New Malaysia PM Has Record of Antisemitism

By Zalman Ahnsaf

Malaysia’s King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, right, and newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, left, take part in the swearing-in ceremony at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur, Thursday. (Mohd Rasfan/Pool Photo via AP)

YERUSHALAYIM – The new prime minister of Malaysia will likely be no friendlier to Israel than his predecessor.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as prime minister in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, ending five days of uncertainty after none of the political parties won a majority in the election.

Malaysia’s king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, named Anwar, 75, as the nation’s 10th leader after saying he was satisfied that Anwar is the candidate who is likely to have majority support, according to the AP.

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad was unapologetic about his antisemitic views, saying once while in office that he was glad to be called antisemitic, as he accused “hook-nosed” Jews of running the world.

Anwar hasn’t seemed much different. In 2010, B’nai B’rith International sent a letter to the State Department, the Senate and the House, asking them to cut ties with him over “anti-Jewish and anti-Israel slanders, such as his assertion that Israeli spies are ‘directly involved in the running of the government.’”

Ibrahim has also accused Jews of controlling a public relations firm hired by the Malaysian prime minister and claimed that he has evidence of Israeli influence on the Malaysian government.

“In light of the role that Ibrahim has played in the resurgence of anti-Semitic polemics in Malaysian politics,” the letter continues, “we ask that U.S. officials suspend their ties with Anwar Ibrahim. A purveyor of anti-Jewish hatred such as Ibrahim should not enjoy the measure of legitimacy that a positive relationship with the United States would confer upon him,” the letter read.

However, Anwar got into trouble over a 2012 statement to the Wall Street Journal saying “I support all efforts to protect the security of the State of Israel.”

It caused a furor in Malaysia, whose population is pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel.

Anwar was forced to respond to the comments as they were publicized again during his recent electoral campaign, claiming that he is “the number one fighter for the Palestinian people in our country.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Anwar on Thursday, saying in a statement: “We remain committed to working with Malaysia to advance a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region.” 

Malaysia has no formal ties with Israel, and has not been mentioned on the list of Arab and Muslim states that might engage in normalization talks following the Abraham Accords.

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