Chancellor Kurz raised concerns about antisemitism in his meeting in Vienna with Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.  Bearing in mind the horrific culmination of European antisemitism during the Second World War, we accept his legitimate fears of antisemitism rearing its ugly head anywhere. 

But we would like to point out that antisemitism is a disease peculiar to European Christianity and other western societies but not to Asia. The anti-Israel movement in Malaysia, of which Boycott, Divest, Sanctions Malaysia (BDS Malaysia) is a part, is not in any way antisemitic. Just like the Austrian chancellor, we abhor all forms of antisemitism and do not wish to be associated with any of them. We have no problems whatsoever with anyone of Jewish ethnicity or, for that matter, any ethnicity. One’s ethnicity is no more and no less an accident of birth. But we do have problems with Zionists whether they are Jews or non-Jews because of the undeniable suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of Israel, one which after seven decades has gone on for far too long.

Barring Israelis from our country cannot be interpreted as a kind of antisemitism. We do it because we do not want to be exploited by the Zionist propaganda machine as an example of a Muslim-majority country which finds Israeli oppression of Palestinians acceptable. Our boycott of Israel in all areas continues because of this and because of our support for the Palestinian cause. 

We are not anti-Jewish at any level. Vocal critics of Israel such as Miko Peled, Dr Peter Slezak, Ms Anna Baltzer and the leader of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Ms Zohar Regev have all visited Malaysia. We couldn’t care less that they are Jews. But we cared a great deal that their voices as individuals who are demanding a just and genuine end to the conflict be heard by the Malaysian public. Mr Peled’s visit was hosted by Dr Mahathir himself. So much for Dr Mahathir’s antisemitism.

We would respectfully direct Chancellor Kurz’s attention to the following concerns. 

1. Having declared Austria to be a friend and partner of Israel, is that an endorsement or moral support for the apartheid and heinous policies of the Israeli government against Palestinians? If it is not, Austria should speak up and publicly object to those policies. What are friends for if they do not point out the error of one’s way? If it is, then Austria is in no position to lecture others about the racist nature of antisemitism.    

2. The Israeli government for self-serving reasons is in the habit of branding all criticisms of its actions and policies as antisemitic. While an antisemite correctly means a person who does not like Jews, it is becoming to mean a person the Israeli government does not like such is the ease it uses that accusation against its critics. Chancellor Kurz should be concerned that in his opposition to antisemitism he does not become an unwitting party to such dishonest attempts to stifle free speech and legitimate criticisms of Israeli actions.

3. The Israeli government claims to speak and act in the name of all Jews in the world, despite clear evidence that it does not. This deliberate conflation of ‘Jew’ and ‘Israeli’, especially involving acts which are clear violations of the human rights of Palestinians, plays no small part in fueling antisemitism. Rising antisemitism suits the Israeli government if it leads to higher Jewish emigration to Israel. Surely this is a matter which Chancellor Kurz should address his concern about to the Israeli government. 


back to top