Antisemitic Malaysian Leader Flirts with Holocaust Denial at Columbia University

Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad gestures as he speaks to reporters during a press conference at the Great Hall of the People (GHOP) in Beijing, China, 20 August 2018.(Photo by How Hwee Young - Pool/Getty Images)
How Hwee Young - Getty

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad questioned the number of Jewish people that were killed in the Holocaust during an event at Columbia University on Wednesday evening.

According to a report by the Times of Israel, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad used his visit to Columbia University to spread Holocaust denial.  At one point in the lecture, Mohamad told a student that the number of Holocaust victims is still debatable.

Breitbart News reported this week that Columbia University was scheduled to host the prime minister Malaysia. The prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, is known, in part, for his history of anti-semitic comments. Mohamad has said in the past that Jewish people are “hooked nosed” and that they “rule the world by proxy.” At one point in the past, Mohamad even said that he was “glad to be labeled anti-Semitic.”

Despite his comments, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger defended their decision to have Mohamad speak on campus. He said, “This form of open engagement can sometimes be difficult, even painful. But to abandon this activity would be to limit severely our capacity to understand and confront the world as it is, which is a central and utterly serious mission for any academic institution,” Bollinger said in a short comment.

 During the Wednesday night event, one student, who identified herself as a member of Columbia’s pro-Israel student group, pressed Mohamad about his past comments on Jews and the Holocaust.
In response, Mohamad subtly suggested that it is not clear how many Jewish people died in the Holocaust. “Well, I have not disputed them, but I have said that ‘Who determined these numbers?’ If it is somebody who is in favor, you get one figure, if somebody who is against, you get another figure,” he said to the student.
“So I accept that there was a Holocaust, that there were many Jews killed, and in fact at one time I was very sympathetic towards them during the war, when you were not around, but I was around at that time,” Momahad added before moving on to another student.

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