General

Speech at the 3rd Conference of the League of Parliamentarians for al-Quds

And when he drew near and saw the city (Jerusalem), he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” – Luke 19:41-44

I was told I was asked to chair this session because I am a non-Muslim. I am grateful for the honour but I hope in future conferences we will have enough non-Muslims to choose from to be chairpersons and speakers. 

If anything throughout the conference these two days, I learnt that the cause of Palestine must be multidimensional. 

It has a social dimension yes but that’s not all. It must not be a Muslim struggle alone, because it isn’t. It is a human struggle. I have always told my Palestinian friends, our multiracial and multireligous Malaysia is an excellent platform to transform the Palestinian struggle into a human struggle not just a Muslim struggle.

But having said that, we cannot reduce this human struggle into a mere humanitarian struggle, into acts of charity. 

It has an economic dimension, though that’s not all. We must build and rebuild and allow industries to flourish in Palestine (yesterday, someone said that Palestinians are a hardworking people). But we cannot just pay off Palestinians with enough money and expect them to forget about homeland, self determination and dignity. 

Because finally the Palestinian struggle also and most importantly, has a political dimension. Israel is a political state expressing its extreme political ideology on an occupied people. The Jewish nation state law is a political action, the separation wall in West Bank is a political action, the so-called deal of the century is a political action. Palestine is a political entity struggling against occupiers and oppressors. Because it is political, we need political will and then political action. It is about freedom, justice and solidarity. And for that, the Palestinian cause must find identification with political struggles of oppressed people everywhere in the world whether Muslims or non-Muslims, just as in the past Palestine identified itself against the apartheid regime of South Africa standing together with the great Nelson Mandela. Those who demand justice must give justice, those who demand freedom must give freedom, those who demand solidarity must give solidarity. 

Maybe there is a religious dimension somewhere but if there is one, I want to suggest – with the caveat that I am not a religious scholar – I want to suggest that the worship of god must be translated into peace- peace as embodied by the word Islam itself, peace as envisioned by the old Jewish prophets when the mountains and hills will burst into songs and the trees in the field will clap their hands and of course in the Christian scripture I read at the introduction, “the things that make for peace.”

May we consider this multidimensional perspective as we deliberate on the Palestinian strategy.
Allow me to end this session by quoting Lim Kit Siang’s speech in 1975:

“The Palestine Revolutions is a cause which all men dedicated to freedom, justice and peace should adhere, and it is my hope that on this universal issue, all political opinions and forces could come together and work as one, rising above partisan considerations and interests, to express the undivided support and solidarity of the people of Malaysia.”

Steven Sim 
9 Feb 2020 
3rd Conference of the League of Parliamentarians for al-Quds

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