Education minister Fadhlina Sidek has done something unthinkable, and that is to unite both Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional politicians against her ministry’s “Palestine Solidarity Week” involving schoolchildren.
The ministry said that the event would teach schoolchildren to be colour-blind when showing empathy. It would also educate them about humanitarian values, human rights and courtesy. Besides that, the children will be attentive to the sufferings of others irrespective of race, religion or social status.
Surely such noble values should begin at home, instead of describing a distant land 7,000 kilometres away?
Don’t we have our own unresolved problems to do with racism, religion and social standing? Occupation of land by developers or elites who forcibly encroach on ancestral tribal lands? We should clean up our own backyard first before we meddle in other peoples’ affairs.
Our people are struggling and unable to cope with this cost of living crisis. For most of them, the thought that RM100 million has been channelled to the Palestinians is difficult to comprehend, more so when it is not clear if the money will be requisitioned by Hamas for other activities.
How will Fadhlina tell the children that Hamas leaders live in the lap of luxury in Doha and not in the Gaza strip?
Moreover, why bring politics into our schools? Why radicalise our young, and why involve them in a foreign conflict?
Malaysia’s school curriculums have never given history much prominence and it is doubtful that the education ministry would have time to explain the vagaries associated with the Middle East conflict.
The Palestine-Israeli conflict is more than just a matter of land grab, oppression, aggression and illegal settlers.
How on earth will Fadhlina cope with all this and try to make young children understand? Or will she succeed only in nurturing more hate by involving our young in an unresolved, violent foreign conflict?
Moreover, does she or her aides know the difference between Israelis, Jews and Zionists?
How will Fadhlina or her teachers make young school children understand that not all Palestinians are Muslim, that Hamas does not represent all Palestinians, nor is the right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu supported by all Israelis. How will Fadhlina bring in the historical PLO or the Fatah party? How will she weave into the greater picture the roles played by Yasser Arafat or Yitzhak Rabin, both of whom must also be mentioned.
On top of that, Fadhlina and the teachers under her wing must try and incorporate the Balfour Declaration, the UN Partition Plan, the Oslo Accord, the two wars, the two Intifadas, the PLO, Fatah and how Hamas was formed from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Surely the minister and her aides can think of many preferable alternatives to teaching children about humanitarian values and the message of peace?
Why single out the Palestine-Israeli conflict to teach these values? If being Muslim is the defining factor, then shouldn’t Fadhlina bring up the Yemen-Saudi Arabia conflict? What about the fate of the Uyghurs or the Rohingyas? Or the animosity between Iran and Iraq and the deadly war that both countries once fought? There are many other skirmishes around the world, involving Muslims versus Muslims, or against Christian groups.
Both Fadhlina and her boss, the prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, are playing a dangerous game indoctrinating young minds. The Palestine Solidarity Week was an ill conceived plan that may have dire consequences for the nation.
The potential to nurture radical Islamists in our midst is real.
It is time for Fadhlina to start focusing on real reforms to do with education and not dabble in foreign affairs. Nor should she be used by her boss to push his Islamic agenda. At this rate, the threat of the Green Wave will be dwarfed by an internal unity government Green Tsunami.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.