They may be educated, but are they smart?


Photo shows activists and students taking part in an encampment protest at George Washington University, in Washington. — AFP photo

I AM referring to the students in university and college campuses in the USA who have been holding street protests in connection with the war in Gaza.

The war between Israelis and Hamas may be thousands of miles away miles from Borneo, yet the visual scenes of losses in precious human lives and the mass destruction of homes and cities, easily seen on the television screen as well as on mobile phones, have affected the mood of many people in the other parts of the world.

We all say that war, as such, does nobody any good except for the manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction.

Why do people go to war anyway? It is human nature, like it or not.

If the warring parties in Gaza want to continue killing one another, they would only stop if and when one group gives up, or until kingdom come.

Not even the United Nations (UN) can stop the war there. The UN member states can pass resolution after resolution urging the contestants to stop fighting, but these resolutions remain on paper only.

So the rest of the world would have to live with wars – in Gaza, Ukraine, the Sudan, Myanmar, New Caledonia, to name the major areas of conflict for various reasons best known to the countries and groups themselves.

We, in Malaysia, must keep our beloved country free of any internal conflict, and safe from any external threat.

Hopefully, our people do not get carried away over Gaza too much. Malaysians may send humanitarian aid such as food and medicines, even money, to all the people affected, but no more than that.

Personally, I think that the war in Gaza would stop for a while if the remaining hostages held by Hamas were to be returned to their respective families.

Let us pray for those of the hostages who are still alive and say R.I.P. to those of them who may have passed away, and to convey our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved relatives.

I do not know if Malaysian diplomats have ever broached this subject of release to their counterparts in Qatar or Egypt or Turkey, given that these countries are on talking terms with both the antagonists in Gaza.

Or have our diplomats in the various capital cities initiated a move to get the release of the hostages as an item on the agenda of the Security Council or the General Assembly itself?

For all we know they may have done all this quietly, but cannot disclose information to the Malaysian public on account of restrictions by some diplomatic tradition or norm.

Many of us in the Fourth Estate in Sarawak would love to get the chance to ask any Malaysian diplomats handling Middle Eastern affairs about our Malaysian effort to help influence the warring parties in Gaza to stop the fight.

But we have no access to our diplomats unless they hold press conferences in Kuching, which we would attend. We do not know whether or not they are willing to talk to the local press at all.

I think the general public in this country would like to know about the stance of the majority of people in Malaysia on this particular issue. Silence on their part, at the moment, does not necessarily consent to the government’s foreign policy.

The people involved in that war in Gaza are not blood relatives of most Malaysians, yet we are very sad to see fellow human beings suffer the consequences of war. The Muslims in Malaysia are concerned about the safety of the Muslims in Gaza, so are the Malaysian Christians and Malaysians of other faiths about everybody else’s safety – Christians, Muslims and Jews alike, those affected by the war.

In this context, I am pleased to note that there has been no visible sign of street protests organised by the students in any university campus in our country.

I am not giving them ideas. As individuals, our students may be sympathetic to the cause of one group or the other involved in the Gaza conflict, but it would be wise of them not to copycat the examples of the students in a number of university and college campuses in the USA.

Those students may be educated, but are they wise or smart? It is not rocket science to expect counter-protests organised by other groups.

Already the young Jews in America and elsewhere are being threatened and unsafe. Put yourself in their shoes, won’t you feel so vulnerable?

I am assuming that our Malaysian university students know well about the history of conflicts between the ancestors of people involved in the Gaza conflict.

The wars between their ancestors have been handed down to the various generations of them including the present, for reasons of beliefs, and the power of control over lands, water and other resources.

And, Malaysia, formed in 1963, has never been part of that history. No reason why we should get ourselves worked up unnecessarily over Gaza then.

The students in the college campuses in the USA will be disappointed that their protests will be a waste of varsity time. It’s the presidential election in November. The pro this, pro that stance of the university students there is being used as an election material, pure and simple.

What do the US university and college students really want to stop?

They want the mayhem in Gaza stopped. So do many of us!

The protesters should demand the release of the hostages instead.

Sadly, that part of the world which is supposed to be holy, has ironically bred killers of babies and destroyers of temples and houses of worship, for at least 3,000 years, say historians.

All we can do, however, is to continue praying for the day when the parties stop fighting.

Now that Israel and Iran (old friends until 1979) have joined the fray, we can expect more bloodshed.

Touch wood!

I hope that Malaysian university students would not fall into temptation to organise protests for or against any side to the conflict happening so far away, yet so near.

* The opinions expressed in this article are the columnist’s own and do not reflect the view of the newspaper.