All the hullabaloo about Mahathir’s speech

Soon after Doctor Mahathir’s speech at the OIC conference, a plethora of condemnation of his remarks about Jews was heard across the western world. Peter Jennings, the ABC anchorman, called him a ‘loose cannon.’ [1] The spokesmen for the Israeli government and the US State Department were equally harsh in their criticism, the latter calling the remarks contemptuous and derisive. [2] Doctor Mahathir does not deserve such myopic and hasty judgment from anyone, and surely not from those who epitomize hypocrisy. (Note that when Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi condemned all Muslims as ‘terrorists’, we did not hear anyone, neither in the EU nor in our media, condemn his offensive remarks!)

I have read Doctor Mahathir’s entire speech a couple of times and failed to find signs of anti-Semitism. It is wrong to accuse him of anti-Semitism by quoting a sentence or two out of context from his very long speech. His speech was simply magnificent. Like an elderly statesman, a caring grandpa, that he is, he was able to articulate the flaws of current Muslim thinking and methodologies, and provided a blueprint to reclaim their lost heritage. He provided examples after examples to prepare the future generation for ascendancy and to exemplify ‘sabr’ (patience) for surely the path of violence is futile. Political problems cannot be solved by military means. The Muslim nation needs to invigorate them through education. [3]

Mahathir’s was a very timely speech for a nation – that has been marginalized, that is going through (probably) its worst time in history, that has been equated with terrorism and violence, that sees nothing but hypocrisy emanating from godfathers of our world. There are rotten smell of decadence and signs of hopelessness everywhere. Muslims see how Chechnya has been razed to the ground, surrendered to a massacring Russian army whose abuse of human rights would have raised the eyebrows of Pharaoh and Hulagu Khan. And no one — not the UN, not the EU, not world public opinion, not any one of the democracies that are so proud of their principles –” cries ‘bloody murder.’ And worse still, Bush strengthens the knot of friendship with Putin and blames the Chechens for “spreading all the chaos and destruction, not Russian carpet-bombing.” Thirsty for Russian oil and natural gas, the European Union swallows its principles and rolls over like a pleased dog. [4] Kashmir bleeds to death, thanks again to a Hindu fanatic government that rules the so-called largest democracy in the world and yet is unwilling to resolve the matter peacefully through a UN-mandated plebiscite. What an arrogance!

Muslims see how Palestinians have been uprooted from their ancestral homes and how Israel sets the Apartheid wall and violates, with total immunity, human rights and international laws, committing war crimes that few dare commit. Who would have thought that the children of Holocaust, Hitler’s gas chambers, would one day perfect the art of mass murder and ethnic cleansing through a slow but sustained process? Humanity cries, ‘How could you do this heinous crime, when you were once the victims yourselves of such monumental crimes?’ But who listens! Yet, the genocidal maniac Sharon is rewarded handsomely for his demonic activities and is treated as a ‘celebrity’ in the White House. Muslims ask: “Why? Are we the children of lesser God?” They feel mutilated and hopeless as is echoed by Mahathir when he said, “There is a feeling of hopelessness among the Muslim countries and their people. They feel that they can do nothing right. They believe that things can only get worse. The Muslims will forever be oppressed and dominated by the Europeans and the Jews. They will forever be poor, backward and weak. … But is it true that we … can do nothing for ourselves? Is it true that 1.3 billion people can exert no power to save themselves from the humiliation and oppression inflicted upon them by a much smaller enemy? Can they only lash back blindly in anger? Is there no other way than to ask our young people to blow themselves up and kill people and invite the massacre of more of our own people?”

But hope is essential for life and sanity. In this context, Mahathir said: “It cannot be that there is no other way. 1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews.” He reminds me of a saying of Ali (R) who said, “He is the wisest and the most knowing man who advises people not to lose hope and confidence in the Mercy of God and not to be too sure and over confident of immunity from His Wrath and Punishment.” [5] Truly, Muslims needed to be reminded by one of their own, someone who has successfully run a pluralist country for more than two decades, not to lose hope and to act properly that would benefit their nation in the future.

Mahathir was very positive about the Jewish people’s achievement – who excel in many fields of our world, from trade and commerce to science and technology. But at the same time, any objective analyst cannot shy away from reaching the same kind of conclusions that Doctor Mahathir had reached. That is not anti-Semitism, but accepting the realities of Zionist onslaught –” how a bunch of mischievous people is trying to hijack Judaism from its more humane teachings, how they have corrupted their faith and given a bad name to their noble religion and their people. It is this group of vultures who believed that ‘universal brotherhood is not even a beautiful dream, antagonism is essential to men’s greatest efforts.’ [6] Such being the thesis of Zionism, it is easy to see why UN Resolution 242 and others have been ineffective in halting the plunder of Palestinian lands in full view of the world community.

How can any conscientious human being be oblivious of how Israel and her Zionist supporters in many parts of the world influence global politics? Who could deny the influence of powerful pro-Israeli lobbies in the Capitol Hill? Why do we have a different set of standards for Israel in this country? Why does Washington overlook Israel’s state-sponsored terrorism? Why did Bush go to war in Iraq if it was not for establishing hegemony for the USA and Israel? Why is he unperturbed about wanton killings of Palestinians by Israeli army? Why does his Administration block condemnation of Israeli savagery in the UN? Why does he endorse nominations of anti-Muslim bigots to powerful positions? [His administration has no problem in condoning the highly offensive and irresponsible remarks of members of his inner circle or the men in uniform. [7] But when he cries foul about Mahathir’s remarks, it only proves his hypocrisy and nothing else.] Why does he surround himself with people whose loyalty is more to the state of Israel than for the good of the American nation? Why this deception about ‘Palestinian Roadmap,’ when his own advisers are working towards fulfilling the Zionist dreams about Eretz Israel? Look at all the neocons that are the ‘brains’ behind the most powerful nation on the earth. [8] Just last week, while the Muslim world’s attention was focused around Malaysia that hosted the conference of Muslim leaders from 57 nation-states, many of our neocon hawks were attending the first-ever Jerusalem Summit in Jerusalem, Israel, to ensure that the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River of Jordan (including the Occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank) remains as part of Eretz Israel. [9] Mahathir’s remarks about ‘proxy war’ is for this group of powerful individuals who run our world from behind the scenes, who have been dubbed as ‘princes of darkness.’ His remark was not meant for general body of Jewish people, as is quite evident when he said, “We also know that not all non-Muslims are against us. Some are well disposed towards us. Some even see our enemies as their enemies. Even among the Jews there are many who do not approve of what the Israelis are doing. We must not antagonize everyone. We must win their hearts and minds. We must win them to our side not by begging for help from them but by the honorable way that we struggle to help ourselves.”

For years, their forefathers were despised and harangued in the ghettos of Europe. They were enslaved, beaten and spat upon. A hundred years after the French Revolution, one of their kind, Capt. Dreyfus, an accused spy, was taunted with racial slurs on the streets of Paris, a place which gave rise to modern slogans of ‘equality, liberty and fraternity.’ Christians tried to eliminate them en masse from the face of the globe. And it so appeared as if the Jewish people had lost everything. Almost! Not quite so. Not their brains! That – they did not allow to be enslaved at the altar of Inquisition and Holocaust. By the dawn of the 19th century, not too long after the Paris trial incident of Capt. Dreyfus, they already had become a community that was powerful both intellectually and financially. [10] As much as they had the slave-traders and bankers like Rothschilds [11] to modern day financial tycoons like George Soros, who could deny the fact that they also have enormously enriched our world with people like Martin Buber, Karl Marx, Moses Mendelssohn, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Richard Feynmann [12] and Noam Chomsky (just to name a few)?

In his speech, Doctor Mahathir invited Muslims to learn from the Jewish example, to use ‘brains’ rather than ’emotions’, and cautioned against being impatient and doing irresponsible things that hurt Muslims in today’s world. He was also very critical about sectarianism among Muslims and the misplaced preferences among certain sectors of the Ummah, especially the ulama, on mundane matters that led to Muslims’ lack of interest in science and technology.

In the aftermath of 9/11, many apologists have emerged in the Muslim world that tries to sideline the real issues and raise storm over teapots. Doctor Mahathir has been a lone Muslim leader who had the guts to say the right things, when Muslims needed such so dearly. For too long Muslims have let themselves to be ruled by clowns and despots, whose allegiance is mostly to those who are determined to cripple their people in all respects. Mahathir has been an exception to that line of pathetic rulers. He has been independent, courageous, statesmanlike and visionary. Truly, if Muslim world had more wise leaders like him, they would not be in the malaise state where they find themselves today. All Muslims should be proud of having a leader like Mahathir who could speak for them.


[1]. ABC World News, Oct. 16, 2003.

[2]. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 17, 2003, page A5.

[3]. The Prophet of Islam Muhammad (S) said, “Knowledge of God is my capital. Reason is the root of my faith. Love is my foundation. Enthusiasm is my horse. Remembrance of God is my friend. Firmness is my treasure. Sorrow is my companion. Science is my weapon. Patience is my mantle. Contentment is my booty. …” [Shifa Qadi Iyad: narrated by Ali (R)] He also said, “The word of wisdom is [like] the lost property of a wise man. So wherever he finds it, he is entitled to it.” [Tirmizi: narrated by Abu Hurayrah (R)]


[5]. See: The Book of Wisdom in Islam by H. Siddiqui.

[6]. See the Jewish State by Theodor Herzl.

[7]. See, for instance, the remarks of Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, Pentagon’s deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Of a 1993 battle with a Somali warlord, he said, “I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol.” Appearing before an Oregon religious group in June ’03, he said that Islamic extremists hate the USA “because we are a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian … And the enemy is a guy named Satan.” When asked to comment on such offensive remarks, Donald Rumsfeld said, “We are a free people. And that’s the wonderful thing about our country.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 17, 2003, pg. A14)

[8]. (almost all the neocon hawks from Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz to Michael Ledeen and Frank Gaffney Jr. come from Jewish background, and are diehard supporters of the State of Israel).

[9]. (the speakers included Perle, Pipes, Ledeen and Gaffney, Jr., among others).

[10]. The Jewish State by Theodor Herzl


[12]. I am tempted here to quote an excerpt from the book “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynmann”:
(Phone rings)
Feynmann: "Hello"
Voice: "Is this Dr. Feynmann?"
Feynmann: "Yes"
Voice: "Dr. Richard P. Feynmann?"
Feynmann: "Yes"
Voice: "Dr. Feynmann, I’m so-and-so, the United States Ambassador to the Court of King Gustav V of Denmark. It is my distinct pleasure to inform you that you have been awarded the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physics."
Feynmann: "Do you have any idea what the hell time it is in California?"
Voice: "I beg your pardon?"
Feynmann: "It is three o’clock in the goddamn morning. Call back after nine."