International

Everybody loves Mahathir

After a bit of Googling about the eminent Jew-hater and outgoing Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, I discovered the following:

–He received a standing ovation for a speech– which, among other things, denounced Jewish world domination– to delegates to the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit. Those delegates included Jordan’s King Abullah, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Guests at the summit included Russian President Vladimir Putin and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. I can’t say for certain that every one of those leaders stood and applauded Mahathir’s speech, but I can say with some certainty that none of them shouted “Shame!” or walked out.

–Fidel Castro paid a friendly visit to Mahatir in Kuala Lumpur in 2001. According to a press release from the Malaysian Foreign Ministry:

Asked about criticism from the West on the treatment of political dissidents in both Cuba and Malaysia, especially that of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim [a jailed opponent of Mahathir], Castro said: “We’re proud to be criticised by them.

“See if you can find any kind of repression here or in Cuba like that you see in the West every day,” he said, adding that both Malaysia and Cuba were “two rebels.”

Surprisingly I could find no report of the revolutionary socialist Castro denouncing Mahathir’s reactionary antisemitism, which the Malaysian leader has been expressing publicly for years. Castro must have done it privately.

–After meeting Mahathir at the White House in 2002, President Bush warmly praised Malaysia’s cooperation in the war against terrorism. He also used the occasion to denounce Cuba’s human rights record while softpedaling criticism of Malaysia’s abuses. Human Rights Watch had called on Bush to urge Mahathir to respect the rights of Malaysians.

–The Malaysian National Art Gallery is currently featuring an exhibit of more than 1,000 pictures of the prime minister (including photos with Castro and Queen Elizabeth). I’ll bet the queue goes around the block.

–Mahathir has never visited Israel.

Update: Following a storm of condemnation, Malaysia’s foreign minister now says poor Mahathir was simply “misunderstood.” Uh huh. Although this article says he apologized, I can’t detect the apology. Do people who say the kind of things Mahathir said really think nobody outside of the intended audience notices?

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