The Corner

Since There Is a “Human Rights Commission”…

An NGO appeals to the U.N.:

WORLD UNION FOR PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM

UNION MONDIALE POUR LE JUDAISME LIBERAL

WUPJ c/o Beith-GIL – 12 Quai du Seujet – 1201 Geneva

URGENT APPEAL TO ACTING HCHR BERTRAND RAMCHARAN

on Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad’s Madding Judeophobia

21 October 2003

The world has been following with consternation, indifference or joy the scandal provoked by the Judeophobic diatribe of Prime Minister Muhathir bin Mohamad. The occasion was his opening address on 16 October at the 10th Summit of the 57 Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, when he received a standing ovation. Malaysia is one of 53 Members States of the Commission on Human Rights.

Former High Commissioner Sergio Vieira De Mello strongly condemned all antisemitism – as you did in Vienna on 17 June at a seminar on ‘Human Rights Methodology and Antisemitism’, when you stated: “Denial is not an option.” Here are the wise words in his landmark Report to the last session of the UNCHR:

“Membership of the Commission on Human rights must carry responsibilities. I therefore wonder whether the time has not come for the Commission itself to develop a code of guidelines for access to membership of the Commission and a code of conduct for members while they serve on the Commission. After all, the Commission on Human Rights has a duty to humanity and the members of the Commission must themselves set the example of adherence to the international human rights norms – in practice as well as in law.” (E/CN.4/2003/14, § 5)

In fact, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was simply true to form. Already in October 1986, a day after PLO-dissident Abu Nidal’s killers massacred 23 Jews at worship in Istanbul’s “Gates of Peace” (“Neve Shalom”) synagogue, he told the 101-Member Movement of the Non-Aligned countries (Harare, Zimbabwe): “The expulsion of Jews from the Holy Land some two thousand years ago and the Nazi oppression have taught them nothing. If at all, it has transformed the Jews into the very monsters that they condemn so roundly in their propaganda material. They are apt pupils of Dr Goebbels.” (NYT/IHT 8 Oct. 1986). On that occasion also, not

one Non-Aligned delegation reacted. Two months later Malaysia inaugurated an “Anti-Jews Day” (NYT, 8 Dec. 1986), and during his State visit to Great Britain in July 1987 he again affirmed: “The Jews have been apt pupils of Dr. Goebbels.” In March 1994 Schindler’s List was banned in Malaysia – on the grounds that it was “Jewish propaganda.” In 1997 he blamed the Asian financial crisis on the “Jews,” explaining his views: “We are Muslims, and the Jews are not happy to see Muslims progress.”

We appeal to you as Acting High Commissioner to exercise your “duty to humanity,” making your voice heard at a period of growing antisemitism, greatly exemplified and amplified by the racist remarks of a Head of State, and then loudly applauded. Yesterday, at the Southeast Asia Economic Cooperation Forum, retiring Malaysian Prime Minister maintained his madding Judeophobia: “they [Jews] control the world … There are not many Jews in the world. But they are so arrogant they defy the world.” (Bangkok Post, 20 Oct.)

In the 1930s, the League of Nations and the then ‘international community’ remained silent. We are making this urgent appeal to you on behalf of the World Union for Progressive Judaism — comprising over 1,000 congregations and about 2 million Liberal and Reform Jews worldwide — to speak out clearly NOW.

Rabbi François Garaï (Main Representative)

David G. Littman

(Representative)

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