25 February 2010

A Talk By Norman Finkelstein...


Recently, 1 of the most prominent figures painting the arena of Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Dr Norman Finkelstein paid a visit for the first time to Prague. The people here were honoured for his presence, at least for my personal point of view.

I was excited more than ever. That was probably be the only time in my life that I have a chance to see Dr Finkelstein in person. It feels like meeting an artist or something like that. Before this I just heard his name and some books that he wrote, and some of his videos in the youtube. I feel honoured somehow.

from the screen of our video recording ;p

The talks were held in a hall at Casa Gelmi in Prague, and in the Faculty of Phylosophy, Charles University, with audience about several hundred people from several countries all around Europe, which consisted of delegates, political analysers and students as well. There were supposed to be 4 talk sessions, but 1 of the talk which was scheduled on Tuesday morning was cancelled by the Academy of Science of the Charles University and the government of Czech Republic for the reason that the talk is 'one-sided' and fear of spreading 'false information' to the people. Dr Finkelstein himself expressed his shock and disappointment with the cancellation, after he went all the way from New York to give a speech and when he came over, the speech was cancelled by the authority. It's kind of weird the government here said that the talk is 'one-sided' when he has not given the speech. It seems that the Czech government limits the freedom of speech in this country.

Norman Finkelstein giving a speech at Casa Gelmi, Prague

I'm pretty sure not all of the readers know Dr Norman Finkelstein. Borned in a Jewish family, Finkelstein is an American political scientist, whose primary fields of research are the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the politics of the Holocaust. He received his Ph. D in political science from Princeton University, and he has hald faculty positions in several famous universities in the United States. His parents survived from Ghetto in Warsaw. Throughout his career, he has constantly causes controversies by constantly condemning the occupation of Palestine by Israel. He wrote lots of books, many of which condemning the illegal and inhuman conducts of the Israel. He was also labelled as 'self-hating Jew'. He once argued that the memory of the Holocoust is just an 'ideological weapon'. This is so the state of Israel. Being accused as 'hostile' to Israel, and due to 'security reason', he is banned from entering Israel.

during the second speech at the Faculty of Phylosophy, Charles University

during the 2nd speech at the Faculty of Phylosophy, Charles University

The first talk which I listened to was about 'Mass Media and Occupation of Palestine: Image and Reality' and the second talk was entitled 'Legal Aspects of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict'

The thing which I love about Dr Finkelstein speech was that, he discussed the topic objectively, based on facts and the international laws, where nobody could deny the facts that he brought in.

Dr Finkelstein tried to explain the audience the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is actually not 'complicated' as many of the people in this world thought. He questioned how does one account for all the media controversy swirling around a conflict which, if one examines the past, or historical record, the present or human right record and the future or diplomatic record, is remarkably UNCONTROVERSIAL.

There were dozens of international cases which are much more controversial than the Israeli-Palestininian issue. Let's just take the issue of the walls which are being built on the land of Palestine. The international law clearly states that it is illegal to build any kind of construction on other country's land. It's just the same rule like we treat our neighbour. Well, we might have a nasty, dirty neighbour or probably a neighbour who likes to make noise. Of course it is our right if we want to build a wall inside our territory between our house and our neighbour's house. Nobody cares what you want to build. Nobody cares how high is the wall that we want to build inside our house. But we cannot build a wall around our neighbour's swimming pool. The concept is simple, and it is clearly stated under the international law.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) notes that it has no interest in any wall constructed within Israel's borders, where Israel can do what she likes. As regards the vast sections of the wall that are on Occupied Palestinian Territory: "that construction, along with measures taken previously, thus severely impedes the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination, and is therefore a breach of Israel's obligation to respect the right."

The court rules that the wall should be dismantled and goes on to say that Israel is legally obliged to "return the land, orchards, olive groves and other immovable property seized... In the event that such restitution should prove to be materially impossible, Israel has an obligation to compensate the persons in question for the damage suffered."

Still related to the issues of the wall, probably most of us do not know that the ICJ has issued an advisory opinion on the legality of the wall being constructed by Israel in the Occupied Territories. 15 panels of judges has been appointed in this issue.

The court was forced to incidentally examine some of the so-called "Final Status" issues - the issues which must be resolved for any lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are generally held to be five: Borders, Settlements, Refugees, Jerusalem and Water. I'm not going to explain all the issues here.

Given the international composition of the ICJ and the complex and controversial issues it is called upon to judge, one might expect the rulings have been close-fought. In fact, the vote was 14-1 in favour of all points. The only judge being the dissenter of all rulings was the US representative, Judge Buergenthal. However, in a separate ruling, he explained that he agreed with his colleagues on the ruling that Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal under international law. Therefore there is unanimity in the International Court of Justice on this point.

And another fact is that every year the United Nation General Assembly would vote for the resolution 'Peaceful Settlement of Palestine Question'. And surprisingly, each year, the votes received suggested that the issue is actually non-controversial. For example in the year 1997 and following years, the vote was 155-2, with the negative votes being cast by Israel and United States. It's like the whole world against Israel and United States.

Thus, mathematically, it seems that the so-called 'controversial issues' in the Israel-Palestine conflict is actually NON-CONTROVERSIAL. Yet, the terms like 'controversial' or 'disputed' issues used by the media made people believe that the Israel-Palestine issue is actually very complicated.

Dr Finkelstein argued that the vast preponderance of media controversy swirling around the Israel-Palestine conflict is contrived, fabricated, the purpose being to divert attention from the documentary record and confusion about what it actually shows.

me and my friends with Dr Norman Finkelstein

I think I should just stop here, as I've just realised that I've already written quite long, even though I just mentioned about 1 issue. Anyway, as a Muslim, we have more reasons to help and sacrifice for the Palestinians, as they are our brothers, our family members. Unfortunately, most of us don't realise the responsibility. While we are busy studying, playing football, eating, organising parties, Malaysian Night or whatever night, while we are sleeping comfortably on our cosy bed, one of our family member dies everyday. Yet, we could still enjoy ourselves without thinking about them. We should feel ashamed that a non-believer understands and helps our brothers more than we do.

21 February 2010

Impian Kita Bukanlah Segala-galanya...

Salam w.b.t.

Setelah lebih kurang 2 bulan berada dalam suasana suhu bawah 0 darjah Celcius, akhirnya sejak 2 hari lepas, suhu di kawasan ini meningkat sedikit sebanyak 1 darjah di atas takat beku air. Seperti biasa, salji mulai cair, dan keadaan sekeliling agak kotor dengan tanah yang basah apabila salji yang putih itu mulai cair. Sudah mula nampak permukaan air di sungai-sungai yang sebelum ini beku dan diliputi salji.

Alhamdulillah, tahun ini salji turun dengan sangat lebat dan agak panjang berbanding sebelum-sebelum ini. Apabila fikir-fikir semula, saya masih ingat sewaktu kecil dahulu, saya sering kali teringin untuk bermain dengan salji, namun di sini, diri terasa sangat malas untuk keluar rumah pada suhu yang rendah sebegini. Namun, saya seronok melihat kanak-kanak kecil bermain di hadapan flat saya sepanjang musim sejuk ini.

Saya teringat sewaktu sekolah dahulu, ada rakan-rakan saya yang juga bercita-cita untuk pergi ke Eropah. Berhampiran dengan asrama sekolah saya dahulu, di sebelah dewan besar dan berhampiran dengan astroturf hoki, ada sebatang pohon besar. Pada satu-satu masa dalam setahun, pohon tersebut akan menguning keemasan dan meluruhkan daun-daunnya yang kekuningan. Sewaktu itu, pernah ada sekali rakan-rakan saya mengajak untuk mengambil gambar di situ, dan kemudian hantar ke Salam Perantauan, seolah-olah kami berada di luar negara sambil memakai 'sweater'. Kini, setiap kali saya teringat peristiwa itu, saya tersenyum sendirian mengenangkan telatah kami sewaktu sekolah dahulu.

Gambar hiasan - sewaktu di Paris, antara 'impian' waktu belajar bahasa Perancis di sekolah dahulu ;p

Itulah dia manusia, yang sentiasa impikan sesuatu yang kelihatan sungguh menarik di fikiran kita. Di dalam al-quran, Allah menyebutkan:
'Dijadikan terasa indah dalam pandangan manusia cinta terhadap apa yang diinginkan, berupa perempuan-perempuan, anak-anak, harta benda yang bertumpuk dalam bentuk emas dan perak, kuda pilihan, haiwan ternak dan sawah ladang. Itulah kesenangan di dunia, dan di sisi Allah lah tempat kembali yang baik' - Ali-Imran: 14
Secara lumrahnya, manusia dikurniakan dengan sifat yang suka pada sesuatu yang kelihatan sungguh menarik di fikiran kita. Lihat sahaja orang yang mempunyai telefon bimbit, hendak telefon yang lebih canggih. Sudah ada telefon baru, hendak pula membeli iphone, dan sebagainya. Kita sangat sukakan sesuatu. Kita selalu mengimpikan sesuatu yang indah dalam fikiran kita. Ada pepatah Inggeris yang mengatakan 'dream the impossible because dreams do come true'.

Namun, kadangkala kita juga ada menyimpan impian dan cita-cita untuk menjadi seperti orang lain. Kadangkala, kita punya impian yang sungguh indah dalam fikiran kita, dan kita amat mencintainya dan berusaha ke arahnya. Boleh jadi impian tersebut berupa sebuah kehidupan, pekerjaan, manusia, kedudukan dan sebagainya.

Acapkali masalah timbul apabila kita seolah-olah tidak mendapat 'impian' yang kita cita-citakan. Lebih memeritkan apabila 'impian' tersebut sudah disimpan sekian lamanya.

Maka timbullah persoalan, di manakah letaknya pegangan kita? Apakah kita benar-benar menyerahkan urusan hidup kita pada Tuhan, ataupun kita meletakkan masa depan kita pada 'impian' kita tersebut.

Saya teringat satu lagi firman Allah dalam quran:
'...boleh jadi kamu membenci sesuatu, padahal itu baik bagimu, dan boleh jadi kamu menyukai sesuatu, padahal itu tidak baik bagimu. Allah Mengetahui, sedang kamu tidak mengetahui.' - Al-Baqarah: 216
Ayat ini mengingatkan seorang hamba untuk menyerahkan urusan kepada Dzat yang mengetahui akibat segala perkara serta redha dengan apa yang Ia pilihkan dan takdirkan untuknya.

Bukanlah salah untuk menyimpan 'impian'. Seorang penulis novel Inggeris, Terry Pratchett pernah berkata:
'Only in our dreams we are free. The rest of the time we need wages'
Namun, usahlah biarkan kebergantungan kita diserahkan pada 'impian' tersebut. Ia sangat rapuh. Impian kita bukanlah segala-galanya dalam hidup kita. Tetapi segala-galanya bermula dengan impian kita.

Sengaja saya menyentuh isu ini, atas alasan peribadi, untuk mengingatkan diri sendiri juga.

Saya sekadar mahu tulis sampai sini sahaja. Selebihnya biarlah diulas lebih lanjut lagi pada masa akan datang? Bila? Barangkali apabila 'impian' saya dan anda tercapai :-)

14 February 2010

Lebih 'Islam' Dari Muslim..

Salam w.b.t.

Pagi tadi, saya agak keletihan setelah penat bermain futsal hingga hampir tengah malam semalam. Sebelum itu, saya menyediakan makanan dan berusrah bersama rakan-rakan junior saya di sini.

Segala puji bagi Allah, saya selamat kembali ke Republik Czech setelah seminggu di United Kingdom. Rasa rindu pada keluarga sedikit terubat apabila berjumpa dengan adik saya di Cardiff sewaktu lawatan saya ke sana baru-baru ini. Terima kasih kepada adik saya dan ikhwah di London, Cardiff dan Bath atas layanan yang diberikan. Semoga Allah membalas dengan balasan yang lebih baik.

Penulis di Bath, England

Sudah tentu perjalanan yang jauh diiringi dengan pengalaman yang luas. Ada juga pelajar perubatan yang mengatakan jauh perjalanan, luas imuniti, memandangkan sangat biasa antara kami di sini yang pulang dari kembara ke tempat lain dengan demam dan sebagainya. Apa jua pun yang orang kata, yang lebih penting, suatu perjalanan hanyalah sia-sia jika ia tidak menambahkan langsung iman kita. Allah s.w.t. berfirman di dalam al-quran:
'Dialah yang menjadikan bumi untuk kamu yang mudah dijelajahi, maka jelajahilah di segala penjurunya, dan makanlah sebahagian dari rezekinya. Dan hanya kepadaNyalah kamu dibangkitkan' - Al-Mulk: 15
Setelah hampir 4 tahun di Eropah, ini merupakan kali pertama saya menjejakkan kaki ke London, dan bandar ini merupakan bandar ke 18 di Eropah yang pernah saya lawati, tidak termasuk bandar-bandar di dalam Republik Czech ini. Satu perkara yang sering bermain dalam fikiran saya sepanjang berjalan di London ialah permainan 'monopoli' yang sering saya main bersama keluarga dan sepupu-sepupu saya sewaktu zaman sekolah rendah dahulu. Ini kerana hampir setiap tempat yang saya pergi ada namanya di dalam 'board game' tersebut. Kadangkala saya tersenyum sendirian terkenangkan permainan yang sering kami main sewaktu kecil-kecil, sehinggakan ada saudara saya yang mewakili Malaysia dalam permainan tersebut di peringkat antarabangsa di Monte Carlo, setelah belajar bermain dengan kami.

Penulis di Tower Bridge, yang selama ini disangkakan London Bridge

Di Stadium Arsenal, kelab bola yang penulis minati

Gambar lain di Web Album saya.

Apapun, sememangnya, banyak perkara yang dapat dipelajari dari gaya hidup, suasana dan persekitaran yang berbeza dengan di Malaysia atau di Republik Czech.

Kita seringkali percaya bahawa agama kita adalah agama yang lengkap dan sempurna. Namun, seringkali, kepercayaan itu membuatkan kita begitu megah dengan apa yang kita ada tanpa memandang orang lain. Saya tidak menafikan bahawa Islam adalah agama yang lengkap. Ya, itu benar. Islam adalah agama yang sempurna, namun orang-orang Islam tidaklah sempurna. Kita masih jauh ketinggalan dalam pelbagai aspek. Lihat sahaja aspek ketepatan waktu, kebersihan, budaya membaca, usah pula dikata tentang aspek ekonomi dan sebagainya.

Malangnya, ketaksuban dengan kesempurnaan agama yang kita anuti membuatkan kita berasa gah dengannya sehingga kita memandang serong dengan orang-orang di barat. Saya masih ingat, ketika di sekolah dahulu, pernah sekali dibincangkan tentang sosial di barat. Apabila sebut sahaja orang Eropah, kita terbayang budaya kuning, gejala sosial dan sebagainya. Natijahnya, kita seolah-olah merasakan diri kita cukup hebat, kerana tidak terjebak dengan budaya-budaya sedemikian. Inilah dia perasaan yang kadangkala membunuh perkembangan diri kita sendiri.

Hakikatnya, daripada pengalaman saya pergi ke pelbagai tempat di Eropah, saya melihat masyarakat di barat kadangkala kelihatan lebih 'Islam' dari orang Islam sendiri dalam banyak perkara. Baik dari segi tutur kata, pergaulan, ketepatan masa, budaya membaca dan sebagainya. Sebagai contoh, orang Czech menjaga waktu lebih baik dari orang di Malaysia. Jika anda menaiki kenderaan awam di Czech dan tidak faham tulisan di sini, cukuplah dengan kita tahu pukul berapa kita tiba di stesen yang hendak kita tuju dan turun apabila keretapi atau bas berhenti pada waktu tersebut. Tidak dinafikan ada sahaja budaya kurang elok yang diperhatikan, namun apalah bezanya dengan masyarakat kita yang tidak kurang 'hebat'nya dalam jenayah, dadah, lumba haram dan sebagainya.

Persoalannya apakah dengan hanya menyempurnakan 5 rukun Islam menjadikan kita lebih mulia daripada mereka. Sedangkan dalam banyak aspek, mereka lebih 'Islam' daripada kita. Alangkah tidak adilnya jika demikian.

Sengaja saya menimbulkan persoalan, agar kita berfikir dan merenung kembali apakah layak untuk kita menjadi satu umat yang mulia hanya dengan menyempurnakan 5 rukun Islam tanpa kita menjalankan ajaran agama.

Rasulullah s.a.w. bersabda:
'Didirikan Islam atas lima perkara: Syahadah bahawa tiada Tuhan melainkan Allah dan bahawasanya Muhammad itu Rasulullah, dan mendirikan sembahyang dan mengeluarkan zakat dan mengerjakan haji di Baitullah, dan puasa di bulan Ramadhan - Bukhari dan Muslim
Hadis tersebut menunjukkan 5 rukun Islam itu hanyalah asas, dan Islam itu terletak di 'atas' 5 asas tersebut. Sesungguhnya masih terlampau sedikit Islam yang kita atau lebih tepat saya sendiri amalkan. Bukanlah salah untuk kita belajar perkara yang baik dari orang lain, kerana manusia itu diciptakan berbangsa-bangsa untuk berkenalan. Justeru marilah kita berazam untuk memperbaiki diri sendiri ke arah yang lebih baik.

Dalam cuti ini, saya juga ada mencuba resipi baru. Beberapa hari yang lepas, saya mencuba membuat lasagna yang sangat saya suka ;-p insyaAllah, saya cuba memanfaatkan cuti yang tinggal ini dengan sebaik-baiknya.

01 February 2010

1 Year.. And Still Goes On...

Salam w.b.t.

Alhamdulillah, it has been a year since I started blogging (I launched my blog on the 29th of January last year). I can't believe it's been a year already. And what a year it's been. It had been an exciting journey to be able to share my thoughts and experience with many people who had taken time to visit and comment on my postings.

The thing that I love about blogging is that, it keeps me occupied during my free times, and it encourage me to read a lot in order to gain more knowledge on various issues. Of course, it's always interesting when we learn new knowledge.

Expressing ideas through writings is a new experience for me. Indeed, I've gained lots of responses either through the entry comments or through private response to me regarding my postings since the past 12 months. Most of the comments were encouraging, but sometimes I simply received critics either openly or privately.

There were times where I felt a bit down when I received some critics. Some people simply accused me of something when the person don't even know me. However it feels more painful when the critics come from the people close to us. Of course some people have different view on different issues, and I respect their right to express their opinion. I apologize whoever has criticised me before, but for me, I simply write something which comes from my heart, or something which I feel that I want to share with everyone else.

Anyway, I would like to thank everyone who has given support to me either directly or indirectly. Sometimes it inspires me to write.

InsyaAllah, I'll be leaving to London tomorrow to visit my sister :-) Pray for my safe journey.