PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad tonight slammed western countries for taking sides with Israel instead of calling out Jerusalem for crimes against Palestine, strong views that have seen the prime minister being labelled as anti-Semitic.
“There is nothing ambiguous or vague about the plight of the Palestinians,” Mahathir told an event with the Palestinian community here, referring to the decades-long struggle for Palestinian rights in the Middle East.
“It is a story about a once free people who have lost their land forcibly through a brutal occupation and this was committed blatantly for the whole world to see.”
He said for decades, western colonialists have “conveniently passed their baggage to Palestine”, while Palestinians had not had a single day of respite.
“Instead of being grateful for being given an opportunity to lead a life without persecution and pogroms, as they had suffered in Europe, the Israelis decided to persecute Palestinians, whose land they occupied illegally,” he added.
Their persection has ranged from apartheid, genocide, terrorism, killings, murders to land grab, he said and these crimes are “still being pursued by the Israelis”.
Their “terrorism” and “militancy” are a direct result of the state-sponsored terrorism committed by Israel, he claimed, a matter “conveniently ignored or brushed aside by the powerful western nations”.
“And attempts by any nation to raise issue with it will result in it being labelled anti-Semitic, a strong reason for the western countries to impose sanctions and other punitive measures on those who speak up against Israel,” he said.
“Today, too, the very nations that created the monstrosity called Israel, are still up to their mischief, rewarding Israel with Jerusalem, by declaring it Israel’s capital.”
Mahathir claimed that Israel kept “violating international laws and human rights daily”, saying Israeli settlements are built every day while Palestinians are denied access to their own lands.
“Nations that insist on being the defenders of human rights seem helpless or are intentionally being oblivious to Israel’s murderous rampage and remain silent over the widespread belief of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and weapons of mass destruction.
“Therefore, standing up for Palestine is a moral obligation and Malaysia will continue to condemn Israel for its aggression and cruelties on Palestinians,” he said.
Mahathir was speaking at a breaking-of-fast event with the Palestinian community at Puspanitapuri here. The event was organised by the Palestinian Cultural Organisation Malaysia (PCOM).
Present was Mahathir’s wife, Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, federal minister Saifuddin Nasution, deputy ministers Steven Sim and Marzuki Yahya and Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar.
Also in attendance tonight was Palestinian political leader and the former head of the Islamic Palestinian organisation Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement), Khaled Mashal.
Mahathir, meanwhile, also announced that Putrajaya will be giving select scholarships, through PCOM, for Palestinian students to pursue their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and also PhD courses in 12 Malaysian universities.
Mahathir also reaffirmed Malaysia’s commitment to the Palestinian cause. “We have and will always stand by you,” he said. “And we will not keep quiet as long as we see the atrocities and injustices committed by the Israeli regime.”
Neither will Malaysia be silent as “we witness the hypocrisy of the powerful nations in dealing with the Palestinian plight and their continuous support for Israel’s crimes against humanity”, he said.