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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — Despite being the first Malaysian to address the prestigious Oxford Union, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has drawn the ire of Jewish students at Oxford University.
In a statement yesterday, the Oxford Jewish Society expressed its concerns over Dr Mahathir’s speech, citing his previous anti-Semitic remarks.
“Prime Minster [Mahathir] is an open and unrepentant anti-Semite, accusing Jews of ‘Nazi cruelty’ and seeking to wipe out all Muslims, has said ‘anti-Semitic’ is ‘an invented term to prevent criticising Jews for doing wrong’, as well as indulging in Holocaust denial.
“Given an opportunity to reframe his comments on a recent edition of BBC’s Hardtalk, he instead chose to refer to Jews as ‘hook-nosed’,” its president Nicole Jacobus said.
In the interview with British national broadcaster BBC in October, Dr Mahathir said he still held the views that caused him to be previously accused of anti-Semitism.
Dr Mahathir was labelled by western media as anti-Semitic after he repeated his claim from the 1970s that Jews are “hook-nosed” and blamed them for creating the troubles in the Middle East.
The prime minister is expected to give a speech today at the Union during a four-day working visit to the United Kingdom, which commenced yesterday.
After months of planning, Tun M will finally make his appearance at the Oxford Union. He will be the first Malaysian & democratically-elected leader from ASEAN to be invited to speak at the esteemed Union.— Syed Saddiq (@SyedSaddiq) January 15, 2019
18/1/2019. Can’t wait!
Malaysia, the tiger of Asia! pic.twitter.com/39ul7hjLdp
In a report, London-based Jewish News also quoted British pro-Jewish group Community Security Trust communications director Mark Gardner as claiming the visit would cause uneasiness among Jewish students there.
“Clearly, many Jews, and Jewish students in particular, will be deeply concerned that such an unrepentant anti-Semite is apparently very welcome at the Oxford Union,” he reportedly said.
A spokesman for the Union of Jewish Students of the United Kingdom and Ireland was also quoted as supporting Jacobus’ remark.
Earlier this week, Dr Mahathir said the government is firm in prohibiting Israeli athletes from participating in the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships to be held in Kuching later this year.
The ban on the Israeli athletes has elicited an objection from the Olympic Committee of Israel which has continued to pressure the organisers to have visas issued to their athletes.