Lawan Pencinta Israel

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Baru-baru ini kita dikejutkan dengan kehadiran seorang diplomat dari Israel ke sebuah persidangan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu di Kuala Lumpur.  Pihak pembangkang dengan segera telah menghentam kerajaan kerana telah membenarkan perkara tersebut berlaku seraya mengatakan bahawa kerajaan bersikap hipokrit dalam memperjuangkan hak-hak Palestin tetapi pada masa yang sama telah menjemput seorang warga Israel untuk datang ke Malaysia.

Lantas Kementerian Luar Negeri telah mengeluarkan sebuah kenyataan untuk menerangkan perkara tersebut.  Di dalam kenyataan tersebut, Wisma Putra menerangkan bahawa segala jemputan ke persidangan tersebut telah dilakukan oleh pihak Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu melalui Artikel III kepada Perjanjian Negara Tuanrumah yang telah dibuat di antara kerajaan Malaysia dengan pertubuhan tersebut.

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Kenyataan ini juga menerangkan bahawa sebagai negara tuan rumah, Malaysia terpaksa menerima kehadiran delegasi dari Israel walaupun berkeras tidak mahu.  Malangnya, sebagai memenuhi kehendak diplomasi pelbagai hala,   Ianya tidak bermakna Malaysia telah mengubah pendiriannya terhadap Israel dan Palestin.

PKR PERLUKAN PENGARAH KOMUNIKASI YANG BARU

Saudara Fahmi Fadzil, Pengarah Komunikasi PKR telah membidas kenyataan Wisma Putra.  Di dalam laman Facebooknya, Fahmi telah mempersoalkan kuasa Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia untuk menafikan mana-mana individu yang tidak dikehendaki untuk masuk ke negara ini.

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Saya berasa amat kecewa kerana sebagai seorang yang memegang jawatan penting, Fahmi tidak memahami undang-undang.  David Yitzhak Roet, diplomat Israel yang telah ke mari, adalah merupakan seorang diplomat dari negara Israel yang memegang passport diplomat yang bermakna beliau adalah merupakan seorang diplomat bagi negaranya.

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Ini bermakna, David Roet tidak boleh dikategorikan sebagai “pendatang yang tidak diingini” (undesirable immigrant) mengikut Seksyen 8(k) Akta Imigresen, 1959/1963.  Mari kita undur beberapa tapak untuk memahami keadaan sebenar sebelum mempercayai segala kebebalan yang ditulis oleh Fahmi tadi, atau kenapa Malaysia tidak membantah, dan juga kepada persoalan mengapa Malaysia tidak batalkan sahaja persidangan tersebut.

Pertama sekali, persidangan ini dalah sebuah persidangan yang dianjurkan oleh pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu.  Perjanjian Negara Tuanrumah di antara pertubuhan tersebut dengan Malaysia telah ditandatangani pada bulan Mac 2017.

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Setelah perjanjian tersebut dibuat, penganjur (UN Habitat) membuat lain-lain persiapan berhubung keperluan persidangan tersebut.  Hanya pada bulan Jun 2017, UN Habitat telah menghantar surat-surat jemputan kepada Menteri Luar Negeri setiap negara ahli pertubuhan tersebut termasuk Malaysia dan Israel.

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PBB ada mempunyai satu format Perjanjian Negara Tuanrumah yang seragam untuk digunakan oleh agensi-agensi di bawahnya, termasuk UN Habitat.  Cuma susunan Artikel adalah terpulang kepada agensi-agensi tersebut, di antaranya menyebut:

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Konvensyen Mengenai Keistimewaan dan Kekebalan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu yang diterima pakai oleh Perhimpunan Agung pada 13 Februari 1946, yang mana negara tuan rumah adalah satu pihak, hendaklah terpakai bagi Persidangan tersebut.  Terutamanya, wakil negara-negara akan menikmati keistimewaan dan kekebalan yang diberikan di bawah Artikel IV Koenvensyen tersebut.”

Dokumen di atas menerangkan dengan jelas bahawa wakil-wakil setiap negara yang menghadiri persidangan yang telah dijalankan di Kuala Lumpur, hendaklah diberikan keistimewaan dan kekebalan yang telah kita persetujui sebagai salah sebuah negara ahli PBB yang telah mengiktiraf Konvensyen tersebut.

Ianya tidak berakhir di situ:

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Semua orang yang disebut di dalam artikel II (artikel III dalam perjanjian dengan Malaysia) hendaklah mempunyai hak untuk masuk dan keluar dari negara tuan rumah, dan tiada halangan dikenakan terhadap perjalanan mereka ke dan dari kawasan persidangan.”

Semua di atas adalah berkenaan dengan Konvensyen Vienna Mengenai Hubungan Diplomatik, 1961, yang dipersetujui oleh Malaysia, dan juga Akta Hubungan Konsular (Konvensyen Vienna), 1999.  David Roet adalah diplomat yang dihantar oleh negaranya.  Maka, Malaysia tidak banyak pilihan kerana telah menandatangani perjanjian tuan rumah, serta perlu menghormati konvensyen Vienna.

Kalau itu sahaja yang boleh diketengahkan sebagai hujah-hujah, maka saya rasa amat elok sekali sekiranya parti tersebut menukar Pengarah Komunikasi mereka memandang Fahmi Fadzil begitu dangkal daya pemikirannya.

TIDAKKAH KERAJAAN MEMBANTAH JEMPUTAN YANG DIBUAT KEPADA ISRAEL OLEH PBB?

Ramai penyokong pembangkang serta mereka yang termakan hasutan pembangkang dalam isu ini bertanyakan tidakkah kerajaan membuat bantahan terhadap jemputan kepada Israel oleh PBB?

Saya petik laporan sebuah akhbar Israel, The Jerusalem Post, yang menyebut:

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Malaysia yang ternyata anti-Israel membenarkan penyertaan Israel dengan penuh marah hanya setelah Israel mengenakan tekanan diplomatik yang hebat sehingga ke pejabat Setiausaha Agung PBB, Antonio Gutteres.

Ini adalah kerana dengan menaja sebuah acara yang berkaitan dengan PBB, Malaysia menjadi suatu kewajiban bagi Malaysia terhadap PBB untuk membenarkan penyertaan dari semua negara.”

Jelas Malaysia telah berkeras untuk tidak membenarkan penyertaan Israel tetapi terpaksa akur dengan perjanjian yang telah dipersetujui.

Walau bagaimanapun, ianya berbeza bagi rakyat biasa Israel. Pada tahun 2015, Malaysia telah tidak membenarkan dua orang peluncur layar dari Israel untuk menyertai Kejohanan Pelayaran Belia Sedunia.  Keputusan kerajaan ini telah dibantah bukan sahaja oleh Persatuan Layar Israel, malah oleh badan pelayaran dunia.

Pada tahun 2016, Malaysia telah enggan mengeluarkan visa bagi pasukan ping pong Israel untuk menyertai Kejohanan Ping Pong Sedunia yang telah diadakan di sini.

JADI, SIAPA YANG MENYOKONG ISRAEL?

Pada 25 Mac 1997, seramai 2,000 orang penunjuk perasaan telah berarak ke Jabatan Perdana Menteri untuk menyerahkan satu memorandum kepada Perdana Menteri ketika itu membantah keputusan kerajaan Malaysia untuk membenarkan pasukan kriket Israel untuk menyertai Kejohanan Kriket Sedunia yang dilangsungkan di Kuala Lumpur.  Pada 30 Mac tahun yang sama, seramai 2,500 orang penunjuk perasaan telah menyerbu padang kriket di mana pasukan Israel dijadualkan bermain serta membakar papan-papan tanda iklan berkenaan kejohanan tersebut.

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Anwar Ibrahim yang kononnya memperjuangkan Islam ketika itu, dalam sokongan terhadap bosnya berkata, sukan dan politik tidak sepatutnya dicampur-adukkan.

Pada tahun 1993, Mahathir yang ketika itu merupakan Perdana Menteri telah menulis sepucuk surat kepada Perdana Menteri Israel, Yitzhak Rabin mengenai Perjanjian Oslo I.

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Mahathir’s letter to Yitzhak Rabin in December 1993

Ianya mungkin sukar dibaca.  Jadi saya sediakan terjemahan kepada transkrip surat tersebut seperti berikut:

Yang Berhormat

Encik Yitzhak Rabin

Perdana Menteri Israel

JERUSALEM

Saya ingin mengucapkan terima kasih di atas surat anda pada 17 Oktober yang memaklumkan kepada saya tentang Perjanjian Prinsip dan Pengiktirafan Bersama di antara Israel dan PLO.

Kerajaan saya menyokong perkembangan positif ini dan memandangnya sebagai langkah pertama ke arah merealisasikan penyelesaian menyeluruh kepada masalah Timur Tengah. Sebagai demonstrasi sokongan Malaysia terhadap pembangunan ini negara saya telah diwakili pada Persidangan Penderma untuk menyokong Perdamaian Timur Tengah yang diadakan di Washington dan seterusnya memberikan sumbangan kewangan yang sederhana kepada rakyat Palestin untuk membantu tugas baru mereka. Kerajaan saya juga telah menawarkan bantuan teknikal untuk Palestin di bawah Program Kerjasama Teknikal Malaysia.

Sebagai perkara prinsip umum Malaysia bersedia untuk membangunkan hubungan dengan Israel pada masa yang sesuai. Dalam pada itu, kami ingin melihat kemajuan yang ketara dalam pelaksanaan perjanjian damai.

Masalah di Timur Tengah terutamanya isu Palestin telah menjadi punca ketidakstabilan di rantau tersebut dan saya berharap perjanjian yang dibuat baru-baru ini di antara Israel dan PLO akan menyumbang kepada keamanan yang kekal di kawasan itu.

Saya menanti hubungan normal dengan Israel

DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD

Sepertimana yang terkandung di dalam dua bahagian surat tersebut, Mahathir menyatakan hasrat untuk mengadakan hubungan yang normal dengan Israel.  Pada tahun 2014, Presiden Obama telah mengadakan hubungan normal dengan Cuba.  Ini berakhir dengan penyambungan perhubungan diplomatik di antara kedua-dua buah negara tersebut.  Mahathir telah menyatakan hasrat untuk memulakan hubungan diplomatik dengan Israel.  Bahagian akhir yang digaris di bawah itu telah ditulis sendiri oleh Mahathir dengan menggunakan sebatang pen.

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Berlanjutan dengan perkara tersebut, Chua Jui Meng dari PKR yang pada ketika itu merupakan Timbalan Menteri Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri berkata Israel boleh menjadi destinasi pelaburan Malaysia (Shanti Nair, Routledge, 1997 p.252).

Hasilnya, pada tahun 1999, eksport Israel ke Malaysia berjumlah USD107 juta. Pada tahun 2000, ia adalah USD732 juta, dan USD615.5 juta pada tahun berikutnya. Pada tahun 2002, laporan Kementerian Perdagangan Israel mengenai hubungan perdagangan dengan Indonesia dan Malaysia menasihatkan warga Israel yang berminat untuk menjalankan perniagaan dengan syarikat Malaysia bahawa “tiada sebarang bangkangan untuk mengadakan perhubungan perdagangan selagi ianya dibuat secara senyap-senyap“.

Mukhriz Mahathir yang merupakan Timbalan Menteri Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri pada tahun 2011 akui perhubungan perdagangan di antara Malaysia dan Israel wujud dan telah bermula pada tahun 1996 ketika bapanya menjadi Perdana Menteri.

Di akaun Twitternya pula, Mukhriz juga menyatakan bahawa “Di atas permintaan daripada pelabur asing yang besar di sini pada tahun 1996, Kabinet mengarahkan MITI untuk meluluskan import dan eksport ke Israel.

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Kabinet tahun 1996 yang dimaksudkan adalah kabinet yang dipimpin bapanya, Mahathir Mohamad.  Tulis Mukhriz lagi pada tahun 2011:

Apabila kita meluluskan pelaburan langsung asing, bukanlah untuk kita mengenakan syarat bahawa mereka tidak boleh berdagang dengan Israel. Sesetengah pelaburan ini berjumlah berbilion Dollar di negeri-negeri di bawah Pembangkang.”

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Ini bermakna negeri-negeri di bawah pentadbiran pihak pembangkang pada tahun 2011 telah menerima pelaburan langsung asing dari Israel.  Pada tahun tersebut hanya tiga buah negeri yang berada di bawah pembangkang, iaitu Kelantan, Pulau Pinang dan Selangor.  Dan saya tak fikir Kelantan terlibat dengan dana dari Israel.

Jadi, siapakah sebenarnya pencinta Israel yang wajib kita sanggah?

The Israeli In KL

When Israeli diplomat David Roet attended a United Nations conference in Kuala Lumpur recently, the Opposition went into full swing trying to discredit the government saying that it wants to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

In a statement, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) explicitly states that the invitations to the Israeli delegates was issued by the UN as per Article III of the Host Country Agreement signed by the organisation and Malaysia so that the UN is able to conduct its conferences away from any of its established headquarters.

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The Article states, in part, that the Forum shall be opened to all UN member states and its Specialised Agencies. This was confirmed by Israel’s Hadashot TV which reported that Malaysia was compelled to host the Israelis, since it was required to grant visas to all delegations in order to hold the international conference.  Therefore, it is immaterial whether or not Malaysia has diplomatic relations with Israel.  It is for the same reason that Fidel Castro was able to attend the UN summit in New York in 1976, 1995 and 2000.

Malaysia-Israeli Relations

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If you walk along Jalan Zainal Abidin in Pulau Pinang which is just off Burmah Road near the Tune Hotel, you will come across an old cemetery.  That is a Jewish Cemetery.  Jalan Zainal Abidin was once called Jalan Yahudi or Jew Street, the only evidence that a Jewish enclave once existed on the island.

Israel first established contact with our pre-independence government in 1956 when Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett visited Malaya to propose the appointment of an Israeli consul in Malaya.  Israel also voted in favour of the Malayan bid to become a UN member in 1957.  Trade between the two countries was in place.  This was banned in 1974, after the Yom Kippur war, but indirect trade (through third countries) was in place.

An Opposition supporter was quick to point out that according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, between 2008 and 2011 trade between the two countries fluctuated considerably.  Israel’s exports to Malaysia peaked at USD798 million in 2010 while imports from Malaysia peaked in 2011 at USD93.6 million.

Although the preriod shown above shows the statistics was for the period between the end of Abdullah Badawi’s administration and the commencement of the Najib Razak administration, the flourish in trade could be traced back to the Mahathir administration.  In December 1993, as a consequence of the Oslo I Accord, Mahathir wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

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Mahathir’s letter to Yitzhak Rabin in December 1993

The photo of the letter may be a bit difficult to read but I shall provide the transcript here:

PRIME MINISTER, MALAYSIA

21 December 1993

His Excellency Mr Yitzhak Rabin Prime Minister of Israel, JERUSALEM

I would like to thank you for your letter of 17 October informing me about the Agreement of Principles and Mutual Recognition between Israel and the PLO.

My government supports this positive development and views it as a first step towards the realization of a comprehensive solution to the Middle East problem. As a demonstration of Malaysia’s support to this development my country was represented at the Donor’s Conference to support The Middle East Peace held in Washington and subsequently pledged a modest financial contribution to the Palestinians to assist in their new tasks. My government has also offered the Palestinians technical assistance under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme.

Malaysia as a matter of general principle is prepared to develop relations with Israel at the appropriate time. In the meantime, we would like to see tangible progress in the implementation of the peace agreement.

The Middle East problem particularly the Palestinian issue has been a cause of instability to the region and I hope the recent agreement between Israel and PLO would contribute to lasting peace to the area.

I look forward to normal relations with Israel.

DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD

I intentionally made bold the last line because, while the rest of the content which, obviously was drafted by someone else, Mahathir wrote that bold part saying he looked forward to normal relations with Israel himself.  Yes, it was handwritten.

In the most recent diplomatic history, Obama wished to have normal relations with Cuba.  Diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba was subsequently restored.  The following year, PKR’s Chua Jui Meng, who was the then-Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, suggested that Israel could eventually become a destination for Malaysia’s investments (Shanti Nair, Routledge, 1997 p.252).

As a result, in 1999 Israeli exports to Malaysia totalled USD107 million.  In 2000, it was USD732 million, and USD615.5 million the following year.  In 2002, the Israel Ministry of Industry report on trade relations with Indonesia and Malaysia advised Israelis interested in conducting business with Malaysian companies that “there is no opposition to trade and commerce relations as long as a low profile is kept“.

Discretion is essential for these companies, not just in Malaysia but also in Indonesia.  Reputation and financial damage are the risks for companies in these two countries if they are known to be doing trade with Israel.  According to Emanuel Shahaf, the vice chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, “There are two contradictory trends. The pro trend is that Indonesia demands more high-tech things… The negative trend is the political situation is not getting better (when it comes to Israel), in fact it’s getting worse.”

Mahathir’s son Mukhriz, who was the Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry in 2011 confirmed that Malaysia has had bilateral trade relations with Israel since 1996.

Mukhriz tweeted “Upon request from large foreign investors here, in 1996 the Cabinet instructed MITI to approve import from and export to Israel.” The relevation came as a surprise, especially as the trade ties were established during the Mahathir administration.  Mahathir has been a vocal opponent of Israel and continues to project this false stand via his Perdana Leadership Foundation which openly opposes Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.  Najib took over from Abdullah only in 2009.

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So, thank you Mahathir for his eagerness to start a diplomatic relationship with Israel in 1993.

Congratulations also to the Opposition states as they received a lot of FDI from Israeli companies.  Don’t forget to thank Mukhriz for that information and confirmation.

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Shalom Alekhem!

Be A Peacemaker

Seow Poh Hing's "Harmony"
Seow Poh Hing’s “Harmony”

Two nights ago I sat at a dinner table with four other strangers.  One gentleman from the North is five years older than I am while the rest were in their 40s.  What the gentleman in his 50s and I spoke about was of the way the various races interacted in the early 1970s fresh after the most devastating racial clashes in the history of Malaysia.

Those were the times when we all looked at each other as family rather than by race or religion.  We went to school together and played together.

Interestingly, the gentleman is a Senior Pastor, his wife, while the rest at the table were Muslims.  Apart from my wife and I, one was from Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor, the other was from PAS.

There were people of other faiths as well such as Sikh, Hindu, and the Buddhist.  Church representatives and members from Sabah and Sarawak, too, were there. What surprised me was the presence of representatives from PERKASA, MAPIM and ISMA including Ibrahim Ali.

The Senior Pastor pointed out how children nowadays go to separate school and do not speak the same language. To bring about unity, children must grow up together and speak the same language.  The Senior Pastor is Chinese.  He still enjoys the company of his former school mates who are mostly Malay whenever he goes back to his hometown.

We were at the 2nd National Peace and Harmony Dinner organised by the Christians for Peace and Harmony in Malaysia CPHM) that was a full-house affair.

It was a full house affair at the 2nd CPHM banquet
It was a full house affair at the 2nd CPHM banquet

I wrote about unity not too long ago (Lighting The Wrong Path – 6 September 2016) and touched on the importance of children growing up together, speaking the same language, and the importance of understanding the Federal Constitution.  While I gave the nation at least three generation before we could see some form of unity, the Senior Pastor was very sceptical.  Schools have become places to divide our children according to their ethnicity – something that was rare in my days although existed.  For as long as we do not unite our children, we will continue to be diversified and divided.

 

Chairman of the CPHM, Reverend Wong Kim Jong in his speech called for a better understanding of all faiths and races, and better unity among Malaysians.

He even went on to propose a National Mediation Council be formed to settle misunderstandings and disputes between religions and races.

In his keynote address to the CPHM, Prime Minister Najib Razak quoted a verse from the Bible:

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” – Matthew 5:9

Prime Minister Najib Razak delivering his keynote address
Prime Minister Najib Razak delivering his keynote address

He said in order for Malaysia to achieve its target of becoming a top 20 nation by 2050, as envisioned under the 2050 Transformation Plan (TN50), Malaysians must become true believers of their respective faiths as he answer to becoming a great nation lies in the teachings of every religion which promotes harmony and peace.

To become a top 20 nation by 2050, we need social harmony and one of the ways to achieve it is through faith. Go back to your own faith and the answers are all there. You must be a true believer no matter what your religion is, whether you’re a Christian, a Muslim or a Buddhist,” he added.

Quoting a Malay proverb “Tak kenal maka tak cinta” that was said by Ibrahim Ali during a previous meeting between PERKASA and CPHM, Najib said that there is a need for the people to understand one other in order for them to appreciate and love.

I would also like to emphasise on humility, or the importance of being humble. It means we must admit and accept our differences,” pointed Najib.

The Prime Minister also related how the forefathers discussed the social contract in the prelude to Merdeka and had ensured that although Islam is the religion of the Federation, the rights of those who practice other religions are protected in the Federal Constitution.

Therefore, understanding the spirit of the Federal Constitution is also very important to understand, appreciate and love.

I wrote at length about why the sanctity of Islam is regarded as being more sensitive in the Peninsular compared to in Sabah and Sarawak and had given the historical background to it.  I even wrote about the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, 1965 and how it would not affect the non-Muslims.

I don’t have to agree with the proposed amendments but I have to defend the rights given to the Muslims to manage their own religious affairs as I would to other religions as well.

And Muslims especially in the Peninsular have a lot to learn from and emulate values shown by the congregation of both the Masjid An-Naim and the Parish of Good Shepherd that co-exist beautifully on Jalan Pasar Lutong in Miri, as well as that of the committee of the Masjid Saidina Abu Bakar As-Siddiq in Bangsar that held a Chinese New Year open house for all at its premise.

This is what is meant by understanding the Federal Constitution in order to gain respect, appreciation and love through the respect for others.

Of course there will be those who will continue to flog the issue as long as they can all laugh at the end of it when the very fabric of society is torn apart, such as the person below:

Ill-informed? Or just opposing for the sake of opposing?
Ill-informed? Or just opposing for the sake of opposing?

If the person above is a Christian, she is probably a Christian because it is trendy not to light up joss sticks for dead relatives or parents.  A true believer would believe in the Bible and especially Romans 13 that calls for the respect for the auhorities as they have been placed there by God.

The above verse is the same as in the Quran (An-Nisaa’ 59) that calls for obedience to authority.

Those who do not subscribe to the above are NOT peacemakers. And for Christians, they are not the children of God, but of His antithesis.

As said in the Bible:

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” – James 1:26

So you can choose whether to be a peacemaker, and if you’re a Christian be a child of God, or, you can be the child of the antithesis of God as people like the above.

Your choice.