Posted: October 24, 2003
Updated: December 18, 2003
Speaking at the Organization of the Islamic Conference on October 16, 2003, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia told the assembly of leaders of 57 nations that Jews "rule the world by proxy” and "get others to fight and die for them.” He called for a "final victory” by the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims, who, he said "cannot be defeated by a few million Jews."|
Reaction of World Leaders
Rejecting Mahathir's Anti-Semitism
Note: Asterisk denotes comments made in official correspondence to the Anti-Defamation League.
"The Prime Minister [Tony Blair] considers that Dr. Mahathir’s anti-Jewish remarks were totally unacceptable. The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw asked Mike O’Brien, the Foreign and Commenwealth Office (FCO) Minister … to summon the High Commissioner of Malaysia … Mr. O’Brien made it clear to the High Commissioner that Dr. Mahathir’s remarks were unacceptable, and not at all what we expect from someone of his stature and experience. He sought an explanation as to why Dr. Mahathir had made them.”
Officer at the South East Asia Department of the
British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Samuel Paice *
"During the most recent session of the European Council in Brussels, the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Costas Simits, strongly condemned the comments made by Mr. Mahathir. In fact he called for a declaration condemning the statements from the President of the Council. … The substance of the Greek position [is one] of clear condemnation of Mr. Mahathir’s comments.”
Greek Ambassador to the United Nations, George Savvaides*
"… Vice-Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs Louis Michel has condemned most strongly the recent anti-Semitic statements of Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia … [Michel] declared that Prime Minister Mahathir had made absolutely unacceptable anti-Semitic statements. As you know the Belgian Government does not accept anti-Semitism in any form.”
Belgian Ambassador to the United States, Frans van Daele*
"Like all heads of state and government attending the European Council in Brussels, I joined in condemning the unacceptable anti-Semitic remarks made by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir. … I myself wrote a letter to Mr. Mahathir … to convey my disapproval in the clearest possible terms.”
French President Jacques Chirac*
"… Any form of discrimination is not tolerated by our [Costa Rican] Government and by our people. Rest assured that Costa Rica will continue to honor its position on this matter. Meanwhile, please allow me to congratulate you for your committed leadership and mission.”
Costa Rican Ambassador to the United States, Jaime Daremblum*
"The European Union deeply deplores the comments made by [Malaysian Prime Minster] Dr. Mahathir …. Such words hinder all our [the EU’s] effort to further inter-ethnic and religious harmony, and have absolutely no place in a tolerant world. This statement fully reflects the view of the Luxembourg Government.”
Luxembourg’s Ambassador to the United States, Arlette Conzemius*
"The Government of the Republic of Hungary has repeatedly and unambiguously expressed its firm condemnation of any anti-Semitic statements, actions, or ideas expressed in any form, either in the Republic of Hungary or abroad. […] On this occasion, based on the notion of shared values and the necessity for joint actions against attempts endangering our world, the Government of the Republic of Hungary immediately and fully adhered to the relevant statement of October 16, 2003 of the Presidency of the European Union. …
Hungarian Consul General in New York, Dr. Gábor Horváth*
"The European Union deeply deplores the comments made by [Malaysian Prime Minster] Dr. Mahathir … . Such words hinder all our [the EU’s] effort to further inter-ethnic and religious harmony, and have absolutely no place in a tolerant world. Ireland is fully associated with these views.”
Irish Ambassador to the United States, Noel Fahey *
"The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Mr. Mikulas Dzurinda made an unequivocal condemnation of Prime Minister Mahathir’s comments at his press conference before his official visit to Israel on November 9, 2003... [which said]:
' ....You may remember the recent statements by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir who called for a global war of Muslims against Jews. Such appeals merit a clear, strong and principal condemnation and the Slovak Government will act in such a way. We will never come to terms with such statements and I can clearly state that Slovak Government institutions will act firmly and timely against any, even small, expressions of anti-Semitism. '"
Rastislav Kacer, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States *
"I'm here to inform you that you're going to see that I thought your comments were reprehensible," said President Bush, recalling his face to face encounter with Mahathir. "I said they're divisive and unnecessary."
President George W. Bush
"The prime minister used expressions that were gravely offensive, very strongly anti-Semitic and ... strongly counter to principles of tolerance, dialogue and understanding between the Western world and the Islamic world."
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini
The "anti-Jewish remarks" were "totally unacceptable"
German Foreign Ministry
Mahathir's comments were "offensive" and "repugnant. … Any invocation of rivalry between Jews and Muslims is very unhelpful. The religions of both groups exhort each other to live together in peace, are opposed to terrorism. … Any suggestion from anybody anywhere in the world of dividing the world into Jewish and non-Jewish groupings is historically indefensible and wrong and something that most Australians would regard as quite repugnant."
Australian Prime Minister John Howard
"Anti-Semitic" and "profoundly disturbing.… We regard anti-Semitism as unacceptable and the Australian government hopes that there won't be further comments of his kind."
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
"The EU deeply deplores the comments. … Such words hinder all our efforts to further interethnic and religious harmony, and have absolutely no place in a tolerant world"
European Union statement.
"At the Foreign Secretary's request, the Malaysian High Commissioner was summoned this morning so that Mike O'Brien (Minister of State) could raise our concerns directly. […] It is unfortunate that Mahathir chose to make these remarks, which we regard as unacceptable [and] racist […]."
British Foreign Office
"It's extremely serious what he [Mahathir] said, totally unacceptable," […] "All reasonable people are, in my view, dismayed by Mahathir's, what I would call, conspiracy theory."
Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham
"The EU statement fully reflects the view of the Government of The Netherlands. In response to questions raised by Dutch Members of Parliament last month, the Government reiterated its strong concerns with respect to Dr. Mahathir's remarks."
Dutch Ambassador to the United States, Boudewijn J. van Eenennaam*
"...On matters of racial discrimination, our country has stated its firm position in favor of universalism and respect for the principle of non-discrimination in every fora on this matter. Our country asserts its position by considering these issues within the framework of multilateralism rather than through bilateral political manifestations … Attitudes such as those of the former Prime Minister of Malaysia are condemned every year in specific resolutions of the Human Rights Commission, that our country supports and promotes. Moreover, the Argentine Republic played an active role against initiatives that could have had an anti-Semitic content at the Regional Preparatory Conference of the World Conference Against Racism held in Santiago, Chile, in the year 2000. On this matter, in the domestic arena, the Argentine Republic is working on a National Plan against Discrimination, one of the mainstays of which is the fight against racism, xenophobia and other related forms of discrimination."
Argentine Ambassador to the United States, Jose O. Bordon*
Condoning Mahathir's Anti-Semitism
"He (Mahathir) said the truth! There are more than a billion Muslims in the world, and they see that there is 4th World war is going against them. They see Israel as the main catalyst of this war, and this is not false. The media outlets who publishing bad articles about Islam are headed by Semites. The biggest banks and world corporations are run by Jews... This is a national talent of the Jews. Jews, who are no more than 16 millions in the world, captured power over the world. All banks, companies, the key "pain" points - everything is captured by Jews, and in our country too.... Today anti-Semitism is a powerful tool for solidarity of Muslim nations faced common threat. This tool today is similar to the way anti-Communism was used in the past for Western courtiers. "
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the well-known leader of extremist
Russian Liberal Democratic party, October 29, 2003
"It was a brilliant speech. Very logical. Anti-Semitism is a product of the West. Muslims are not anti-Semitic."
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
"I'm sorry that they have misunderstood the whole thing. ... Please forget about anti-Semitism ... The PM's message is to stop violence, which is not the answer for us to succeed in our struggle. People may not be very happy but this is the reality: the Jews are very powerful."
Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar
"I am sure he did not ask to go to war against the Jews."
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf
"This was a pep talk to the Muslim countries for them to work hard and look to the future, but as soon as you have any criticism of Israel, then there are people who are very eager to rush to condemnation, even without comprehending what it's all about."
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher
"The prime minister was not inciting war. He was just saying that we should be united to face threats from many quarters, including Israel."
Somalian President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan
"I don't think they were anti-Semitic at all. I think he was basically stating the fact to the Muslim world."
Yemen Foreign Minister Abubakar al-Qirbi