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10/21/03 - ANTI-SEMITIC COMMENTS CONDEMNED - 2003-10-22


Officials in the United States and several other countries have condemned the anti-Semitic statements made by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The comments were made October 16th in the keynote speech at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference. Malaysia hosted the two-day meeting of more than thirty heads of state or government from countries with large Muslim populations.

Referring to the Holocaust perpetrated by the German Nazi regime in the Second World War, Prime Minister Mahathir said, “The Europeans killed six million Jews out of twelve million. But today,” he said, “the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.”

This type of conspiracy-mongering is both preposterous and venomous. But this is not the first time that Mr. Mahathir has made such comments, according to U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli:

“Let’s be clear, the remarks are offensive, they are inflammatory, and we view them with the contempt and derision they deserve.”

Other nations have likewise condemned these statements. Franco Frattini, Italy’s foreign minister, said the Malaysian prime minister “used gravely offensive expressions. . .that were strongly anti-Semitic.” John Howard, prime minister of Australia, said, “Any suggestion from anybody anywhere. . .of dividing the world into Jewish and non-Jewish groupings is historically indefensible and wrong and something that. . .most Australians would regard as quite repugnant.”

One of the most unfortunate things about Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir’s polarizing rhetoric is that it came in a speech in which he also called on Muslims to oppose suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism. But that message was largely obscured by the anti-Semitic comments, which can only be viewed as an invitation to more hate and violence against Jews.

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