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Updated: 'war' video from mediarakyat

PKR claimed today Umno supporters attacked Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s car in Sembrong, Johor last night before the opposition party’s de facto leader was due to speak at the PKR division headquarters there. Secretary general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution told a press conference between 50 to 80 teenagers on motorcycles threw stones, sticks, water bottles, rotten eggs and firecrackers at the Mercedes-Benz while at least 20 uniformed policemen stood by and watched. “These 15 to 18-year-olds are known to locals as Umno supporters. They did it in front of police who did not act at all until the car’s windscreen broke. “Police did not stop the Umno thugs. This happened in the constituency of Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein,” the Machang MP said, questioning if police failed to act to protect the political position of the minister in charge of the force. He said the 11.30pm attack disrupted the ceramah, which drew a crowd of nearly 3,000 from proceeding. Opposition leaders also accused police of failing to stop dozens of youth from disrupting a Anything But Umno (ABU) ceramah in Shah Alam last month. But Shah Alam police said they only arrived after the clashes in which a man was hospitalised took place as “we were not informed of the event.” Saifuddin said today “Umno gangsters” have been actively disrupting opposition events in Selangor, Melaka and Johor as the ruling party is “not under pressure and has no choice but to act violently to stop rising support for us.”

Two days after a rare rebuke by PAS spiritual adviser Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim again took pains to clarify his now-infamous statement as reported by the Wall Street Journal. In an interview last month with the paper, Anwar reportedly said he would “support all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel”. To be fair on him, he was never quoted as saying that he would recognise Israel, as is being alleged by Umno leaders. Similarly, he was also never quoted talking about the two-state solution, like he is now, whenever attempting to clarify the statement in WSJ. Of course, the statement was a godsend for Umno, hitherto pushed into a corner by the brilliant stage-by-stage exposé involving its Wanita head Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and her family members, for their obscene abuse of government funds meant for the National Feedlot Corporation. A statement on committing himself to “all efforts” to protect the security of a state that the Muslims have regarded as a cancer in the Islamic heartland? Now, who would say anything like that unless it is a gaffe, a faux pas, a blunder, or just an honest mistake? It is like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Umno’s moral ground One argument by a section of PKR leaders is that Umno leaders have no moral ground to criticise Anwar over his statement, owing to the party’s own secret dealings with the Zionist lobby and trade ties, despite spending millions in boosting its image as defender of Palestinians by sending media-embedded delegations to show solidarity with other pro-Palestine groups. Such an argument is not good enough, primarily because no one — not those who are enlightened about the history of the Palestinian struggle and Muslims who are politically savvy to understand the so-called “two-state” solution — has any expectation that Umno could be trusted to defend the Palestinians. After all, isn’t APCO Worldwide, the company hired by Umno president Najib Razak to boost his image, a company helmed at the top by some of the most notorious officials from the Israeli regime? Yet another defence, as first mooted by PKR’s information chief Dr Muhammad Nur Manuty is that even those in the Islamic movement, namely Hamas, have been supportive of a two-state solution, i.e., recognition of statehood to both Israel and a Palestinian state once the former fulfils all demands for peace. So far, this is a practical, realist, and pragmatic solution, bearing in mind that short of exterminating a whole population of Jews who now reside in what is called Israel, one could do little else. It follows logically, then, that the state of Israel should also be compensated for its civilised gestures, namely by rewarding it with cessation of hostilities and even recognition from its Palestinian neighbours. Yet, the fact is that this view is academic at best. It does not reside in the realm of real politik but in a political utopia that is as illusionary as the mirage in the Arabian desert. For it is unthinkable that in the present circumstances that Israel is in, especially in the wake of the Arab Spring that saw the downfall of Israel-friendly leaders, that it would agree to the pre-1967 borders and surrender the fertile lands of Palestine once cultivated by their indigenous Muslim, Christian and Jewish peoples. Did Hamas say it? The question now is, did Hamas actually offer any option of recognition for Israel? In his latest explanation following Nik Aziz’s remarks, Anwar repeats this claim by Nur about Hamas’ stance. Besides quoting the views of the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, Anwar also quotes Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority representing Hamas: “If Israel withdraws to the ’67 borders, then we will establish a peace in stages... Number one, we will establish a situation of stability and calm which will bring safety for our people — what (Hamas founder) Sheikh (Ahmed) Yassin called a long-term hudna (truce). If Israel declares that it will give the Palestinian people a state and give them back all their rights, then we are ready to recognise them.” Unfortunately, this statement quoting Haniyeh is not accompanied with any source nor any date given. A quick check, however, reveals that it is a quote from a Washington Post interview with the Hamas leader, six years ago, days before he was set to be appointed as prime minister following Hamas’ victory in the polls. But here is the problem: 24 hours after the Washington Post published the report on February 25, 2006, Haniyeh said he had been misquoted, and said what he meant was “political truce”, a cessation of hostilities that frequently flared up tensions between Hamas and the Israeli Defence Force. “I didn’t talk about recognising Israel during the interview with the newspaper,” Haniyeh said. In fact, a Hamas spokesman, Salah Bardawil, told the Jerusalem Post a day later that his movement had a recording of the interview with Haniyeh, to prove that Haniyeh did not make the statements that were attributed to him. “Haniyeh, in response to a question, said that if Israel met all of Hamas’s conditions, he would be prepared to consider ‘peace in stages,” said the Hamas spokesman. According to him, when the reporter pressed for further clarifications, Haniyeh explained that he was talking about a long-term truce with Israel. (Jerusalem Post, February 26, 2006) The spokesman also said: “...There is no connection to what the sheikh [Haniyeh] said to the headlines in the newspaper.” And further: “I call on all of the media to be cautious and accurate in the writing of their reports and not to revise the words of the interviewee.” (Ynet News, February 26, 2006). One then cannot help but wonder why it is so difficult for Anwar to retract the statement, which has all the characters of a political faux pas that politicians commit now and then. As much as one has no doubt about Anwar’s commitment to Palestine just like most Muslim leaders — despite them not putting money where their mouths are — one is also not convinced with his latest explanation. Ever much so when Israel is in no immediate security threat, not even of getting a slap on the wrist by the United States, nor any mild threats from the many illegitimate and unelected Arab regimes surrounding Occupied Palestine. The only real and present danger faced by Israel is from Iran. The Iranian stance and the statements by its leaders, however rhetorical they may sound, are the only ones taken seriously by the regime in Tel Aviv. Indeed, Iran’s political and military durability has been the underlying factor behind anxieties over Israel’s security. Meanwhile, Nik Aziz has said that Anwar should either retract his statement, or sue the WSJ for inaccurate reporting. Anwar’s explanation, however, indicates that neither is his option. So, like Haniyeh in 2006, would Anwar at least say that he did not mean what he stated? That will be better than hanging on to a statement that Hamas had never said, or to the views of regimes in Jordan and Saudi Arabia — two dictatorships which have yet to get a taste of the Arab Spring that brought down three of their brother rulers, with many more waiting to be relegated to the dustbins of history.

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Recent comments by Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim have demonstrated yet again how issues related to Israel continue to divide this majority-Muslim country – and could influence the country’s next national election. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Anwar responded to the question of whether he would open diplomatic ties with Israel by stating his “support” for “efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel,” while at the same time backing the “legitimate rights of the Palestinians.” He stopped short of saying he would establish diplomatic relations between the two states – what he describes as a “tricky” issue – and stated that any change to the status quo would remain contingent on Israel recognizing the aspirations of the Palestinians. Malaysia is one of three Southeast Asian nations including Indonesia and Brunei that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, though limited economic ties exist between private companies in both countries. “Some refuse to recognize the state of Israel,” he said, “but I think our policy should be clear – protect the security [of Israel] but you must be as firm in protecting the legitimate interests of the Palestinians.” The comments triggered a storm of debate and criticism, with members of the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) and other groups accusing the leader of abandoning the Palestinian cause – an emotive cause long-supported in the majority-Muslim Southeast Asian nation. Lawmakers called on Mr. Anwar’s opposition coalition to release an official statement on the issue, while president of the right-wing Malay group Perkasa Ibrahim Ali said he would raise the issue in Parliament. Mr. Anwar responded by saying he supported a “two-state solution” with Palestine, a policy he said was no different from the official stance adopted by the United Nations and Malaysia itself. “I am issuing a stern warning to anyone trying to twist my statement just so that they can say that I have betrayed the aspirations of the Palestinian people,” he said in a statement to the press. His party’s stand “is to defend the rights of whoever it is that has been victimised,” the statement said. Though an ethnically-diverse nation that practices freedom of religion, Malaysia has declared Islam as its state religion and tensions over Israel-Palestine issues often boil over. A large percentage of the country’s population supports the Palestinian cause, and jumped to criticize Israel after it launched raids on Gaza in December 2008 and stormed a flotilla in May 2010 that was carrying activists and humanitarian aid to Gaza. Tensions over the issue are even more on edge now, as Malaysia gears up for its next general election, which must be called by early next year, giving politicians more incentive to argue their views in the press than usual. “The issue is tied in with Malaysia being an Islamic country,” and the idea that “therefore it should support Palestine,” said James Chin, a professor at the Malaysian branch of Australia’s Monash University. He added the caveat that support for the Palestinians became a much larger issue in Malaysian politics after the era of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has been accused by world leaders of holding anti-Semitic views, which he disputes. In a statement to the local press, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, a member of the ruling UMNO, disputed Mr. Anwar’s claim that Malaysia’s current policy on Israel is the same as his own. Although Malaysia officially supports a “two-state solution” in settling the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it has also sharply criticized actions taken by Israeli forces in the past, which the foreign minister indicated means Malaysia isn’t supporting “all steps” to protect Israeli security. “[Anwar’s comments] show a blanket support for anything Israel does,” said Khairy Jamaluddin, the chief of UMNO’s youth wing, who disputed any suggestion Malaysia’s ruling party was trying to politicize the issue ahead of an election. “The issue of Palestine is a top foreign policy priority for my party, it would be an issue during the election year or otherwise… timing doesn’t matter.” In 2010, Mr. Anwar – who in the past has been described as the face of liberal democracy in Malaysia – found himself on the other side of the argument after he lambasted UMNO for its relationship with a public relations firm called APCO. In Parliament, he said the firm was “controlled by Zionists” and working on behalf of the American government to influence Malaysian government policy – a charge denied by both the government and the public relations firm. At the time, American-Jewish groups such as B’nai B’rith accused the opposition leader of “anti-Jewish” and “anti-Israel” slanders, and called on American officials to suspend their ties with Mr. Anwar. Still, many analysts believe the latest kerfuffle is largely electioneering on the part of the ruling coalition, preoccupied with the looming possibility that the next election will be the hardest-fought yet. “They’re just using it as a weapon to bring (Mr. Anwar) down,” said Mr. Chin at Monash University. ~wall street journal~

It comes as no surprise that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim got into trouble with the federal government and Umno when he came out stating that he would support a final resolution to begin lifting sanctions against Israel. After all, there are already Malaysians booing Israeli footballers. And Malaysia was not the first nation to start discriminating against Jews, Zionists and Israel, all three of which I look upon separately. Heck, don’t look at Germany alone. If one were to head to MPH, you can find a collection of anti-Semitic articles written by Henry Ford, the person who started the Ford Motor Group ages ago called “The International Jew”, which is available in four volumes.  Personally, I have no agenda against the Jews. After all, from a Muslim perspective all you have to remind yourself is the knowledge that the last prophet was granted to the descendants of Ismail and not that of Ishak. However, be reminded fellow Muslims that both sons, who gave birth to the Arabs and the Jews, did come together to bury their father Abraham regardless of whatever disputes they had. That being said, let’s talk a bit about Israel and the truth about Malaysia’s relationship with the country. Israel has been lobbying for Malaysia to recognise them and begin relations through diplomacy and trade. In fact, from an online document from the Centre of Jewish Affairs forwarded to me by a friend, it seems clear that it is not the Malaysian head of the opposition who is wrong, but our federal government which would rather continue this policy of bedevilling the Zionists than tell the Malaysian people the truth. It is easy to blame the Zionists and state that the Jews “owned everything”, a trademark of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s constant speeches to the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), especially during the economic crisis when George Soros was blamed for everything. Funnily enough, nobody stood up to blame Soros a decade later during the current economic downturn. After all, if one were to watch a documentary called “Inside Job” you will see Soros denying any involvement by stating that he is an “old school” person who did not believe in the US system. It is even more disturbing when you see a picture of Mahathir being friendly with Soros, as posted by Jeff Ooi on his blog years after. We have been trading with Israel for some time already. We have been sending Malaysians — royals, business leaders and students — at one point to Israel for some time now. In fact, until the period of Mahathir’s 23 years in office as prime minister, our bilateral ties were honestly quite diplomatic but not done within our own borders. Only during the period of Mahathir did it become a nationwide condemnation of the Israelis. And now, people within Umno are stating that should Anwar win, Israel could open a consul in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, some are already hooting that due to this so-called gaffe of his, Umno can now win back Kedah and Kelantan. Really? Allow me to dampen your glee, fellow Umno people. Let’s take a look at the European Commission’s trade website which details Israel’s trade with the world. According to their charts, Malaysia imports €63.9 million (RM255 million) from Israel, exports €603.7 million to Israel and Malaysia was in fact the 15th largest trade partner of Israel in 2010. Prime Minister Najib Razak and his government took office when, exactly? In fact, if we were to go back further, were we doing business with Israel even when Mahathir was prime minister? According to a paper available online at the Institute of Jewish Affairs website which was published in October 2006, there was the notion of trade with Israel from Malaysia’s side during the Mahathir administration in 1993, and only in mid-January 1996 there began the insinuation of Malaysian trade with Israel, of which it was noted to have “no political significance.” But what is worth noting is this paragraph from the article: “In mid-February 1996, however, a Malaysian businessman visited Israel to discuss co-operation between Israeli and Malaysian companies. In late March, a delegation of Malaysian businessmen came to Israel and held talks with heads of chambers of commerce. Although Malaysia’s official boycott of Israeli products still stood, the head of the Malaysian delegation said he had been authorised by the minister of industry and trade. In early May the Israeli Port Authority sponsored an international conference, and a 16-member Malaysian delegation attended with government approval.” As such, I raise the question again. Who exactly is helping the Zionists? It is not Anwar Ibrahim, but instead our own federal government, which continues to bask in its constant hypocrisy of using the words of the opposition leader against him while they claim brownie points. ~Hafidz Baharom~ from malaysianinsider.

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Politics aside, can the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) turn things around to make it work? Probably not, said PKR chief of strategy Rafizi Ramli. Interviewed by Malaysiakini, Rafizi, who is a chartered accountant said that the bare economics of the project suggest that the project was "doomed from the very beginning". Already facing a lawsuit by cabinet minister Shahrizat Jalil, whose family owns NFC, Rafizi even went as far as suggesting that the family knew that it was never going to succeed, but used it for "seed money" for other businesses. "I get the feeling that the National Feedlot Centre operation in just a disguise. The rest is about the more glamourous part of the business; property investments, upmarket food and beverage business.

With the stream of exposes by PKR on the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) not seeming to ebb, many are wondering about the party's source or sources of information. NFC owners blame two disgruntled former employees, and have lassoed Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali's help in telling all and sundry that it is these "non-Malay" ex-employees who are out to do them in. Other NGOs met by Malaysiakini at a recent dialogue between NGOs and NFC chief executive officer Wan Shahinur Izmir Salleh, believe it's a "beef cartel" which is out to 'sabotage' a genuine Malay business.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim called his former boss Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad a hypocrite today for accusing him of being a Jewish sympathiser when it was the former prime minister who had met his Israeli counterpart. The opposition leader told reporters today, “I myself have never met the Israeli prime minister, or the foreign minister or the finance minister.” “I would like to know why he met the Israeli prime minister. Why the hypocrisy?” Anwar said, likely referring to reports that Dr Mahathir had met with Yitzhak Rabin and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in Paris on July 6, 1994. Dr Mahathir had on Monday labelled his former deputy as a Jewish sympathiser and a leader who disregarded the plight of the Palestinians after Anwar’s recent interview with the Wall Street Journal where he was quoted as saying he supported “all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel.”

But the international business daily said Anwar stopped short of saying he would open diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, a step the former deputy prime minister said remains contingent on Israel respecting the aspirations of Palestinians. Anwar came under heavy fire from Umno and its media after his statement was published by the Wall Street Journal last Thursday. The PKR de facto leader was forced to defend himself by stressing that his remarks in the newspaper meant that he supported a two-state solution, which he said was mentioned by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman when the latter addressed the United Nations General Assembly in September last year.

His party also claimed yesterday Dr Mahathir paid Jack Abramoff, a Zionist lobbyist, US$1.2 million (RM3.7 million) to arrange a meeting with former US President George W. Bush shortly after Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998. Today, Anwar repeated the accusation he first made in 2010, that Datuk Seri Najib Razak had paid APCO Worldwide to burnish his administration’s image. The Permatang Pauh MP and three Pakatan Rakyat (PR) colleagues were suspended from Parliament for six months after accusing the prime minister of paying RM77 million a year to APCO despite the public relations firm being an Israeli-based company “with ties to Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet.”

“They go to America, and APCO distributes leaflets accusing me of being anti-Jew. Then they go to the Muslim world and say I am pro-Jew,” he added. Muslim-majority Malaysia is a staunch supporter of Palestine and has no diplomatic ties with Israel. Muslim politicians have long vied for support from Malays by denouncing what they say are inhumane acts of aggression by Israel towards its neighbour.

UKEC's Projek Amanat Negara (PAN) held on 29 January 2012 featured the first public debate between UMNO Youth Chief, YB Khairy Jamaluddin, and PKR Director of Strategies, Rafizi Ramli. Taking on a Presidential-style format, the session "Public Policy: Vision 2020 -- Is Malaysia Moving Towards the Right Direction?" was civil and diplomatic as the two renowned as passionate voices for their party's causes squared off. They spoke and in several instances agreed on many issues ranging from Vision 2020, party policies, and race relations, to the rights of students to participate in politics, media access and freedom of assembly.

Projek Amanat Negara (PAN) is an annual initiative -- this year in its 9th instalment -- that serves as a platform for intellectual discourse between leading figures of the political, social and economic fields and Malaysian students. Examining various key issues relevant to the governance, development and holistic progress of our country, it has been hugely successful in previous years, even providing the impetus to organise the Malaysian Student Leaders' Summit (MSLS) in Kuala Lumpur annually. This year's conference hosted the likes of Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, YB Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Pang KheeTeik (Seksualiti Merdeka), Karim Raslan, and Zainah Anwar (co-founder of Sisters in Islam) among several others.

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