Johan Bin Hassan, Malaysia

November 10, 2011

For the past few years I’ve been interested in Jews, Israel, Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a result of me being Muslim and my love for history. I’ve always been told that Jews were among the scourge of humanity. Naturally, for a time, I believed it especially since Malaysia has only a minority of Jews that number less than a thousand or so. However as thought on the issue I couldn’t accept what I’ve been told about how bad the Jews were. However When I came to know about Zionism and Israel and it’s actions, I came to detest Zionism and Israel especially since I’ve heard that many Jews especially Rabbis speaking out against Israel. Though I detest Israel I don’t necessarily detest it’s people. I give every Israeli the benefit of the doubt and I most certainly do not like prejudice. But I must ask you some questions.

Firstly, how do you view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Do you think it’s fair? I mean surely even if the entire Palestinian government were terrorists you’d (the Israeli government) want to help the civilians who are innocent bystanders. I’ve heard horror stories from many sources that vary from mainstream news to Jewish rabbis that Israel oppresses the Palestinians including from my country’s own media. Surely some of these are biased opinions but based on the evidence I find it nearly impossible to doubt everything. Pls comment.

Second of all, I’d like to enquire you’re view of the Palestinians and Muslims in general. Do you hate us? Is it true that Israel encourages hate, prejudice or even discrimination on us and other people of the book?

Third are personal questions of interest. How was China and India? Interesting? What kind of social science did you study in university? What’s your favourite thing about journalism? Anything interesting going on in you’re life?

Johan,

Firstly I must say that I like your attitude. You seem to be a curious, educated and rational guy. Also, you’re trying to see the human being behind the uniform, and that is what this site was founded for.

As for your first question: My dad used to tell me that the world is an unfair place, so I guess the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also unfair, just like any other conflict in the world. I wish people would be able to get along, but that’s just not the case.

Zionism was started at the end of the 19th century as a reaction to discrimination against Jews in Europe, which led them to look for a homeland. The Jews found this land in Palestine, a place which they were driven out from about 2000 years ago. The Zionists told themselves that this land was now empty, or at least that they could get along with the local population now inhabiting Palestine, which consisted mostly of Arabs. The plan worked for a while (the locals were eager to host rich Europeans with a lot of money), but just like any other European colony, the situation changes when the locals started developing a national identity. The difference is that unlike European colonies, the Jews had no place to return to, so they stayed. This led to a long war which started at around the 1920’s and still wages on. During this war, no one was a saint, and both sides slaughtered each other. As I said, the world is not fair.

As for your second questions: I don’t hate Muslims, Palestinians, or anyone else for that matter. If anything, I have great respect for them. But you can’t stay indifferent or neutral when Palestinians and Muslims wage war against you. You must pick a side in this conflict, and I picked my side. Obviously, my opinion is heavily constructed from what I hear on the Israeli news or what I studied in the Israeli public school system. I must stress out that Israel – as a state – does not  encourage hate, prejudice or discrimination, although it does tell the story in accordance with the narrative that serves it best. So just like you I try to be curious and learn about the situation and about the other side, in order to get a broader view of where I’m living.

As for your third question: I didn’t like China so much, and I love India with all my heart. I guess the reason for that is that I lived in China (and hated my job), and travelled in India. Also, in China I lived in Shanghai and in India I was mostly in the mountains. I guess mountain people are nicer then city people anywhere around the world. Lastly, India has a special “Shanty” feel to it, which I fell in love with. I visited India three times already, and I can’t wait to go back there. It’s like a second home for me.

My favorite thing about journalism is that you get to meet different people all the time, and get to talk to them about things which are most important to them. It is a great challenge to summarize a person or an idea into 2000 words. Also, you get to say your opinion and people actually read what you write. It’s great for the ego.

As for anything special going on in my life – I got married a few weeks ago. That’s pretty special, right?

How about you, what’s going on with you man?

Itay

Click here to read Ilana’s discussion with Johan

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