"The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia, at an Islamic summit meeting last week.
"So what's with the anti-Semitism? Almost surely it's part of Mr. Mahathir's domestic balancing act... When times are tough, Mr. Mahathir also throws the Muslim majority rhetorical red meat. And that's what he was doing last week... Now Mr. Mahathir thinks that to cover his domestic flank, he must insert hateful words into a speech mainly about Muslim reform..." Paul Krugman, NY Times, 10/21/2003
So apparently anti-Semitism is okay or at least tolerable as long as it is used to maintain one's position of power (via a balancing act) over a population? Now that he's helped instill hate in some of his people and they kill a few, is that okay too?
No, none of it's okay or anywhere near okay. I think the following sums it up pretty well:
Letters to the Editor
The New York Times October 21, 2003
To the Editor:
In his obsession with criticizing U.S. policy, Paul Krugman underestimates the significance of the anti-Semitic diatribe by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad before the Organization of the Islamic Conference ("Listening to Mahathir," Oct. 21).
Mahathir's comments cannot be explained away by themes of domestic politics. They come in the context of a surge of anti-Semitism in the Islamic world, and not only on the fringes. Conspiracy theories about blaming Jews for 9/11 are believed by tens of millions. Denial of the Holocaust is rampant in the media. Images of Jews in op-ed pieces, editorials, and cartoons reflect classic anti-Semitic stereotypes drinking the blood of Muslims, all-powerful, secretive and conspiratorial.
The last time the world saw such a hateful anti-Semitic tirade by a national leader, there was a tendency to play it down as well as only politics, as buffoonery, as a passing thing. We know how that ended up in Germany. Let's not make that mistake again.
Glen A. Tobias
My Jewish wife has been doing a lot of business with Malaysia lately (in fact she was over there just two weeks ago). Till now she hasn't been exposed to any anti-Semitism or anti-Americanism of any kind from Malays. She felt sick when she read the news regarding Mahathir Mohamad's speech.
I know he has a long, long history of similar remarks. And I don't really feel any strong anger towards him. My anger is directed at someone who should know better, someone who's supposedly smart, someone who should be more enlightened, and that someone is Krugman, who has crossed a line that I will never forget.