Asian Nations that said No to normalization

February 15, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Farah Hajj Hassan

The countries that stood their ground in the face of the Israeli occupation have created shockwaves of resistance and lessons in morality.

Mass demonstrations in Bahrain and Jordan, athletes refusing to play with Israeli players in sports games, and calls for boycotts for Dubai expo 2020. Now more than ever, the popular public outcry against “Israel” is not only limited to West Asia but is rapidly bleeding into Asian, Western, and African territories like a tsunami of electronic evidence submerging Israeli propaganda.

The question that must be asked is why then, have nations more than ever begun normalizing with the Israeli occupation.

In a time where social media and massive internet use highlight our reality, what possible defense could Arab and particularly Muslim countries have to stand on regarding their sudden change of attitude surrounding “Israel?”

The answer is, the change is not so sudden, but an elaborate and intricate plot of treason that has been boiling for years.

The main players in this betrayal are the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Although they did not lead the Arab world in normalizing ties with “Israel”, and follow Jordan and Egypt, they certainly are taking the lead in ignoring its crimes and promoting the apartheid state as a friendly neighbor. Just this week, Dubai TV’s hosting of chef Levi Duchman sparked reactions condemning an Arab channel for giving air time for those making allegations about the “history of Israeli and Palestinian cuisine.” 

The interview discussed the qualities of “Israeli cuisine“, showing renowned Palestinian and Arabic dishes.

Of the total 28 countries that do not recognize “Israel” to this day, Asian countries include Indonesia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Brunei, Malaysia, Maldives, and Pakistan.

It is worth noting that although some governments have normalized relations with “Israel” the population may be adamantly against it.

In Bahrain, there have been many protests decrying normalization and the population has been largely vocal about their rejection of the Israeli enemy. Yet the government has not ceased on its shameless welcoming of Israeli delegations on its soil.

Southeast Asia

It is no secret that in the eyes of “Israel” and the US, the more countries that legitimize “Israel”, the better. What better way to portray the axis of resistance as a hateful anti-Jewish movement than by plastering photos of “Israel” opening embassies in numerous Arab and Muslim states. In Southeast Asia, a massive campaign to encourage normalization has been underway.

According to a report by The Diplomat, “Israel” is seeking diplomatic recognition around the world, especially in West Asia and North Africa, as well as Southeast Asia, providing Israeli technical assistance to the armed forces in Burma.

In Indonesia, the traditional foreign policy on the occupation has long opposed normalization in fear over its ties with Arab countries, and normalization of relations would be strongly opposed by the public and unaccepted politically.

Rumors of possible normalization have surfaced recently and were shut down by several Indonesian politicians who have denied such claims, which indicates “Tel Aviv” and Jakarta are far from establishing any diplomatic ties.

The traditional Indonesian foreign policy on the occupation is unwavering in its support of Palestine. In 2018, Jakarta saw thousands of protesters over former US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the embassy from “Tel Aviv” to Al-Quds.

Indonesia would be required to abandon its long-standing policy position on Palestine, which Indonesia naturally opposes since the preamble to its constitution states that “independence is the right of all peoples.” The domestic sentiment is overwhelmingly supportive of Palestine, as 71 percent of Indonesians agreed that “Israel” was responsible for the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” a May 2021 survey found.

As evidence, when former US President Donald Trump took the decision of moving the capital of “Israel” from “Tel Aviv” to occupied Al-Quds, protests erupted in Indonesia, with many organizations declaring and reiterating their support of the Palestinian cause.

Activists protest during a pro-Palestinian rally in Jakarta in June 2010 (AP)

Joining Indonesia, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, and the Sultan of Brunei denounced the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in May 2021. They decried the occupation “inhumane, colonial, and apartheid” policy toward the Palestinian people. In a statement, the nations said

“We condemn in the strongest term the repeated blatant violations and aggressions, carried out by the Israelis, targeting civilians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, which has killed, injured, and caused suffering to many, including women and children.”

In Bangladesh, protests erupted during the May 2020 war on Gaza, decrying Israel’s offensive on the Palestinians. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged stronger global action to end the violence and sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The letter called the threatened eviction of the Palestinians living in Sheikh Jarrah a severe violation of human rights. The PM wrote that Bangladesh denounces “Israel’s” acts of terror and violence and urges the international community to “take sustainable measures to end such kinds of acts anywhere and everywhere in the world including Palestine.”

In May of last year, rumors of possible normalization surfaced after Bangladesh removed the “Israel clause” from the passport. Swiftly shutting down the rumors, the Information minister Hassan Mahmud told reporters that it was only changed to comply with international regulations and that there is nothing for “Israel to rejoice in.” Since its inception in 1971, Bangladesh has been pro-Palestinian and against “Israel.”

He assured that diplomatic relations with the occupation do not and will never exist. “’Israel’ will be banned or closed for Bangladeshi citizens and it will be the same for the people with Israeli passports for traveling to Bangladesh.” The Bangladeshi people held signs that read boycott terrorist “Israel” and chanted their discontent.

Pakistan follows suit and Imran Khan as well as Pakistan’s foreign office has declared that there was no question of recognizing “Israel” until it agreed to a two-state solution, restoration of the pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds becomes the capital of the Palestinian state.

After rumors that Pakistan’s Army didn’t share the anti-“Israel” view, the army clarified that it stands with the government in 2020. Additionally, an aide to the Pakistani prime minister said he recently met top officials in the military and found them firmly supportive of Palestine. One of the officials elaborated that even if Saudi Arabia recognizes “Israel”, Pakistan will not follow suit.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri released a statement in which he said “Pakistan steadfastly supports the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination.” In May of last year, hundreds protested in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad against the Israeli war on Gaza.

Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the protests are “an expression on behalf of the people of Pakistan and the government of Pakistan that we stand by the people of Palestine and … we strongly condemn Israeli aggression against innocent Palestinians and also the [raiding] of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

West Asia

The war in Syria had the US and its allies hope that Syrian President Bashar al Assad would forfeit governance and with his removal would come to the installment of a regime much more lenient towards “Israel.”

Fortunately for Palestine, the Israelis and Americans failed in that endeavor, ISIS was defeated and the US occupation is heavily losing ground in Syria, which will inevitably end in its complete withdrawal, as it did in Afghanistan

In October, several Israeli media outlets said, “The idea of dismantling Syria is no longer realistic”, adding, “The long and stable rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which brought stability to Syria, is an ironclad fact.” The Israeli “Makor Rishon” website underlined, in an article, the Gulf Arab regimes’ current openness to Syria after acknowledging their failure to fray Syrian-Iranian ties.

The website highlighted the fact that Saudi Arabia is conducting a dialogue with Syria to normalize relations, while the Emiratis and Bahrainis are working with the Syrians for a variety of reasons, including a desire to “weaken Iranian power.”

Iraq

In Iraq, where the population suffered years of brutal war and occupation from US forces and interference, the Iraqi government remains steadfast in never acknowledging the occupation and decrying any attempts at normalizing with the enemy.

In September 2021 the Iraqi government expressed its firm rejection of the “illegal” meetings that were held by some tribal figures in the city of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region, which called for the normalization with “Israel,” that these meetings do not represent Iraqis, noting that they only represent themselves.

The statement stressed that proposing the concept of normalization is constitutionally, legally, and politically rejected in Iraq, as the government clearly expressed the country’s consistent historical position in supporting the Palestinian cause.

In the same context, several Iraqi political parties and figures denounced the meetings held and affirmed their support for the Palestinian cause, while calling on the Iraqi government to take the necessary measures. 

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Ahmed al-Sahhaf, reiterated Iraq’s firm support for the Palestinian cause and affirmed the necessity of the full implementation of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen, al-Sahhaf said that Iraq definitely rejects any form of normalization with “Israel”, explaining that “the Iraqi government handles this as a priority.” 

The axis of resistance supported by Iran is namely Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, wherein is the stronghold where armed resistance against “Israel” and its project thrives. “Israel” knows that the only way to dismantle this axis is with infiltration within its societies to accept “Israel.” If “Israel” becomes a friend, no foe exists any longer, and therefore the axis of resistance is defeated.

Conclusion:

A simple assessment of the ongoing crimes of “Israel” against the Palestinian people and the continued campaign of demolition of their homes and properties suggests that while some states are citing open dialogue with the occupation, the very act of normalization is a tool that “Israel” uses to embolden its crimes against the Palestinians. The more neighboring countries accept “Israeli sovereignty”, the more the Palestinian narrative and struggle are delegitimized.

However, the normalization of neighboring nations is a double-edged sword for “Israel.”

For years, it claimed that it was surrounded by “hostile” neighbors while it “defended itself”. Meanwhile, it committed transgressions on neighboring soil like the war of 2006 in Lebanon. “Israel’s” most common chant in our current era, and possibly always has been anti-Semitism

How will “Israel” maintain the defense of its brutal regime of apartheid in the future, when it is no longer the victim country surrounded by enemies.

In Abu Dhabi, the call for normalization was masked under the umbrella of progressiveness and “badly needed realism”   according to the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs.

On CNN, the UAE’s minister of state for internal cooperation said the UAE believes in “open conversation and ties,” citing the importance of “tolerance,” so religion is not used as an excuse. Ironically so, “Israel” is the only country in West Asia that hides behind its religious doctrine of Zionism to claim the authority to the Palestinian land and oppress its people.

“Israel” has continued to maintain its ridiculous notion that neighboring countries that have for years refused to acknowledge its existence or legitimacy were doing so out of anti-Semitism and innate hatred of its “Jewish roots.”

Let’s compare “Israel” to Ukraine for a moment. What similarities can we draw between the frenzy around Ukraine and the West’s calls for war and the same frenzied campaign that Benjamin Netanyahu led when he was PM of “Israel.” Just like Russia repeatedly denied Western allegations of an invasion in Ukraine, Iran has repeatedly denied nuclear weapon allegations. Netanyahu dominated the media during his time for warning the world that Iran was closer than ever at developing a nuclear weapon and that it must be stopped.  

Nonetheless, the stance of any nation to boycott “Israel”, regardless of neighboring Palestine or sharing a religion or culture, is not a religious or political stance. It is simply a humanitarian stance. The recognition that a nation and native people are being deprived of their human rights on the basis of another identity’s supposed to fear for survival.

Because on the humanitarian level, normalizing ties with a brutal aggressor and welcoming them with open arms, makes you a traitor to your neighbor, to your people, and your own morality.

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