Mahathir Mohamad on “the depradations of the Jews”

January 28th, 2010 by Dave Rich

In 2003, then Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad caused an international storm when he told an international Islamic conference that “the Jews rule this world by proxy“:

1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews. There must be a way. And we can only find a way if we stop to think, to assess our weaknesses and our strength, to plan, to strategise and then to counter attack. As Muslims we must seek guidance from the Al-Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet. Surely the 23 years’ struggle of the Prophet can provide us with some guidance as to what we can and should do.

[...]

We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.

[...]

But the defence of the ummah, the counter attack need not start only after we have put our houses in order. Even today we have sufficient assets to deploy against our detractors. It remains for us to identify them and to work out how to make use of them to stop the carnage caused by the enemy. This is entirely possible if we stop to think, to plan, to strategise and to take the first few critical steps. Even these few steps can yield positive results. …

The enemy will probably welcome these proposals and we will conclude that the promoters are working for the enemy. But think. We are up against a people who think. They survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also.

Mahathir is no longer Prime Minister of Malaysia, but he has become something of a celebrity on the ‘anti-Imperialist’ circuit. His Perdana Global Peace Organisation is listed as the Malaysian website of Viva Palestina. He has spoken at conferences organised by the Ramadhan Foundation in London and in Kuala Lumpur. His Foundation to Criminalise War holds events in different countries and continents, and attracts high-profile speakers. Last week, at a conference in Malaysia, Mahathir returned to the subject of the Jews and in particular the Holocaust. It doesn’t make for pretty reading:

One of the greatest injustices done was to take Palestinian land to give to the Jews to create the state of Israel. It was so easy to take what belongs to others in order to give to people who had been giving you problems in your own country. The Palestinians must be sacrificed to save the Europeans from the depradations of the Jews.

The Jews had always been a problem in European countries. They had to be confined to ghettoes and periodically massacred. But still they remained, they thrived and they held whole Governments to ransom. Even after their massacre by the Nazis of Germany, they survived to continue to be a source of even greater problems for the world. The Holocaust failed as a final solution. Creating  a state for them was thought to be a better solution. It could be if some European territory had been alllocated to make a permanent ghetto for the Jews. But of course if this was done the affected European state would rise in arms and kill all the Jews the way they had been doing before. So the debate was about creating an Israeli state in Uganda, Africa, or somewhere in Latin America or Palestine of course. It was so easy to decide on Palestine, a British mandated territory.

This view, that the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves by their behaviour, is something that you normally hear from neo-Nazis.

Mahathir also updated Mohammed Naseem’s ‘dancing cows’  theory to question what really happened on 9/11:

In September 2001, the World Trade Centre was attacked allegedly by terrorists. I am not sure now that Muslim terrorists carried out these attacks. There are strong evidences that the attacks were staged. If they can make Avatar, they can make anything. Killing innocent people to provide an excuse for war is not new to the US.

Mahathir’s comments should be no surprise to anyone. His 2003 speech was not out of character, and nor is his latest offering. It is up to those people and organisations who work with Mahathir to decide whether his views about Jews and the Holocaust are welcome within their campaigns.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2010

January 27th, 2010 by Dave Rich

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day.

This film, The Legacy of Hope, is from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

In harmony against racism

January 26th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

Tomorrow, Holocaust Memorial Day will mark the 65th anniversary of the liberation of  Auschwitz-Birkenau. 

The Orthodox Jewish website Vos iz Neias reports on a fascinating and innovative anti-racist partnership in Berlin between Auschwitz survivor Esther Bejarano and ‘Microphone Mafia’, a Cologne-based group of rappers of Turkish immigrant origin. In its own small way, this story presents a ray of optimism about the human spirit and marks a refreshing break from the catch-all allegations about antisemitism that are sometimes directed against Europe’s Muslim communities. 

Esther Bejarano says music helped keep her alive as a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz and in the years that followed.

Now, 65 years after the liberation of the Nazi death camp, the 85-year-old has teamed up with a hip-hop band to spread her anti-racism message to German youth.

“It’s a clash of everything: age, culture, style,” Bejarano, a petite lady with an amiable chuckle, told The Associated Press ahead of Auschwitz Liberation Day on Wednesday. “But we all love music and share a common goal: we’re fighting against racism and discrimination.”

The daughter of a Jewish cantor from Saarbruecken in western Germany, Bejarano grew up in a musical home studying piano until the Nazis came to power and tore her family apart. Bejarano was deported to Auschwitz, where she became a member of the girls’ orchestra, playing the accordion every time trains full of Jews from across Europe arrived at the death camp.

“We played with tears in our eyes,” Bejarano remembered. “The new arrivals came in waving and applauding us, but we knew they would be taken directly to the gas chambers.”

Bejarano survived, but her parents and sister Ruth were killed by the Nazis.

For the past 20 years Bejarano has played music mostly from the past — Yiddish melodies, tunes from the ghetto and Jewish resistance songs — with her children Edna and Yoram in a Hamburg-based band called Coincidence.

About two years ago, Kutlu Yurtseven, a Turkish immigrant rapper from the Cologne-based Microphone Mafia, got in touch with the band to see if they’d team up with them.

“Our band wanted to do something against the growing racism and anti-Semitism in Germany,” Yurtseven, 36, said in a phone interview Tuesday.

“Yoram told me that first of all he had to ask his mother Esther what she thought about a crossover project with a bunch of young rappers.”

Esther Bejarano, it turned out, thought hip-hop music “was really a bit too loud,” but also said she saw it as a good way to reach out to Germany’s youth

“We want to keep the memories of the Holocaust alive, but at the same time look into the future and encourage young people to take a stand against new Nazis,” said Bejarano. “I know what racism can lead to and the members of Microphone Mafia are immigrants and have experienced their share of discrimination as well.”

Yurtseven, a Muslim, also sees a message of religious harmony.

“All religions ask to love an respect others and that’s what we do as well,” Yurtseven said.

The crossover of modern hip-hop and traditional Jewish folklore turned out to be quite a hit. The rappers have mixed Jewish songs with stomping hip-hop beats and also created new lyrics for some of the songs that are more accessible for a younger audience.

Last summer, the two bands released a CD called Per La Vita and a documentary about the band that was initially scheduled for the Auschwitz liberation anniversary is now supposed to be ready later this year to be shown at high schools across Germany.

The CD was released on a small, independent label and it was not clear how many copies were sold.

Currently, the troupe is touring through Germany. Their audiences range from teenage immigrants at metropolitan youth centers to a more established, older crowd that usually favors Bejarano’s classic approach to music.

“They all love it,” said Bejarano. “Even some of the older guests sometimes climb on the chairs and dance.”

Bejarano said it can be exhausting at her age to perform on stage with a bunch of youngsters but that she has found ways to adjust the shows to her needs.

“I’ve educated the boys,” Bejarano said with her trademark chuckle. “We’ve lowered the volume and I told them to stop jumping around on stage all the time.”

For Yurtseven and his fellow band members, the fact that they are performing with an Auschwitz survivor has been a unique experience as well.

“I once asked Esther how she can still make music after Auschwitz,” he remembered. “And she said that if they had also taken away the music from her, she would have died.”

Michael Gove MP on Holocaust Memorial Day and contemporary antisemitism

January 25th, 2010 by Dave Rich

Michael Gove MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, has an important opinion piece in today’s Daily Telegraph on the connections between Holocaust Memorial Day and contemporary antisemitism. It is reproduced below, in full.

We are still in the shadow of the Holocaust

This Wednesday we remember the greatest crime ever inflicted by man against his fellow man. Holocaust Memorial Day allows us to reflect on the bleakest chapter in the history of the 20th century. And there is a special urgency in the call to remember this year, of all years – because the shadow of the Holocaust continues to fall over the world today.

Mass murder is still deployed as a political tool by tyrants, from Burma to Zimbabwe. Racism is returning to the streets of Europe, from St Petersburg to Antwerp. And, hard though it is to credit after the horrors of the last century, anti-Semitism is creeping back into the corridors of power.

We know that Nazi ideology still has the power to motivate evil men. From the Swedish fascist who tried to acquire the “Arbeit macht frei” sign which hung over the gates of Auschwitz, to the British fascists of the BNP, there is an ominous resurgence of extremist activity visible across our Continent.

It is because we face a new fascist threat, and because the extremism of the BNP is mirrored in the equally toxic ideology of anti-Semitic groups such as Islam4Uk and Hizb-ut Tahrir, that we need, all of us, to make an additional effort to remember how the Holocaust started. And where it ended.

The history of the Holocaust is the history of a society which blamed the Jews for its miseries, sought to push them to the margins and then sought, literally, to make them vanish from sight. In our time we can see the same trends returning. The calls for boycotts of Jewish thinkers at Israeli universities, the rise in anti-Semitic incidents on our streets, the inflamed rhetoric of vilification which culminates in the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call to wipe Israel off the map, are all connected.

As the chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, has so presciently pointed out, anti-Semitism is a virus which mutates. Originally it was the Jewish people’s religious identity which came under attack, and the Church led a programme of forced conversion. Then, as society replaced religion with science as a source of authority, anti-Semitism mutated so that the Jewish people came under attack on racial grounds. Now it is Jewish identity expressed through the right of Israel to self-determination which is the focus of anti-Semitism. Israel, like any state, makes mistakes. Sometimes grievous ones. But many of Israel’s enemies now risk repeating one of the greatest errors of history by infusing anti-Semitism with a new and toxic vibrancy. We see it in some of those who have attached themselves to recent anti-war campaigns, with Britons marching through the streets of London declaring “We are all Hezbollah now” even though Hezbollah is a fascist organisation whose leader is a Holocaust-denier who believes the Jews are “grandsons of apes and pigs”. And we also see the apparent mainstreaming of anti-Semitism in comments such as those of a former ambassador who recently objected to the composition of the Iraq inquiry team because two of its members were Jewish.

When prejudice is unleashed in this way we are all affected. As the chief rabbi has pointed out, what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews. The Nazis targeted gay men and women, Roma, the disabled and Christians of conscience. The BNP are, similarly, as homophobic, Islamophobic and plain, downright racist as they are anti-Semitic.

History teaches us many lessons, if we are willing to pay attention. And one of the most profound is that the best guide to the health of a society has always been how secure its Jewish community feels. Throughout history the freest societies, from 17th-century Holland to 20th-century England, have been those in which Jewish people have felt safest. And over the ages the surest sign that a country is moving away from liberalism has been a growing prejudice towards the Jewish community, whether Vienna a hundred years ago, Germany in the thirties or Russia in the last decade.

It is because that lesson of history is so important that Holocaust Memorial Day is so crucial. And it is because we must ensure the next generation learns those lessons that the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust is so vital. The Trust provides the tools for schools to communicate the lessons of the Holocaust – so that young people can understand the consequences of allowing prejudice to grow. The Trust provides schools with books, maps, images and artefacts from the past as well as a Bafta award-winning production containing the testimonies of survivors. And two students from every school in the country are given the chance to visit Auschwitz and see the site of mankind’s most terrible atrocity with their own eyes.

As the survivors of the Holocaust grow older and we face losing their vivid living testimonies, so the risk of forgetting grows stronger, and with it the risk of repeating history’s mistakes. That is why the Holocaust Educational Trust’s work has never been more necessary, the lessons of history never more relevant and the act of commemoration never more important. Whatever else may divide politicians, the lesson of the last century is that the resurgence of anti-Semitism requires us all to unite against this most poisonous of prejudices.

UCU, lies and institutional racism

January 22nd, 2010 by Mark Gardner

Today’s Jewish Chronicle carries another report of the sad phenomenon whereby Jews are accused of lying when they have the temerity to mention the word antisemitism in the context of anything connected to Israel.  

Three days ago, CST blog noted a series of seminars on antisemitism and the Holocaust, held by University and College Union (UCU) and featuring David Hirsh and Robert Fine amongst others. UCU is, of course, the trade union that has come to symbolise all that is worst about the attitude of many people on the British left towards Israel and the vast majority of Jews. Nevertheless, the invitations to Hirsh and Fine – two serious and highly capable critics of UCU – led me to contemplate the possibility that the seminars might be more than the cynical “fig-leafs” that I had initially feared they would be.

Unfortunately, the Jewish Chronicle report of the first seminar does not instill confidence that anything will change at UCU. It describes the reaction of leading UCU anti-Israel campaigner Tom Hickey to David Hirsh’s presentation as

a traducement of the truth and it’s a straightforward lie and the author knows it. There has been no intimidation — the union and the chief executive would not allow it.

On the Engage website, David Hirsh says of Hickey’s response

Tom Hickey’s point was telling.   Leon Symons is right to report that he accused me, and everybody else who raises the issue of antisemitism in the union of doing so dishonestly – of being liars for Israel.  I responded that by doing so Hickey demonstrates the precise nature of the intimidation.  People who raise the issue of antisemitism in the union are not related to as people with whom the boycotters disagree – there is no debate, presentation of evidence, or arguement – instead they are related as people who are liars for Israel – and denounced as such.  So if you raise a question about antisemitism in the union, somebody will intimidate you by accusing you of being part of a conspiracy to lie in order to try to de-legitimize criticism of Israeli human rights abuses.  People who raise the issue of antisemitism are denounced as liars.  No evidence is ever offered to show that we do not mean what we say.  Ever.

Many people have noted Tom Hickey’s role as an activist for the Socialist Workers Party.

For decades, the SWP has been in the forefront of the British revolutionary left’s ideological assault against Israel and anybody or anything deemed by them to be Zionist. Anti-racism has long been an important cause for the SWP; and certainly a cause that they believe is far too important to be left to ethnic and religious minorities to analyse and decide upon for themselves.

Nevertheless, the SWP and the UCU are supposed to be two (very) different things. There is a very real difference between the SWP having an ideologically influenced interpretation of antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-black racism, homophobia etc, and the UCU branding people as liars for expressing their opinion on what they, as victims, perceive to be racism or bias. 

There was a time, not so long ago, when the Police were held to behave in a very similar manner. The name given to it was “institutional racism”.

The Trades Union Congress website carries a useful explanation of what is meant by “institutional racism”

The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin which can be seen or detected in processes; attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantages minority ethnic people.

How low can Press TV sink?

January 20th, 2010 by Dave Rich

The ongoing disaster in Haiti has quite rightly gripped the attention and touched the emotions of the whole world, since the earthquake a week ago. Countries from all round the world have sent money, supplies, doctors, medical equipment and rescue personnel to help in the aid and rescue effort.

Israel has come in for some praise for its contribution to this international effort. It has set up a field hospital capable of handling 500 cases per day, full of sophisticated medial equipment, and its rescue teams have found people alive, under rubble, several days after the earthquake. CBS called the Israeli field hospital “the Rolls Royce of medicine in Haiti”. Tom Gross has archived several media reports about the Israeli contribution here, if you want to watch them.

This ought to be a time when humanity puts its differences aside to help in a common cause, but there are some people who just cannot stand that idea that Israel could do anything good, or that Israelis have any humanity at all. People like the Iranian state broadcaster Press TV, for example. So what is their response to Israel’s efforts to help the people of Haiti?

Israel harvesting organs in Haiti?

While media reports from Haiti express amazement at Israel’s well-equipped medical delegation to the quake-stricken nation, some critics have warned against organ theft.

The Israeli medical team dispatched to Haiti has set up a field hospital in the tremor-battered Caribbean country, winning Western media praise for doing what even their American peers have not yet managed to accomplish.

But a video posted on Youtube by an American resident of Seattle, Washington on Tuesday took the shine off the Israeli professionalism that media have raved about in the past few days.

In his video, T. West of a group called AfriSynergy Productions suggested that soldiers in the military delegation to the earthquake site in Haiti might be involved in stealing organs from their patients.

He warned that there are people operating in Haiti who do not have a conscience and are members of the search-and-rescue teams, including the Israeli army, Israeli news website Ynet reported on Wednesday.

West recalled organ harvest charges filed against the Israeli army in the past, and pointed out that there is very little monitoring during such tragedies.

He warned the Haitian people to protect their fellow citizens against international medical groups who have arrived in the country in hope of making money off the tragedy.

In a interview with Ynet, West said he had nothing against Israel but fully opposed “the ideology of Zionism.”

“We saw what you did in South Africa and with the Palestinians. Because of our history and the suffering of our people, I understand what the Palestinians are going through.”

Last Tuesday, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake jolted Haiti, leaving an estimated 200,000 people killed — 70,000 of whom have already been buried in mass graves.

West, an African American who does “a talk show and journalism and volunteer for a few non-profit organizations,” appreciated the presence of Israeli military forces and others helping in Haiti, but noted “everywhere there is death, there are exploiters.”

“There needs to be transparency in Haiti,” he urged.

Press TV has developed something of an obsession with peddling the ‘Israeli organ stealing’ story, which has taken the form of a contemporary blood libel. That an Iranian state broadcaster should promote lies about Israel and Jews is sadly not a surprise. That they show such disdain for the ordinary Haitian people whose lives are being saved by Israeli doctors is beyond contempt.

Engaging with UCU

January 19th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

David Hirsh, a leading figure in the Engage grouping, and one of Britain’s foremost thinkers and campaigners against antisemitism, has addressed a “seminar” on antisemitism and the Holocaust, organised by the University and College Union (UCU). Professor Robert Fine, another leading figure  in the struggle against contemporary antisemitism is also due to address another of these seminars. 

Hirsh and Fine should both be thanked for their integrity, commitment and courage.

Hirsh’s excellent speech may be read on the Engage website. It is well worth reading in full and catalogues UCU’s repeated failings to seriously consider antisemitism and related issues. The failures would appear to be quite obviously rooted in the union’s fervent anti-Israel stance, particularly its numerous attempts to boycott Israeli academia.

The meeting addressed by David Hirsh is one of three one-day seminars organised by UCU. In their words:

about the dangers of anti-Semitism to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January 2010.

Jeremy Newmark of the Jewish Leadership Council, told the Jewish Chronicle that the seminars:

are a shameful attempt by UCU to create a fig-leaf for its discriminatory boycott policies. Until UCU investigates the resignations of its Jewish members, apologises for promoting an anti-Jewish hate speaker, abandons its boycott obsession and accepts the findings of the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism’s report, it is institutionally incapable of lecturing others about fighting antisemitism.

The statement accurately summarises the response of many, including myself, to UCU’s announcement of these seminars; and the fact that they are timed to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day compounds my distaste.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that UCU has seen fit to invite figures of the calibre of David Hirsh and Robert Fine, and other notable thinkers such as Brian Klug and Philip Spencer, to address these seminars. It may well simply remain a “fig-leaf“, but we should note that UCU has done more  on this occasion than on all too many previous ones, when they have not shown the remotest understanding or concern. Of course, time will tell.

——-

Postscript

Curiously, the “seminars” became known at around the time of UCU’s trenchant defence of South African activist, Bongani Masuku. A coalition of Jewish representative groups, including CST, had issued a public statement on this, which ended as follows:

UCU’s hosting of Masuku and their refusal to engage with the concerns of the Jewish community follows a pattern: the Union refused to address the resignations of large numbers of Jewish academics from UCU in recent years, and summarily rejected members’ complaints of antisemitism. UCU has allowed its politics on Israel to override the concerns of its Jewish members and students. It appears that UCU simply does not care about the anti-Jewish impact of its activities.

It is now hard to see how UCU can continue to play a constructive role in the Government Group on Antisemitism and Higher Education when its latest actions are likely to encourage antisemitism. The Government should review UCU’s membership of this group as it has failed to oppose antisemitism inside its own structures. UCU cannot credibly be a part of the solution to antisemitism while its activities are encouraging the problem.

Mark Wolfson, writing about the UCU and Masuku on the blog of the Union of Jewish Students, concluded with this: 

How organisations like the UCU can associate with convicted hate-speakers [like Masuku] is bewildering. How they can sit on the Government Group on Antisemitism is simply inexplicable. We are seeing an increasingly narrow political space for discussion on the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is dangerous: Jews and supporters of Israel’s right to exist have already been hounded out of the UCU; how long will it be before some university campuses become no-go areas for Jewish and pro-Israel students?

The tragedy of this obsession is twofold: firstly, the duty of care no longer applies to these students and academics. Secondly, proponents of Israel boycotts will never be challenged to recognize that their reasoning is flawed, their tactics malicious and their leaders wrong. It seems that the line of anti-Zionism and antisemitism has not been crossed: it has been erased.

On CST Blog, Dave Rich noted the use of a potentially antisemitic joke in a UCU meeting 

The campaigns for and against an academic boycott by UCU are both primarily domestic British campaigns. The anti-boycott campaign is not based in or funded from America. So why did Wallis choose to crack a joke about “bank balances from Lehman Brothers”, and not “bank balances from Northern Rock”? Why did he think a New York-based investment bank with a Jewish name was a more suitable prop for his joke than a UK-based high street bank?…

This is where the antisemitism in the comment becomes clear. The joke works because it is about big American Jewish money coming after the little UCU

Contemporary antisemitism normally works through resonances with older, deep-rooted antisemitic topoi of which the person expressing the antisemitic idea is often unaware. I do not accuse Wallis of intending to express an antisemitic idea, or even of understanding how he did. It is clear from his reaction that he is horrified by the notion that this is what he did; but he transmitted an antisemitic idea nonetheless. That his anti-racist literacy stops short of recognising how this is the case, says everything about the blind spot that his part of the left has to contemporary antisemitism.

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