New York, NY, October 27, 2003 … While unequivocally condemned by most Western leaders, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's virulently anti-Semitic speech to the Organization of the Islamic Conference has prompted a far different reaction in the Muslim and Arab world, where his speech was condoned and even celebrated by Arab leaders and media as a "courageous" telling of "the truth."
Such expressions of support for Mahathir's anti-Semitism in the mainstream of the Arab world are virtually in agreement with those of U.S.-based fringe anti-Semites, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors anti-Semitism globally and in the U.S.
A sampling of responses to Mahathir's speech by various Muslim and Arab media, U.S. extremists and world leaders can be found in ADL's online report, The Fallout From Mahathir.
"Sadly, the moderate voices in the Arab world remain silent in the face of Mahathir's anti-Semitism and call to holy war against Jews," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Rather than condemn Mahathir's anti-Semitic statements as unacceptable, Muslim and Arab leaders and media have been virtually unanimous in their praise. It is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in the Muslim and Arab world when the leading voices are in near-total agreement with the most extreme anti-Semitic fringe in the United States."
On its Web site, ADL is compiling excerpts of statements that appear in the Muslim and Arab press regarding Mahathir, along with messages publicizing and celebrating the Malaysian prime minister's remarks on Web sites and e-mail lists maintained by anti-Semitic extremists in the U.S. ADL also is compiling statements by Western leaders and those of their counterparts in the Arab world, whose responses have varied from warm enthusiasm to outright support for Mahathir's anti-Semitic pronouncements.
U.S. Anti-Semites: Call the Malaysian Embassy!
Anti-Semitic extremists in the United States have publicized and celebrated Mahathir's remarks to the point of encouraging like-minded supporters to contact the Malaysian embassy to voice support for the prime minister's sentiments about Jews.
"Call in and express your support for the truthful remarks made by the Malay PM which our own sellout white traitor politicians wouldn't dare speak!!!!!!," said a message published to an online forum sponsored by the neo-Nazi site Stormfront. "Jews are jamming the phone lines of the Malaysian embassy in opposition to the truth about themselves…"
"The people at the Embassy were very, very happy when they spoke with a National Alliance member from Florida that called and did just that," said a posting on a forum sponsored by the hate music label Resistance Records. "We need another 1,000 people to call … to save your race should you think about your reasons for being here."
Arab Leaders and Media: "The Truth" About Jews and Israel
"Mahathir only spoke the truth when he spoke of the power of the Jewish influence over the world," Abed al-Wahed al-Hamid wrote in the Saudi newspaper Ar-Riyadh. "Moreover, he was braver than the others, since what he said publicly is what others in the West are saying secretly and do not dare to say …."
Reactions from world leaders on Mahathir's speech varied from outright condemnation – the Italian Foreign Minister called it "gravely offensive," while President George W. Bush condemned it as "divisive and unnecessary" – to expressions of agreement and support. "It was a brilliant speech! Very logical," said President Mohammad Khatami of Iran.
"I don't think they were anti-Semitic at all," said Abubakar al-Qirbi, the Foreign Minister of Yemen. "I think he was basically stating the facts to the Muslim world."