An ex-Prime Minister’s view

8 Jun, '09

I’ve been following Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s blog for about a year now, maybe a little bit more. I came close to filming and interviewing him in Malaysia when we covered an event there a few months ago, unfortunately that didn’t happen. Still, the experience did not diminish my admiration for the man.

Dr. Mahathis Mohamad, ex-PM of Malaysia

Dr. Mahathis Mohamad, ex-PM of Malaysia

I certainly don’t agree with him completely, but I do follow him to try to fathom the man; an ex-prime minister of a Muslim country – a rarity on its own, especially after being in that seat for 22 years – but some of his thoughts are worth analysing further and learning from, while some of his rants are stellar.

Take his latest post of just a few minutes ago where he reflects on Obama’s Cairo speech:

It is not the Palestinians who choose violence. It was the Jews who violently seized Palestinian land, massacred the Arabs and expelled them from their country. With no one prepared to restrain the Jews, the beleaguered Palestinians had to resort to violence. The world, the United Nations, even fellow Muslims have deserted them.

….

Obama stresses America’s strong bond with Israel. It is unbreakable. He recognises the aspiration for a Jewish homeland “rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied”.

But what is the tragic history? It is that of European persecution of the Jews, of the regular pogroms culminating in the Holocaust? It is not the doings of the Muslims. Certainly not the doings of the Palestinians.The tragedy was caused by the Europeans through the ages.

Obama must know that before there was the United States, the Jews invariably fled to Muslim countries to seek refuge from European persecution. The Muslims did not turn them back. Before Israel there were millions of Jews in Muslim land. Even today quite a few are still there.

I have not read such strong views about the American stance regarding the Palestinian and Israeli situation in the Arabic press from any Arab leader! This is not the first time he vociferously condemns American and Israeli actions, there are various other articles he posted previously where his views are never diminished.

I hope you have the time to visit and re-visit his blog, it will be worth your while.

I wonder if other ex-PMs in this area would follow in Dr. Mahathir’s footsteps and start blogging? Oh, hang on a minute, sorry, we don’t have any ex-PMs in this area of the world. This makes reading his blog even the more interesting.

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Comments (9)

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  1. Faris says:

    Nice post. I’ve bookmarked the blog. Thanks.

  2. Shachar says:

    Welcome back to writing, Mahmood.

    It is not the Palestinians who choose violence. It was the Jews who violently seized Palestinian land, massacred the Arabs and expelled them from their country.

    It is amazing how far your conclusions can go when you are not bound by historical truth.

    Shachar

  3. Anonny says:

    Or how far your self righteousness goes when you get your history from ancient, incoherent books. Shachar, why do bother to try to persuade us of anything? Your government doesn’t try to defend their position with debate any more, so why should you? Just you smile and continue sitting pretty on your white phosphorus stockpiles. You’ve got Obama and an overwhelming majority of Western Media outlets on your side. All you have to do is shut Haaretz up and then it’s halcyon days …

  4. Shachar says:

    Instead of talking generalities, how ’bout I state the facts as I know them, and you can then decide which of those you think are wrong. So far, in all of my discussions (including here, including with the almighty IBN), I have never heard anyone seriously dispute them.

    Dr. Mahathir says: “It is not the Palestinians who choose violence.”
    The facts as I know them: The first side to start applying violent pressure on the other were the Arabs. The first side to kill based on political agenda were the Arabs. The first side to target civilians were the Arabs.

    Dr. Mahathir says: “It was the Jews who violently seized Palestinian land, massacred the Arabs and expelled them from their country.”
    The facts as I know them: The total amount of Arabs massacred by any Jew (official or otherwise) amounts to the mid-hundreds, comparable to the amount of Jews massacred by Arabs (not for lack of trying, mind you), and far far far below the number of Arabs massacred by Arabs. As I noted before, I can match any massacre by Jews to a comparable in magnitude and earlier in date massacre of Jews by Arabs.

    There is great controversy surrounding the number of Arabs actually driven away from their homes by Jews, which in great part results from a difference in counting who was actually “driven away”. The stance typically taken by the Israeli side is that this count should only cover people who were actively driven away, and amounts to around a couple of thousand people. The Arab side counts anyone who lived in Palestine before 1936 and did not after 1947, and amounts to several hundred thousands.

    Dr. Mahathir says: With no one prepared to restrain the Jews, the beleaguered Palestinians had to resort to violence.

    The facts as I know them: violence was introduced into the Arab standard MO by gang of violent youth, led by people of the like of Chaj Amin El’Husseiny, who never hesitated to apply violence internally, against Arab opposition. Looking at Hamas we can see this is the exact way things happen today as well. The Jewish behavior was NOT the cause of the Arab violence, as there was no behavior to justify this violence at the time the violence started.

    Dr Mahathir says: The Muslims did not turn them back. Before Israel there were millions of Jews in Muslim land. Even today quite a few are still there.

    While it is true that in the 14th century the Muslim countries were where the Jews took refuge from the Christian haunting, the second part of the sentence is completely misleading. The amount of Jews still living in Muslim countries is insignificant compared to the numbers before the Zionism started. Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria are just examples of Muslim countries that used to have quite big Jewish communities, and today have none at all.

    These are the facts as I know them. If you want to argue facts, go ahead and tell me which of those you disagree with, and we can see where we can get a better resource.

    Shachar

  5. Anonny says:

    There you go again.

    Shachar, I’m not important to your cause. It’s your own dissenters and the Pallies that you’ve got to convince. Good luck. If you succeed where so many have failed, there is hope. It’s just that a pesky atheist called Theodore Herzl came up with an idea that facilitated an occupation that determined resistance that ended up in a pseudo-feud. I say pseudo-feud, because it’s only foreign aid and interference that has allowed things to be this way for so long. I don’t want any of you to suffer anymore, honestly, but I wish Zionism had never happened. It’s based on a bunch of fairytales, it’s expensive and it’s disruptive.

    I hear that in Tel Aviv Israeli Jews and Palestinians get along fine sometimes. I know that Israeli and Palestinian gangs work together outside of the law pretty comfortably, thank you very much.

    The problem is Zionism, militant Islam (who funded Fatah really, btw?) and a bunch of greedy bastards in your Israeli government who hide behind extremism. There is oil off the coast of Gaza, isn’t there? Who owns it right now?

    Thanks for the history lesson, Shachar, but what use are the details? The fact is that Palestinians were displaced from Palestine by way of force or by way of deception, and this is the result. Historically speaking, Khazars have caused trouble again.

  6. Shachar says:

    If you succeed where so many have failed, there is hope. It’s just that a pesky atheist called Theodore Herzl came up with an idea that facilitated an occupation that determined resistance that ended up in a pseudo-feud.

    Again, an historical inaccuracy. Zionism was based on buying land. They formed “Keren kayemet Leisrael” – a fund Jews all over the world gave money to. This fund went about buying land and giving it to Jews to settle into. At the time Zionism started (mid 18th century), Palestine’s entire population was in the log hundred thousands – the land was practically empty. Much of the land bought this way was uninhabited to begin with (usually marcs land or otherwise deemed uninhabitable). In the sake of historical accuracy, I must also state the in some cases the owners of the land were rich Arabs who did not reside there, which means that the people actually living there did find, all of a sudden, they had new land-lords, in particular land lords who wanted the land to themselves. Please remember, however, that that was pretty standard happening in the 18th century, sad thought it may be.

    Either way, stating that Zionism is based on occupation and stealing land is outright incorrect.

    The fact is that Palestinians were displaced from Palestine by way of force or by way of deception, and this is the result.

    And what deception would that be?

    By way of example – Mahmud Abbas (aka Abu Masen, the PM of the Palestinian authority) is often referred to as coming from a family of refugees from Zfat. In a recent interview to an Arab speaking newspaper he gave the details. Somewhere in the 1940 region, the Jews started winning the war in the area, and driving the Arab armed forces away. When that happened, the Arabs in Zfat started to fear that the Jews will retaliate for the massacre the Arabs performed in the Jews a few years before, so they fled.

    Please help us spot the deception.

    I should point out a couple more things. The first is that whenever cases of grievance are tried in court, the plaintiff is required to show they have done anything they could to minimize their damages. If I smash your car, you are not allowed to stay at home and then sue me for the business transactions you lost. You are allowed to take a cab and sue me for the price you paid for it.

    The other point is that many Jews left their homes in Muslim countries (and even inside Palestine) at about the same time, often leaving most of their belongings behind. Instead of keeping the door keys to the houses they no longer own they founded new lives and new homes. As a result, there is no “Jewish refugee problem”, and it seems like a non-issue. The Palestinian unwillingness to hear any solution but “get us back to where we were” is their own, and so is the damage caused as a result.

    And here’s the real problem. While everyone seems to acknowledge the Palestinian’s right for self determination by founding their own country, people seem just as happy to deny the Jews that very same right. A Muslim “Palestine” state is okay, but a Jewish state of Israel is somehow “racist”.

    Shachar

  7. Anonny says:

    “A Muslim “Palestine” state is okay, but a Jewish state of Israel is somehow “racist”.”

    Straw man argument, Shachar. Many Palestinians are Christian. I wasn’t talking about race anyway, so you can take that up with somebody else. I was talking about ownership of land.

    “Zionism was based on buying land. ”

    From whom? Not those who lived there. Many of them found out the land had been sold when a foreign tribe brought its soldiers in to drive them out from their ancestral homes. A lot of Palestinians were sold out by other Palestinians who took money for land that wasn’t theirs to give, also. This doesn’t excuse Zionist behaviour, though.

    I’ve been shown deeds to properties that have been taken by force. No sale there.

    “Please remember, however, that that was pretty standard happening in the 18th century, sad though it may be.”

    Sad but irrelevant. Others did it so that’s OK? Not so, Shachar. In this case, it was done to the Palestinians, who objected to being driven out of places they’d lived in for centuries. This picture you’re painting of disinterested capitalists transferring ownership of land they didn’t live on is more of a smokescreen, say I. It’s deceitful.

    “… whenever cases of grievance are tried in court, the plaintiff is required to show they have done anything they could to minimize their damages. ”

    Is this an appropriate analogy. It’s only an analogy anyway. I’m not Ibn rattling on about somebody’s house. To which court could we take this case? The UN was found wanting when it was not supported in enforcing its early resolutions.

    “The other point is that many Jews left their homes in Muslim countries (and even inside Palestine) at about the same time, often leaving most of their belongings behind.”

    Blah blah. So what. They chose to do that. The Palestinians were in the main driven out. Are you trying to overwhelm with irrelevancies?

    All this to rebut ONE SENTENCE of my previous post? I look forward to the rest. 🙂

    You can start by telling me who owns the oil reserves off the coast of Gaza. 🙂

  8. Shachar says:

    Many Palestinians are Christian

    And, to add to that, the “state of Palestine” has not been established yet, and yet, it has a constitution, and that constitution clearly states it is a Muslim state (“Palestine is part of the Arab nation. The state of Palestine abides by the charter of the League of Arab States. The Palestinian people are part of the Arab and Islamic nations. Arab unity is a goal, the Palestinian people hopes to achieve.” – Article 2).

    The reason this is not a strawman’s argument (as well as the “minimizing damages” claim) is this: To us, “the right of return” is, itself, a strawman’s argument, with the real goal being “eliminate the state of Israel”. Be it by flooding it with citizens who do not share the Zionist cause (and are, in fact, openly hostile to the well being of the current majority), or by any other means. This is the only conceivable reason why making best with what you have has been actively and openly worked against.

    From whom?

    From the owners, of course. Who else would you suggest they buy it from?

    You are using 21st century morality to judge transactions done in the mid 19th, and yet you offer no alternative. Given (is it given?) that Jews have every bit as right for self determination, what better course of action would you suggest?

    I’ve been shown deeds to properties that have been taken by force. No sale there

    Yes, it’s amazing what propoganda can do, even when you do not lie. I never denied that some property was, in fact, taken by force (something I do regret), and it is obvious that it is this property that will star in the forefront of the Palestinian propaganda campaign. That does not, however, testify to “how much”, or, for that matter, “when”.

    There is also the question of timing. IBN’s arguments, for example, more or less state that Israel’s taking by force property in 1945 justifies the Arab’s violence in 1920. By 1945 the conflict has become so nasty that, yes, I am sad to say that my side did some horrendous things too. Please point the ‘too” in the previous sentence, however. These things did have context, one that is totally ignored by the people criticizing Israel today.

    Lest you think that I am quoting IBN to avoid answering you claim, you do the same mistake when you claim that the Arabs openly opposed the buying of land when the Zionists were buying them out of their homes. There were very few cases where Arabs were sent off their homes because of change of ownership, and none at the stages of the conflict where Arabs showed opposition. At those points it was exclusively uninhabited land.

    To which court could we take this case?

    It is not a question of court, or of governing law. It is a question of fairness. I brought it up because it is one of those principles that seem, to me, to make conflicts more resolvable. It is also a principle that is deliberately ignored by the Palestinians. Like I said above, I believe that it is being ignored on purpose, for the sake of enhancing the victim’s stance. Please note that this means that the true victims were robbed twice.

    They chose to do that.

    Did they? I’ll have to get back to you on that one. Either way, the amount who chose to do that (compared, for example, to the huge quantities of Jews who chose to stay in Europe while Hitler was spouting his hatred speeches in public) should tell you something about how “nice” things were there. Like I said in my previous post, many (most?) Palestinians chose to leave Israel too.

    Whichever way you turn it, it is a relevant comparison.

    All this to rebut ONE SENTENCE of my previous post? I look forward to the rest.

    I do my best to answer your points. I’ll just point out that you have not rebuted my original reply to this post. Whichever way you turn it, even if you honestly believe that the Palestinian are entirely in the right and that Israel is entirely in the wrong, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s speech is a recital of a bunch of incorrect historical facts followed by a conclusion. Even if the conclusion may be right, Dr. Mahathir isn’t.

    Shachar

  9. Shachar says:

    Almost forgot:

    You can start by telling me who owns the oil reserves off the coast of Gaza. 🙂

    I have no idea. Not only that, I don’t even know whether any substantial amount of oil was, indeed, found. The Israel region has geology that is very poor for oil (natural gas is marginally better), so I somehow doubt this particular drill holds substantial quantities.

    Shachar

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