Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday told a summit of Islamic leaders that "Jews rule the world by proxy" and the world's 1.3 billion Muslims should unite, using nonviolent means for a "final victory."No coincidence, I'm sure, that his phrasing reeks of "final solution" rhetoric. On the one hand, I think this kind of "nonviolent jihad" has a chance to take root in some of the less fanatical Muslim countries. (Note the fawning praise by one Hamid Karzai, the supposed George Washington of Afghanistan, buried in the article: "His speech was an eye-opener to a lot of us and that is what the Islamic world should do.") The rejection of the violent al Qaeda-style tactics is enough to keep them as a U.S. trading partner; but the rhetoric can still be a tool for managing the frustrations of the public.
On the other hand, Mahathir is a twisted old nut who has been running what amounts to only a nominal democracy for more than 20 years. I used to write for a Malaysian zine run by Malaysia's "Generation X" types. Among them, there was widespread and derisive eye rolling (though not much else) when Mahathir went on another of his "Jew tirades." From the Malaysians I know and worked with, there's a chance that Mahathir's generation could take much of the antisemitism and anti-Western animus with it as it goes to the grave.