It is always interesting that some of the worst anti-Semitic Islamic nations are not even Arabs.
by Robert Fulford
In Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, politicians and civil servants devote a surprising amount of time to thinking about Israel, 7,612 km away. Sometimes they appear to be obsessed by it. Malaysia has never had a dispute with Israel, but the government encourages the citizens to hate Israel and also to hate Jews whether they are Israelis or not.
Few Malaysians have laid eyes on a Jew; the tiny Jewish community emigrated decades ago. Nevertheless, Malaysia has become an example of a phenomenon called “Anti-Semitism without Jews.” Last March, for instance, the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department sent out an official sermon to be read in all mosques, stating that “Muslims must understand Jews are the main enemy to Muslims as proven by their egotistical behaviour and murders performed by them.” About 60% of Malaysians are Muslim.
In Kuala Lumpur, it’s routine to blame the Jews for everything from economic failures to the bad press Malaysia gets in foreign (“Jewish-owned”) newspapers.
The leaders of the country assume that Jews and Israelis deserve to be humiliated as often as possible. In 1984, the New York Philharmonic cancelled a visit because the Malaysian information minister demanded that a composition by Ernest Bloch, an American Jewish composer who died in 1959, be eliminated from their program. [........] The government banned Schindler’s List, calling it anti-German and pro-Jewish propaganda. The same government later decided it could be shown if seven scenes were cut. Steven Spielberg refused, so the government removed all his films from Malaysia’s screens.
In 2003, the prime minister’s political party gave delegates to the United Malays National Organization copies of Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic book from the 1920s, The International Jew, a favourite of Hitler, translated into Bahasa Malay.
For half a century, Israel has tried to establish diplomatic relations, but Kuala Lumpur has always replied that Muslim opinion makes that politically impossible. Instead, Malaysia has joined the Arab campaign to defame Israel. Trade with Israel is officially banned — but goes on nevertheless, through covert arrangements with third countries. (Sales of products from Israel’s Intel computer chip factory to Malaysia amount to many millions of dollars a year. Malaysian policy softens temporarily when confronted with certain products at the right price.)
It’s only when we grasp the unremitting and mindless hostility of countries such as Malaysia that we begin to understand the pain and difficulty of Israel’s place in the world. This is the context in which we should think about the Harper government’s pro-Israel policy. Israel faces automatic enmity from all the Arab nations, most other Muslim-dominated states and the many organizations in democratic countries that dedicate themselves to showering abuse on Israel (and no one else) in the name of human rights.
Except during civil wars, no other state, not even the worst dictatorship, not even Iran or China, is so badly and so often maligned. Now only Canada and the United States (in certain moods) give Israel the benefit of the doubt.
Yet many Canadians apparently believe that there is something unfair in this situation, not in the invective heaped on Israel but in Canada’s habit of friendship with the only democracy in the Middle East. It’s argued that this policy has done harm to Canada. Jeffrey Simpson of The Globe and Mail says that because of our attitude to Israel, “Canada’s reputation in the Arab world is mud.”
That phrase “honest broker” seems to me one of the most dubious of Canadian clichés. I have not once in several decades seen it applied to us by a citizen of some other country. In my experience, it’s one of those compliments many Canadians, and only Canadians, pay to Canada. Burman expresses nostalgia for an attribute that hasn’t existed, so far as I’m aware, since the 1950s.
Simpson says the Harper government’s policy is based on a simple-minded black-and-white view, on the evangelical Christian streak among Conservatives, on the idea that Israel is a democracy and Arab countries are not and on a hope of prying Canadian Jews away from the Liberals.
Or, just possibly, there might be another reason: Because it’s the right thing to do.
Read the rest – Anti-Semitsm without Jews