Friday, June 4, 2010


The behavioral similarities between Israel under the Likudniks and Malaysia under the Umnoputras are more than startling. In both cases, the problem seems to lie with an entrenched attitude of arrogance, conceit and compulsive denial concealing a pathological insecurity and deeply ingrained sense of victimhood. Here's what Swiss-born psychologist and philosopher Carlo Strenger has to say about the current Israeli government...

"Israel will have to decide: it cannot rebrand itself as a liberal, creative and progressive country without being one. Our business sector, our artists and academics are mostly progressive, liberal and creative. But their impact on how Israel is perceived will remain negligible as long as Israel’s politicians and emissaries keep harping on victimhood and survival and as long as its policies are repressive." ~ Carlo Strenger (Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University)

The most important positive result of the ‘Branding Israel’ project has been that during the last decades, a powerful new sub-brand of Israel has evolved: it is called Tel Aviv, it is associated with Israel’s culture, technology and joie de vivre: it is perceived as liberal in outlook, full of vitality, creativity and oriented toward the future. Hence, the study concludes, Israel must rebrand itself as creative, vital and progressive; an image that has positive resonance with the young global elites.

However, there is one major obstacle in the path to rebranding Israel. Our politicians don't seem to understand how the mechanism of rebranding works. They confuse the old concept of ‘hasbara’, which literally means ‘explanation’ with branding. Explaining and arguing has no impact whatsoever on how people experience a person or a brand. Our relationship to brands is like our relationship to human beings: it is primarily emotional.

If somebody explains to you that she is a nice person, but does so sternly and harshly, it is the tone of voice rather than the content of the message that determines the listener's emotional reaction. Moreover: if you explain that you are nice, and are then seen behaving violently, it is the behavior rather than the words that will determine the emotional reaction. We all know this: if an airline explains to you that it is friendly, but you are treated dismally by its employees, you will tell your friends that the airline is horrible, not that it is friendly. Ultimately perception of a brand hinges on actual behavior and organizational culture, not propaganda.

[Source:; kindly brought to my notice by Walter Smith]

Ehud Barak's "OneIsrael" is undoubtedly the big brother of Najib Razak's "1Malaysia"!

Also worth reading: Activists on the Ship 'Rachel Corrie' Challenge Israel's Unjust Gaza Blockade and Zionist Myths by Ira Chernus

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Israel Barbaric ~ But Is Malaysia Any Better?

So long as oppressive and antiquated laws like the Internal Security Act continue to remain in force, the Malaysian government lacks the moral standing to condemn human rights abuses perpetrated by others who stubbornly cling to the primitive and ugly tenet that Might Is Right.

No doubt the global community must come together and insist that Israel immediately abandon its hideous pogrom against the Palestinian people. For a start the Gaza Blockade must come down and relief brought swiftly to the long-suffering Gazans.

Those of us who have risked being tear-gassed, water-cannoned and summary arrest just for holding a lit candle in public places to protest the existence of the obnoxious ISA will surely be heartened by the inspiring efforts of the Abolish ISA Movement UK, which began picketing the Tourism Malaysia office in London last month.

I read an uplifting report in Malaysiakini about their first gathering in Trafalgar Square. The Malaysian participants expressed surprise and delight at how the London Metropolitan Police responded to their picket. Not only were the Bobbies extremely polite, they went out of their way to be helpful, offering to help with traffic flow and to protect the protesters from harassment.

This prompted me to email the organizers of the Abolish ISA Movement UK on 2 May 2010:

Read your piece in Malaysiakini about how helpful the London police were when you organized an anti-ISA picket in front of the Malaysian Tourism Office. It warms my heart to see Malaysians abroad who still feel passionately about the homeland - and how it is being misgoverned.

The Umno/BN regime appears to be a 19th century feudal mindset trapped in rapidly changing times. In the two years since the political tsunami of 8 March 2008, Umno/BN leaders have apparently learnt nothing - except that their survival is threatened, which is why there seems to be a return to despotism and the police state mentality created by Mahathir.

Nobody I know favors Najib Razak as the nation's top civil servant. Indeed, we would prefer to see him and his wife in political exile - or behind bars where they belong.
It would be great if all of you could demand voting rights - the only legitimate use of postal votes - and help us boot BN out at every election until they evaporate like a bad dream.

All the best to you always,



This was the reply I received almost immediately:

Dear Antares,

Thanks so much for your encouragement and feedback. You are right - the country is in a shambolic state and it is such a pity - because Malaysia has such potential and could be such a great place if only..... We're not really doing very much but we definitely feel the conviction to do SOMETHING and show solidarity to all the Malaysians back home who are sick and tired of the status quo and face persecution and prosecution when they stick their necks out. And I think we need to take every opportunity to remind the Malaysian government of their obligations to the people and embarrass them if need be!

Voting rights - great idea. We are actually working on that, a test of whether or not denying Malaysians overseas a vote is in fact unconstitutional (we think it probably is) - as at present only government officials and Malaysian students overseas can vote. And given the number of Malaysians abroad, you're right that obtaining a postal vote could make a real difference ( as long as its not hijacked by BN). Do keep me posted if you have any other ideas of what else we can do from an overseas campaigning point of view.

Warm regards

Abolish ISA Movement UK

On 31 May Malaysiakini carried the following report (reproduced in part):

Malaysians launch monthly anti-ISA watch in London

Despite the cold and the drizzle, the monthly anti-ISA watch held yesterday in Trafalgar Square by the UK chapter of the Abolish ISA Movement, received an impressive turnout.

Malaysians from all walks of life turned up at the venue, in front of the Malaysian Tourism Office, to show their solidarity to those detained under the ISA (Internal Security Act) as well as those back home who take considerable risks in campaigning tirelessly to end this oppressive law.

Present were a number of human rights activists, students, ex-ISA detainees, lawyers, journalists, bloggers, artists and concerned citizens.

Some were Malaysians who had lived in London for up to 30 years and others who were just passing through, having read about the monthly ISA-watch initiative on Malaysia's vibrant internet news portals.

There was a distinct buzz and energy in the air as the protest gained momentum on a busy corner of Trafalgar Square, where tens of thousands of people pass each day.

Over 150 passers-by stopped to take information leaflets on the ISA, most of them curious to find out why the tourism office was garnering so much attention.

Many were shocked to learn of the flip side to Malaysia's sunny tourist image and the murky depths below its advertised turquoise clear waters.

The protestors carried banners and placards reading 'Stop detention without trial!', 'Malaysia - Stop Human Rights Abuses!' and 'ISA - a violation of human rights and civil liberties.'

London police helpful

The protestors were stopped by the metropolitan police once - but only to enquire that if was running well and if they could provide the demonstrators any assistance.

Inspiring young artists and activists added colour to the demonstration by reciting ISA-inspired poetry and songs.

One of the organisers explained the catalyst for these London demonstrations saying, "Over the last few months, there has been a sense that the Malaysian government has been trying very hard to spruce up its image abroad.

"London seems to be at the centre of this glossy marketing campaign - with initiatives such as the government sponsored Malaysian Kitchen project, a maiden exhibition at the Chelsea Flower Shower, the promotion of Malaysia as a health tourism destination and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's recent appearance in a design and current affairs magazine, the Monocle.

"Alongside this is Malaysia's re-election to the UN Human Rights Council a few weeks ago.

"Whilst this public relations re-branding exercise is not in itself a bad thing, we feel it's important for the Malaysian government to accept that if they want to play on an international platform, they need to abide by international human rights norms and standards.

"Denying people their liberty indefinitely without charge or trial and using this archaic law as a way of silencing human rights activists, journalists, bloggers, opposition politicians and the man on the street, is not acceptable."

[Read a fuller report at Malaysia Today.]

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Israel's violent and deadly commando attack on the Freedom Flotilla must be vigorously condemned by the global community. What Israel has been doing to the indigenous Palestinians since 1948 (and even before) is certainly reprehensible and utterly unbefitting of any nation that considers itself civilized.

Just because Israel is funded by the Rothschild-Rockefeller banking cartel, which controls most of the Western economies and almost all Western media, it believes its ruthless military operations to be kosher. Well, no violence can ever be completely kosher, even if genuinely in self-defence - not unless no other recourse is possible.

Most decent folks around the world are understandably outraged that Israel has used unnecessary and disproportionate force against unarmed pro-Palestinian activists and other humanitarian organizations intent on easing the great suffering of the Palestinians under Israel's fascist domination.

However, I am aware that what Israel has come to represent to the world does not reflect what a vast majority of Israeli citizens actually feel. Just as a large number of Americans are vehemently against their government's militaristic and opportunistic foreign policy, especially in the cases of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, many Israelis would much rather see genuine reconciliation and peace prevail in the Mid-East crisis, which has gone on far too long.

There are hundreds of Israeli airforce pilots now serving a jail sentence for refusing to participate in a war against unarmed civilians. They are derisively labeled "refuseniks" and the rightwing Israeli government has declared a news embargo on them. A large number of Israelis have long been engaged in efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the deep-rooted conflict between Arabs and Jews that reaches all the way back to the time of Abraham and Sara.

Like many Malaysians who do not agree with their own government's policies and actions, peace-loving Israelis are rarely given a voice in the mass media. So it's easy for those in the Muslim world to hate Israel and all Israelis - without differentiating between the people and the government that chooses to use bullying tactics to get its own way.

One can argue that people get the government they deserve. Did the American people deserve two warlike Bushes as their president? Certainly not - but then did they really have a choice? Elections are only too easily rigged, voter opinion manipulated by the mass media, and democracy hijacked by sophisticated thugs with deep pockets. We have seen only too clearly what the Barisan Najis propaganda machine can do, apart from gerrymandering and shameless vote-buying.

In Malaysia, the government has done a lot of stupid, unenlightened things - without the public's knowledge. And when the public finds out, their protests are often suppressed by force - tear gas, water cannons, mass arrests, and fear of detention without trial.

In other words, Israel's arrogance and ruthlessness merely reflects the obnoxious egocentricity that comes with having enough money to buy more earthly power than one knows how to exercise wisely.

It is this abuse and misuse of power that we must condemn and outlaw on this planet - not the Americans or the Jews or the Malays or the Chinese or the Japanese or whoever temporarily takes on the role of the Neighborhood Bully.

Let us constantly remind ourselves: when we are strong it is our moral duty to help the weak, not exploit or oppress them. Compassion, forgiveness, and magnanimity are the true measure of mature power.

Those who use violence to force their will on others are not truly strong, nor are they anywhere close to maturity. In fact, they are evolutionary throwbacks and are foolishly choosing the path of inevitable extinction.

I left the following comment after reading a Malaysian Insider report on the Israeli pre-dawn strike but it wasn't published:

Behind these acts of violent provocation, whether carried out by Mossad or the CIA or MI6, I see the pudgy hands of arms manufacturers who cannot accept the possibility of "peace on earth, goodwill towards all." Perpetual war is good for business, and so - like the oil companies that suppress all forms of free, renewable energy - the weapons industry must send its agents out to fan the flames of hatred around the globe, to thwart all sincere efforts at reconciliation and conflict resolution through frank discussion and mutual understanding. As always, the worshipers of Mammon are after more and more and more profits - regardless of the evil consequences to humans in particular and the ecosystem in general.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Jack Burkman for Umno President!

Jack Burkman comes across as an absolute jackass. His mind distorts reality to suit the Neocon Agenda and he appears totally convinced that he's right - and the other panelists are wrong.

His abysmal ignorance is surpassed only by his sheer arrogance. In short, Jack Burkman sounds exactly an Umno warlord - albeit a lot more telegenic than twits like Hisapmuddin Hussein, Raip Yatim, Duhyiddin Massin, Ali Rustup, Najis Tong Rosak and Mahatahi Megalomad.

I think Jack Burkman is the right man to save Umno from oblivion. I'm sure, for the right price, he will agree to change his name to Johan "Jerk" Burkaman, embrace Islam and Ketuanan Melayu - and help Umno destroy Anwar Ibrahim and his pipe dream of a New Dawn in Malaysia.

[Brought to my incredulous attention by Robin Tan]