One of the common arguments we hear from the antisemites of the world is that the term “antisemite” is cynically used to quash any legitimate criticism of Israel. Criticize Israel and you are labelled an antisemite, even though undoubtedly “some of your best friends are Jewish.”
Lauren Booth is the latest to use this argument while defending her friend, former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Q: You’re here for the launch of Viva Palestina Malaysia where you met our former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. What do you think of him?
A: I very much liked Tun Dr Mahathir and his wife, Tun Siti Hasmah. It’s refreshing to see a former world leader who is dedicated not to making millions from oil, banks or occupations but to setting up foundations for righteous behaviour.
Q: He’s been labeled an anti-Semitic in the Western press due to his views on Israel. Do you agree?
A: If you speak to Dr. Mahathir, it is clear he has neither the personality nor the inclination to be an anti-Semite. He is a thoughtful, pious and philosophical man.
I want to tell the people of Malaysia not to be scared of being labeled anti-Semitic when criticising the unjust, disgraceful behaviour of the Israel regime.
The label ‘anti-Semite’ is applied deliberately to quash debate on the Israeli government and its army and we must not be afraid to speak out (on it).
Now here is why Mahathir Mohamad was labelled antisemitic in the first place.
Malaysia’s prime minister has urged Muslims to unite against Jews who, he says, rule the world by “proxy” — comments criticized by Jewish leaders as an invitation to violence.
Opening a 57-nation Islamic summit in Malaysia Thursday, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad also urged Muslim youths to abandon suicide attacks and took aim at Islam, blaming a shift towards theological interpretations of the Koran that shunned science and development.
But it was his blistering attack on Jews and Israel that drew headlines and a swift condemnation from Israel, with an official there saying the veteran leader’s comments fuel “further hatred and misunderstanding.”
A White House official also condemned the comments.
In his attack at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Mahathir said Jews ruled the world and got others to fight and die for them, but added that they would not be able to defeat the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims.
“We are actually very strong, 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them,” he said.
He called on Muslims to emulate the Jewish response to oppression, arguing the Jewish people had “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.
“With these they have gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power.
“We cannot fight them through brawn alone, we must use our brains, also.”
And here are some more recent comments, which only reinforce this characterization:
Malaysia’s former premier Mahathir Mohamad said on Wednesday there was “strong evidence” the US faked the September 11 terror attacks as an excuse to go to war against Muslims.
“There is strong evidence that the attacks were staged. If they can make Avatar, they can make anything,’ Mahathir told the Conference for the Support of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), as quoted by local media.
The former premier also blamed Jews for hindering progress in US foreign policy. Voicing his disappointment that Barack Obama had not yet ended the war in Afghanistan or closed the US terror detention center at Guantanamo, he explained that “there are forces in the United States which prevent the president from doing some things. One of the forces is the Jewish lobby.”
Jews “had always been a problem in European countries. They had to be confined to ghettoes and periodically massacred. But still they remained, they thrived and they held whole governments to ransom,” Mahathir said.
“Even after their massacre by the Nazis of Germany, they survived to continue to be a source of even greater problems for the world.”
Lauren Booth is a journalist. She cannot claim ignorance of these statements, especially if she is willing to stand behind the man. Yet she maintains that Mohamad has been labelled unfairly in an effort to stifle criticism of Israel.
You therefore have to conclude that she agrees with his statements about Jews, and thus is probably antisemitic herself, which could explain her utter hatred of all things Israel.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: While there are those who claim Israel’s actions fuel antisemitism, I would argue that more often than not, antisemitism fuels opposition to Israel’s actions.