(JTA) — An audience filled with students at Cambridge University laughed as Malaysia’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, unleashed a stream of anti-Semitic statements.
Mohamad spoke Sunday evening at the Cambridge Union, known as the world’s oldest debating society, at a question-and-answer session with Adam Davies, the speakers officer of the union.
“I have some Jewish friends, very good friends. They are not like the other Jews, that’s why they are my friends,” Mohamad, a notorious anti-Semite, said in response to a question about previous anti-Jewish statements.
Some in the audience laughed with no response from the moderator Davies. Mohamad also said he was entitled to freedom of speech in order to speak “against the Jews.”
The Cambridge Union said later in a statement that those who laughed were part of Mohamad’s delegation and not its student members.
“The prime minister was scrutinized on his record throughout the event both from the moderator and the audience,” the statement also said.
Daniel Kosky of the Union of Jewish Students told the London-based Jewish Chronicle: “It is chilling to see a crowd of students laugh off flagrantly anti-Semitic comments. Freedom of expression is not a joke when it incites hatred against one people.”
The Union of Jewish Students and the Board of Deputies of British Jews had appealed to the Cambridge Union to cancel Mohamad’s appearance.
Mohamad, 93, wrote in his 1970 book “The Malay Dilemma” that “the Jews are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively.” He also has questioned the fact that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, saying the figure was 4 million.