Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 - 13 of Tammuz, 5779

At London event, Malaysian PM makes new antisemitic comments

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Responding to an inquiry from the event moderator regarding the Prime Minister’s history of anti-Jewish statements, Mohamed explained that he has Jewish friends, but that “they are not like other Jews. That’s why they’re my friends.”

LONDON— World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder has condemned  new antisemitic comments made by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s during a highly controversial appearance at the Cambridge Union event on Monday. 

Responding to an inquiry from the event moderator regarding the Prime Minister’s history of anti-Jewish statements, Mohamed explained that he has Jewish friends, but that “they are not like other Jews. That’s why they’re my friends.”

The response was followed by laughter from the audience, and a subsequent eerie silence.

Mahathir Mohamad was asked why he previously said Jewish people were “inclined towards money”.

The exchange was recorded and later posted on Twitter by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), which condemned the Prime Minister’s comments.

Mohamad  questioned why Jews ‘resent’ being called ‘hook-nosed’ saying “other people don’t resent being accused of some general characteristic they have.’’

The Cambridge Union claimed the release of the full video would show that the event’s chair “repeatedly challenged Dr Mohamad over his antisemitic comments”.

But the footage shows that the Malaysian leader was able to put forward a stream of openly racist and anti-Jewish opinions with only gentle attempts to challenge him as he spoke.

Asked by his interviewer, if it was “fair” to attack all Jewish people for the alleged actions of the Israeli state, Mohamad replied: “Most support the wrong things being done by Israel. Of course if you say anything against the Jews you are labelled as antisemitic. No other race in this world labels people like that.Why is it so difficult… Why is it forbidden for us to criticise the Jews when they and other people criticise us?”

Without responding to this claim, the chair of the event, who said he was himself Jewish, asked the PM why he “focused particularly on Jewish people”.

The Malaysian PM responded: “Well, the Jews do a lot of wrong things which force us to pass comment.”

He aded :  “I am waiting for the Jewish people to condemn Israel.”

At one point he also said:””Can you imagine the Israeli’s taking over Cambridge and calling it Israel? How would you like that?”

Reacting to this incident, Ronald Lauder declared in a statement : “These new comments from Prime Minister Mohamed are reprehensible but nothing new. They are merely the latest manifestation of the virulent brand of antisemitism that he promotes in his own country. Although the Cambridge Union has an extensive history of hosting world leaders and honoring the right to freedom of speech, it should have been aware of Mr. Mohamed’s past comments on Jews and the State of Israel which come uncomfortably close to hate speech. It should be noted that Malaysia was recently barred from hosting a Paralympic swim tournament over the country’s ban on Israeli athletes. I commend the Cambridge Union for distancing itself from the content of the remarks, and hope that measures are put in place to ensure that likeminded individuals are not afforded the same platform presented to the prime minister in the future.”

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