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Jakarta Post

Commentary: Gus Dur, whom I knew as a visionary pluralist and humorist

  • Kornelius Purba

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, December 31 2009   /  08:35 am

A Jewish friend from Jerusalem sent me a message shortly after former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid  passed away on Wednesday evening.“Deepest condolences at the passing of Gus Dur, a true Indonesian patriot and a great friend. May the people of Indonesia be spared anymore sorrow. With sadness,” former diplomat Emanuel Shahaf wrote in a cell phone message.The practically blind Gus Dur is probably the most popular Indonesian leader in Israel because shortly after becoming the country’s fourth president in October 1999, he openly said that commercial ties with Israel was one of his top foreign policy initiatives. Gus Dur, who likes jokes, also served with the Jerusalem-based Simon Peres Peace Institute before becoming president. As a journalist, I had several touching and funny experiences with Gus Dur, both as the chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the country’s...