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June 26, 2019 7:12 am

The Evergreen Antisemitism of Malaysia’s Prime Minister

avatar by Manfred Gerstenfeld


Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in an interview with the BBC, October 2, 2018. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Earlier this year, the student union at Cambridge University hosted Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. If there was a list of the world’s top antisemites, he would certainly be prominent on it.

In October 2003, the 10th summit of the Organization of the Islamic Corporation (OIC) took place in Putrajaya, Malaysia. It was attended by leaders from 57 countries.

In his opening speech, Mohamad, who was prime minister of Malaysia then as well, frontally attacked the Jewish people.

He said, “1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews. There must be a way. And we can only find a way if we stop to think, to assess our weaknesses and our strengths, to plan, to strategize, and then to counterattack. We are actually very strong; 1.3 billion people cannot simply be wiped out. The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million. But today, the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.”

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Mohamad added: “We are up against a people who think. They survived 2,000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted socialism, communism, human rights, and democracy, so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong and they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries, and this tiny community has become a world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also.”

Mohamad had already made extreme antisemitic remarks long before. In 1986, at a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, he said:  “The expulsion of Jews from the Holy Land 2,000 years ago and the Nazi oppression of Jews have taught them nothing. If anything at all, it has transformed the Jews into the very monsters that they condemn so roundly in their propaganda material. They have been pupils of the late Dr. Goebbels.”

In 1997, Mohamad claimed his government was afraid that Jews were planning to destroy Malaysia’s economy, as well as those of other Muslim countries. At a 1999 Davos economic conference, he blamed the Jews for Asia’s economic problems.

In October 2018, Mohamad was interviewed by the BBC, where he repeated that the Jews were “hooked-nosed.” In his 1970 book, The Malay Dilemma, he wrote: “The Jews are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively.”

It was almost a matter of course that Mohamad would make an ugly remark about Jews at Cambridge: “I had some Jewish friends, very good friends. They are not like the other Jews, that is why they are my friends.”

Next to Mohamad’s ongoing antisemitism, the misdemeanors of antisemitism at Cambridge are of a much lesser dimension. Yet they are still significant, and must be seen in the context of antisemitism in British academia. One only has to recall the report on antisemitism at the Oxford University Labour Club more than three years ago. This was the beginning of the huge multi-faceted antisemitism scandal within the British Labour Party after Jeremy Corbyn became its leader.

The fact that student organizations at the two top British universities have antisemitism problems is more than symbolic. It reflects the pervasive hatred of Jews, and in particular Israel, in parts of the country’s academia.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is the emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank.

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