Antisemitic Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad to speak at Cambridge Union

Five months ago, he told the Oxford Union free speech allowed him to speak 'against the Jews'


The Prime Minister of Malaysia is to speak at the Cambridge Union just five months after he told the Oxford Union that free speech gave him the right to speak “against the Jews”.

Mahathir Mohamad – who has been branded an “open and unrepentant antisemite” by the Community Security Trust – is booked to speak at Cambridge on June 16.

Malaysia’s youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman wrote on Instagram that Mr Mohamed would become the first “Malaysian and democratically-elected leader” to speak at both Oxford and Cambridge.

Earlier this year, when addressing the Oxford Union, Mr Mohamad doubled down on his previous remarks about Jewish people being “hooked nosed” with “an instinctive sense of money”.

He said: “We are free to say what we like, we can say something that can be regarded as antisemitic by the Jews. That is their right to hold such an opinion of me. It is my right to tell them they have been doing a lot of wrong things.

“Why we can’t say anything against Israel, against the Jews?”

The 93-year-old was also asked why, when he wanted to criticise Israel, he used the word “Jews” instead of pointing to certain policies by the Israeli government.

He said: “Well, it seems most of them support the stance taken by [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu against the Arabs, so when I say only the ‘Zionists’, people don’t understand. What they do understand is the word ‘yahudi’ or ‘Jews’.”

At the time, Andrew Dismore, the former London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden, criticised the decision to allow Mr Mohamad to speak at the Oxford Union.

He said: “Jewish Students on campus feel less and less safe.

"By hosting a noted antisemite, Oxford Union are propagating a hostile environment for Jews, giving a platform to a man who has denied the severity of the Holocaust, propagated antisemitic tropes, and made straightforward racist comments.”

Mark Gardner, from the CST, said: “Clearly, many Jews, and Jewish students in particular, will be deeply concerned that such an unrepentant antisemite is apparently very welcome at the Oxford Union.”

In January, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) stripped Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 world para swimming championships because the country had banned Israeli athletes.

The Foreign office said the ban was “fundamentally wrong” after Labour deputy leader Tom Watson attacked the Malaysian government’s discriminatory practices.

A Cambridge University spokesperson told the JC the Union was “an independent student society.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the Cambridge Union confirmed to the JC: "Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be speaking at the Cambridge Union on Sunday June 16. 

“At the Union we pride ourselves on defending free speech and allowing our members to hear from and to hold to account the people that shape our world. We are sure that this event will contribute further to this great tradition."

Board of Deputies Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb  condemned the decision of the Cambridge Union to host the Malaysian PM on Tuesday.

She said: “The decision by Cambridge University Union to host Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, a notorious antisemite who has made no secret of his distaste for Jews and Israel, is deeply disheartening.

“By inviting this divisive figure, Cambridge Union is creating a hostile environment for Jews, giving a platform to a person who has repeatedly denied the scope of the Shoah, spread antisemitic tropes and made straightforward racist comments.”



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