat it like all other countries. It should not be allowed to continue to enjoy its state of exceptionalism and to use this to wreak destruction on the Palestinian people.

After 47 years of occupation, two decades of stalled peace talks and almost eight years of a strangulating siege of the Gaza Strip, the international community must demand that Israel clearly state what it intends to do with its occupation of the Palestinian people. Since the Palestinians are not the occupiers, but rather those living under occupation, this question cannot be asked of them.

If Israel wants to continue its occupation and hinder Palestinians’ path to freedom and independence, then it should be aware that the Palestinian people will continue to resist with all the means at their disposal. If Israel intends to end the occupation, then it will find that the Palestinians are more than ready for an agreement.

What the Palestinians are enduring today in Gaza should be a clarion call for the entire world to end the bloodshed. But it will take more than a cease-fire. It will take peace. And peace cannot happen without an end to the occupation.

Ali Jarbawi is a political scientist at Birzeit University and a former Minister of the Palestinian Authority. This article was translated by Ghenwa Hayek from the Arabic.

US Unconditional Aid to IsraelUS-Israel Partnership

NOTE: It is no secret that the unconditional backing of the United States—in providing funds, weapons, and vetoes at the United Nations—is one of the primary factors behind the impunity with which Israel and its colonial policy violate international law. That backing is also a considerable obstacle to serious negotiations between the Israeli regime and the colonial functionaries like Hamas who it loves to hate, but whose presence are also essential to its continued hegemony in Gaza.

http://californiamwananchi.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-alliance-unhinged.html