From the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial page:
“Islam, the world hears, is a religion of peace. Numerous spokesmen – Muslim, Christian, Jew, and atheist – say Islamo-fascists distort an ancient and honorable faith.
The other day Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad delivered a speech worthy of Goebbels. He slandered Jews and called on all Muslims to unite for the “final victory.” An Islamic convention cheered every threat. The attendees included political leaders from Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Indonesia, and other states. Mahathir is too smart an obergruppenfuher (and his adoring listeners are too well-versed in propaganda) not to recognize the similarities between “final victory” and “final solution.” The cruel reference must have been deliberate.
No ranking Islamic figure has denounced Mahathir’s message of hate. When far-out politicians in the U.S. and Europe ridicule Islam or indulge in ethnic slurs, the mainstream rises in fury – as it should. On numerous occasions since 9/11, George Bush has said the Arabs (primarily Saudis) responsible for the enormity did not represent Islam’s true face.
Mahathir is the leader not of a sect or a party on the fringe but of a sovereign state. His words contradict the benign picture. The lack of outrage in the Islamic world and among the Arab bloc resembles the silence that implies consent. The fair-minded have no choice but to assume the worst.“
The Richmond Times-Dispatch has this one wrong. Calling Mahathir’s speech ‘propaganda’ is erroneous. Propaganda is used to win someone over to a particular cause. Considering Mahathir’s audience – the Tenth Islamic Summit Conference, his comments were less propaganda and more telling his listeners what they wanted to hear and already wholeheartedly believe. Saying that Islam is anti-Jewish is like saying Coke is anti-Pepsi. Hardly worth an editorial.
It is remarkable, though, how much the editors miss by picking out the gratuitous pot-shots at Zionism and not commenting on Mahathir’s overall message, which can be summarized as calling for peaceful solutions. He doesn’t make any bones about wanting to dominate over the Jews, but his message is clearly against violence. Here are a few excerps of the speech that the RTD fails to take into consideration:
“Every attempt at a peaceful solution is sabotaged by more indiscriminate attacks calculated to anger the enemy and prevent any peaceful settlement. But the attacks solve nothing. The Muslims simply get more oppressed.”
“If we use the faculty to think that Allah has given us then we should know that we are acting irrationally. We fight without any objective, without any goal other than to hurt the enemy because they hurt us. Naively we expect them to surrender. We sacrifice lives unnecessarily, achieving nothing other than to attract more massive retaliation and humiliation.”
“It is surely time that we pause to think. But will this be wasting time? For well over half a century we have fought over Palestine. What have we achieved? Nothing. We are worse off than before. If we had paused to think then we could have devised a plan, a strategy that can win us final victory. Pausing and thinking calmly is not a waste of time. We have a need to make a strategic retreat and to calmly assess our situation.”
Given the context, it’s apparent that by ‘final victory’, Mahathir means a peaceful resolution of some sort for the Palestinians. Also, since Mr. Mahathir’s words were not originally in English it’s hardly fair to jump on the translation of his words and compare a certain phrasing to Hitler’s. Saying that ‘the cruel reference must have been deliberate’ would be laughable if it’s baselessness wasn’t so intentionally meant to mislead. In that sense, the editorial itself better fits the definition of propaganda.
Note: My paternal Grandmother, now passed on, was the daughter of Jewish immigrants who came over to Brooklyn from Austria just prior to WWII. I am proud of that part of my heritage, even though I myself am not considered ‘a Jew’ (an attribute apparently stemming from one’s maternal side). I also have Scottish ancestry from my mother and father’s side, as well as English heritage, of which I am equally proud. I have no sympathy for anyone who consider themselves ‘God’s chosen people’ or anything like that – Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, whatever. Those that have this mentality and oppress others as a result are simply asking for conflict. The paradoxical solution is for those who love peace to rise up against those that would oppress everyone.
Message: You may think you’re special, but you have to make room for others to live on an equal basis – otherwise, expect trouble.