In his Oct. 6 National Post column, Robert Fulford cast an important light on a neglected phenomenon, “antisemitism without Jews,” an obsession with Jews in countries that don’t have any.
He describes the case of the Asian state of Malaysia – which is 60 per cent Muslim, but has no Jews – as a fitting example where its government “encourages the citizens to hate Israel and also to hate Jews, whether they are Israelis or not.”
Fulford drew attention to a government ministry that, last March, “sent out an official sermon to be read in all mosques, stating that ‘Muslims must understand Jews are the main enemy to Muslims as proven by their egotistical behaviour and murders performed by them.’”
He also reminded readers that back in 2003, “the prime minister’s political party gave delegates to the United Malays National Organization copies of Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic book from the 1920s, The International Jew, a favourite of Hitler, translated into Bahasa Malay.”
Indeed, the prime minister at the time, Mahathir Mohamad, had the following to say about Jews at a summit of the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference: “[T]oday the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them. They invented socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong [and] so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these [tactics] they have now gained control of the world’s most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power.”
There was not a word of dissent or disapproval from anyone.
Late this summer, Mohamad stood by his antisemitic screed of nearly a decade ago, claiming that, with U.S. elections pending, presidential candidates “all have to seek approval from Israel.”
What’s particularly disconcerting is how mainstream Mohamad’s anti-Jewish and anti-Israel conspiracy theories are in large parts of the Islamic world.
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Speaking of such obsessions, at a time when thousands upon thousands of Syrian civilians, including children, are being killed, maimed and tortured by President Bashar Assad’s Syrian forces, backed by Iran and Hezbollah, yet another “boat to Gaza,” this one a Swedish ship with Canadian activists, including former Canadian MP Jim Manly, is on its way to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.
This latest mission, part of the Freedom Flotilla movement, comes in the midst of an especially ugly controversy.
Greta Berlin, co-founder of the “Free Gaza Movement,” one of the principal sponsors of the Flotilla movement, earlier this month used her platform to spread vicious antisemitic hate when she alleged in a Twitter post that “Zionists operated the [Nazi] concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews.”
In his Oct. 4 American Interest blog, Walter Russell Mead noted that the Free Gaza Movement tried desperately to bury the evidence of Berlin’s screed. And for good reason. As Mead wrote: “This is not anti-Zionism. It is not criticism of Israel or defence of Palestinian rights. It is not in the grey zone: it is ugly filth of the lowest kind, gutter antisemitism mixed with genocidal rage.”
On the same day, the National Post’s Marni Soupcoff also wrote about the hateful Berlin blaming Jews for their own destruction. She observed that in response to the accusation of Jew-hatred, Berlin was still on the attack with this Twitter response to someone who challenged her: “[I] would suggest you concentrate on Israel’s genocidal policies,” she wrote. “I’ve apologized. Have you?”
It seems Berlin was only “apologizing” for failing to confine her views about Jews to her personal Facebook page. Her charge that Israel is committing “genocide” against the Palestinians is but another illustration of her antisemitic obsession. She gives a whole new meaning to the term “genocide,” since the people against whom Israel allegedly is perpetrating this horrific crime mysteriously continue to grow rapidly in number.
But then hate has a way of twisting the mind in all sorts of impossible directions, as Berlin ably demonstrates – matching, if not surpassing, Mohamad’s.
Paul Michaels is director of research and senior media relations for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.