Is Malaysian autocrat Mahathir Mohamad insane?
Many critics of his latest anti-Semitic rant at the annual Islamic Summit Conference last week think so. It was there that he now infamously said, "The Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them."
For his fellow Islamic heads of state and leaders, Mahathir is not a madman but a sage. Speaking of Mahathir's speech, Egypt's foreign minister Ahmed Maher said, "I think it was a shrewd and very deep assessment of the situation." Maher added, "I hope the Islamic countries will be able to follow this very important road map."
Given the standing ovation that Mahathir received at the conference, as well as the daily diet of anti-Semitism broadcast and published throughout the Islamic world, it seems safe to say that the views he enunciated are more or less mainstream in the Islamic world today. Because of this, it is important to understand the "road map" set out by Mahathir in his address and assess its ramifications for Israel's future.
In his 4,200 word homily, Mahathir restated his long-held belief that the Islamic world needs to modernize. For this he has long been touted in the West as a moderate and a reformist. Yet unlike states such as South Korea or Singapore, which view modernization as a goal in and of itself, Mahathir views it as a means to a larger pan-Islamic end. That end is the defeat of the West by the Islamic world.
And the shortest path to eventual victory is the destruction of Israel. Victory goes through Israel, in Mahathir's view, because although the US and Europe are the true targets, they will only accept Islam as their master after their current master, the Jews, are destroyed.
The notion that the West is enslaved by the Jews is so outrageous that it is difficult to take Mahathir seriously. But Mahathir is no kook. Indeed, the blueprint for victory that he laid out is already being implemented by many of his coreligionists.
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for instance, seem to be doing their best to fulfill Mahathir's call for the Muslims to pool their resources to destroy the Jewish "enemy." The two Islamic states have reportedly reached a deal whereby Pakistan will provide the Saudis with nuclear bombs.
Other examples of Arab and Islamic states cooperating to fight Israel abound. Last week Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told foreign ambassadors that Pakistan and North Korea are aiding Libya in its program to achieve nuclear capabilities. Sharon warned that with this assistance, Libya may become the first Arab state to have a nuclear arsenal.
As far back as last September, the Prime Minister warned that Saddam Hussein was transferring parts of his non-conventional arsenal to Syria and Lebanon. In the months since Saddam's downfall, the US and Israel have been trying to find out just which elements of Saddam's arsenal were in fact transferred.
The Saudis, Iranians, Syrians, and Egyptians are actively supporting and abetting the Palestinian terror war against Israel. And lest we tell ourselves that terrorism is not a strategic threat, we need only look to the Philippines to realize what its true destructive potential can be.
There, Islamic terrorists seem to have already attained non-conventional capabilities. On Monday, AFP reported that Philippine security forces recovered traces of possible biological weapons in a raid on a Jemaah Islamiya hideout in the southern Philippine city of Cotabato. The findings included residues of a tetanus virus-carrying chemical. The security forces also found a bio-terror manual at the site.
Aside from intra-Islamic cooperation, Mahathir pointed out that not everyone in the hated West hates the Muslims back. Mahathir counseled the Islamic leaders to use those Westerners who support them and who "see our enemies as their enemies" to advance their goal of world domination. And again, this week, we saw two instances of this occurring.
In the first instance, the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany converged on Teheran on Tuesday and succeeded in postponing the need to deal with the Iranian nuclear weapons program. This they did by accepting the feckless Iranian President Mohammed Khatami's vaguely worded promise to temporarily stop enriching uranium.
Now Iran has at least another month to enrich uranium without needing to worry about the International Atomic Energy Agency turning the matter over to the UN Security Council. Israel estimates that the Iranian nuclear program may reach the point of no return by the summer.
Understanding that the Europeans have no interest in actually preventing the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons, Teheran didn't even wait until the end of the news cycle to expose the agreement as a fraud. Iran's Supreme National Security Council chief Hassan Rohani told reporters Tuesday evening that the freeze on uranium enrichment would only last for "as long as Iran thinks this suspension is beneficial .Whenever we don't want it we will end it," he said.
The UN General Assembly's decision to condemn Israel for building a security fence is another example of Muslims using non-Islamic allies to advance Mahathir's agenda. The resolution was introduced by the Arab League. 144 member states voted in favor, four opposed and 12 abstained.
Finally, Mahathir argued that the Islamic world must work with Jews who "who do not approve of what the Israelis are doing." Mahathir invoked the precedent of the Prophet Muhammad's treaty of Hudaibayah with the Koresh tribe in Mecca several times during his speech. In his words, "at Hudaibayah [Muhammad] was prepared to accept an unfair treaty, against the wishes of his companions and followers. During the peace that followed he consolidated his strength and eventually he was able to enter Mecca and claim it for Islam."
Here, of course, we have the fine example of Yossi Beilin's Geneva Initiative, which outsources Israeli decision-making to the Swiss government and Beilin's EU-financed think tank for the purpose of disembowling the country and transferring its capital and heartland to its sworn enemies.
Indeed, Mahathir seemed to have Beilin directly in mind when he explained, "because of [the Jews'] 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. And they will make more mistakes."
What can Israel do to defend against this onslaught? Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz have made clear that Israel cannot accept a nuclear armed Iran. Israel's anti-ballistic missile defenses are the most sophisticated in the world. And as Israel showed when its F-15s flew over Auschwitz en route to Tel Aviv some weeks ago, Israel has the capacity to conduct long-range bombing missions.
Given the fact that terrorists have and will continue to amass non-conventional capabilities, it is vital that Israel not allow them the space to operate with impunity. This means that the Palestinians must not receive sovereignty over territory unless all terrorist elements in Palestinian society and their support networks have been obliterated.
To ensure Israel's survival against non-conventional terrorist threats, it is not enough to build a wall. A wall will do nothing against chemical, biological or even tactical nuclear weapons launched on rockets, mortars or artillery shells.
Finally, it is important that Israel be honest with itself and its ally, the US, about the intentions of its enemies. We may not have ever believed we would need to take a delusional bigot like Mahathir seriously. But he seems to be an able spokesman for hundreds of millions of like-minded people.
must respect these Islamic bigots enough to take their threats at face value. We must look at their intentions and soberly assess their actions and their capabilities.
When Mahathir defined us as the enemy, he did us a favor. He told us where he and the Islamic world stand, and where they intend to go. Forewarned, as they say, is forearmed.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.