A dive into the deep end of antisemitism

Be shocked by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s wicked ban on disabled Israeli swimmers at the World Para Swimming Championships in his country, but not surprised.

Zealots of his ilk are turning Muslim antisemitism across Asia and the Middle East into an epidemic, poisoning everything from politics to sport. Even the Miss World contest is not immune.

“We maintain our stand on the prohibition,” the execrable antisemite, who famously called Jews “hook-nosed” on BBC’s HARDtalk, lectured this week. “If they (the Israelis) come, it is a violation. If the International Paralympic Committee wants to withdraw Malaysia’s right to host the championship, they can do so.”

Israeli Paralympic swimmer Inbal Pezaro (Razi Livnat/Wikipedia)

The silence surrounding Malaysia’s racism is almost as sickening. Where is the outrage? Where is the condemnation? Where are the boycott threats among the 70 countries sending swimmers?

A paltry 1,600 people, one imagines virtually all appalled UK Jews, have signed an online petition demanding the country reverses its decision.

Meanwhile, Mohamad is being welcomed this week here in the UK with open arms on a four-day visit, which includes an invitation to speak in Oxford University’s famous debating chamber on Friday 18 January.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad

Asked to comment on the ban by Jewish News, the British Paralympic Association trod water: “We hope the situation is resolved so all eligible athletes will be able to compete at the event later this summer.”

Morality rarely talks, but money always does. It’s incumbent on World Para Swimming Championships’ sponsors Visa and BP to take a stand and refuse to let their brands be allied with bigotry.

The silence surrounding this affront is obscene.

About the Author
Richard Ferrer has become a leading voice on Jewish communal issues since becoming editor of the Jewish News in 2009, writing about contemporary Jewish life for a national audience. He edited the Boston Jewish Advocate, America's oldest Jewish newspaper, created the TV series Jewish Mum of the Year and writes for the Daily Telegraph, Independent and New Statesman.