Malaysia apologizes after PM says “Jews rule world”

October 17, 2003

... The prime minister, who has turned his country into the world's 17th-ranked trading nation during his 22 years in power, said Jews "invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy" to avoid persecution and gain control of the most powerful countries... Islamic summit told Jews control world, Muslims must unite to achieve 'final victory'. The 57 world leaders gave Mahathir a standing ovation afterward.

CONTENTS

1. "Malaysia apologizes for PM's statement that 'Jews rule world'" (Ha'aretz, October 17, 2003)
2. "Malaysian Urges Muslims to Unite Vs. Jews," (By Rohan Sullivan, AP, October 16, 2003)
3. "Islamic Nations Unite Support For Arafat, Intifada" (Channel News Asia, Oct 16, 2003)
4. "Islamic summit told Jews control world, Muslims must unite to achieve 'final victory'" (AP)



[Note by Tom Gross]

[Please note there will be no dispatches next week, and the series about Iran will continue after that. Since almost no paper outside Israel bothers to mention it, please note that the death toll in the Haifa restaurant attack on the eve of Yom Kippur, has now risen from 19 to 21, as the severely wounded continue to die from their injuries in Haifa hospitals.]

On several previous occasions, I have sent articles on this list concerning Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is, to put it mildly, somewhat obsessed with Jews. Yesterday, he took his anti-Semitism to new levels in front of the leaders of 57 other countries. The speech drew a standing ovation from the assembled leaders, who included Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

I attach four articles, with summaries first:

1. "Malaysia apologizes for PM's statement that 'Jews rule world'" (Ha'aretz, October 17, 2003). "Faced with furious criticism from the United States and Europe over Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's assertion that Jews rule the world, Malaysia apologized Friday for any misunderstanding and claimed that no offense was intended. Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar struggled to contain the damage wrought by his blunt-spoken boss, who told a summit of Islamic leaders Thursday that "Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." ... Mahathir said the world's "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews," but suggested the use of political and economic tactics, not violence, to achieve a "final victory."

... "I don't think they were anti-Semitic at all," said Yemen's foreign minister, Abubakar al-Qirbi. "I think he was basically stating the fact to the Muslim world."

It wasn't seen that way in Washington or Europe. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli called Mahathir's remarks offensive and inflammatory. "We view them with the contempt and derision they deserve," he said... The German Foreign Ministry denounced the comments as "totally unacceptable" and said it called in Malaysia's charge d'affaires in Berlin to protest.

... Malaysia is one of the world's most successful Muslim countries, and its high-tech economic development and religious tolerance have made it admired in the developing world and held up by Washington as a model Islamic country... Mahathir has locked up terror suspects without qualms.

2. "Malaysian Urges Muslims to Unite Vs. Jews," (By Rohan Sullivan, The Associated Press, October 16, 2003) "... Mahathir - known for his outspoken, anti-Western rhetoric - criticized what he described as Jewish domination of the world and Muslim nations' inability to adequately respond to it. "The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy," Mahathir said, opening the meeting of Islamic leaders from 57 nations. "They get others to fight and die for them."

... The prime minister, who has turned his country into the world's 17th-ranked trading nation during his 22 years in power, said Jews "invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy" to avoid persecution and gain control of the most powerful countries... The leaders gave Mahathir a standing ovation afterward.

"I think it was a shrewd and very deep assessment of the situation," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher.

3. "Islamic Nations Unite Support For Arafat, Intifada" (Channel News Asia, Oct 16, 2003). "Muslim leaders will back beleaguered Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and reassert their support for the uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, according to a draft resolution. The two-day Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit is expected to express its continued support for the Palestinian uprising in a final resolution to be issued at the end of the meeting Friday. Support for the Palestinian cause is a central tenet of the OIC, which was formed in 1969 after the burning of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. The draft resolution approved by OIC foreign ministers and obtained by AFP condemns Israel for its "continuing crimes, slaughters and its repressive acts against the Palestinian people". It applauds the "legitimate leadership commanded by president Yasser Arafat."

4. "Islamic summit told Jews control world, Muslims must unite to achieve 'final victory'" (AP - Summary of this article only.) "The biggest summit of Islamic leaders in three years opened Thursday with calls for the world's 1.3 billion Muslims to unite against "a few million Jews" who allegedly rule the world and get others to fight and die for them.

"We need guns and rockets, bombs and warplanes, tanks and warships for our defense," Mahathir told leaders from 57 nations gathered for a summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Malaysia's new capital, Putrajaya. … Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he supported Mahathir's analysis.

 



FULL ARTICLES

MALAYSIA APOLOGIZES FOR PM'S STATEMENT THAT 'JEWS RULE WORLD'

Malaysia apologizes for PM's statement that 'Jews rule world'
By News Agencies
Ha'aretz
October 17, 2003

Faced with furious criticism from the United States and Europe over Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's assertion that Jews rule the world, Malaysia apologized Friday for any misunderstanding and claimed that no offense was intended.

Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar struggled to contain the damage wrought by his blunt-spoken boss, who told a summit of Islamic leaders Thursday that "Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them."

Repeated assertions of Jewish dominance dotted the speech to buttress Mahathir's analysis that Muslims needed to embrace modern knowledge and technology and overcome divisions over religious dogma that have left them weakened on the world stage.

"Islam has never advocated being anti anybody including the Jews," Syed Hamid told reporters.

"The only problem with the Jews is when the State of Israel was created," Syed Hamid said, adding that Jews worked and were welcomed in Malaysia.

"I'm sorry that they have misunderstood the whole thing," Syed Hamid told The Associated Press. "The intention is not to create controversy. His intention is to show that if you ponder and sit down to think, you can be very powerful."

Syed Hamid said the world's Muslims were in a "quagmire" and feeling "sidelined or marginalized."

The perception is widespread in the Islamic world as the war on terrorism has evolved into U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and increased Israeli repression of the Palestinians.

"The ones who are facing all the problems at present are the Muslims," Syed Hamid said. "There are no feelings against any Jews. Why should we have feelings based on ethnicity?"

On Thursday, Mahathir, a respected leader in the developing world with a long history of making articulate, provocative comments, told leaders from 57 Islamic nations that Muslims had achieved "nothing" in more than 50 years of fighting Israel.

"They survived 2,000 years of pogroms not by hitting back but by thinking," Mahathir said. "They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others."

Mahathir said the world's "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews," but suggested the use of political and economic tactics, not violence, to achieve a "final victory."

"In today's world, we wield a lot of political, economic and financial clout, enough to make up for our weaknesses in military terms," Mahathir said.

The speech drew a standing ovation from the assembled leaders, who included Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were special guests because of their large Muslim minorities.

Many focused more on the aspects of the speech that Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher called "a good road map" toward Muslim empowerment.

"This was a pep talk to the Muslim countries for them to work hard and look to the future," Maher said. "But as soon as you have any criticism of Israel, then there are people who are very eager to rush to condemnation, without comprehending what it's all about."

Karzai, asked by The Associated Press whether he thought the speech was anti-Semitic, responded: "No, I don't think so."

"Dr. Mahathir spoke of the inhibitions within the Islamic world and that those inhibitions must go away, and I entirely agree with that," Karzai said.

"I don't think they were anti-Semitic at all," said Yemen's foreign minister, Abubakar al-Qirbi. "I think he was basically stating the fact to the Muslim world."

It wasn't seen that way in Washington or Europe. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli called Mahathir's remarks offensive and inflammatory. "We view them with the contempt and derision they deserve," he said.

The leaders of the European Union, meeting in Brussels, planned to adopt a statement saying the EU "deeply deplores" Mahathir's words, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.

"The prime minister used expressions that were gravely offensive, very strongly anti-Semitic and ... strongly counter to principles of tolerance, dialogue and understanding between the Western world and the Islamic world," Frattini said.

The German Foreign Ministry denounced the comments as "totally unacceptable" and said it called in Malaysia's charge d'affaires in Berlin to protest.

"It was made clear to (him) that repeating such prejudices and combining them with the tragic chapter of European and German history, the Holocaust, is irresponsible," the ministry said in a statement.

Malaysia is one of the world's most successful Muslim countries, and its high-tech economic development and religious tolerance have made it admired in the developing world and held up by Washington as a model Islamic country.

Mahathir has locked up terror suspects without qualms.

The Malay Muslim ethnic majority generally lives peacefully alongside large, non-Muslim ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities. Islam is the official religion, but freedom of worship is part of state policy. But an Islamic fundamentalist opposition party has made gains in recent years against Mahathir's ruling coalition.

 

MALAYSIAN URGES MUSLIMS TO UNITE VS. JEWS

Malaysian Urges Muslims to Unite Vs. Jews
By Rohan Sullivan
The Associated Press
October 16, 2003

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday told a summit of Islamic leaders that "Jews rule the world by proxy" and the world's 1.3 billion Muslims should unite, using nonviolent means for a "final victory."

His speech at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit, which he was hosting, drew criticism from Jewish leaders, who warned it could spark more violence against Jews.

Mahathir - known for his outspoken, anti-Western rhetoric - criticized what he described as Jewish domination of the world and Muslim nations' inability to adequately respond to it.

"The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy," Mahathir said, opening the meeting of Islamic leaders from 57 nations. "They get others to fight and die for them."

Malaysia, a democratic nation that has a large non-Muslim population and does not enforce strict Islamic law, has long been a critic of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and of U.S. policy in the Middle East, including the war in Iraq and Washington's strong backing of the Jewish state.

Mahathir, 77, who is retiring Oct. 31, has used almost every international podium to lambaste the West for two decades, winning a reputation as an outspoken champion of Third World causes.

"For well over half a century, we have fought over Palestine. What have we achieved? Nothing. We are worse off than before," he said. "If we had paused to think, then we could have devised a plan, a strategy that can win us final victory."

The prime minister, who has turned his country into the world's 17th-ranked trading nation during his 22 years in power, said Jews "invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy" to avoid persecution and gain control of the most powerful countries.

Mahathir added that "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews," but he suggested using political and economic tactics instead of violence.

He told the audience of sheiks, emirs, kings and presidents that Muslims had the richest civilization in the world during Europe's Dark Ages, but disputes over dogma - instead of embracing technology and science - had left them weak and divided.

"Because we are discouraged from learning of science and mathematics as giving us no merit for the afterlife, today we have no capacity to produce our own weapons for our defense. We have to buy our weapons from our detractors and enemies,'' he said.

The leaders gave Mahathir a standing ovation afterward.

"I think it was a shrewd and very deep assessment of the situation," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, without commenting on the remarks about the Jews. "I think he elaborated a program of action that is wide and very important. I hope the Islamic countries will be able to follow this very important road map."

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled expressed disappointment in the remarks but said he wasn't surprised.

"It is not new that in such forums there is always an attempt to reach the lowest common denominator, which is Israel bashing," he said in Jerusalem. "But obviously we'd like to see more moderate and responsible kind of declarations coming out of such summits."

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said Mahathir has used anti-Israel statements in the past to prove he's tough on the West. But, he said, Thursday's speech was still worrisome.

"What is profoundly shocking and worrying is the venue of the speech, the audience and coming in the time we're living in," Cooper said during a visit to Jerusalem. "Mahathir's speech today is an absolute invitation for more hate crimes and terrorism against Jews. That's serious."

U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Marie Huhtala declined to comment on Mahathir's speech. Washington was angered over a speech he made in February, as host of the Non-Aligned Movement of 117 countries, in which he described the looming war against Iraq as racist.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, while not addressing Mahathir's comments on the Jews, said he supported his analysis, which also included steps for how Muslim nations can develop economically and socially.

"It is great to hear Prime Minister Mahathir speak so eloquently on the problems of the ummah (Muslim world) and ways to remedy them," Karzai said. "His speech was an eye-opener to a lot of us and that is what the Islamic world should do."

The summit is the first since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks reshaped global politics and comes at a time when many Muslims - even U.S. allies - feel the war on terrorism has become a war against them.

"It is well known that the Islamic community is being targeted today more than at any other time before in its creed, culture and social and political orientation," said Qatar's ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who hosted the U.S. headquarters in the Iraq war.

The status of Iraq also proved a divisive issue. Malaysia resisted inviting the U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council, describing it as a puppet of American occupation. But Arab countries that have recognized the interim body prevailed and council representatives were attending the summit.

U.N. Secretary-general Kofi Annan, in a statement from U.N. headquarters, urged the leaders to reject suicide bombings against Israel and help transform Iraq into a peaceful democracy.

Annan described the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory as harsh, with "disproportionate military force, destruction of houses and crops, unjust expropriation and closures, illegal settlements, and a fence being built on land that does not belong to the builders."

But he said suicide bombings damaged even the most legitimate cause and "must be condemned, and must be stopped."

Leaders attending the summit included Jordan's King Abullah, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Morocco's King Mohammed VI, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are attending as special observers because of their large Muslim minorities.

 

ISLAMIC NATIONS UNITE SUPPORT FOR ARAFAT, INTIFADA

Islamic Nations Unite Support For Arafat, Intifada
Channel News Asia
October 16, 2003

Muslim leaders will back beleaguered Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and reassert their support for the uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, according to a draft resolution.

The two-day Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit is expected to express its continued support for the Palestinian uprising in a final resolution to be issued at the end of the meeting Friday.

Support for the Palestinian cause is a central tenet of the OIC, which was formed in 1969 after the burning of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

The draft resolution approved by OIC foreign ministers and obtained by AFP condemns Israel for its "continuing crimes, slaughters and its repressive acts against the Palestinian people".

It applauds the "legitimate leadership commanded by president Yasser Arafat in the face of Israeli aggression" and demands the immediate lifting of restrictions imposed against Arafat and the Palestinian people.

Israel and its ally the United States have been attempting to sideline Arafat in favour of other Palestinian leaders it considers more moderate and Israel has threatened to "remove" Arafat after previously placing him under siege in his Ramallah headquarters.

The draft resolution pays tribute to the "just resistance of the Palestinian people and its heroic intifada to recover its national rights".

The 57-member OIC will ask the European Union, Russia, the UN and the US to continue working towards peace in the Middle East and implementation of the road map for peace.

It demanded Israel stopped "aggression, killing, destruction and violation of holy Islamic and Christian places" and reaffirmed its goal of achieving an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.