to mahathir mohamad

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Oct. 23, 2003
    To Mahathir Mohamad

    Clearly, even as you approach 80 - an age at which most people gratefully bask in their accomplishments and humbly concede their faults - you remain an utterly bitter man. And like so many before you, you seek the easy way out - that is, blame your failures on others - and who better for that role than the Jews.

    Never mind the irony in your Islamist resorting to that worst of all Christian traditions - libeling the Jews. Fortunately, the Jews you face are not the ones who were routinely butchered by ignorant mobs across Medieval Christendom.

    Today, picking a fight with the Jews means what picking a fight with most people means: war. And wars, in their turn, involve bloodshed. And bloodshed, don't we Jews know, stinks; yet having been confined, vilified, and targeted for so many centuries, in so many countries, by so many bigots like yourself, brazen attacks such as the one you waged on us last week no longer impress us.
    Varied though they were, the accusations you leveled against the Jews were but a cocktail of canards already bandied about previously by Hitler, Stalin, Marx, Luther, Queen Isabella and even Haman, the Persian courtier who pioneered the historic effort to annihilate the Jews, and whose arch-nemesis - the biblical Mordechai - was also the first man in recorded history who was actually addressed as "the Jew."

    The question, therefore, is not why you are after the Jews - that's because of your insecurity and our perceived vulnerability - and also not what the Jews will do in response, because today's Jews, unlike their forefathers, can be counted on to confront people like you and the challenge they represent.

    The question is why you are so frustrated? And the answer in one word is: envy.

    Not only has Western civilization advanced as dramatically as it has; in recent years non-Western Japan, China, and India, as well as semi-Western Russia and Latin America have also joined the future. Most Muslim countries, at the same time, have not only stagnated, but in fact backtracked, seeing the gaps between them and much of the rest of the world grow even deeper than they were a century ago.

    This is particularly depressing for you because it was but a few centuries ago that Muslim architects, mathematicians, astronomers, geographers, and physicians were the world's best.
    Now, if you want to be serious about treating this decline, you'd be wise to set the Jews aside and focus instead on comparing the conduct of countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, and, Saudi Arabia with that of non-Western powers which have managed to restore their historic confidence.

    ORIGINALLY, WHAT happened to the Muslims is what happened to the Asian powers, namely a failure to understand the significance of the Great Discoveries.

    The Chinese sailed far, as far as the Red Sea and as recently as the 15th century, but then abruptly banned foreign travel, making in punishable by decapitation, and thus consigning their people to a provincialism that history ultimately refused to tolerate. A similar attitude was adopted by Medieval Japan.

    The Muslims were no different, following the lead of Ottoman sultans who ignored advice in the 16th century to dig a canal in Suez and thus reach for the horizons of India and China, as well as the dictates of clergymen who ruled the newly invented printing press was an abomination.

    Yet the Asians, in the aftermath of very painful processes, consciously chose to join the world. In Japan, what began with Emperor Meiji's imposed engagement was abandoned by fascists who thought - like you - they could fool history with a diplomacy of frustration and confrontation. The result of that is well-known: a lot of bloodshed, followed by the emergence of a pacifist, capitalist, and democratic industrial powerhouse.

    In China, the insistence on both shunning and scorning the outside world first resulted in a loss of independence, then in massive bloodshed, and finally in communism and famine. Fortunately for them, as the Mao era drew to a close, the Chinese finally found the promise of openness.
    No, it never was and still isn't flawless, but it had from the onset what you still lack: humility. Once they decided to open up, the Chinese ceased to deride the world that had advanced faster and farther than they had, and focused instead on respecting its accomplishments and catching up with it.

    In recent years, the same is happening with post-Communist Russia, post-dictatorial Latin America, and post-socialist India. It is no coincidence that in the process, all of these have shed their previously anti-Israeli attitudes, establishing instead full diplomatic relations and elaborate commercial ties with the Jewish state.

    Sadly, most major Muslim countries have yet to follow suit, preferring instead to remain mentally, economically and politically walled, and addicting themselves to anti-Semitic recriminations and self pity.

    Now your country, sir, is at the meeting point of the Muslim and Chinese worlds. For a while, it seemed to be choosing the Chinese way, embracing the kind of economic drive and educational ambition that have been shunned by too many Muslim countries. A closer examination of your situation, however, shows that it's your Chinese minority that is actually making your economy tick.

    Now, what you are basically telling Malaysia's less prosperous Muslim majority is that your formula for them is less self-help, more blaming of others. As such, yours is a broader message for the wider Muslim world: less Chinese pragmatism, more Islamist fanaticism.

    The Christian, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, and Indian civilizations have, in recent years, arrived where they have by respecting rather than hating what momentarily seemed beyond their reach. Now it's the Muslims' turn to follow suit. The more they will spend their time fingering, bickering and blood libeling, the less they will catch up with the rest of the world.

    As for the Jews, they never ruled, or even sought to rule the world; they just embraced it. You can do the same.
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