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Did Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir push the boundary of  'acceptable' discourse to the Hitlerian extreme? 

Reader says Jared Israel's criticism of Mahathir is 'Out of Context'.
- EC Editor Jared Israel responds.

[5 December 2003]



My article "What do the EU, Mahathir and George Bush have in Common? Could it be they are all Pushing Political Antisemitism?"  includes three quotes from Dr. Mahathir Mohammad. These come from the former Malaysian Prime Minister's famous address to Muslim heads of state eight weeks ago.  Among other things, I wrote that Mahathir was grotesquely antisemitic, that his words came right out of the "Protocols of Zion." [1]

Some readers objected. Stephen Hay wrote that, the way he read the speech, Mahathir was merely exhorting Muslims to improve their lot by imitating Jewish people, who have achieved much despite persecution. 

We need to establish whether my interpretation is right or wrong because this has important implications. I argued that Mahathir:

*  Knowingly shattered the Western post-Holocaust taboo against openly antisemitic speech;

* Did this in the service of the US and European Establishments.

Is that a reasonable hypothesis? Was Mahathir acting as the advance guard of the Western elite, openly advocating views which they, for political reasons, presently wish to disavow? If this is true, then the US and European establishments are encouraging political antisemitism.  [1A]

But on the other hand, if I am wrong about the speech itself, if Mahathir wasn't even attacking "The Jews," then of course he couldn't have been spreading political antisemitism as the advance guard of the 'ruling classes'.


Stephen Hay wrote:

"I find your articles interesting but I have a feeling that you are starting to use the methods you deplore in others - quoting out of context to buttress the point you want to make."

Hay argued that Mahathir's speech should not be seen as antisemitic. Rather:

"…given its context, the Opening Session of  the Islamic Summit Conference, and its orator, the PM of perhaps the most  highly developed Muslim country in the world, after a careful reading I'm  leaning in the direction of interpreting the speech as a call for unity, for the ummah [community of Islamic believers] to recover its true foundation and for the leaders of the Muslim world to act in concert, to overcome the 'divide and conquer' techniques that have been used against them so successfully until now.... Which, incidentally, is how it has been interpreted by other, non-Western, media."

Later I will deal with a) the reality of Malaysia's "high development," which has institutionalized the threat of violence against ethnic Chinese and Indians and encouraged Islamism even while many ethnic Malays remain in poverty and b) the deceptive and dangerous meaning of the Islamic unity which Mahathir invoked.

For now, notice that Mr. Hay disputes my accusation about the speech for two reasons:

1) The external context, which he limits to Mahathir's role at the conference and as the leader of Malaysia, and -

2) The textual context, that is, the rest of what Mahathir said in the speech.

So, did I misrepresent Mahathir?  Did I "quote out of context"?

Let us begin by considering the external context. Here we should go beyond Mr. Hay's frankly superficial treatment.  I have accused Mahathir of grotesque antisemitism; Mr. Hay denies the charge. So we need to consider: apart from this particular speech, has Mahathir publicly advocated the "Protocols of Zion" line that "The Jews" run the world to oppress Gentiles - i.e., political antisemitism?  If someone has advocated such views, and he makes statements that seem antisemitic, shouldn't our first hypothesis be that he means precisely what he seems to say?

Mr. Hay suggests we look to "non-Western media" for an accurate interpretation of the speech. OK, let's do it.


Mahathir's external context: The doctor testifies...


A few days after the speech, Dr. Mahathir (he's an MD) held a press conference to answer his critics. It was covered by The New Straits Times-Management Times, a Malaysian newspaper. Definitely "non-Western media."

At this time, Mahathir was being criticized for his remarks. Therefore if he told reporters that he did *not* mean to invoke Hitler's political philosophy of blaming the world's problems on "The Jews" we might suspect he was lying in order to dodge criticism.  But if he admitted that he did say "The Jews" run the world, then surely we should take the man at his word.

Here's the New Strait Times:

[New Strait Times excerpt starts here] [1E]

"Dr Mahathir was also asked at the Press conference if he was worried about the negative impact of his remarks about Jews since the foreign media had been harping on the issue daily and running down Malaysia.

"That is something that I think is managed by the Jews because the (international media) Press belongs to the Jews and their power is so great that people are afraid to criticise them, as if they are beyond criticism…

"But because I said what is true - that the Jews control the world through proxy - I don't see why people should get annoyed with this. It is absolutely true."
[My emphasis - JI]

[New Strait Times excerpt ends here]

So according to the New Strait Times, Mahathir boasted that he did indeed say "The Jews" rule the world.

Nowadays many in the West have a cult of the Third World. Therefore let me hasten to point out that Mahathir did not originate this idea out of some 'Malaysian experience'. Earlier in his career (1969) he wrote: "The Jews, for example are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively."  [1B]  This is garden variety European antisemitism. (Amazingly, Mahathir wrote these words, evoking the Western stereotype of Jews, while stirring up prejudice against Malaysians of Chinese descent among ethnic Malays. This is explained in footnote [1B])

As we shall see, Mahathir has a fondness for the worst European antisemites, but more on that later. For now, suffice it to say that the notion that Jews run the world is the central idea of European political antisemitism. It was expounded in "The Protocols of Zion," a book fabricated by the Russian Czar's secret police. "The Protocols" was disseminated worldwide by Henry Ford and then by Adolph Hitler's Nazis.[2] 

Just to be sure the Strait-Times didn't quote Mahathir out of context, let's check Bernama, the Malaysian government News Agency.  Bernama published the following dispatch when Mahathir was still Prime Minister of Malaysia. Since Mahathir was famous for maintaining firm control, we can assume *his* news agency quoted him accurately.

[Dispatch from Bernama, the Malaysian News Agency starts here] [1F]

Dr Mahathir reiterated that the wide protest to his remarks concerning the Jews only led to prove that he was right that the Jews controlled the world.

"I think it is true that the Jews control the world through proxy and if you say anything against the Jews, then they are going to accuse you of being antisemitic and will try to stop investment from coming into this country," he said. [My emphasis - JI]

[Dispatch from Malaysian News Agency ends here]

Three days earlier, Bernama published an account of comments by Mahathir's Deputy Information Minister. Again, we can be sure that Mahathir's Deputy and his news agency were speaking for him: [1G]

[Dispatch from Malaysian News Agency starts here]

Western Media Fails To Undermine Dr Mahathir's Integrity

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 22 -- The western media has failed to undermine Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohammad's [i.e., Mahathir's] integrity, right up towards the end of his leadership, said Deputy Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin today.

On the contrary, he said the Prime Minister became more prominent and had succeeded in gaining world's attention with his sharp remarks which created greater awareness among the European and American societies on the danger of allowing themselves to be dictated by the Jews."
[My emphasis - JI]

[Dispatch from Malaysian News Agency ends here]

 Notice that Mahathir's aide was fully aware of the *worldwide* political impact of Mahathir's attack on "The Jews," an attack which was very public. Very public and ferocious, bordering on lunacy. For example, in the October 16th speech Mahathir said:

[Excerpts from Mahathir's speech start here]

"Is it true that 1.3 billion people can exert no power to save themselves from the humiliation and oppression inflicted upon them by a much smaller enemy? Can they only lash back blindly in anger? Is there no other way than to ask our young people to blow themselves up and kill people and invite the massacre of more of our own people? It cannot be that there is no other way. 1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews. 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 strategise and then to counter attack. [3]


We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them. [4]

[Excerpts from Mahathir's speech end here]

Notice that Mahathir does not speak metaphorically; he is being literal. Thus the phrase, "get others to fight and die for them," means that Jews use Gentiles to wage bloody wars against Muslims. He sounds much like Adolph Hitler, who claimed that a secret conspiracy of Jews instigated World War I in order to profit from the death of Gentiles. Nor is there anything metaphorical about Mahathir's statement that "1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out".

"Cannot be simply wiped out"?

Mahathir is not just inciting holy war against Jewish people. He is making the preposterous accusation that the "The Jews" are using Europeans in an attempt to eliminate 1.3 billion Muslims. That is why several times in the speech he speaks of Muslims "defending" themselves and "counter-attacking" against "The Jews." And he got a standing ovation for this insanity!   

Media accounts of Mahathir's speech generally described him as a "moderate" and stressed that other parts of the speech were "reasonable." Mahathir clearly understands that by introducing the most extreme anti-Jewish racism into mainstream public discourse, he altered the international political landscape, drastically expanding the influence of the political ideology called antisemitism.

This is an ideology that is not, as its practitioners like to claim, a defensive response to Jews. Rather it is an aggressive attempt to mobilize mass movements based on deeply-instilled fears and prejudice.  And the victims are never only Jewish people. Never. If you think I am just talking, kindly remember World War II, where tens of millions of people *other than Jews* were killed in a war made possible by antisemitism! Indeed, in Malaysia, Mahathir has used antisemitism in writings aimed at inciting anti-Chinese racism and religious fanaticism among Muslims in Malaysia (i.e., the ethnic Malays). Antisemitism is the mainstay of those whose political influence is rooted in bigotry. [1B]


Expanding the possible, or, it-is-so-much-easier-after-Mahathir-throws-the-first-stone


The extremity of Mahathir's remarks created a space for public figures who had previously shied away from the open advocacy of antisemitism.  Mahathir's words on October 16th emboldened Greek composer Mikos Theodorakis to declare on November 4th:

[Jerusalem Post report starts here] [1C]

[My emphasis]

"Today it is possible to say that this small nation [Agence France Presse translated it, "...these little people..." -J.I.] is the root of evil. It is full of self-importance and evil stubbornness.'  According to the Y-net report, the Greek education and cultural minister were in the audience at the time, but did not respond.  Theodorakis, responding to recent comments by a Greek statesman that the Greeks and Jews are similar because neither have friends, said, 'The fact that we are very calm and did not turn aggressive like them is because we have more history. They only have Abraham and Jacob, who were shadows, while we have Pericles. Imagine what would happen in Greece if we were as aggressive as the Jews.'

[Jerusalem Post report ends here]

Notice that Theodorakis does not say, "I am now convinced;" rather he uses the phrase, "Today it is possible to say".

Why "possible"?

Theodorakis is one of the main leaders of the pro-PLO movement in Greece. That movement has always maintained that it is not anti-Jewish, just anti-Israel; this despite the overwhelming evidence that the hundred year campaign to wipe out the Middle Eastern Jews is based on hatred of Jews.

So, first, in using the phrase, "Today it is possible," Theodorakis unwittingly admits that he has been an antisemite all along; it's just that it wasn't politically safe to say it openly until now.

Second, this is now "possible" thanks in part to Mahathir, who opened the door, so that now a Greek Leftist can express antisemitism seasoned with absurd national chauvinism while two of the top Greek cultural officials sit in the audience and offer no dissent.

Or perhaps they did not sit. According to Agence France Presse, they stood by Theodorakis' side:

"The composer was flanked by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Education Minister Petros Efthymiou when he made the comments at a November 4 reception for the publication of his autobiography, an event covered massively by the Greek media." [1D]

Moreover, by moving the boundary for publicly expressible antisemitism to the Hitlerian extreme, Mahathir permitted Mr. Bush to seem like an opponent of bigotry by offering a mild rebuke. (He chastised Mahathir for being "divisive".) And that rebuke was made even weaker by Ms. Rice's comment that Mahathir's remarks were not "emblematic of the Muslim world."

Ms. Rice is quite wrong. What Mahathir said is deadly precisely because it gave political direction to antisemitic prejudices that are a component of culture in most of the world. These prejudices have been reinforced everywhere because of media misrepresentation of the Middle East conflict. At least in the Arab countries, and to a lesser extent in other countries with majority Muslim populations, there also has been massive broadcasting of "Protocols of Zion"-type propaganda. [4A]

By saying Mahathir was "divisive" - yes, George, calling for race war is divisive, just as running someone over with a truck is rude - Bush established his credentials as an opponent of antisemitism. Thus sanctified, Bush had the political space a month later in a speech delivered in the UK to accuse the Israeli Jews of "humiliating" Palestinians by stopping them at checkpoints. In other words, while 9-11 gives Bush the right to invade any country anywhere, Jews do not have the right to defend their country from a massive campaign of terrorist attacks which are directed against civilians.

This is reminiscent of the status of Jews under Arab rule: as dhimmis, so-called 'protected people of the Book,' they were forbidden to defend themselves if attacked by Muslims. In an article posted recently, the historian Nathan Weinstock notes that the pogroms against Jews in Palestine began precisely when some Zionist immigrants fired their non-Jewish guards and organized their own self-defense groups against thieves and rustlers. (It was not the thieves and rustlers who subsequently tried to lynch the local Jewish population, including those who were indigenous. Rather, provocateurs organized a *general* Arab attack on the "uppity" Jews aimed at teaching them the lesson that they must remain 'in their place.') 

Following Bush's "stop humiliating Palestinians" remark, we have Secretary of State Powell's declaration that he will meet with the leaders of the so-called 'Geneva Initiative,' despite the opposition of the Israeli government.  This amounts to an open attempt to control Israeli foreign policy from outside, an open assault on Israeli sovereignty. Mahathir has started the ball rolling and it is moving fast.


My arguments, alas confirmed...


In the article, "What do the EU, Mahathir and George Bush have in Common," I made three charges:

1) First, that Mahathir's speech was a straight forward attempt to portray Muslims as oppressed on religious grounds and blame said  imaginary oppression on an imaginary conspiracy of "The Jews."  Mahathir has subsequently boasted that this is exactly what he intended to say;

2) Second, that the speech was intended to encourage antisemitism not only among Muslims but, perhaps more important, in the West.  Mahathir did *not* claim he was only upset about Palestine; he openly attacked Jews in general.  This was very important for the powers-that-be because they want to build a worldwide movement which blames all problems on "The Jews." And such a movement cannot be built unless it becomes politically feasible for leaders to express the ideas of political antisemitism in an open way.

By stressing that Mahathir had empowered antisemitic ideas in Europe and the US, Mahathir's Deputy Minister of Information provided su0pporting evidence for my second charge as well.

3) But what about my third charge - that Mahathir was not acting on his own, that he served as the voice of the most powerful circles in the West?  I will deal with that in Part 2, which is being edited now.

Jared Israel
Emperor's Clothes

[Footnotes and Further Reading follows the appeal


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Footnotes and Further Reading


[1] To read "What do the EU, Malaysian ex-Prime Minister Mahathir and George Bush have in Common - Could it be Political Antisemitism?" go to

To find out about "The Protocols of Zion," the book Hitler used to justify the slaughter of the Jews and also World War II, go to

[1A] The term 'political antisemitism' refers to movements which to some extent appeal to and/or play on and/or foment the belief that a secret conspiracy of Jews supposedly controls the world (or powerful countries, such as the USA) with the supposed goal of oppressing Gentiles and making them miserable.

[1B] Mahathir's antisemitic sentence ("The Jews, for example are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively") appeared first in a letter which Mahathir wrote to Tengku Abdul Rahman, the Prime Minister of Malaysia in 1969, a letter which Mahathir made public. You may read it in full at

Mahathir was then part of a rebel faction in the governing party, the UMNO.  The letter, which was made public at the time, was an attack on the Prime Minister, Tengku Abdul Rahman, for supposedly coddling the Chinese. It came on the heels of the worst race riot in modern Malaysian history: from 400 to 2000 people were slaughtered, mainly Chinese. If you read the letter you will see that Mahathir uses antisemitism to frame his racist outlook, directed mainly against Malaysians of Chinese and also Indian origin.

(Mahathir sent Prime Minister Tengku Abdul Rahman a second open letter in which he more sharply attacked ethnic Chinese and Indians, referring to them as "infidels" and threatening a racist coup by the police and army because "the [Malay] people hate you" for "giving too much face" to the Chinese. You may read this remarkable letter at
The letter begins 2/3 down in the text; to find it easily, do a word-search for the phrase <Mahathir replied to this in his letter> or just scroll down and look for that phrase. - J.I.)

The same phrase about hook-nosed Jews with an instinct for money appears in Mahathir's 'Malay Dilemma,' also published in 1969 and banned for incitement. Commenting on the book, Malaysian human rights activist Kua Kia Soong wrote:

[Quote from Kua Kia Soong starts here]

Mahathir's first claim to fame (or rather, notoriety) was the publication of The Malay Dilemma after the May 13, 1969 racial riots in Kuala Lumpur. It was banned by then prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman's government, and Mahathir himself was expelled from the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno).

Apart from being an academic embarrassment because of its unashamedly racist paradigm (a latter-day Mein Kampf), it was clearly 'seditious' by the definition of the government of the day in its undermining of sacred constitutional provisions: "……the Malays are the rightful owners of Malaya……immigrants [read non-Malay Malaysians] are guests until properly absorbed……immigrants are not truly absorbed until they have abandoned the language and culture of their past."

[Quote from Kua Kia Soong ends here]

[1C] The Jerusalem Post; Nov. 11, 2003; Greek composer adds voice to antisemitic chorus; By HERB KEINON.

[1D] Agence France Presse; November 12, 2003 Wednesday; Section: International News; Headline: Greek Jewish leaders denounce remarks by "Zorba" composer Theodorakis; Dateline: ATHENS, Nov 12

[1E] -- New Straits Times-Management Times; October 26, 2003 Sunday; Headline: PM [Mahathir]: Bush The Biggest Liar, New Straits Times-Management Times; Byline: Firdaus Abdullah

[1F] - Bernama The Malaysian National News Agency; October 25, 2003; Headline: Malaysia Will Not Be Blackmailed, Says Dr Mahathir

[1G] Malaysian National News Agency; October 22, 2003; Headline: Western Media Fails To Undermine Dr Mahathir's Integrity

[2] For background on Henry Ford's hatred of Jews and his pro-Nazi policies (as late as 1940 he was supplying the Nazi war machine with its heavy trucks!) see "Nazis in the Attic, part 1," at

On the fabrication by the Czar's secret police of "The Protocols of Zion," see 

To read the 1921 London Times articles which proved "The Protocols" were a hoax, which we have posted both as pdf files scanned from the originals and as transcripts, which are easier to read, please go to

[3] We have posted Mahathir's speech; this will take you to the actual text quoted.

[4] We have posted Mahathir's speech; this will take you to the actual text quoted. 

[4a] Egyptian TV broadcast a whole miniseries (41 episodes) billed as a historical/romantic treatment of the Protocols of Zion. It sounds like a spoof; unfortunately it's not. Go to 

[5] To read the section of Weinstock's article dealing with the violent Arab response when Jews organized their own defense, go to

Below is a link to a Brown University lecture delivered by Bat Ye'or, the Egyptian-born historian who has revolutionized the study of the social consequences of the great Muslim military conquests in Africa, Asia and Europe. In order to understand what is happening in the world today one must come to grips with her data and her arguments.  She discusses the right of self-defense (or rather the lack of same) among non-Muslim subjects following Muslim conquest and other matters in this lecture, which is a good introduction to her work.
Her Website is at

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