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Palestine Conflict Sparks Divisive Debate Among Malaysians On Social Media

Palestine Conflict Sparks Divisive Debate Among Malaysians On Social Media

The lack of understanding and connection to the Palestinian struggle has created a rift between the communities, with many Malaysian Chinese expressing a sense of detachment from the issue.

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Malaysia, a nation known for its strong stance against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, finds itself grappling with a silent divide between its Muslim and non-Muslim communities, particularly the Malaysian Chinese, over the Palestine issue.

Despite the country’s vocal support for the Palestinian cause on the international stage, a significant portion of the non-Muslim population remains largely unaware of the ongoing conflict and its devastating impact on the Palestinian people.

This lack of understanding and connection to the Palestinian struggle has created a rift between the communities, with many Malaysian Chinese expressing a sense of detachment from the issue.

Bridging the Divide

Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, the president of the Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organisations (Mapim), acknowledged concern over the divisive comments on social media regarding the Palestine issue.

He notes that while the Muslim community actively expresses support for the Palestinian cause, there is notable silence or even opposition from certain quarters of the non-Muslim community.

He attributes this disengagement to several factors, including a focus on domestic issues, limited media coverage, and a perceived cultural and geographical distance from the conflict.

“So we have to reach out to them and get their voices heard. Otherwise, the perception is there”, he said.

Misunderstandings and Local Preoccupations Impacting Support for Palestine

Human rights activist and former MP Tian Chua said the Malaysian Chinese community, in particular, has been preoccupied with local concerns such as economic stability, education, and cultural preservation, which has contributed to a general sense of detachment from the Palestinian struggle.

He added that the divide has been reinforced by the misunderstanding between the races, with Muslims thinking that non-Muslims don’t care and vice versa.

Tian Chua also pointed out that the lack of empathy for the Palestinian cause is not exclusive to non-Muslims.

The former PKR leader said that even within the Muslim community in Malaysia, some individuals may not be as actively engaged or vocal about the issue.

However, this lack of empathy among Muslims is less apparent due to their majority status in the country.

Academics Warn of the Perils of Indifference Towards Palestine

Prof Dr Awaluddin Mohamed Shaharoun, an academician from IKRAM, warns that the consequences of this lack of awareness are significant.

By remaining silent and uninformed, the non-Muslim community risks perpetuating a cycle of indifference and inaction.

As the world witnesses the ongoing oppression and human rights violations faced by Palestinians, it is crucial for all communities in Malaysia, regardless of their religious background, to educate themselves and actively engage in the discourse surrounding the conflict.

Prominent economist Professor Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram echoes this concern, expressing his disappointment in the lack of understanding and support from a community that is part of a country known for its solidarity with Palestine.

“There are so many things that reinforce the existing prejudices, and so few things why try to change and overcome it. I would suggest that a better understanding of our history is a good way to start,” said Jomo.

Bridging the awareness gap and fostering empathy and solidarity are essential for Malaysians to unite to support the Palestinian cause and work towards a peaceful peace in the region.

The comments were in response to questions raised during a dialogue recently held at the University of Malaya titled ‘BOIKOT SYARIKAT YANG BERSEKONGKOL DENGAN ISRAEL’ (BOYCOTT COMPANIES THAT COLLUDE WITH ISRAEL).

The dialogue, led by Professor Dr Nazari Ismail, chairman of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement Malaysia, aimed to address the effectiveness of boycotting companies perceived to be collaborating with Israel and discuss common fallacies surrounding the issue.

Malaysian Chinese Urged to Amplify Support for Palestine

It is time for the non-Muslim community in Malaysia, particularly the Malaysian Chinese, to step forward, educate themselves, and join hands with their Muslim compatriots in supporting the Palestinian people’s struggle for self-determination and dignity.

Only then can Malaysia truly stand as one in the fight against oppression, pursuing a just and equitable world for all.

In all fairness, some members of the Chinese community have already taken steps in this direction, not least with people like Tian Chua.

Unity in Diversity: Malays and Chinese stand together for Palestine in a rally at Dataran Merdeka. (Pix: Fernando Fong)

In recent times, some have even created special Facebook groups, such as Chinese for Palestine, to show they care and raise awareness.

Others, like X user @CeddyOrNot, said it is important to note that the seemingly nonchalant attitude does not represent all Chinese.

Many are deeply concerned and are actively seeking ways to contribute to the cause.

Bridging the Divide: Fostering Unity and Solidarity for Palestine

The path forward lies in increased education, dialogue, and community collaboration.

Cross-cultural understanding is key, and creating spaces for open and honest conversations about the Palestinian struggle is crucial.

By listening to Palestinian voices and learning from their experiences, the non-Muslim community can develop a deeper understanding and connection to the issue.

As Malaysia continues to champion Palestinian rights on the global stage, it is imperative that all its citizens, regardless of their religious background, stand united in their commitment to justice and human rights.

The silence of the non-Muslim community on the Palestinian issue must be broken and replaced by a resounding voice of solidarity and a determination to work towards a peaceful resolution.

In a world where oppression and injustice persist, the power of collective awareness and action cannot be underestimated.

READ MORE: Victims Should Not Be Treated The Same As Victimisers [Opinion]

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