Malaysia's anti-Semitic Mahathir gets small smackdown from Australia over Jerusalem embassy, needs big one

When I lived in Singapore around 1998, I remember how Australia and Malaysia used to go at it.

Shouting insults across the straits, then-Prime Minister Mohammad Mahathir and whoever it was running Australia - usually the estimable Prime Minister John Howard if not one of his cabinet officials - would blast each other on topics such as trade, culture, anti-Semitism, free speech, or the death penalty until Mahathir would eventually calm down, and sometimes actually apologize. Then the Malaysian leader would go pick a new fight over water or railroads or passports or something with Singapore. Here's one episode where Howard went after Mahathir on anti-Semitism in 2003.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: The Prime Minister, John Howard, is involved in a war of words with his Malaysian counterpart, Doctor Mahathir Mohamad, as the two men prepare to travel to the APEC leaders' meeting in Bangkok, on the weekend.

Dr Mahathir said yesterday, "Jews rule this world by proxy", adding that, "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews". In response, John Howard has accused Dr Mahathir of "offensive" anti-Semitism, making comments Mr Howard says "most Australians would find repugnant".

The Opposition says Mr Howard must go further and raise Dr Mahathir's comments officially at the APEC summit.

Mahathir apologized for his idiocies not too long afterward.

Today, Mahathir is hurling new insults to Australia over the topic of Israel, arguing that if Australia moves its embassy to Jerusalem, it will fuel terrorism. It's kind of a parody the sort of arguments George Bush and especially Barack Obama would make about this or that action fueling terrorism, so some other plan should be executed. And bad advice that's likely to have the opposite result. Like Obama, Mahathir's just using the terrorism foil to achieve another outcome, a terrorist-friendly one based on perceptions of the strong horse, and unfortunately, that will fuel terrorism because terrorism arises out of perceptions of weakness. Fortunately, we are seeing just a little bite-back from Australia, and for the right reasons.

Bloomberg reports:

CANBERRA (BLOOMBERG) - One of Australia's top leaders has blasted Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for criticising a proposal to shift Australia's Israel embassy to Jerusalem, citing Dr Mahathir's record of comments disparaging Jews.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who is Jewish, on Thursday (Nov 15) dismissed Dr Mahathir's warning that moving the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv would heighten the risk of terrorism.

He said Australia would make its own decisions based on national interest.

Mahathir is not a monster much of the time - he hates socialism, he hates the Clintons, he hates globalism, he hates terrorism, he hates Soros (probably the root of his anti-Semitism even though Soros is an atheist), he believes mostly in free enterprise and economic growth, but his anti-Semitism really is disgusting.

He's got a bad record of anti-Semitic mutterings of the worst and looniest sort, the kind of ravings that would be right at home in pogrom-era Russia. Andrew Bolt has a strong column about just how gross this record is, writing.

Journalists take this bigot seriously on this issue? Ignore his past? 

Scott Morrison’s contentious Israel policy shift has encountered more diplomatic headwinds, with Malaysia’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, suggesting relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would add to the cause of terrorism.

The Malaysian prime minister, known for his outspoken public interventions, raised concern in a meeting with Morrison at the Asean summit in Singapore about the prospect of Australia recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Big surprise.

Last month Mahathir called Jews hook-noses who caused the terrorism in the Middle East:

The sad thing is, he's better than his domestic opponents who are either actual Islamofascists or else Mobotu-level corrupt, (which is why, at age 93, he's back in power).

He's an old school nationalist of the kind that Nasser, Nehru, Asad, and Saddam were, which kind of laid the groundwork for Islamofascists to follow, wittingly or not, which is exactly what his current advice to not move the Aussie embassy to Jerusalem will lead to. And cripes, look at how he's horning in. So much for his non-aligned nations' big tenet of 'non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.' 

Yet it's astonishing that Australia is only just minimally trying to shut him up, with the Treasurer being left to deal with it, instead of going full bore and taking him to be held up to shame in the international bodies as has happened in the past. He's been shut up in the past through a strong response and there's no reason not to do it now. 

The namby-pambyness out of Australia as this nonsense is spouted comes as Australia is showing weakness about moving its embassy to Jerusalem, owing to its desire to have a free trade pact with Indonesia, which has its share of anti-Semites, too, of the somewhat more Islamofascist "Muhammadiyah" variety with farther extremes that have arisen since the 1990s. Thomas Lifson wrote about it here.

Australia needs to get some backbone on this issue, move its embassy to Jerusalem, and simply shut Mahathir up before more of his spewings can morph into more terrorism.

Image credit: Rajasekharan Parameswaran // CC BY-SA 4.0