The Relationship of Gus Dur and Israel: An Implementation of Multiculturalism in Diplomacy

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Habib Arsyad Hamdani

Kelompok 8 (AKB 48)


The Relationship of Gus Dur and Israel: An Implementation of Multiculturalism in Diplomacy

Multiculturalism, often considered as a concept that only examines the cultural diversity of people or communities, is actually playing an important role in determine the daily life process of our global society. As the fact that the discipline of International Relations is broadly interfered with day-to-day human activities, we had understood that this multiculturalism must have been taking a piece in the conception of international relations due to the existence of race, ethnicity or language varieties. However, multiculturalism is not only reviewed as the concrete form of cultural diversity, but also maintain all differences that should be respected and openly ratified by communities [ CITATION Hey11 \l 1033 ]. Moreover, multiculturalism is one of the most tremendous aspects of soft power or diplomacy, as we assumed when Nye (1990) stated that it is a robust-state condition if its power – soft power: cultural attraction, ideology and international institutions – is known and legitimated by another state. Therefore, this idea is implemented by the fourth president of Indonesia, K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), when he wanted to disclose the diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Israel.

The people of Indonesia have been knowing that Gus Dur was such an illustrious leader with many great notions and eminent contributions of embodying the multiculturalism community in Indonesia. Notwithstanding his Islamic background from the Nadhlatul Ulama, Gus Dur ever noted in the April of 2002 that he was having the tendency to open diplomatic ties with Israel. At that time, this notion from Gus Dur was certainly opposed by the Indonesians which mostly considered Israel as a state that was still colonizing the Palestine – a state with a major number of Moslem. Henceforth, this policy was never applied during his administration as his foreign minister, Alwi Shihab, settled that the diplomatic ties with Israel were suspended and the domestic pressure boycotting the proposed idea of Israel and Indonesia relations is the reason of Gus Dur visiting Tel Aviv canceled schedule (Muttaqien, 2013).

Although this suggested idea was actually had thought by Gus Dur actually to emphasize domestic resistance of the benefits that Indonesia had if we succeed to open the diplomatic relations with Israel, this can also see from the diversity-friendly perspective of him. Adding the Jews as a community that have a decent relation with Indonesia is a fruitful and valuable act of creating multiculturalism. According to Blum (1991), he stated that understanding, gratitude, and assessment of a culture as well as a respect and curiosity about the other culture are what combined as multiculturalism. With this idea, Gus Dur – often considered as a liberal Moslem – was implicated of thriving multiculturalism community in diplomacy area.

In conclude, multiculturalism implementation is supposed to cover up all aspects of culture such as religions, ideologies, ethnicities, etc. Furthermore, multiculturalism is also can be implied in the foreign diplomacy area with the existence of soft diplomacy, thus Gus Dur idea to attempt opening diplomatic ties with Israel whom mostly the Jews.


Blum, L. (1991). Moral perception and particularity. Ethics, 101(4), 701-725.

CITATION Hey11 \l 1033 : , (Heywood, 2011),

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