Tuesday 21 October 2003

Mahathir: Jew comment out of context

By Pichai Chuensuksawadi

Dr Mahathir
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says his comments about Jews during a speech at an Islamic summit last week, which prompted harsh criticism in the West, had been taken out of context.
''In my speech I condemned all violence, even the suicide bombings, and I told the Muslims it's about time we stopped all these things and paused to think and do something that is much more productive. That was the whole tone of my speech, but they picked up one sentence where I said that the Jews control the world,'' he told Bangkok Post in an exclusive interview yesterday, which covered aspects of his 22 years as leader of Malaysia, as well as his straight-forward views on terrorism, democracy and US policy.
Dr Mahathir added, however, that ''the reaction of the world shows that they [Jews] do control the world''.
During a speech at the Organisation of Islamic Conference in Malaysia last week, Dr Mahathir said Jewish people, because of their ties with the United States, had an influence in the world which far outweighed their numbers.
''It cannot be that there is no other way; 1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews,'' he said.
The United States, Israel, Australia and the European Union have accused Dr Mahathir of anti-Semitism.
Dr Mahathir said the Americans and Europeans were out to condemn him.
The European Union had done nothing when Italian Prime Minister Silvio Burlesconi made a statement calling Muslims terrorists.
''Did the European Union pass a resolution to say that this was against Muslims? Why is it that when people condemn Muslims the European Union does not try to say anything?''
Dr Mahathir said his comments about Israel and Jews were true.
''Israel is a small country. There are not many Jews in the world. But they are so arrogant that they defy the whole world. Even if the United Nations say no, they go ahead. Why? Because they have the backing of all these people.''
Dr Mahathir said that in his speech he urged Israelis and Arabs to stop the killing and to think, pause and settle.
''I even quoted from the Koran, which says that when the enemy offers to make peace you must accept. I told the Muslims you must accept even if the terms are bad. You have to negotiate. This is the teaching of Islam. All that was in my speech... But those things were blacked out,'' he said.