Interpreting the Thoughts of Syafii Ma'arif, Gilad Atzmon and Israel-Palestine Issue

Former Chairman of Muhammadiyah, Prof. Dr. Ahmad Syafii Ma'arif, M.A., assessed that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is not simply a matter of two different ethnic groups or nations, nor just a question of Arabs or Muslims. The issue according to Syafi’i is a humanitarian issue that demands everyone's responsibility.

"It is not just about the Palestinians, Arabs, or Muslims, but also Jews/al-yahuud," Syafii Ma'arif said in the Great Thinkers "Israel, Palestine, Islam and Peace" Discussion of Gilad Atzmon’s Thought, at Graduate School of Universitas Gadjah Mada on Tuesday (28/2). The discussion explored a book written by Syafii Ma'arif entitled Gilad Atzmon: Critical Notes on Palestine and the Future of Zionism.

Syafii Ma'arif also deplored the attitude of Arab countries in letting the conflict drag on. Indeed, Syafii added, there is the impression of letting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to remain so that they can take advantage of the conflict such as the increase in world oil price. He agreed that the conflict is also caused by the emergence of migrant communities outside of Israel and the Palestinians.

"It is not merely on Israel and Palestine, but also the presence of immigrant communities that makes the conflict continuing," he said.
On that occasion Syafii also argued that not much can be done by Indonesia with predominant Muslim population to help resolve the conflict for both sides. Nevertheless, Syafii continued to support various efforts made by certain people in Indonesia, such as providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.

"As long as we are still struggling with domestic never-ending issues such as corruption, we cannot do much for the Middle East issue. But let’s keep providing humanitarian aid, etc.," Syafii explained.

Agreeing with Syafii in his book, Dr. Ibnu Burdah, M.A, an observer of the Middle East and Islamic world from UIN Sunan Kalijaga, said that Jews were not necessarily the people of Israel, and Israel is not necessarily Zionists. There are many records which show that the Zionist movement until about two decades after it was initiated in Basel still has few followers and there is no indication that the movement would achieve its goal of establishing the state of Israel in Palestine.

"In fact, the movement faces resistance from most of the beliefs in Judaism because it is viewed as a heretical movement (deviation of religion) and creates a new idol," Ibnu said.

Therefore, it is not strange if now many groups of Israelis do not accept, even condemn Israel, and they remain to stay in Israel such as the Neturei Karta, Satmar Hasidism, Edah Haredit, etc.. Therefore, Ibnu said, the real Zionists are a minority in Israel. However, because they are in power, Zionism becomes the state ideology, the ideology continues to be "forced" to its people through a variety of instruments, including yeshivots (a kind of religious school) in Israel.

Meanwhile, Dr. Siti Mutiah Setyawati, M.A., a lecturer of Department of International Affairs UGM assesed the book written by Syafii Ma'arif is a support to the Palestinian struggle as well as condemnation of Zionism by supporting Gilad Atzmon’s idea. The book is also full of information about Jews who agree with Gilad Atzmon that Zionism is misleading with cruel understanding, but it is supported by the United States.

Gilad Atzmon is a true Jewish leader who is also a world-class jazz musician with British citizenship. He was born in Tel Aviv on June 9, 1963. He fearlessly questioned the ideology of Zionism and voiced the independence of a Palestinian state. In fact, in contrast to the mainstream public opinion of the world who wants a two-state solution: Israel and Palestine, Gilad is adamant in his stance that there is only one country that can stay in the land of Palestine, the Palestine.  Israel with its Zionism has to leave from there.