At least one foreign leader has emerged to support Sen. John Kerry’s presidential bid – but Kerry would prefer if this one had kept his support to himself.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, whose anti-Semitic tirade last year was personally rebuked by President Bush, says he’s behind Kerry.
“The war in Iraq has worsened the terrorism problem,” he said. “I think Kerry would be much more willing to listen to the voices of people and of the rest of the world.”
In a virulently anti-Semitic speech last October, the then-prime minister called on Muslims to unite against Jews toward a “final victory,” saying that “the Jews rule the world by proxy.”
Kerry foreign policy adviser Rand Beers quickly denounced the endorsement from Mahathir.
“John Kerry rejects any association with former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, an avowed anti-Semite whose views are totally deplorable,” he said. “The world needs leaders who seek to bring people together, not drive them apart with hateful and divisive rhetoric. This election will be decided by the American people, and the American people alone. It is simply not appropriate for any foreign leader to endorse a candidate in America’s presidential election. John Kerry does not seek, and will not accept, any such endorsements.”
Mahathir also revisited the storm of controversy surrounding his final days yesterday, by saying that Muslims should reject terror and learn from the Jews.
“My speech was balanced and unfortunately the focus was all on what I said about the Jews,” Mahathir told Reuters. “But I was also very critical of the Muslims. I told them to stop all this terror attacks. It’s not getting you anywhere.”
Mahathir has been the focus of accusations of anti-semitism often in the past. But his comments while hosting the Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit outraged many in the West.
“I pointed out the Jews for 2,000 years withstood the pogroms the holocausts and all that, and they never retaliated,” he said yesterday. “It is only as a result they have made progress. You should emulate the Jews. I’m telling Muslims to follow the Jews. But of course the Jews never noticed that.”
Media comments about Mahathir’s statements in October were overwhelmingly supportive.