Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Am off to Palestine, and with luck, to Gaza.

INSYAALLAH, a team of volunteers from Yayasan Salam Malaysia will fly off to Palestine Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. With the help of some kind donors and friends, we managed to raise some funds to make our way to join other relief workers to Palestine. We'll touch base with our embassy in Cairo before making our way to the Palestinian borders to find our way in.

A call this evening from Azlan in Cairo, a seasoned relief worker representing Global Peace Malaysia, gave some indication that we may be able to get into Gaza, but subject to negotiations and collaboration at the border. "Our friends in Gaza are anxiously waiting for us brother," Azlan said.

Azlan is a terrific relief worker, having initiated a small dam to help a local community to start a farm in an Afghanistan village. An engineer by training, Azlan did some excellent work in the war-torm country a few years ago. Now, his attention is focused on Palestine, Gaza to be exact.

My team includes a medical doctor who's seen some real war action a few years ago. Being shot at has certainly not discouraged this Malacca-based doctor. Two other colleagues have been on relief missions in Acheh, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of Indonesia. I'm also bringing a photographer, yet another relief worker who's been doing a lot of humanitarian work among the orang asli community and in Acheh and Pakistan.

We hope to meet up with NGO friends from Mercy and the Malaysian Red Crescent and work closely with them. There are other Malaysian relief workers who have made their way to the conflict area. I hope to meet up with them too and coordinate our operations.

I hope to update my blog along the way, but am told that this is easier said than done. This trip would not have been possible if not for the help of Datuk Rashid, Datuk Seri Rais, Datuk Dr Latif, Datuk Radha, a Cool Cat, Sdra Hamdan and his bosses, Datuk Jamaludin, staff of Yayasan Salam, and other friends for their contribution, doa and words of encouragement.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to bring along the Jalur Gemilang.

Mohd. Ramesh

Ainul A.B said...

Salam 'Pahit Manis',
Wish u & team all the best. May your efforts bring hopes & lights to Palestinians. Congrats for your brave, willingness and sacrifice. Hope u guys are always fine and blessed by Him.
Wassalam.

somboon cheanswaths said...

"As the Arabs see the Jews"
His Majesty King Abdullah,
The American Magazine
November, 1947

I am especially delighted to address an American audience, for the tragic problem of Palestine will never be solved without American understanding, American sympathy, American support.

So many billions of words have been written about Palestine—perhaps more than on any other subject in history—that I hesitate to add to them. Yet I am compelled to do so, for I am reluctantly convinced that the world in general, and America in particular, knows almost nothing of the true case for the Arabs.

We Arabs follow, perhaps far more than you think, the press of America. We
are frankly disturbed to find that for every word
printed on the Arab side,
a thousand are printed on the Zionist side.

There are many reasons for this. You have many
millions of Jewish citizens
interested in this question. They are highly vocal and
wise in the ways of
publicity. There are few Arab citizens in America, and
we are as yet
unskilled in the technique of modern propaganda.

The results have been alarming for us. In your press
we see a horrible
caricature and are told it is our true portrait. In
all justice, we cannot
let this pass by default.

Our case is quite simple: For nearly 2,000 years
Palestine has been almost
100 per cent Arab. It is still preponderantly Arab
today, in spite of
enormous Jewish immigration. But if this immigration
continues we shall
soon be outnumbered—a minority in our home.

Palestine is a small and very poor country, about the
size of your state of
Vermont. Its Arab population is only about 1,200,000.
Already we have had
forced on us, against our will, some 600,000 Zionist
Jews. We are threatened
with many hundreds of thousands more.

Our position is so simple and natural that we are
amazed it should even be
questioned. It is exactly the same position you in
America take in regard to
the unhappy European Jews. You are sorry for them,
but you do not want them
in your country.

We do not want them in ours, either. Not because they
are Jews, but because
they are foreigners. We would not want hundreds of
thousands of foreigners
in our country, be they Englishmen or Norwegians or
Brazilians or whatever.

Think for a moment: In the last 25 years we have had
one third of our
entire population forced upon us. In America that
would be the equivalent of
45,000,000 complete strangers admitted to your
country, over your violent
protest, since 1921. How would you have reacted to
that?

Because of our perfectly natural dislike of being
overwhelmed in our own
homeland, we are called blind nationalists and
heartless anti-Semites. This
charge would be ludicrous were it not so dangerous.

No people on earth have been less
"anti-Semitic" than the Arabs. The
persecution of the Jews has been confined almost
entirely to the Christian
nations of the West. Jews, themselves, will admit that
never since the Great
Dispersion did Jews develop so freely and reach such
importance as in Spain
when it was an Arab possession. With very minor
exceptions, Jews have lived
for many centuries in the Middle East, in complete
peace and friendliness
with their Arab neighbours.

Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut and other Arab centres have
always contained
large and prosperous Jewish colonies. Until the
Zionist invasion of
Palestine began, these Jews received the most generous
treatment—far, far
better than in Christian Europe. Now, unhappily, for
the first time in
history, these Jews are beginning to feel the effects
of Arab resistance to
the Zionist assault.. Most of them are as anxious as
Arabs to stop it. Most
of these Jews who have found happy homes among us
resent, as we do, the
coming of these strangers.

I was puzzled for a long time about the odd belief
which apparently
persists in America that Palestine has somehow
"always been a Jewish land."
Recently an American I talked to cleared up this
mystery. He pointed out
that the only things most Americans know about
Palestine are what they read
in the Bible. It was a Jewish land in those days, they
reason, and they
assume it has always remained so.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is absurd
to reach so far back
into the mists of history to argue about who should
have Palestine today,
and I apologise for it. Yet the Jews do this, and I
must reply to their
"historic claim." I wonder if the world has
ever seen a stranger sight than
a group of people seriously pretending to claim a land
because their
ancestors lived there some 2,000 years ago!

If you suggest that I am biased, I invite you to read
any sound history of
the period and verify the facts.

Such fragmentary records as we have indicate that the
Jews were wandering
nomads from Iraq who moved to southern Turkey, came
south to Palestine,
stayed there a short time, and then passed to Egypt,
where they remained
about 400 years. About 1300 BC (according to your
calendar) they left Egypt
and gradually conquered most—but not all—of the
inhabitants of Palestine.

It is significant that the Philistines—not the
Jews—gave their name to the
country: "Palestine" is merely the Greek
form of "Philistia."

Only once, during the empire of David and Solomon, did
the Jews ever
control nearly—but not all—the land which is today
Palestine. This empire
lasted only 70 years, ending in 926 BC. Only 250 years
later the Kingdom of
Judah had shrunk to a small province around Jerusalem,
barely a quarter of
modern Palestine.

In 63 BC the Jews were conquered by Roman Pompey, and
never again had even
the vestige of independence. The Roman Emperor Hadrian
finally wiped them
out about 135 AD. He utterly destroyed Jerusalem,
rebuilt under another
name, and for hundreds of years no Jew was permitted
to enter it. A handful
of Jews remained in Palestine but the vast majority
were killed or scattered
to other countries, in the Diaspora, or the Great
Dispersion. From that time
Palestine ceased to be a Jewish country, in any
conceivable sense.

This was 1,815 years ago, and yet the Jews solemnly
pretend they still own
Palestine! If such fantasy were allowed, how the map
of the world would
dance about!

Italians might claim England, which the Romans held so
long. England might
claim France, "homeland" of the conquering
Normans. And the French Normans
might claim Norway, where their ancestors originated.
And incidentally, we
Arabs might claim Spain, which we held for 700 years.

Many Mexicans might claim Spain, "homeland"
of their forefathers. They
might even claim Texas, which was Mexican until 100
years ago. And suppose
the American Indians claimed the "homeland"
of which they were the sole,
native, and ancient occupants until only some 450
years ago!

I am not being facetious. All these claims are just as
valid—or just as
fantastic—as the Jewish "historic
connection" with Palestine. Most are more
valid.

In any event, the great Moslem expansion about 650 AD
finally settled
things. It dominated Palestine completely. From that
day on, Palestine was
solidly Arabic in population, language, and religion.
When British armies
entered the country during the last war, they found
500,000 Arabs and only
65,000 Jews.

If solid, uninterrupted Arab occupation for nearly
1,300 years does not
make a country "Arab", what does?

The Jews say, and rightly, that Palestine is the home
of their religion. It
is likewise the birthplace of Christianity, but would
any Christian nation
claim it on that account? In passing, let me say that
the Christian
Arabs—and there are many hundreds of thousands of
them in the Arab World—are
in absolute agreement with all other Arabs in opposing
the Zionist invasion
of Palestine.

May I also point out that Jerusalem is, after Mecca
and Medina, the
holiest place in Islam. In fact, in the early days of
our religion, Moslems
prayed toward Jerusalem instead of Mecca.

The Jewish "religious claim" to Palestine is
as absurd as the "historic
claim." The Holy Places, sacred to three great
religions, must be open to
all, the monopoly of none. Let us not confuse religion
and politics.

We are told that we are inhumane and heartless because
do not accept with
open arms the perhaps 200,000 Jews in Europe who
suffered so frightfully
under Nazi cruelty, and who even now—almost three
years after war's
end—still languish in cold, depressing camps.

Let me underline several facts. The unimaginable
persecution of the Jews
was not done by the Arabs: it was done by a Christian
nation in the West.
The war which ruined Europe and made it almost
impossible for these Jews to
rehabilitate themselves was fought by the Christian
nations of the West..
The rich and empty portions of the earth belong, not
to the Arabs, but to
the Christian nations of the West.

And yet, to ease their consciences, these Christian
nations of the West are
asking Palestine—a poor and tiny Moslem country of
the East—to accept the
entire burden. "We have hurt these people
terribly," cries the West to the
East. "Won't you please take care of them for
us?"

We find neither logic nor justice in this. Are we
therefore "cruel and
heartless nationalists"?

We are a generous people: we are proud that "Arab
hospitality" is a phrase
famous throughout the world. We are a humane people:
no one was shocked
more than we by the Hitlerite terror. No one pities
the present plight of
the desperate European Jews more than we.

But we say that Palestine has already sheltered
600,000 refugees. We
believe that is enough to expect of us—even too
much. We believe it is now
the turn of the rest of the world to accept some of
them.

I will be entirely frank with you. There is one thing
the Arab world simply
cannot understand. Of all the nations of the earth,
America is most
insistent that something be done for these suffering
Jews of Europe. This
feeling does credit to the humanity for which America
is famous, and to that
glorious inscription on your Statue of Liberty.

And yet this same America—the richest, greatest,
most powerful nation the
world has ever known—refuses to accept more than a
token handful of these
same Jews herself!

I hope you will not think I am being bitter about
this. I have tried hard
to understand that mysterious paradox, and I confess I
cannot. Nor can any
other Arab.

Perhaps you have been informed that "the Jews in
Europe want to go to no
other place except Palestine."

This myth is one of the greatest propaganda triumphs
of the Jewish Agency
for Palestine, the organisation which promotes with
fanatic zeal the
emigration to Palestine. It is a subtle half-truth,
thus doubly dangerous.

The astounding truth is that nobody on earth really
knows where these
unfortunate Jews really want to go!

You would think that in so grave a problem, the
American, British, and
other authorities responsible for the European Jews
would have made a very
careful survey, probably by vote, to find out where
each Jew actually wants
to go. Amazingly enough this has never been done! The
Jewish Agency has
prevented it.

Some time ago the American Military Governor in
Germany was asked at a
press conference how he was so certain that all Jews
there wanted to go to
Palestine. His answer was simple: "My Jewish
advisors tell me so." He
admitted no poll had ever been made. Preparations were
indeed begun for
one, but the Jewish Agency stepped in to stop it.

The truth is that the Jews in German camps are now
subjected to a Zionist
pressure campaign which learned much from the Nazi
terror. It is dangerous
for a Jew to say that he would rather go to some other
country, not
Palestine. Such dissenters have been severely beaten,
and worse.

Not long ago, in Palestine, nearly 1,000 Austrian Jews
informed the
international refugee organisation that they would
like to go back to
Austria, and plans were made to repatriate them.

The Jewish Agency heard of this, and exerted enough
political pressure to
stop it. It would be bad propaganda for Zionism if
Jews began leaving
Palestine. The nearly 1,000 Austrian are still there,
against their will.

The fact is that most of the European Jews are Western
in culture and
outlook, entirely urban in experience and habits. They
cannot really have
their hearts set on becoming pioneers in the barren,
arid, cramped land
which is Palestine.

One thing, however, is undoubtedly true. As matters
stand now, most refugee
Jews in Europe would, indeed, vote for Palestine,
simply because they know
no other country will have them.

If you or I were given a choice between a near-prison
camp for the rest of
our lives—or Palestine—we would both choose
Palestine, too.

But open up any other alternative to them—give them
any other choice, and
see what happens!

No poll, however, will be worth anything unless the
nations of the earth
are willing to open their doors—just a little—to
the Jews. In other words,
if in such a poll a Jew says he wants to go to Sweden,
Sweden must be
willing to accept him. If he votes for America, you
must let him come in.

Any other kind of poll would be a farce. For the
desperate Jew, this is no
idle testing of opinion: this is a grave matter of
life or death. Unless he
is absolutely sure that his vote means something, he
will always vote for
Palestine, so as not to risk his bird in the hand for
one in the bush.

In any event, Palestine can accept no more. The 65,000
Jews in Palestine in
1918 have jumped to 600,000 today. We Arabs have
increased, too, but not by
immigration. The Jews were then a mere 11 per cent of
our population.. Today
they are one third of it.

The rate of increase has been terrifying. In a few
more years—unless
stopped now—it will overwhelm us, and we shall be an
important minority in
our own home.

Surely the rest of the wide world is rich enough and
generous enough to
find a place for 200,000 Jews—about one third the
number that tiny, poor
Palestine has already sheltered. For the rest of the
world, it is hardly a
drop in the bucket. For us it means national suicide.

We are sometimes told that since the Jews came to
Palestine, the Arab
standard of living has improved. This is a most
complicated question. But
let us even assume, for the argument, that it is
true. We would rather be a
bit poorer, and masters of our own home. Is this
unnatural?

The sorry story of the so-called "Balfour
Declaration," which started
Zionist immigration into Palestine, is too complicated
to repeat here in
detail. It is grounded in broken promises to the
Arabs—promises made in cold
print which admit no denying.

We utterly deny its validity. We utterly deny the
right of Great Britain to
give away Arab land for a "national home"
for an entirely foreign people.

Even the League of Nations sanction does not alter
this. At the time, not
a single Arab state was a member of the League. We
were not allowed to say a
word in our own defense.

I must point out, again in friendly frankness, that
America was nearly as
responsible as Britain for this Balfour Declaration.
President Wilson
approved it before it was issued, and the American
Congress adopted it word
for word in a joint resolution on 30th June, 1922.

In the 1920s, Arabs were annoyed and insulted by
Zionist immigration, but
not alarmed by it. It was steady, but fairly small, as
even the Zionist
founders thought it would remain. Indeed for some
years, more Jews left
Palestine than entered it—in 1927 almost twice as
many.

But two new factors, entirely unforeseen by Britain or
the League or
America or the most fervent Zionist, arose in the
early thirties to raise
the immigration to undreamed heights. One was the
World Depression; the
second the rise of Hitler.

In 1932, the year before Hitler came to power, only
9,500 Jews came to
Palestine. We did not welcome them, but we were not
afraid that, at that
rate, our solid Arab majority would ever be in danger.

But the next year—the year of Hitler—it jumped to
30,000! In 1934 it was
42,000! In 1935 it reached 61,000!

It was no longer the orderly arrival of idealist
Zionists. Rather, all
Europe was pouring its frightened Jews upon us. Then,
at last, we, too,
became frightened. We knew that unless this enormous
influx stopped, we
were, as Arabs, doomed in our Palestine homeland. And
we have not changed
our minds.

I have the impression that many Americans believe the
trouble in Palestine
is very remote from them, that America had little to
do with it, and that
your only interest now is that of a humane bystander.

I believe that you do not realise how directly you
are, as a nation,
responsible in general for the whole Zionist move and
specifically for the
present terrorism. I call this to your attention
because I am certain that
if you realise your responsibility you will act fairly
to admit it and
assume it.

Quite aside from official American support for the
"National Home" of the
Balfour Declaration, the Zionist settlements in
Palestine would have been
almost impossible, on anything like the current scale,
without American
money. This was contributed by American Jewry in an
idealistic effort to
help their fellows.

The motive was worthy: the result were disastrous. The
contributions were
by private individuals, but they were almost entirely
Americans, and, as a
nation, only America can answer for it.

The present catastrophe may be laid almost entirely
at your door. Your
government, almost alone in the world, is insisting on
the immediate
admission of 100,000 more Jews into Palestine—to be
followed by countless
additional ones. This will have the most frightful
consequences in bloody
chaos beyond anything ever hinted at in Palestine
before.

It is your press and political leadership, almost
alone in the world, who
press this demand. It is almost entirely American
money which hires or buys
the "refugee ships" that steam illegally
toward Palestine: American money
which pays their crews. The illegal immigration from
Europe is arranged by
the Jewish Agency, supported almost entirely by
American funds. It is
American dollars which support the terrorists, which
buy the bullets and
pistols that kill British soldiers—your allies—and
Arab citizens—your
friends.

We in the Arab world were stunned to hear that you
permit open
advertisements in newspapers asking for money to
finance these terrorists,
to arm them openly and deliberately for murder. We
could not believe this
could really happen in the modern world. Now we must
believe it: we have
seen the advertisements with our own eyes.

I point out these things because nothing less than
complete frankness will
be of use. The crisis is too stark for mere polite
vagueness which means
nothing.

I have the most complete confidence in the
fair-mindedness and generosity
of the American public. We Arabs ask no favours. We
ask only that you know
the full truth, not half of it. We ask only that when
you judge the
Palestine question, you put yourselves in our place.

What would your answer be if some outside agency told
you that you must
accept in America many millions of utter strangers in
your midst—enough to
dominate your country—merely because they insisted
on going to America, and
because their forefathers had once lived there some
2,000 years ago?

Our answer is the same.

And what would be your action if, in spite of your
refusal, this outside
agency began forcing them on you?

Ours will be the same.

Ramli Mohd Yunus said...

Dear Tok Mad,

Good luck and may God Bless you and the whole team. I wish I could do the same..

Usaha tuan tuan insyaallah akan diberhati dan dirahmati Allah.

Anonymous said...

TAKE CARE SIR! OUR PRAYERS WILL ACCOMPANY YOU & THE OTHER KIND HEARTED FRIENDS.

APANAMA

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

good luck!

God speed!