Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Monday that the term anti-Semitism was invited to stop people from criticizing Jews for any wrongdoing, making them the only race that is beyond reproach.
Mahathir, who has been accused of holding anti-Semitic views in the past, said he was not against Jews but was criticizing their actions.
“There is one race that cannot be criticized,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press. “If you are anti-Semitic, it seems almost as if you are a criminal … anti-Semitic is a term that is invented to prevent people from criticizing the Jews for doing wrong things.”
“When somebody does wrong, I don’t care how big they are. They may be powerful countries but if they do something wrong, I exercise my right of free speech. They criticize me, why can’t I criticize them?” Mahathir said.
Mahathir, the world’s oldest elected leader at 93, said he doesn’t care how history will judge him.
“Frankly I don’t care. I won’t be around,” he laughed. “When I am dead, it doesn’t matter anymore.”
Mohamad is known for his anti-Semitic rhetoric. He wrote on his personal blog in 2012 that “Jews rule this world by proxy,”
In 2013 he appeared to urge wiping out all Jews and cited as an example the Holocaust.
“1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews,” he said at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Kuala Lumpur. “There must be a way. And we can only find a way if we stop to think, to assess our weaknesses and our strength, to plan, to strategize and then to counterattack. We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million.”
He has also said, “I am glad to be labeled anti-Semitic […] How can I be otherwise, when the Jews who so often talk of the horrors they suffered during the Holocaust show the same Nazi cruelty and hard-heartedness towards not just their enemies but even towards their allies should any try to stop the senseless killing of their Palestinian enemies.”
He wrote in his 1970 book “The Makay Dilemma” that “The Jews are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.