July 18, 2019

ADL CEO Calls Malaysia PM’s Anti-Semitic Remarks ‘Disturbing’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed’s anti-Semitic comments at a June 17 speaking appearance at Cambridge Union “disturbing” in a tweet.

Cambridge Union Speakers Officer of the Union Adam Davies asked Mohamed, “Why do you say that the Jewish people in general are inclined towards money?” Mohamed responded, “I have some Jewish friends, very good friends. They are not like the other Jews, that’s why they are my friends.”

Mohamed’s answer prompted laughter from the audience.

Greenblatt tweeted, “Unclear what is more disturbing: Malaysian PM Mahathir’s #antiSemitic comments or the audience’s laughter in response. Shameful that the Cambridge Union saw fit to provide a platform to this unrepentant anti-Semite.”

The American Jewish Committee similarly tweeted Mohamed’s comments “should have drawn horrified gasps, not laughter.”

Cambridge Union defended their decision to invite Mohamed in a statement posted to Twitter, saying that Davies and members of the audience challenged the Malaysian prime minister on prior anti-Semitic statements. They also claimed that the video showing laughter from the audience was “selectively edited.

The U.K. Campaign Against Anti-Semitism disputed Cambridge Union’s defense, arguing that Mahathir’s past statements were only “meekly” challenged that “the laughter came from across the crowd, including your own members.”

Mahathir has a long history of anti-Semitic remarks, including a 2012 blog post stating, “I am glad to be labeled anti-Semitic.” Malaysia lost the opportunity to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships after the Malaysian government barred Israeli athletes from participating in the tournament.