• 2021
  • Biden continues where Trump left off

Biden continues where Trump left off

Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Opinion - New Straits Times
May 18, 2021


MAY 13 is one day that Malaysians are not able to forget, especially those aged 50 and above.

It was the most recent interracial clash, although many people have forgotten about it, given that the country is more stable.

Hence, Hari Raya falling on May 13 was very much welcomed.

Despite the raging Covid-19 pandemic, the excitement to celebrate the festive season had not faded as many were still planning to balik kampung.

Overall, the situation was calm and spirited, echoing Ramadan experiences and discipline.

May 13, the tragedy, was overshadowed by the threat of the coronavirus pandemic and its variants. For this, we are thankful for the peaceful environment nationwide.

Much of the world is also in a similar anxious state, where the majority of Muslims adopted a cautious approach, learning from what India has been through.

There was an exception when reports of widespread violence emerged from the occupied territory of Palestine, telling of "riots, stabbings, arson, attempted home invasions and shootings" in Beersheba, Lod, Nasiriyah, Ramlah, Rapat, Sheikh Jarrah and Tiberias.

Gaza had been embroiled through Hamas with its demand for Israel to remove its forces (placed there since May 7 on the final Friday prayers of the Ramadan, involving some 70,000 worshippers) from the Al-Aqsa Mosque by 6pm on May 10.

The Palestinian Authority president called the event a new challenge due to the "brutal storming and assault on worshippers at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its courtyards".

When the deadline expired, some 150 rockets were fired into Israel, which responded with airstrikes. Hamas gave yet another ultimatum to Israel to remove its forces by 2am on May 11, otherwise it would conduct another rocket strike.

When this was again ignored, deadly exchanges flared up, which, according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), may lead to war crime charges.

On May 13, Hamas proposed a ceasefire, but this was rejected by Israel. As a result, casualties continued to rise, especially among civilians.

Coincidentally, May 15, is known as Nakba Day, which marks the end of the British Mandate for Palestine, adding fuel to the growing anger as it signifies Israel as the "occupier" of Palestine.

To some, it is Palestine Day, a platform of international solidarity with Palestine.

More recently, commemorating Nakba Day was made a criminal offence in an attempt to further recognise it as a de facto Israeli Independence Day.

This time, May 15 was coloured by another notorious event when Israel attacked the overcrowded Al-Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

Ten Palestinians, comprising two women and eight children from the Abu Hatab family, were killed. It was considered the single deadliest event of this conflict. A baby pulled out from the rubble was the only survivor of the attack.

Palestinians in the area said they were given no warning prior to the attack.

"There is no safe place in Gaza: Israeli strikes terrify inhabitants," screamed the headline in The Guardian (UK).

Media houses and offices were also not spared, namely a high-rise building occupied by the Associated Press and Al Jazeera as well as other Gazan organisations. The news networks characterised the strike as a "blatant violation of human rights" and a "war crime".

Purportedly, it was aimed to "silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza", a strip where some two million people have lived under siege for 15 years.

No doubt the Israeli campaign has the "strong support" of United States President Joe Biden, who placed himself in the same league with his "bitter" predecessor. True to his winning slogan: "American is back." That is, back to where the infamous Donald Trump left off.

Learning from George Floyd's murder, this time it is about "Palestine lives matter" and "Gaza can't breathe."

It is time to remove the knee on its neck before the ICJ comes into the picture.

The writer, an NST columnist for more than 20 years, is International Islamic University Malaysia rector