"BEAUTIFUL world, where are you?" may sound like a Palestinian cry for help. But it isn't. Beautiful World, Where Are You (without the question mark) is a book by Irish author Sally Rooney that has been making the media headlines recently.
Reason? No Hebrew translation unless the publisher distances itself from the apartheid policies of the Zionist regime and support the United Nations-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people. Well done Rooney, we say.
This world — made unjust by powerful nations — needs writers like Rooney to fight a cause that not even the UN is willing to pursue. While she is at it, we suggest that Rooney go even further.
Say no to translation in Burmese until the brutal coup in Myanmar is ended. It is easy to dismiss the efforts of Rooney's and others to change the world for the better. What other means do we have when the international institutions we have established fail the weak so badly?
There is wisdom in an old Malay adage: sedikit-sedikit, lama-lama jadi bukit. Little by little, a mountain is made. Never underestimate the power of one.
It is not easy for Rooney or the other 1,300 artists who have signed Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign's cultural boycott of apartheid Israel. Accusation of antisemitism, the all-encompassing term for all and any criticism of Israel, is one. There is no other country on this planet that makes it illegal to criticise it.
A few — Germany, France and the United States — foolishly pass laws to make criticism of Israel illegal. Why is criticising Germany, France and the US allowed, but not the apartheid regime of Israel? The three countries need some deep thinking.
Such laws only encourage impunity. Worse still, by passing such impunity-inducing laws, Germany, France and the US are being complicit in the crimes Israel is committing against the Palestinians.
Cyberbullying is another. But for those who fight for justice, such costs are worth paying. The rest of the world may not know this, but America does. Rosa Parks, the African American woman in segregated America who said no to a White man who wanted her seat on a bus in 1955, paid a heavy price for it.
She was not only jailed, but fired from her job. Death threats soon followed. But she and people like 15-year-old Claudette Colvin before her helped end segregation little by very little. They knew, deep in their hearts, mountains are made thus. Sedikit-sedikit, lama-lama jadi bukit.
Myanmar, we are beginning to learn, is changing, too. Not the Tatmadaw, as the military there is known. The generals are like man-eaters. Once they have tasted blood, they want more. And as everywhere else, powerful nations are keeping them mean as they are good customers for their military complex.
War and conflicts don't happen. They are caused. Almost always by empire-hungry big powers. Myanmar is no different. But there is a new realisation among the Barmars — everyone in Myanmar, including the Rohingya, must stay united to unseat the generals — now that they are the targets of the military.
Politicians, who for long egged on the Tatmadaw in their crimes against the Rohingya, are beginning to invite them back to join them in their fight to end the coup. Parks-Colvin magic takes time.
Rooney knows this. So do companies like Ben & Jerry's and Nike, which have distanced themselves from apartheid Israel. They know no Malay, but acknowledge its wisdom.