Dear reader,

Before we discuss this week’s content, I just want to say that we’ve heard you. We know that you want more events, especially in-person ones. Our last Jom Cakap, featuring three of Asia’s best journalists, drew almost 200 people. We felt the love.

Our next series of three is reserved for Jom’s Supporters and Patrons, those in our upper two tiers. Save the date:

  • 6-8pm, April 29th, Book Bar (Duxton): Abhishek Mehrotra - meet Jom’s new head of content
  • 8-9pm, May 8th, Zoom: Aleithia Low - author of “Magical thinking: shaping sand for our dreams”, one of Jom’s most popular essays, will be joining us from the US
  • 6-8pm, May 20th, Book Bar (Duxton): Leon Perera - meet the former Workers’ Party politician in a closed-door session to discuss Singapore’s next election

These events are free for those on our Supporter (S$25/month) and Patron (S$950/year) tiers, though sign-ups are required for the limited Book Bar spots. We’ll send more details in the following weeks. They’re not open to anybody else—we’re not selling tickets. They’re just for you. 

If you are on our Member (S$10/month) tier, and want to upgrade so you can meet these amazing Singaporeans, click on “Account” now, and then “change plan”.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Letters. Shout-out to Athena Thang and Yohanna Abdullah for their letters in response to “I object: mental illness is not a crime” by Chan Li Shan, whose piece was also cited in Parliament this week; and to Johanna Pan, the latest voice in the discussion about toxic masculinity in National Service.

In Singapore This Week, we look at the Ministry of Education’s refusal to release the controversial Israel-Gaza slidedeck that was presented to children; the sad case of Uddin MD Sharif, Bangladeshi migrant worker, writer, and winner of a Singapore Book Award, who may be soon forced to leave Singapore; the new Changi Heritage Trail; the feeding of local works into an artificial intelligence large language model; two new exhibitions at the National Gallery Singapore; and more.

Jom’s essay of the week, Genocide in Gaza? Our moral responsibility, is the first in a series of three pieces on Israel’s war on Gaza that has now claimed over 30,000 lives.

Attentive Jomrades will notice that we’ve switched from calling it the “Israel-Hamas war” to “Israel’s war on Gaza”. We strive for precision in our language. It may have started as the former—may—but it’s certainly become the latter. Among other things, we deliberated over the use of “in” versus “on”.

And is it a genocide? Well, read the essay for our perspective. In it we’ve tried to combine a historical review of genocide, contemporary signs of Israeli intent and impact, and explorations of the power of words. Who gets to determine when we can use “terror” and “genocide”?

The genesis of this piece was in the week following October 7th, after Hamas’s attacks on Israel. In Jom’s short history, that was probably the event that demanded of us the most care. What should we say? Should we wait for Israel’s inevitable response before commenting? If Singapore’s mainstream media peddles a classical pro-Israeli perspective, do we have a responsibility to counter them?

Our internal debates and discussions have ranged from the Balfour Declaration of 1917—issued by British colonialists in support of the Zionist Federation and without proper Arab involvement—to analysis of the media’s role in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. They’ve been some of the most invigorating, if emotionally tortuous, Slack discussions we’ve ever had. 

So, three events to start this newsletter, and three to end it. We share our work not with any sort of satisfaction, but with a sense of resolve, resistance, and a belief that we cannot retreat. We must not retreat.

Not Jom, and not you.

  • Genocide in Gaza? Our moral responsibilityby Jom’s team, published today
  • “Merdeka, Palestine” by Faris Joraimi, Jom’s history editor, scheduled April 12th
  • “Ang Swee Chai’s urgent message” by me, scheduled April 19th

Jom fikir,
Sudhir Vadaketh
Editor-in-chief, Jom

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