Our Answer to Antisemitism is Torah
On Succos, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, 77,
who will retire at the end of October after 22 years in
office, made a speech to a summit meeting of the 57-member
Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world's largest
Muslim grouping. Among other remarks, he said, "The Europeans
killed six million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews
rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for
Mahathir complained that Muslims had achieved "nothing" in
more than 50 years of fighting Israel. But he said that the
world's 1.3 billion Muslims "cannot be defeated by a few
million Jews." He explained that the Jews "invented
socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that
persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can
enjoy equal rights with others."
Lest anyone think that his is an isolated opinion, they
should note that his speech and those remarks received
unanimous applause from the kings, presidents and emirs in
the audience, leaders of the 1.3 billion Muslims around the
The United States and the European countries criticized the
speech, although a summit meeting of the European Union
refused to make an official statement against it.
When reporters queried Mahathir at a press conference about
his remarks, he was unrepentant. "Lots of people make nasty
statements about us, about Muslims," he said, ". . . and they
seem to get away with it. But if you say anything at all
against the Jews, you are accused of being antisemitic."
Yemen's foreign minister said he agreed entirely. The
Egyptian foreign minister called the speech "a very, very
wise assessment." The Afghan president said the speech was
"very correct." There was no backtracking or qualification
among the Arab leaders.
If anyone ever thought otherwise, it should be clear that
antisemitism has returned as a factor in the world.
We enjoy tremendous wealth and technological advancement, but
people are increasingly ruled by their passions. Many parts
of the world, especially the East and the South, never
pretended otherwise. As they become more wealthy, their
passions become more powerful and have greater effects.
Even in the West, the rule of reason seems much diminished if
not completely over. People are increasingly concerned only
with momentary pleasures and care little about what may
happen in the future. With the breakdown of the family and
the sharp decline in birth rates, there is nothing to
distract them from enjoying themselves today.
When passions rage, we cannot fight them. We must be careful
to conduct ourselves with modesty so as to minimize any
provocation, to "hide for a minute until the anger passes"
At this time of the year we are at the end of a period in
which we have focused on our relationship with Hashem, and on
fulfilling many wonderful mitzvos. The realities that we have
to face the rest of the year, in our unredeemed world, are
far from the elevated heights we enjoy during the Tishrei
Yet the final avodoh of Simchas Torah leaves us with
the lesson that is most important for these times and all
times: our main task is Torah and mitzvos, and our success in
these is the ultimate cause of our success in the rest of
life. If, chas vesholom, we do not tend to Torah, our
best efforts will not save us. If we do our job as Hashem has
given it to us, we need not worry about the worst plans of
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