Bersih chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has accused the authorities of “lacking good faith” for demanding that the group apply for a permit to hold its planned stadium rally this weekend.
She said the latest hurdle to the July 9 rally for free and fair elections was “wholly inconsistent” with Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s earlier assurance that Bersih 2.0 could be held in a stadium, as well as the King’s wishes.
“Why are you asking us to apply for a permit when the prime minister has already okayed it?
“We don’t understand it,” she told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) here.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar earlier today reminded Bersih to apply for a permit for Saturday’s rally, warning that failure to do so would still make the event an illegal gathering.
He said Bersih had yet to inform or notify the police of their plans for the rally but gave assurance that the group’s permit application process would be expedited in view of the urgency of the situation.


Pig is the most shameless animal

Living in a society, it is a brave individual who can wilfully disregard the question: “What will the neighbours say?” Nations have a greater measure of self-confidence. The drive to be defined by ‘exceptionalism’ has marked the history of countries that believe in their ‘manifest destiny’ and, by implication , their innate superiority. The self-conscious belief in what is pompously called ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ has often been the justification for purposeless plodding, but there’s no doubting its enduring appeal. The commitment to “truth, freedom and the American way” wasn’t something the creator of Superman invented: it was real and deeply felt by those who set out to create a ‘New World’. And China’s recent history is replete with improvisations packaged as uniquely Chinese.

For the larger collective, what the world thinks of ‘us’ is often of less consequence than what we think of ‘them’. Britain was an island nation that made its mark through an Empire that rivalled that of ancient Rome. A significant part of its intellectual energies were also expended in documenting the cultures of foreign lands. Yet, till the early 1980s, as many Agatha Christie novels quaintly emphasized, ‘foreign’ and ‘foreign looking’ were euphemisms for the sinister. The bloody campaigns against ‘foreign devils’ were part of China’s recent history. And despite being a nation of immigrants , the US, until the advent of fetishized multiculturalism in the 1960s, maintained a quirky distinction between ‘American’ and ‘foreign’.

Tanah Melayu, not least because of its vulnerability to foreign invasions, always had a schizoid approach to the unfamiliar. At a social level, Malay Elits societies built an invisible wall around communities that facilitated the preservation of the sanatan dharma—the eternal way. At the same time, public life allowed a remarkable flexibility. The absorptive capacity of ISLAMIC Culture broke down barriers that would otherwise have delineated the indigenous from the alien. The CHINESE, for example, arrived as foreigners but over the centuries became a part of the local landscape—although the process was not without hiccups. Had the revolt not forced a British ghettoization, it is entirely possible that the Raj would have been seen as just one more chapter in a long history of a foreign rule that lost its foreignness over time. The nationalist movement with its stress on HAK MELAYU did certainly nurture a feeling of Indian exceptionalism. However,this was partially offset by a desire to be universalist and receptive to outside influences. This dichotomy is a feature of the MELAYU of thinking.

In hindsight, MALAY’s rediscovery of itself after Independence was expediently xenophobic. Its middle classes have been the most receptive to international— particularly western—influences. The MALAY ability to separate community from citizenship has seen  become model citizens of other nations. Within MALAYSIA, however, public life has been shaped by the belief that MALAYS, and TANAH MELAYU alone, knows best. Self doubt isn’t a part of the contemporary discourse. Maybe it was the seamless shift from MAHATIRISM

discussing the impact that rumors regarding President Obama’s religious identity might have on his campaign, as I did discussing the impact that his racial identity may have. It seemed to be the ultimate irony. A viable black candidate gets a real shot at the presidency and being black ends up being the least of his problems. Now before I get inundated with angry e-mails, I want to be clear. I am in no way suggesting that President Obama’s race does not matter nor am I saying that it did not cost him any votes and has not inspired some of the vitriol directed at him. I am saying, however, that it may not matter as much as the fact that his middle name is Hussein and his father is from Kenya and in the minds of nearly a quarter of the population that means President Obama must be a Muslim, and in their eyes unfit for the presidency.
It was this realization that in part inspired my new book. (Warning: Shameless plug on the way.) In a desperate attempt to use a different part of my brain for a change, I had been in discussions with my agent about doing a fun, lighthearted novel about what happens to a group of friends when one of them decides to run for president. And just for kicks, yes the candidate was going to be handsome, charismatic, in his forties and African-American. But the more the attacks on candidate Obama’s religious identity escalated, the more fascinated I became with this idea of religious identity as one of the last remaining acceptable forms of prejudice, and realized that subject would make a far more interesting book. For instance, today even a staunch conservative who is opposed to gay marriage would be inclined to choose their words very carefully in explaining why he or she may be unwilling to vote for an openly gay candidate. But if Tom Cruise ran for President there are plenty of people who would have no problem citing Scientology as a reason they were choosing not to support him.
Recently, rising GOP star Herman Cain has drawn criticism, but just as many cheers for his tough stance on Muslim Americans in a potential Cain presidential administration. By the same token much of the hostility directed at President Obama has been conveniently cloaked in this strange denunciation of one form of prejudice, coupled with the embrace of another kind. The argument goes something like this: “I don’t dislike him because he’s black. But I do believe he’s a Muslim.” As if that’s not quite so bad.
But Muslims are not the only religious group still facing rampant prejudice on the campaign trail. More than fifty years after President Kennedy delivered his landmark speech on his religious identity, I had a relative who said during the 2004 election that they were “uncomfortable” with the fact that Sen. John Kerry is a practicing Catholic. (If they happen to read this piece, Thanksgiving dinner is going to be awfully interesting.) And while the mainstream media and his primary opponents have focused on “Obamneycare” as being former Governor Mitt Romney’s primary Achilles heel this election, the reality is that being Mormon remains one of his greatest potential liabilities–as unfair as that may be.
And then of course there’s Sen. Joe Lieberman. Though these days he may be better known for political liabilities of his own making (such as campaigning with Sen. John McCain over the nominee from the party he spent most of his career with during the 2008 election), his religious identity was a topic of discussion during the 2000 election when he was Vice-president Gore’s running mate. And not always a topic of discussion in a good way.
While hate groups expend a lot of time and energy hating people of all colors, shapes and sizes for all sorts of kooky reasons, the two groups that have long rankled the David Dukes of the world the most are blacks and Jews. This disturbing place of distinction as among the most persecuted groups in history has resulted in a unique bond between the two communities–a bond that was strengthened during the civil rights movement. Many Jewish Americans fought alongside black Americans in the struggle for equality. (Among them Sen. Joe Lieberman who was a Freedom Rider.) Two of the movement’s most high profile martyrs, students Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were Jewish Americans. Their deaths, alongside African-American volunteer, James Chaney, are credited with being a pivotal turning point in transforming how the rest of the country viewed what had long been perceived as a “Southern problem.” (The story of their disappearance and murder inspired the film “Mississippi Burning.”)
So after a lot of reflection I decided to write a book about this bond, specifically about a black candidate, whose religious and racial identity is shaped by being raised by Jewish parents and how his atypical background impacts his run for the presidency. (Not to worry. There’s still the fun storyline involving the candidate’s friends for you beach readers out there.)
Here are the questions I’d like to challenge readers, and commenters on this site, to consider and hopefully discuss, perhaps even debate. How close do you honestly think our country is to electing a non-practicing, non-traditional Christian* as president — Jewish, Muslim, Mormon or otherwise? Do you think religious diversity matters in our political process? (Click here to see a list of The Most Influential Non-Practicing Christian Politicians in American Politics.)
And how close do you think we are to electing a dual-or triple — minority as president? For instance could President Obama have been elected were he a black candidate and a non-practicing Christian? Could a black, Hispanic or Jewish female be elected?
I recently noted in an interview that while I don’t consider my book, “The GQ Candidate”to be based on President Obama, per se, I do know that had my agent tried selling a book about a viable black presidential candidate five years ago, she and I would have been laughed out of the office of every major publisher out there. But now, the idea of a black president is no longer laughable. My hope is that one day soon the idea that Americans are willing to elect a president who may not agree with all of their religious views, may not be considered so laughable eithe
Over the past few months, several international media outlets have published articles fixating on the so-called “new” Palestinian nonviolent movement. Two fallacies have accompanied such reporting and analysis. First the use of the term “nonviolent” and its connotations; and second, the narrative surrounding the movement.Unfortunately, the source of these articles is often respected media outlets that have reported fairly on the Palestinian cause, including Al Jazeera English.
The latest articles in the series are Al Jazeera Englishs “Green shoots emerge at Qalandia checkpoint”,  the Economist blog’s “Here comes your non-violent resistance”,  and Time magazine’s “Palestinian Border Protests: The Arab Spring model for confronting Israel”.The articles are replete with quotes such as “but the traditional resistance of burning tires and throwing stones will not change overnight. We need to give the world a picture of nonviolent Palestinian resistance”, and “we’re going to continue marching in nonviolence until it is very clear in the international media who is violating human rights”.

#1: There is no such thing as Palestinian “nonviolent” resistance

To start with, the danger of using the term “nonviolent resistance” insinuates that any other form of resistance is violent, hence giving it a negative undertone.
In Arabic, Palestinians do not distinguish between violent and non-violent resistance, but rather between armed resistance and popular resistance. The Palestinian people and political factions have relied on both forms, as well as others, throughout the past century.
In fact, and unlike other colonial schemes in South Africa or Algeria, the goal of the Zionist colonial plan is to uproot and ethnically cleanse Palestine of its indigenous people – hence, by simply existing and standing firm on their land, Palestinians are actually resisting.

While I don’t mean to advocate for a specific form of resistance here, there must be a clear distinction between two different notions.
On the one hand, there are attempts to impose the idea that nonviolence is the only form of resistance “allowed”,  thus falsely implying that all other forms of resistance are violent, immoral or illegal. On the other hand, a general consensus views resistance as a legitimate right of the Palestinian people, as it is the right of any people living under oppression, colonisation and foreign occupation.
According to this view, popular resistance is perceived to be more effective than armed resistance at this stage of struggle. Because of the discrepancy between these two statements, the term “violent” has been extended to reach the throwing of stones at Israeli tanks or heavily armoured military checkpoints.
Many different forms of popular resistance characterised the first Intifada, including children jumping from house to house during curfew hours to provide sugar and flour to neighbors; youth playing soccer on the edges of streets so as to warn graffiti writers when a military vehicle was passing through; volunteer work; commercial strikes and boycotts; as well as mass protests that included throwing stones at army outposts and military vehicles.

The fact is, facing a brutal war machine with stones is but a symbolic gesture. It is a symbol of the vast discrepancy in power between the Palestinian people and Israel’s war machine.
Stones aimed at Israeli tanks or other armed vehicles were a means for the unarmed indigenous people of Palestine to demonstrate their refusal of occupation and oppression. Youth, women, the elderly and all sectors of society participated in this form of resistance.
Stones could be violent, however, when used systematically by Israeli soldiers to smash Palestinians’ limbs, as part of a policy ordered by Yitzhak Rabin, then Israeli minister of defence, to “break their bones”. The Knesset refused to even investigate Rabin’s order, and he was never been held accountable.

Moreover, media outlets advocating for these nonviolent tactics have chosen to completely overlook the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Although it does not fall under the two forms of resistance mentioned earlier, it can be only be categorised as a strictly non-violent tactic, aiming to pressure Israel to abide by its obligations under international law.
The overwhelming growth in the BDS movement, met with little to no coverage of its successes by most mainstream media outlets can only be an indicator of the hypocrisy of their coverage of Palestinian resistance: only shedding light on forms of resistance they categorise as relevant – or, dare I say, worthy.

Finally, it is important to comprehend the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that is often called “complex”. In fact, and at the risk of oversimplifying, it is a conflict between an oppressor and an oppressed. Within that context the use of violence and force can be exemplified perfectly in the words of Paulo Freire:

“Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed. How could they be the initiators, if they themselves are the result of violence? How could they be the sponsors of something whose objective inauguration called forth their existence as oppressed? There would be no oppressed had there been no prior situation of violence to establish their subjugation. Violence is initiated by those who oppress, who exploit, who fail to recognise others as persons – not by those who are oppressed, exploited and unrecognised.”  

#2: Western narrative and terminology

The second problem posed by this narrative and the discourse surrounding these articles is more significant and more worthy of criticism.
The articles present the current so-called nonviolent movement as the “correct” way to resist, where Palestinians’ choice of the correct resistance method will demonstrate our worthiness to be given our rights and independence.

Portraying our rights to freedom and self determination as contingent upon our chosen method of resistance is at best inaccurate, and at worst rather racist.
Implying that our rights have not been fulfilled because we have not demonstrated our worthiness of them relieves Israel of the need to uphold international law and grant us our basic rights, and also excuses Western hegemonies for awarding Israel full impunity to carry on with its violations and crimes.
It must be made clear that our right to return and to end Israel’s occupation, colonisation and apartheid are guaranteed by international conventions, and their fulfillment is an obligation – irrespective of the methods of resistance we choose to follow, or any other factors, for that matter.
In addition, suggesting that popular protest is a new phenomenon in Palestine where “the real Martin Luther King-style nonviolent Palestinian protestors have arrived” is a shameful distortion of facts by media outlets.
Resistance in Palestine, and particularly popular resistance, is more than a century old, where the overwhelming majority of resistance to Zionist colonisation, British rule, and later Israel’s oppression has taken the form of civil,popular uprisings. Palestinian popular resistance can only be Palestinian-style! Journalists need to abandon lazy journalism, and expand their memory-span to more than ten years.

Thus we are allowed to follow Western values and figures, or the footsteps of those whoever they find acceptable, such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr (MLK). While everyone is waiting for the next “Palestinian Gandhi”, what if we want a Palestinian Che Guevara or Malcolm X?
It was them, after all, who analysed and focused on the “international western power structure”, a structure that has only developed in influence and tools since the 50s and 60s. And while having the utmost respect for the satyagrahaof Gandhi and MLK’s battle in the civil rights movement, Palestinians need not look far to find role models within Palestine’s history and heritage for alternative means of resistance.

In this issue, as in others, the hypocrisy of Western hegemonic powers is prevalent.
Democracy is only acceptable if the outcomes are what they have chosen – only neoliberal economic policies that please the real axis of evil (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organisation) are allowed in developing countries; and queer communities around the world must follow Western mechanisms of pride and advocacy.
Though these are all apparently different issues, the same paradigm applies to all of them: Western hegemonic ideologies and forms of action are used to measure the legitimacy of others that are suggested around the world.

Particularly for Palestinians, narrative is one of the key issues.
Israel has the world in its hands, not because it is threatening them by force or military power, but because it controls the discourse. That is why when a group of Israelis harass Palestinians and plot to assassinate a head of mosque they are referred to in the media as “mobsters and gangs”, or mentally unstable such as Baruch Goldstein – never as “terrorists” or “extremists”.
This is similar to the indirect control processes applied throughout hundreds of years of colonialism, the same trope has been used to reinforce the coloniser’s power: the primitive barbarians vs the enlightened people.
recent ad campaign in the US demonstrates this, it reads: “In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilised man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

It is our role as Palestinians to be aware of the narrative distortions and to fight against that discourse. If we succeed, it would be much harder for someone such as Binyamin Netanyahu to humiliate the Palestinian people and the so-called Palestinian “leadership” in front of the US congress as he did so recently.

The ‘right’ form of resistance?

While there is no question that, within Palestinian society, all forms of resistance to oppression must be respected and valued, it is crucial not to be dragged into the Western narrative, especially since a large number of us among the nation’s youth are already exposed to it by the media, the internet or via studying abroad.
The idea that there is only one “right” way of resistance or that armed and popular resistance are contradictory is false (or at least lacks historical evidence) if a simple review of colonial history is applied (Algeria, South Africa, etc).

The priority nowadays, indeed, should be to widely engage all movements, groups, and individuals in the demand to produce a new legitimate leadership institution that represents all Palestinians regardless of their venue. That body would be able to democratically (and internally) identify the most potent form of resistance.

In the aforementioned articles, Palestinian participants in popular protests are often quoted in a manner such as: “If some teenagers threw rocks, they had apparently failed to attend the workshops on nonviolence the organisers had arranged”, and that they “insist no stones were thrown until Israeli troops fired tear gas, and then only by adolescents“.
These statements show Palestinian protesters to be apologetic for the symbolic gesture of throwing stones – and this is at the expense of questioning the very presence of Israel’s occupation forces.

History has shown that Israel’s use of extreme violence is a constant – irrespective of the violent or nonviolent actions of Palestinians. It is crucial we realise that throughout the years of our struggle against Zionism and colonialism, the Zionist response to all the various forms of resistance was, in essence, the same – violence.
Sixty years ago, forty years ago, in the first and second Intifadas, and in the recent “peaceful” marches, the Israeli response was always violence and bloodshed – young men and women have been shot with live and rubber-coated ammunition, beaten with clubs and suffocated by toxic gas.
It would be naive to expect the Israeli response to differ in the future, nor would it be required to resist nonviolently to show the ugly face of Israeli occupation – since it is demonstrated in every single action of Palestinian daily life.
Regardless of our strategy, Israel will continue to deny our existence as a nation, will not admit the ethnic cleansing it committed in 1948, and will continue its suppressive measures of oppression against Palestinians everywhere.
It is our role to focus on our similarities and points of agreement about resistance rather than our differences.
The Palestinian people must mobilise around resisting Israeli apartheid through a program that is generated from a discussion within a truly representative body – which is only possible through direct elections for a new Palestinian National Council (PNC).


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