The middle eastern crisis and Indonesian reactions to it.
Muhammadiyah advises against sending any jihadists to Palestine & Lebanon. The United Nations should be relied upon to resolve the problems, Muhammadiyah leader Din Syamsuddin said on 28th July. But, he said, those who did go to Lebanon could not be classed as suicide bombers, suicide bombing being sinful. In any case he doubted that any Indonesian had already gone there due to the difficulty and expense of doing so. Finally he advised the waging of jihad by more peaceful means such as the giving of aid, or by prayer.
All countries, Arab countries and the Muslim community must unite to fight Israel.
(Semua negara - negara Arab serta umat muslim di dunia harus bersatu untuk melawan Israel.)
But, he said that this fight should not extend to the sending of jihadists, pouring scorn on the idea with some humour.
Don't send a force. Before they even got there they'd catch a cold.
(Kalau dengan mengirim laskar-laskar ya jangan. Belum sampai ke tujuan mereka nanti sudah masuk angin dulu.)
The United States applied a double standard in respect of Israel, he said:
When it concerns Israel America doesn't say anything. Human rights are trampled on and the US just closes its eyes.
(Tapi kalau sudah menyangkut Israel, AS diam saja. HAM dilanggarnya, dan AS tutup mata.)
On the 31st the West Sumatra branch of the Majelis Mujahidin (MMI) opened registration for volunteers to go to the war zone. The volunteers would be given training before being sent to the Middle Eastern countries, an MMI spokesman said, and added that the police and military would be asked to provide such training.
Also in West Sumatra the local Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP) branch said it was ready to send volunteers to Lebanon and Palestine to deliver humanitarian aid and help maintain peace in the region. Chairman of the PPP and former vice president Hamzah Haz, said in Pangkalpinang:
If the government ask we are ready to send our men there and I feel that our party members are ready to do it.
(Kalau memang diminta pemerintah, kita siap mengirimkan relawan ke sana, dan saya rasa kader partai juga siap melakukan itu.)
The government in Jakarta does seem very willing to send some sort of Indonesian force to the area, though one not comprised of volunteers, but of the Indonesian military. Repeated offers have been made to the United Nations of a force of 600 soldiers, and as Marshal Djoko Suyanto says, the force has already been prepared:
Wev'e already formed the force, wer'e just waiting on the results of the Security Council meeting.
(Kami sudah membentuk satuannya, tinggal menunggu hasil sidang Dewan Keamanan PBB.)
Marshal Suyanto says he is still waiting on the call from the UN. He may be waiting for some time yet.
Various religious figures, including some from Christian organisations, numbering 22 in total, visited the United Nations building in Jakarta on 28th July to urge the UN to take action against Israel. Those who took part included Muhammadiyah leader Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the Persatuan Gereja-gereja di Indonesia, the Indonesian Protestant Churches Council, (PGI) Andreas Dewangoe, chairman of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), Amidhan, and Muslim spiritual guru Abdullah Gymnastiar alias Aa Gym, among others. Representatives of the UN however did not meet the group.
Andreas Yewangoe, of the PGI, said, according to Antara:
We condemn the Israeli aggression. Its actions are beyond humanity, they have to be stopped. We also call on religious communities in the world to pray for peace in the Middle East.
Aa Gym said Indonesia, as the biggest Muslim country in the world, had to push international organisations to act.
If Israel's attacks on civilians are not stopped then it will trigger vengeful acts around the world to the point where world peace will be threatened.
(Kalau tindakan Israel yang menyerang penduduk sipil itu tidak dihentikan maka akan memicu pembalasan dan dendam di seluruh dunia sehingga mengancam perdamaian dunia.)
It is not reported whether he thought attacks on civilians by Lebanese and Palestinian militias would also be likely to endanger world peace.
Also on the 28th the ambassador of Palestine, Fariz N. Mehdawi, attended the opening of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) conference and asked for the support of that organisation. He also harped on the theme of Indonesia as the biggest Muslim country in the world:
We really hope for support from Indonesia, from the NU as well as from society in general. The reason is, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world.
(Kami sangat berharap adanya dukungan dari Indonesia, baik dari Nahdlatul Ulama maupun dari masyarakat Indonesia pada umumnya. Sebab warga Indonesia merupakan umat muslim yang besar.)
The streets have also witnessed the concern of some Indonesian Muslims. In Surakarta on July 31st Israeli "brutalism" was condemned by about 3000 members of the PKS, who demanded that the Islamic world unite, the United Nations disband, and Zionist products be boycotted. It appears, according to the PKS supporters, that 36 products can be considered products of Zionism, or at least as having a close association with that ideology, these being IBM, Intel, Nestle, and Nokia, among many others. Detik reports however that many PKS cadres were seen to be using Nokia mobile phones, throwing the matter of a boycott into some confusion.
Batam too also saw PKS cadres spill onto the streets, accompanied by Hizbut Tahrir supporters, numbering about 300 people.
The government was roused to further protests by the disastrous Israeli attack on the town of Qana in Lebanon, in which many women and children were killed.
The government of Indonesia fiercely condemns this inhuman crime.
(Pemerintah Indonesia mengutuk keras aksi kejahatan ini, yang sangat tidak berperikemanusiaan.)
said a foreign office spokesman.
One of the most striking factors in Indonesian press reports of the conflict is the level of bias and partisanship. Detiknews.com in particular seems unable to mention the name of Israel without partnering the word with "brutal". Even the state news agency, Antara, is not immune. The latest report from Antara, as of time of writing, begins:
Following protests against Israeli inhuman missile attacks on Palestine and Lebanon, the organization of Malaysian and Indonesian Youths plan to hold a special meeting in Jakarta on August 2, 2006.
And again from the English service of Antara, the headline of another article reads "Who can bring Israeli agression in Lebanon to an end?". (On a lighter note, a sub-heading in the same article reads "What Arab League has done" which is followed by about five paragraphs of waffle instead of what would have been the more succinct, and correct, answer - "Nothing").
Any radicalising of Indonesian Muslims can be blamed just as much on the press reaction to events in the middle east as on the events themselves. Needless to say, repeated terrorist attacks by Hamas and Hizbullah, now and in the past, have not excited the interest of Indonesian media to anywhere near the same extent, nor have they provoked such creative use of emotion-stirring adjectives in reporting.