Why Indonesia Showing Solidarity for the Palestinian Cause, Though Understandable, Is a Huge Mistake

Originally published: 2017-12-21 17:28:02

Editors note: we are providing this pro-Palestinian post from the Asian Times so everyone can gain knowledge of where they are coming from and thinking, right or wrong. An editorial by me is at the end of this post.

Protests and rallies in Jakarta underline the anger over President Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem

By ERIN COOK, Asian Times

The decision by the United States to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has inflamed tensions between the Islamic world and the West.

In Indonesia, thousands have taken to the streets to demand a reversal of the decision and the acknowledgement of Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.

When news of President Donald Trump’s so-called Muslim ban and other inflammatory comments were made public, they barely created a ripple.

But this move had an immediate impact on the reputation of the US, as well as Trump’s.

And Indonesia’s leadership does not appear interested in salvaging it anytime soon.

For the world’s largest Muslim majority country, a geographical distance from the Middle East is secondary to an enduring belief that the Islamic world must support its own populations.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo. (photo credit: REUTERS)

As a result, Palestinian independence has been a long-running foreign policy priority for the county and has been elevated under the leadership of President Joko Widodo.

In 2015, he hosted the Asia-Africa Conference, bringing together leaders from across the two continents in one of his first major world stage appearances.

It was here he demonstrated his personal passion for the Palestinian cause by leading a special declaration in support of independence.

He also played host to a meeting on the sidelines with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation member states on the issue.

Indonesia and Israel do not have formal diplomatic ties, although the country opened a consulate in Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem, in 2016.

This was widely seen as a possible minor upgrade in relations.

But following civil society calls to boycott Israeli-made products in Indonesia, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi was denied permission to pass through Israeli airspace, forcing her to inaugurate the mission from Jordan.

The move came a week after Jakarta hosted an OIC summit focusing on the conflict.

“Indonesia’s support for the fight of the Palestinian people will never cease and we move forward one step today with the inauguration of Indonesia’s honorary consulate in Ramallah,” she said at the time as reported by Indonesia’s State Secretariat.

Israel’s regional trade mission is run out of Singapore but big business enjoys lucrative, if not quiet, ties in Indonesia.

Israeli technology firms, particularly in the agriculture sector, have been welcomed to the country, the Foreign Trade Conference in Tel Aviv was told last year.

But neither parties are looking to highlight the relationship, with a BBC World Service poll in 2014 finding three quarters of Indonesians view Israel in a poor light.

The response from the Indonesian administration amid this latest development was swift, particularly notable for Widodo, who typically appears mild-mannered.

Speaking from the Bogor Presidential Palace just outside Jakarta on the day after the Dec 6 announcement in the US, the president slammed the move as a “threat to stability.”

He said he would explore other avenues in which to pressure the Trump administration to reverse its decision, including approaching the United Nations’ General Assembly, local media reported.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, meanwhile, used her appearance at the Bali Democracy Forum that weekend in Jakarta to highlight the country’s stance.

She faced media wrapped in a keffiyeh-like scarf adorned with Palestinian flags as an unambiguous marker of Indonesian support.

“I stand here wearing the Palestinian scarf to show the strong commitment of Indonesia, of the people of Indonesia, to always be with the Palestinian people, for their rights,” she told local media. “Indonesia will always stand with Palestine.”

After attending an emergency summit of the OIC in Istanbul last week, Widodo returned to Jakarta and stepped up his rhetoric.

He called on the rest of the world to rethink ties with Israel and to recognise Palestinian autonomy.

He also encouraged all Muslims across the world to lobby their own governments in support of Palestine.

Back in Jakarta, near daily demonstrations at the US Embassy in Central Jakarta brought much of the city to a standstill before culminating in a massive rally attended by more than 80,000 on Sunday around the National Monument or Monas.

The demonstration marked 11 days since the announcement, and was held concurrently with other rallies in Malaysia and across the Muslim world.

The diverse crowd included thousands of young families and children decked out in Palestinian flags, and other paraphernalia.

Alongside them was a darker element recently seen at demonstrations against former Jakarta Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama.

They held up banners calling for the establishment of a caliphate and the outlaw of the Shia branch of Islam in Indonesia.

Speaking on the sidelines of the The Future of Palestine event in the capital on Friday, former deputy foreign minister and former ambassador to the United States, Dino Patti Djalal, said Indonesians largely feel a sense of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“It is part of our folklore,” he said, “and for the Islamic community, every time at prayers the Palestine issue is always mentioned and there’s a feeling of solidarity.”

While the nuances of Middle Eastern geopolitics may not be understood by the average Indonesian, a long history of its own independence fight and mythologising has brought the plight of the Palestinians home.

“(Supporters) don’t really understand the whole picture in terms of the dynamics, but they know the Palestinians are oppressed and suffering,” Djalal said. “There’s a sense of emotional and political solidarity.”

At the event, the Jordanian Ambassador to Indonesia, Walid Al Hadid, reflected on the importance of Indonesian leadership in the global campaign for Palestinian sovereignty.

Indonesian leaders had taken up the fight as staunchly as those in the Gulf states, he said, particularly Marsudi.

She had contacted US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson three times by phone and the US Ambassador to Indonesia, Joseph Donovan Jr, twice in an effort to have the decision Jerusalem decision reversed.

Al Hadid also praised Widodo’s initial press release and said:

“Palestine is not a foreign policy issue. It is a domestic issue for Indonesians, Jordanians and Palestinians. Everybody has a stake.”


Brief History of Indonesia

A brief and high-level over view of the history of Indonesia might be in order for those unfamiliar…

The earliest inhabitants of what is now Indonesia, was then called the East Indies, were Hindu and Buddhist (130-1500) followed by Christianity (1500-1904) with Islam infiltrating the area (as they do any area today) in the interim (1200-1911).

During the Christianity occupation, European colonization by the Portuguese (1512–1850), the Dutch (1602–1800), some arrivals of the French and British (1806–1815), with the Dutch maintaining control overall until their independence (1800–1950).

The emergence of what is now Indonesia started under the people realizing themselves as a nation (1908–1942), which was interrupted by the WWII occupation by the Japanese (1942–1945), finally evolving into a National Revolution at the end of WWII (1945–1949).

Their independence in 1949 resulted in several constitutions up to today – United States of Indonesia (a federal state) 1949–1950 followed by the era of Liberal Democracy (Indonesian: Demokrasi Liberal 1950–1957), Guided Democracy (1957–1965), transition from Democracy to New Order (1965–1966), New Order (1966–1998), then Reformasi (English: Reform; 1998–present).

Reformasi replaced New Order with a more open and liberal political-social environment (New Order had rooted in corruption, collusion, and nepotism).

Issues since this form of government have included a push for a stronger democracy and civilian rule over the past, elements of the military trying to retain their influence, a growing presence of Islam in politics and society, and demands for greater regional autonomy.

The process of Reformasi in Indonesia has resulted in a greater degree of freedom of speech, in contrast to the pervasive censorship under the New Order.

This has led to a more open political debate in the news media and increased expression in the arts.

Events that have shaped Indonesia in this period include a bombing campaign by Islamic terrorists (including the 2002 Bali bombings), and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

How the Palestine/Indonesia Relationship Began

The relationship with Palestine started during Indonesia’s National Revolution (1945-1949), Palestine had formed a prominent relationship with Indonesia and through the Palestinian Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini, resulting in Palestine as the first ‘country’ that officially recognized the Independence of Indonesia.

Problem was, in reality, Palestine was a territory administered as a class A mandate by the British, which means Palestine did not conduct any independent foreign policy (and had no independent armed forces).

However, Indonesia was hungry and thirsty for recognition and took the first thing that came along that fit their culture (military, Muslim, communism). Indonesia was very hostile towards relations with Israel from the very beginning – Indonesian Presidents Sukarno strongly supported the Arab States’ aggression and struggle against Israel.

Even after the fall of Sukarno and the rise to power of General Suharto, Indonesia strongly supported the cause of the Palestinians.

The Leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat had visited Indonesia in 1984 and in 1993.

With the fall of New Order, Abdurrahman Wahid attempted to improve relations with Israel but he was removed from office in August 2001 and no effort was maintained to improve the relations between Indonesia and Israel.

So why is all this important?

Roots — the foundation of both are in question, Palestine’s specifically, Indonesia’s for embracing the first compatible endorsement which has very little in common with them besides religion.

Indonesia is not fully practicing Muslims – yet.

That will happen if they remain on the path they are presently keeping.

Sharia Law will surface in pockets until it takes over the country — then there is no religion, no government.

There is a theocracy – where the religion is the government, and only a handful at most of the leaders determine what the entire country can and cannot do, or face consequences from dismemberment to acid burning to death.

Questions That Provide Evidence of a True Sovereignty

As for the Palestinians, in our post, Questions to Ask About Palestine (or Any Country) Feigning Sovereignty, we have several poignant questions that should be easily answered by any sovereignty that has established themselves in full.

They are…

  • When was Palestine founded and by whom?
  • What were its borders?
  • What was the capital Palestine?
  • What were Palestine’s major cities?
  • What constituted the basis of Palestinian economy?
  • What was the Palestinian form of government?
  • Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat?
  • Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?
  • What was the language of the country of Palestine ?
  • What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine ?
  • What was the name of the Palestinian currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date.
  • Since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?
  • If Palestinians are anything but generic Arabs collected from all over — or thrown out of — the Arab world, if they really have a genuine ethnic identity that gives them right for self-determination, why did they never try to become independent until Arabs suffered their devastating defeat in the Six Day War?

So, based upon these questions, what is Indonesia basing its relationship with Palestine upon – that they are equals as Muslims?

It that is the only thing in common, then the final question is this…

  • As Muslims kill 8 of their own for every one infidel, why would any one country want to be recognized by a force that will kill itself off before it kills off its enemies?

Observation of the History of the Land Called Israel

Finally, an observation about the land called Israel and the history of the people that have and have attempted to occupy it…

Not the nation – the land…

Israel exists for a reason — Jews are the ONLY people that can thrive on the land called Israel.

For more than 4,000 years, every country that God has permitted to overcome Israel never thrived in Israel, the land just would not produce crops for sustenance, whether plant or animals.

Yet, whenever the Jewish people take over the land, the land thrives, crops return in abundance, animals live and multiply, communities return in abundance and turn into cities, which in turn form a nation. ONLY the Jewish people have been able to do this in the land known as Israel — any other people have seen the land dry up on them, forcing them to move along, usually back to their homeland or to a country friendly to them.

As long as the Jewish people were in Israel, the land would provide.

When the Jewish people were removed from the land, so did the ability to produce crop and produce stock leave the land.

So tell me again the wisdom in holding  a hatred for Israel… then counter the questions and observation with some sense of wisdom and discernment for us.

If you can.

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