IMAGING JEW IN INDONESIA
Epafras’s book on Jew in the Indonesian Public Discourse is the first book offering a complete and complex analysis of allegorizing Jew in Indonesia. Allegorizing Jew, to take Epafras’s argument, is to refer the complex problem of prejudicing Jew in Indonesia, which prerequisites analysis of three main issues related each other; first, the issue of Qur’anic interpretation; secondly, of historical construction towards the Jew; and the last, the issue of contextual problem regarding to the Jew. Interestingly, Epafras provide an extended and depth elaboration which contains analysis in the areas of (interpretive) theological, historical and media framing construction.
Epafras’s main arguments are that the notion of Jew “was imported from Middle East” which “also coincides with the existing religious narrative, cultural memory and interpretations.” In addition, the image of Jew problem outside Indonesia also constructs the prejudice attitude towards the Jews in Indonesia. Moreover, dealing with Israel/Palestine issue, the discourse of Jews in Indonesia has been a symbolic debate that “reified into moral character related to certain Islamic ideal” (pp. 7).
Having elucidated the colonial image of Jews, Epafras come to conclude that Jews in historical Indonesia was in negative image. It becomes more negative one when the first World Islamic Congress in Jerusalem December 7, 1931, in which Kahar Muzakir attended as an Indonesian delegation, declared that “the Congress considers that Zionism is ipso facto an aggression detrimental to Moslem well-being.” Furthermore, the declaration had indirectly influenced the first Congress of Supreme Council of Muslims of Indonesia (MIAI) held in 1938, which “demanded the League of Nations to cancel the British’s partition plan over the Palestine which divided between Arabs and Jews” (pp. 53). Together with the interpretive-Jews-presumption-of the Qur’an, this historical construction has been installed and adopted in some Indonesian muslim’ assumption.
In turn, Epafras examines the historical image to the present assumption by analyzing the discourses on Jews in a muslim media. As a result, Epafras argues that there is too much a Zionophobia in the media muslim, an exaggerate anti-Zionist. From this result, we turn to know that over-generalization happened in the Muslim-Jews discourse in the media muslim, which perceive Jews as the same meaning as Zionist and Israel also.
However, the rich-analysis of this book does not follow with elucidating moderate muslim attitude toward the Jews, for example Gus Dur’s image on Jews. A balanced analysis is needed in this book to show that there are varieties of images toward the Jews. Aside from this, Efapras’s book is a must read for religious studies students as well as those who concern on study of religions in Indonesia.
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