Mahathir and the Jewish/Muslem double standard?

Ran across the following essay today:

Most of this essay is an attempt to frame Mahathir’s comments in a wider view – why he said them, why many Muslems applauded his speech, and the other things he said that didn’t get mentioned in the Western media. However, this last bit struck me as the most interesting:

Is there a double standard (either real or perceived) at work here? That is, are Western governments quick to condemn broad-brushed attacks on Jews, while being eager to conduct broad-brushed attacks on Muslems? Or is the author simply trying to whitewash Mahathir’s comments by playing “they do it too”?


Are western governments “eager to conduct broad-brushed attacks on Muslims” (not Muslems, btw)?

I have no doubt that if Ariel Sharon came out and said he thought Muslims rule the world thru proxy that western governments would condemn that. But then, when was the last time even someon like Sharon said something like that…?

First we need to see which Western government is “eager to conduct broad-brushed attacks on Moslems”. I don’t know of any. And having one general who is a few kb short of a meg (and under investigation for) being a religious bigot is far, far different from having the President stand up and invoke a disgusting and destructive stereotype of an entire religion while his fellow leaders stand and cheer.

And speaking of the “essence of duplicity”, Mr. Ahmed Nassef (indignant columnist), gotta love this comment: “That’s like being surprised over US Muslims taking advantage of US civil liberties or the Bill of Rights to defend themselves these days against state-sponsored discrimination and harassment. For any minority, especially given the dark Jewish experience in Europe, this is just a matter of survival.”

Yup, American security procedures post-9/11 are exactly like the Holocaust. Great analogy there, bub.

And forgive me if I see Mahathir’s stirring remarks about tolerance and unity as mostly calling for an end to infighting amongst Moslems, so they can unite against the common enemy.

You know who.

The essayist exaggerates his case but there is a double standard. I think Boykin’s comments were about as offensive as Mahatir’s but the administration’s reaction has been a lot more muted. So it isn’t that Bush is personally promoting bigotry but that he is not nearly tough enough in attacking Christian bigotry within his government and his party (eg Falwell). That makes him a lot less credible when he attacks Muslim bigotry.

When it comes to Israel you have charming people like this fellow who is leader of Israel’s third largest party Shas (which has served as a part of ruling coalitions):
When Israel allows such bigots in positions of power it also loses credibility when it complains about other people’s bigotry.

Ovadia Yosef is a loon. He is the Pat Robertson of Israel. I can imagine much of the same stuff coming from Robertson’s mouth. No justification for what he says or the truly miserable experience of Shas, but take it with a grain of salt. He is part of the religious lunatic fringe, although through political wrangling and circumstance he holds more power than he should.

I said in the Pit thread on Mahathir that I thought, as a Jew, that the call to the Muslim world to stop violent actions against the Jewish world and to instead battle them intellectually was a very valuable thing. I think it outweighs all of the anti-Jewish diatribe. I compared it to the US push towrads math and science in the 1950s that was spurred by anti-Communism, manifested in the space race. I quoted Voltaire to show that these kind of opinions – that the Jew is low and dirty but worthy of life – are not new. In fact, these exact opinions led to the relative flourishing of Jewish life during the European enlightenment. Jews only run into problems when their adversaries are out for blood and will not negotiate (or negotiate in bad faith). Non violent competition – intellectual, cultural, and economic – should be welcomed by the Western world, regardless of the motivations. It will only lead to increased education, which may one day lead to a sort of Muslim Enlightenment to sweep away all of the old fixations on Western and Jewish dominance.

The Western World should pick our battles. Of course we should criticize his anti-Semitism, but his proposals for increasing education will only serve to decrease anti-Semitism in the long run anyway. Let’s not be too harsh on the guy.

Boykin is a different situation entirely. Much of the US mission in the Middle East nowadays is building trust, cooperating with the locals, pacifying a population, and rebuilding moderacy. IMHO it is a pretty bad move to put someone with obviously negatively biased views of the people in charge of the reason. No issues with the scale of response, though: we are talking about one of many generals versus the prime minister of a country.

Well, just to pull two examples off the top of my head, we did have Ann Coulter’s “let’s invade their countries and force everyone to convert to Christianity” blunderbuss. And the January 2003 Conservative Political Action Conference (with keynote speaker Dick Cheney) included anti-Islam seminars and folks selling truckloads of virulently anti-Muslim bumper stickers.

Granted, these aren’t the acts of government officials (thank goodness), but I don’t recall any strong condemnation of events like these, either – which could be seen as tacit endorsement of their views.

I agree. If Boykin had been discharged on the spot, it would have sent a clear message to the international Muslim community and helped the United States regain some of the goodwill we’ve lost, IMO.

Let’s not forget his own verbal gaffes, such as “Operation Infinite Justice”, or calling the war on terror a “crusade”… :rolleyes: At the very least, incidents like these show a high level of insensitivity in the Administration (what, nobody involved in planning these things gave a thought about this?)

Which then begs the question of why this aspect of Mahathir’s speech wasn’t given more coverage in the American media.

I think you are being misleading here Jackmannii, that was not the analogy being made. Such analogies are never totally exact. The “dark Jewish experience in Europe” is wider than the holocaust, and legal attacks on any minorities before or after 9/11 surely deserve to be countered by any legal tools available.

Could not the reference to the Jewish experience be an attempt to show empathy and a shared experience between Muslims and Jews rather seeking to cause offence? I take it as such.

Unless you feel sensitivity on the Holocaust means that any analogy touching upon it by non-Jews is deemed offensive? Of course you are perfectly entitled to define what you find offensive to you…


I think unfortunately people will see mainly that which they find offensive in such a speech. We have clashed before about only seeing that which supports our preconceptions.

I agree it was inflamatory and whole chunks are disgraceful and should never have been delivered. This goes for many of Mahathir’s speeches over the years but he is smarter than people give him credit for.

For instance in economics, his rejection of the IMF/WB cure of a floating exchange rate to the Asian economic crisis proved justified in avoiding Malaysia joining the meltdown. That was widely condemned as an inevitable failure by the West at the time but has proved rationale and justified by events since.

Perhaps the fact that Shas is no longer part of the coalition and is, following the 2003 elections. now only the fourth largerst party is part of the point? That is - Israeli citizens (eventually) recognize a lunatic bigot for what he is, and then lower their support for him [down from 17/120 seats to 11/120 following the elections. 30% less, and - apparently from later public opinion polls - counting…].
Show me where this kind of “centralization” is taking place in the Arab or Muslim world. When it does happen, rational discourse and negotiations should become so much easier…

Dan Abarabnel

Read into it what you like, but it’s clear that Nassef is trying to compare “state-sponsored discrimination and harassment” against Arabs in the U.S. to the Holocaust, a completely ludicrous and offensive bit of Godwinism. If it was not an equally offensive mixed religious metaphor, I’d suggest that he get down off the cross.

I’m glad that Mathahir has stood tough against the floating exchange rate. :smiley:

"If Boykin had been discharged on the spot, it would have sent a clear message to the international Muslim community and helped the United States regain some of the goodwill we’ve lost, IMO."


Quite simple. He did not mention the holocaust. You did.

But that is not why I am posting. What does a “Godwinism”??

It means nothing to me but I have seen it on these boards a few times now and think it is time I knew. A cross-cultural loss I assume. Clearly not complementary though to the offendee…

Ah, and what branch of government is she in? Yes, you did grudgingly admit she wasn’t in the government, but it is fundamentally dishonest to bring her up as an answer to a question about which GOVERNMENTS do something and then weasel about it immediately afterwards.

Now, try an honest answer. What Western GOVERNMENTS are eager to conduct broad-brushed attacks on Muslims, on ALL Muslims? An honest anwer this time.

I expect no reply from you.

So, which part of the US government are you going to blame for this?

I’ve got a question for you: What aspects of US officials’ speeches are not adequately covered in Arab and Muslim media? Why do they automatically get cut slack by you but US media doesn’t? Is it because you presume that they “just can’t be presumed to know any better”? Where are your denunciations of one-sided and unfair coverage of the USA by Arab or Muslim news outlets?

Your attempt to minimize his false and offensive analogy is unconvincing.

I was referring to Godwin’s law, in which classically the first person in an online debate to invoke Hitler and/or Nazism in an attempt to smear the opposition is recognized to have lost said debate. Thus, Nassef’s attempts to compare the “state-sponsored discrimination and harassment” against Arabs in the U.S. to the “dark Jewish experience in Europe”* can be considered to fall under Godwin’s law.
*What do you think he was referring to, if not the Holocaust? The Dreyfus case? Dubious ethnic humor?

It’s pretty damn obvious what he meant. And aside from his analogy being false, trivialization of the Holocaust is highly offensive in itself.

Godwin’s Law

Surely then according to classical Godwinism theory, you just lost the debate.

It is pretty damn obvious what he meant if you believe people mean what they say until you have a reason to believe otherwise.

The “dark Jewish experience in Europe” means exactly what it says, from the first Christian persectutions onwards. Just as the “dark Jewish experience in the Promised Land” would have included their treatment by the biblical Egyptians…

I find your rush to seek out circumstances where you can allege trivialization of the holocaust itself highly offensive. You have no shame.

Actually dismissing Boykin would be just as bad as retaining him. Think about it. If they got rid of Boykin, then that would make him the darling of the Christian right in the US - the same way attacking Saddam Hussein earlier this year could potentially make him an Arab martyr.

Also if the Defence Department sacked him, Boykin would be able to speak freely what he thinks about Islam, Arabs, terrorism - without fear of punishment (because the government can no longer “control” what he says), and his words would command authority since they come from an ex-general. Once you cut away that leash, the damage Boykin can inflict could be worse than what it is now.

Besides, the man is in his 80’s, and lately seems to be losing touch with reality. There’s been a direct correlation between his deteriorating mental abilities (added to the loss of his protege Aryeh Deri, which seemed to take a major toll on his psyche) and his party’s slippage in the polls.

He’s also an asshole. Always has been. That’s why I vote Shinui.

As appalling and stupid as Boykin’s remarks were, would it be legal to dismiss him for making those comments at a church, in a non-governmental talk? In a country with “free speech?” I’m not standing up for the moron, I just wonder if it would be possible to dismiss him under those circumstances.

“I find your rush to seek out circumstances where you can allege trivialization of the holocaust itself highly offensive.”

And I find your allegation of a rush to allege trivialization even more…oh, fer crying out loud. Get over the urge to commit playground-style retorts.

You have no shame.

Too bad. But I’ll settle for logic and reading comprehension.

If you believe Nassef was lumping in the entire history of persecution of Jews in Europe *on top of * the Holocaust, in order to compare that to U.S. government treatment of Arabs post-9/11, the comparison is even more ludicrous and offensive. Surely you can see that.
The only real fallout to dismissing Boykin would be political. And I’m not overly sympathetic to Bush’s need to avoid angering the Christian right.
Cutting Boykin loose would have strengthened our message that Islam is not a target of the U.S. And we need that message to be as strong as possible.

Where is “Israel” complaining about other people’s bigotry?


I thought it was the nations of the West who were complaining about it.

Also, Jews != Israel. Just so you know.