Saturday, June 11, 2005

Malaysian Anti-Semitism

Bloghopping (great word!), came across Asiapundit's entry about Malaysian anti-semitism, from where I stepped across to Ranjan's entry, from where I stepped across to this little story in the Traveller's Tales section of the Far Eastern Economic Review:

What Are Malays Reading?

Entering the bookstore in the check-in hall at Kuala Lumpur airport, the first book we saw on the table near the door was Hitler's "Mein Kampf." Odd. Then our eyes were drawn to a cover with a caricature of a Jewish financier straight out of Nazi propaganda. Yup, it was Henry Ford's anti-semitic tract, "The International Jew," with the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" thrown in for good measure. Elsewhere on the table was "The High Priests of War: The Secret History of How America's 'Neo-Conservative' Trotskyites Came To Power and Orchestrated the War Against Iraq as the First Step in Their Drive for Global Empire" by Michael Collins Piper. Mr. Piper is a Holocaust "revisionist" and JFK assassination conspiracy theorist. It would appear that former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's complaints about the Jews have had their desired effect on Malays' reading habits.

I really am surprised that this issue has not been brought up before.

I am not at all one for censorship, as anyone reading my blog will know, and I believe that it's necessary for readers to read their way round all sides of an argument come to their own conclusions about what they're reading. Just because I don't approve of a book doesn't mean that I want it banned.

Henry Ford's ugly piece of anti-semitism The International Jew (written in the 1920's for heaven's sake!) sits there on the shelves of major bookshops in this country and positively screams at you from the counter of almost every little newsagents shop here even when they have scarcely any other books to display.

And it makes me furious! Just as I would be furious if I came across anti-any-racial- or-religious-group propaganda. Here or overseas.

(I've not yet confronted a bookshop owner, not because I'm afraid of speaking my mind, but because I am afraid of how far over the edge my anger would carry me ... Sharon is a formidable force of nature when roused!)

But I have been appalled by how deeply anti-semitism runs in this country.

Let me give you this example:

I was teaching literature to students on a B.Ed matriculation course here a few years ago. I took to class some poems for them to discuss - personal favourites - to sharpen their interpretive skills. The subject of the holocaust came up. I was stunned to discover that none of these 20 year olds had ever heard of it.

Then one student said: "Why should we care? Anyway they were Jews ...".

My blood froze. I couldn't believe what I was hearing and told them so. What are these kids being taught in schools?

A couple of days later I booked one of the teaching rooms with a video-player and loaded up a couple of episodes of The World At War, the BBC documentary with war footage and interviews. They saw concentration camps for the first time. And yes, were chastened by the experience, and able to answer the "Why should we care?" for themselves. Thank goodness.

We need to be reminded of the holocaust. Lest the same thing happens again.

It's such a pity that the film Schindler's List got banned here. I think a naked boob could be seen in one scene. (Shock horror!) Spielberg refused to make the cut. So the film was never shown at the cinema, although it circulated in pirated copies. But I think Spielberg made the wrong decision - a little cut would have meant a much wider audience for his film, and a chance to educate a new audience about the holocaust.

We not only need to be reminded, we sometimes need to be informed in the first place, of the genocide which stems from the propaganda of hatred.


Anonymous said...

It's not just ignorance (and for some, denial) of the Holocaust that bears mark of anti-Semitism. The constant equation between Nazi Germany and Zionist Israel is always made, especially by those ignorance of the Holocaust. Somehow no more than 3,000 Palestinians killed in the past four years equals to 6 million Jews and 6 million other Europeans.


bibliobibuli said...

Nice to see you here, Rajan, and thanks for this. Glad that this is an issue that is at last being examined critically.

Dangerous, isn't it, to confuse issues? I am no zionist-apologist. Quite the opposite. Get continually frustrated by the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and detest the heavy-handed tactics of the Israeli government as much as Palestinian terrorism.

But that is a different issue entirely from the propogation of hatred against any race through propoganda ...

Anonymous said...

Why should it make you furious ? don't you support freedom of speech ? I can get "Mein Kampf" too.