Mohamed during his speech yesterday eveningYouTube/The Cambridge Union

Cn: anti-semitic statements, discussion of the Holocaust and discriminatory comments on gay marriage

At the Cambridge Union yesterday, broadcast live on Malaysian television, Malaysian PM Malathir Mohamed continued with with his track record of making anti-semitic statements, as well as speaking out against gay marriage.

When asked on whether he “regret[s]” statements made about Jewish people in the past, Mohamed replied that “well if they are still true, I will continue to stay with my statements”.

Earlier today on Twitter, the Union of Jewish Students circulated a clip of Mohamed saying “I had some Jewish friends, very good friends, they are not like the other Jews, that’s why they are my friends,” met by laughter from the audience. The UJS commented that “Freedom of speech is not a joke when it incites hatred against one people.”

Mohamed proceeded to claim that he “didn’t say anything against the Holocaust” but that what “the Israelis should know, from their sufferings during the war, is not to treat others like that”.

When pressed on his visit to BBC’s HardTalk in October, which reached headlines for his undermining of the scale of Holocaust deaths – claiming there were four million, rather than the historical consensus of six million – he denied having made these statements, and said “I didn’t say four million, somebody else did.”

In the HardTalk interview, however, he said, “there are many races in this world, I’ve said nasty things about many of them, they never accuse me of anti-this and anti-that,” adding: “But the Israelis are special, you can’t even mention that in the Holocaust it’s not six million but four million who were victims of the Holocaust.”

Earlier this week, a UJS statement said “we are disappointed that the Cambridge Union has taken the decision to host the Malaysian Prime Minister”, as they added that he had used his Oxford Union appearance this year “to double down on his antisemitic rhetoric.”

Mohamed’s invitation sparked criticism from the Cambridge University Labour Club (CULC) earlier yesterday, as they said: “The decision to open their doors to this man downplays the murderous effects of his hate speech.”

The Cambridge Union told Varsity that “our [their] members were able to scrutinise the Prime Minister’s record and indeed they did so”, citing questions on the Prime Minister not criticising American support for Israel, the ban on Israeli swimmers, and his use of generalisations from the moderator and members.

The Union also said that they invited the Cambridge University Jewish Society to attend the event and allowed them to pass flyers “in the interest of free debate”, as well as “relayed” their questions to Mohamed through the moderator. A Jewish Society representative clarified to Varsity that whilst they did check the questions asked by the moderator, and added one of their own, they were not able to print flyers due to very short notice.

The Cambridge University Jewish Society has been contacted for a statement.

The UJS said in a statement that it is “chilling” to see students “laugh off flagrantly antisemitic comments” from Mohamed, and that Mohamed used the Union “to spread his anti-Jewish racism”, as they “warned” would happen.

They argued that free speech “must be balanced against incitement to hatred against a minority group”, and that such sentiments were “exactly what happened” in the event.

When questioned of his conflation of Jews and Israel in his criticism of the Israeli state, he stated that: “in the case of the Jews, of course not all Jews are bad. I had a lot of Jewish friends here in Britain but most of them support the wrong things being done by Israel, gave them money, and of course if you say anything against the Jews you are labelled as anti-semitic.”

“Why is it so difficult, why is it forbidden for us to criticise the Jews when they and other people criticise us?”

He justified generalising ethnic groups by saying that “people do generalise”, and proceeded to question why the Jews “resent” so when “others don’t resent being accused some general characteristic they have”.


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Mohamed also said that he is “waiting for Jews to condemn Israel”, and that by doing so, they “separate themselves from the deeds of Israel”.

In comment to Varsity yesterday, Union Speakers’ Officer Adam Davies said: “The Cambridge Union remains committed to protecting both free speech and the safety of our broader community.

“We have worked with the Union of Jewish Students about how to best safeguard the welfare of everyone during the event, and as with all of our events, we will aim to challenge the Prime Minister’s views directly.

Mohamed has also commented on other issues during the question and answer session.

He claims that he “doesn’t understand this gay marriage,” asking: “can you really get children. What do they do? They can adopt children”

He added that same-sex marriage is a “regressive way of thinking” – ”simply because you think we should be free you can do what you like.”

He argued that if liberal democracy is allowed in Malaysia, the state “will become unstable” as “the races might say nasty things to each other”. However, he remarked that racial remarks should be allowed privately, as “at home they can say what they like about other races”.

On the state’s palm oil trade, Mohamed claimed that the West “invented this idea that we are cutting down trees to plant palm trees, that we are depriving animals of their habitat” because “palm oil is likely to win” against other oils in the market.

This article was updated to include a clarification from the Cambridge University Jewish Society.

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