Malaysian PM doubles down on antisemitism in Oxford Union address

Mahathir Mohamad told the audience that he had every right to speak 'against the Jews'


In an address at the Oxford Union on Friday night, the Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad doubled down on his well-known antisemitism, saying it was a matter of freedom of speech for him to speak “against the Jews”.

When it was pointed out his previous remarks about Jewish people being “hooked nosed” with “an instinctive sense of money” were antisemitic, he responded saying: “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’.”

Mr Mohamad went on to call the Israeli government “very powerful, so we don’t say anything about the Israeli government, but we don’t have to show friendship towards them.”

“This is a government that does not care about the opinion of others, that’s why they keep on committing war crimes all the time…so if they don’t like it, they can say they don’t like it, I don’t care,” said, to applause and laughter.

Malaysia has banned Israeli athletes from an upcoming Paralympic swimming tournament. When asked by the host whether it was fair to penalise all Israelis over their government’s policies, Mr Mohamd said: “Well, it is not fair to call me antisemitic; they should call other people antisemitic. I am not antisemitic, the Arabs are all Semitic people.” This was met with applause from the audience.


Arsen Ostrovsky, an Israel-based lawyer, wrote on Twitter: “Oxford Union... this is a sheer disgrace that you would host and honour such a vile bigot and antisemite. You would never host such a vehement Islamophobe, but I guess if it's against Jews, then it's ok? Expected better from you.”

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