COMMENT | The first casualty of war is truth. When two sides begin to lock horns, they throw away all notions of truth. In the words of former US President George Bush after the attacks of Sept 11, 2001, “You are either with us, or, against us”. There was nothing grey or in between.
Such a strong and orthodox notion is fine in the fight against slavery, human trafficking, the exploitation of women and children, and indeed the proliferation of nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons.
One could even say the phrase is perfect for the War on Terror. Better to contain any Muslim allies and coalitions who may be sympathetic to the view of the Islamic radicals than to have the groups coexist with one another.
PAS and Umno, however, have used the absolutist logic in a twisted manner: If no one supports them, they are the enemies of Islam akin to the Zionists Jews.
At least this is the phrase that has been verbalised by Abdul Hadi Awang, the PAS president.
In other words, if you are not with Umno and PAS, the rest of Malaysians are not unlike the “Jews” whom for centuries had tried to topple the Muslim world. How can Malaysians, apart from Umno and PAS, are suddenly described in enemy terms?
There are three reasons, and each of them enough to stir up a hornet's rest.
Invoking the "J-word"
First and foremost, Umno and PAS are enemies of Malaysia cowering in their own monumental corruption.
Before all their trials on criminal breach of trust can destroy them first, they have chosen to split all Malaysians into two large groups: one forming the core of their supporters, to keep them alive, the other adjudged in adversarial terms to make them afraid.
By invoking the “J-word”, Umno and PAS are trying to unite the remnants of their own supporters, in order to divide others who are not of the same ilk with them.
Secondly, Umno and PAS, especially the latter, know deep down they cannot form a government anymore. By rendering members and supporters of Pakatan Harapan as "Jews”, they have resorted to the old logic of “kafir-mengkafir” — to label others as non-Muslims in order to make themselves more authentically “Islamic”.
But then how authentic can they be when their Islam is based on lumping Judaism - one of the three Abrahamic faiths described by Ismail Raji Al Faruqi - as a hostile force, making no distinction between Judaism and Zionism? The latter is the pernicious ideology that demands the conquest of other Palestinians and Arabs.
Third, the tendency to invoke the label of Jews as an “enemy” is strictly from the playbook of Pan-Arabism and anti-Semitic European nationalism.
PAS and Umno are doing what Czar Nicholas I of Russia, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Adolf Hitler once did. When their elitism, nationalism, and Fascism all failed in Russia and Europe, they resorted to lashing out against others.
In each of the events below, PAS and Umno have shown the zeal to “otherwise” others. This process of othering others is the beginning of a deeper campaign of discrimination against the whole of Malaysia. Malaysians must not fall for this!
RAIS HUSSIN is a supreme council member of Bersatu. He also heads its policy and strategy bureau.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.