2003 October 16 Thursday
Mahathir On Jews: We Are Up Against People Who Think

Here is one of those reports which are simultaneously disturbing and hilarious. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad delivered a speech to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit meeting in Putrajaya Malaysia that Muslims need to unite and think in order to fight the Jews. IMRA reports that his speech was entitled: Treaty Now - Triumph Later - The Jews Are Making Mistakes

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.

We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.

We may not be able to do that. We may not be able to unite all the 1.3 billion Muslims. We may not be able to get all the Muslim Governments to act in concert. But even if we can get a third of the ummah and a third of the Muslim states to act together, we can already do something. Remember that the Prophet did not have many followers when he went to Madinah. But he united the Ansars and the Muhajirins and eventually he became strong enough to defend Islam.

Apart from the partial unity that we need, we must take stock of our assets. I have already mentioned our numbers and our oil wealth. In today's world we wield a lot of political, economic and financial clout, enough to make up for our weakness in military terms.

Mahathir complements his enemy's ability to think:

The enemy will probably welcome these proposals and we will conclude that the promoters are working for the enemy. But think. We are up against a people who think. They survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also.

What, persecuting Jews is not suppose to appear to be wrong? Unless Jews are persecuted they will inevitably take over the world? Is that what Mahathir is trying to tell us?

While IMRA's page reads as if it is the entire contents of his speech there are excerpts on other sites that seem to be from the same speech that say more.

He says they should have had a plan.

"For well over half a century, we have fought over Palestine," the Malaysian leader said. "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."

He told the audience of sheiks, emirs, kings and presidents that Muslims had the world's richest civilization during Europe's Dark Ages, but disputes over dogma - instead of embracing technology and science - had left them weak and divided.

"Because we are discouraged from learning of science and mathematics as giving us no merit for the afterlife, today we have no capacity to produce our own weapons for our defence. We have to buy our weapons from our detractors and enemies."

Well Mr. Mahathir, it doesn't exactly encourage critical thinking if kids are sent to Madrassah schools to memorize the Koran in a language that many of them don't even understand. But if they were taught to think critically they might become less religious. So the Muslims face a tough task. They need to get people to think about science and yet uncritically accept their own religion. Now, some people can be convinced to do that. The task facing them is not entirely hopeless and that should be cause for concern on our part. How well they can strike a balance between religious indoctrination on one hand and scientific and technological thinking on the other hand will be a major factor in determining how much of a threat the Islamic countries pose to the rest of the world going forward.

Mahathir says Islam is not just a religion for your ancestors of a hundred generations remove.

"Islam is not just for the seventh century AD. Times have changed. Whether we like it or not we have to change," Mahathir said. "Not our teaching. ... Islam is not wrong, but the interpretations by our scholars can be wrong."

Can be wrong? Or are wrong?

Here's another set of excerpts from the speech. Note that his comments here can also serve as useful advice for the Israelis: Don't make mistakes out of arrogance just because your enemies have been so lame in the past.

"Of late because of their power and their apparent success they have become arrogant. And arrogant people, like angry people will make mistakes, will forget to think. They are already beginning to make mistakes. There may be windows of opportunities for us now and in the future. We must seize these opportunities."

Note as well in these linked-to articles the praise heaped on Mahathir by assorted Muslim country leaders including leaders from Qatar, Egypt, and Afghanistan. Now, some are praising him for his call for more education. But the idea of getting the Muslims together to take on the Jews is exciting them as well.

If anyone finds the complete text of his speech please either post a link to it in the comments or email it to me.

Update: Some people think that if the Muslim countries industrialize and modernize they will become less dangerous with time. The problem with the "if they modernize they will get decadent and forget about Israel" plan is that a number of modernizing societies have been extremely dangerous in the past. I'm thinking of Wilhelmine Germany on up thru WWII. I'm also thinking of imperial Japan.

The problem is that the old attitudes last a few generations before old generations die off and the new kids grow up totally decadent. The transition period is dangerous. Therefore if the Muslims are encouraged to modernize in order to fight the Jews and if they succeed in modernizing then they will probably fight the Jews.

Parabellum provides a link to the full text of the speech here.

Update II: Mahathir is upset by the reaction he's gotten from his speech.

> "In my speech I condemned all violence, even the suicide bombings and I told the Muslims it's about time we stopped all these things and paused to think and do something that is much more productive," he said. "That was the whole tone of my speech, but they picked up one sentence where I said that the Jews control the world."

He feels he is being treated unfairly. There is something comical about the guy. If he didn't want people to focus on a single sentence then he shouldn't have said that single sentence. It was inevitable they were going to do so. But he said that sentence because he saw it worth saying as a way to strengthen his street credibility among Muslims. So he has to pay a price in terms of criticism coming from some commentators. He probably would say the sentence all over again.

Here's what I see best illustrates the absurdity of his claim:: If some group of a few million people really did control the world they'd protect themselves from it a lot better than the Jews in Israel have so far protected themselves against the Palestinian terrorist bombers and from other threats in the region. If Jews controlled the world they've manage to have much greater protection from all sorts of developing trends that are unfavorable to Israel.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 October 16 02:42 PM  Civilizations Clash Of

Steve Sailer said at October 16, 2003 11:34 PM:

What Mahathir seems to be doing is trying to encourage Muslims to learn science and technology by holding out to them the promise that they can then use this knowledge to fight Israel. I doubt if Mahathir has the slightest interest in his own country fighting Israel. He just wants his fellow Muslims to get their acts together and stop being so medieval.

Parabellum said at October 17, 2003 7:34 AM:

Full text here:

[ParaPundit edited to make an a clickable link]

A Berman said at October 17, 2003 11:28 AM:

I think that the Muslim Nations are stuck in a catch-22 situation:

They think that all they have to do is absorb Western Thought and Methods, and that will give them the ability to destroy Israel.
The more they absorb Western Thought and Methods, the less inclined they will be to attack Israel.


Bob Badour said at October 18, 2003 6:26 AM:

A Berman,

Absorption did not seem to sway Atta and his cohort.

Randall Parker said at October 18, 2003 3:37 PM:

A Berman, They might be able to absorb enough to be more dangerous without getting all thoughtful and skeptical about their religious and political beliefs.

My worry is that as technology advances it will become increasingly easy for those with less scientific and technical ability to make dangerous things.

RR said at October 18, 2003 5:52 PM:

A.Berman wrote:

"The more they absorb Western Thought and Methods, the less inclined they will be to attack Israel."

I'm not so sure about that. Western civilization didn't stop Europeans from persecuting Jews for centuries. Also, familiarity with Western thought might make Muslims even more envious and bitter. I think a more likely solution for lessening anti-Semitism would be to narrow the IQ gap between Ashkenazi Jews and others. Outside of miraculous strides in genetic engineering, I don't know how that could happen.


Steve Sailer said at October 18, 2003 10:01 PM:

If every Muslim country was as prosperous and peaceful as Mahathir's Malaysia, the world would be a lot better off.

The problem is that Malaysia is fairly democratic so Mahathir make demogogueic speeches now and then. He has zero intention of acting upon them. Malaysia stands behind the Palestinians ... 5,000 miles behind them.

Randall Parker said at October 19, 2003 12:18 AM:

Steve, Yes, I realize that Mahathir doesn't have any Jihadist desires and he actually put his more Islamic protege in jail and that he's trying to encourage Muslims to modernize. But I have problems with his speech:

A) It demonstrates that even a seeming moderate modernizer thinks it productive to try to harness anti-Jewish sentiment toward various ends. It is an illustration of a bad set of attitudes that are way too widely held among Muslims.

B) His attempt to harness those general feelings helps to validates and legitimize those feelings in the minds of some of his listeners.

C) Mahathir won't be there forever and whoever replaces him may not be so moderate. Southeast Asian Muslims may be trending toward orthodoxy as the influence of more pure forms of Islam spread into Muslim communities the world over.

D) Partially modernized societies are more dangerous that fully modernized or more primitive societies. I am reminded of Wilhelmine Germany and Japan leading up till WWII and China today. Having Islamic countries going into modernizing being goaded on by anti-Jewish feelings is not a recipe for a happy outcome.

abell said at October 19, 2003 7:37 PM:

do you mean by fully modernize being less dangerous.
germany in wwII was the most modern society in the world with the most advance code of law, in the 1930s.

A Berman said at October 19, 2003 9:47 PM:

So I guess that, if we're really honest about it, we should hope that certain countries DON'T modernize and remain backwaters for a perhaps indefinite time.

I better go back and amend my recommendations for the next Elders meeting.

Randall Parker said at October 19, 2003 10:12 PM:

abell, Germany started into industrialization much later than Britain did. They did not have as many generations which had had experience with industrialization. When I talk of "fully modernized" I'm also referring to social changes that take generations to occur because a lot of changes only happen intergenerationally. People tend to hang onto a lot of beliefs that they first embrace while still fairly young. So just slapping a fully industrialized economy on a people does not make them modern. Also, my guess is that WWI and the poverty that followed had the effect of delaying the sorts of effects on beliefs caused by modernization.

A Berman, We ought to try to get people to change the way they think before they become technologically more advanced.

A Berman said at October 20, 2003 5:22 AM:

Certainly we can try. But Here's a thought problem: Consider a country of 100 million people, 98 million of whom are basically peasants. All they know is from the government controlled media. And, due to government controlled schools (read madrassa) they've been raised bereft of the tolerance and other values that we consider important. And the government has an interest in maintaining the status quo, because, if they liberalize, anti-government factions will accuse them of heresy and try to conquer them? Do you have any ideas about how to fix this? Because Western Civilization doesn't seem to know how to fix it.


Randall Parker said at October 20, 2003 9:54 AM:

Andy, I don't have a complete solution to offer.

Where we send foreign aid we can make any education aid be spent on secular education. We can fund more radio broadcasts in their native tongues that give them different points of view of news but which also education in a classical sense. I'd love to see great Greek classics read on the radio in such languages as Arabic and Dari. We can simply donate books to poor people that teach classical and Enlightenment ideas. Books are cheap.

One problem we have is that many of our own civilization's intellectuals are not particularly friendly to the ideas our civilization is based on. So they resist attempts to defend ourselves on a lot of different levels.

A Berman said at October 20, 2003 1:28 PM:

Ok, now we're getting somewhere. I think I read that fewer books have been translated into Arabic in the last 1000 years than into Spanish each year.

I just happened to find this on the net. I have *NO* idea why this exists:


Mickey Tieson said at November 24, 2003 9:55 PM:

After the Jews, have a look at whom the official
Malaysian newspaper is targeting now:


People with big mouths and bad attitudes are
totally absolved from responsibility whatsoever by
writing or babbling stupid nonsense in the media.

bill maxwell said at January 31, 2005 8:25 PM:

does anyone know the word used in the koran for "strategic retreat"?

M.robinson said at July 22, 2005 8:18 AM:

the works of Greek philosophers survive because the arabs translated so much books and literature into arabic, that europeans were known to go and study at the first real university in Baghdad( eventually destroyed by Ghengis khan). Two popes studied at the institutes in Muslim spain. So This thing about so many books being translated into spanish as compared to arabic must be viewed with a pich of salt, and also its not the amount of books but also the substance and quality of writing, for all we know the spanish could be translating any old crap to make themselves look good.

Randall Parker said at July 22, 2005 10:45 AM:


Spain has a larger GDP than all the Arab states put together. The Arabs are not producing much and they are not reading much. They have lower average IQs and so this is not surprising.

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