UN accredits NGO whose head is ‘glad to be labeled anti-Semitic’

Decision to recognize organization chaired by Malaysia’s former PM ‘comes as no surprise at all,’ Foreign Ministry says

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad during a recent interview (photo credit: YouTube screen grab)
Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad during a recent interview (photo credit: YouTube screen grab)

A United Nations committee dedicated to Palestinians’ rights accredited a nongovernmental organization headed by the former prime minister of Malaysia, a controversial figure who has said he is “glad” to be called an anti-Semite, sparking protests by pro-Israel groups.

At a session in New York last week, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People officially granted accreditation to five civil society organizations, among them the Perdana Global Peace Foundation, which was founded by Mahathir Mohamad.

Mohamad, who served as Malaysia’s prime minister from 1981 until 2003, has repeatedly sparked controversy with his anti-Western and anti-Semitic comments. In a 2003 speech, he said that “the Jews rule the world by proxy” and get “others to fight and die for them.” During the same speech, he further stated, “They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these, they have now gained control of the most powerful countries.”

Despite the global outrage caused by his comments, Mohamad did not disavow them. “I am glad to be labeled anti-Semitic,” he stated last year, after an Israeli court ruled that the state was not to blame for the death of American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was run over by an IDF tank as she attempted to prevent it from demolishing Palestinian homes.

“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 hardheartedness toward not just to their enemies but even toward their allies should any try to stop the senseless killing of their Palestinian enemies,” Mohamad reportedly stated.

At Tuesday’s committee meeting in New York, chairman Abdou Salam Diallo praised Mohamad for his lifetime achievements and said the time had come to “thank him and congratulate him on everything that he has done during his political career for the Palestinian people.”

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, whose objective is “two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders,” considered eight applications from civil society organizations who sought accreditation, rejecting three and accepting five, among them Mohamad’s Perdana Global Peace Foundation.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said the committee’s embrace of the foundation sat well with its longstanding policy, which Jerusalem asserts is biased against Israel.

“The CEIRPP has always been known for its unashamed slant which turned it into one of the major propaganda tools of the Palestinians,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Times of Israel on Sunday. “The only activity of this organization has been, since day one, to foster animosity toward Israel and to promote the most rejectionist Palestinian positions. It has not been involved in the past peace efforts, even with the remote control. So admitting Mohamad’s NGO comes as no surprise at all.”

Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based nonprofit, said the fact that the committee “would join hands with and celebrate one of the world’s foremost anti-Semites is obscene — and it underscores the true nature of the world body’s vast anti-Israel infrastructure.” Neuer called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and leading democracies including the United States, Britain, France and Germany “to condemn this UN legitimization of a notorious racist.”

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