Virulently anti-Semitic Malaysian PM welcomed in UK

Mahathir Mohamad speaks at Oxford University, visits Imperial College, with another address set for prestigious think tank Chatham House; Jewish leaders condemn warm reception

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad speaks during the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 28, 2018. (KENA BETANCUR / AFP)
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad speaks during the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 28, 2018. (KENA BETANCUR / AFP)

Malaysia’s avowedly anti-Semitic Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad arrived in London early Sunday morning for the second leg of an international visit, following his trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Last week, Mohamad delivered a speech entitled “Challenges of Good Governance in the Muslim World” at Oxford University’s Centre for Islamic Studies. He also visited Imperial College London, where he met billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson.

The Daily Mail reported that at no point was the Malaysian premier challenged over his virulently anti-Semitic views and statements.

On Monday, he is to deliver a speech on “Future Democracy in Asia” at the prestigious think tank Chatham House.

A spokesman for the organization denied that hosting Mohamad signaled support for his views.

“Chatham House provides a neutral convening environment. Attendance of a speaker does not imply endorsement,” he said.

Furthermore, the spokesman said there would be an opportunity for those who wished to challenge the prime minister on his past statements.

“A key condition of anyone speaking here is that speakers must participate in open Q&A,” he said. “As such, a speaker’s expressed views can be subjected to rigorous scrutiny and held to account in an on-the-record forum where media are also invited to ask questions.”

The Jewish community condemned the welcome Mohamad has received from such prestigious institutions.

“It is utterly appalling that at a time when anti-Semitism is so raw, a man who is proud to be an anti-Semite is being courted,” Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, told the Daily Mail. “It is equally unforgivable that he was invited to tour our most prominent educational institutions and share his opinions with students.”

Falter said his organization would examine whether the British universities violated their own rules in hosting him.

“Those who have extended the red carpet treatment to this abhorrent racist and self-confessed anti-Semite must apologize,” he said. “We are looking into whether universities may have breached their own codes on racist speakers.”

In an interview with the Associated Press last month, 93-year-old Mohamad, a longtime champion of Palestinian causes, was asked about his record of comments seen as anti-Semitic.

“We should be able to criticize everybody,” he said, and assailed laws against denying the scale of the Holocaust.

“Anti-Semitic is a term that is invented to prevent people from criticizing the Jews for doing wrong things,” he said.

Mahathir led his opposition Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition to a surprise victory in national elections in May. He is a larger-than-life figure in Malaysia, with his influence dominating the multiethnic country’s politics from the Cold War into a new millennium. His first turn as prime minister stretched for 22 years, coming to an end in 2003.

He is also famous for his outspoken anti-Semitism. He wrote on his personal blog in 2012 that “Jews rule this world by proxy,” the Associated Press has reported.

In a 2003 speech before assembled leaders of Muslim-majority nations at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Kuala Lumpur, he called for “1.3 billion Muslims” to unite to “counterattack” against the “few million Jews” who had defeated them. He also suggested Jews sought to “wipe out” all the world’s Muslims, and used the Holocaust as an example Muslims could emulate.

“1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews,” he said in the speech. “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 Malay Dilemma” that “the Jews are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively.”

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