Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Back To Old Habits, Malaysia’s Mahathir Calls Jews ‘Hook-Nosed’

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad described Jews as “hook-nosed” on Tuesday and blamed them for creating the troubles in the Middle East.

Mahathir, who at 93 became the world’s oldest head of government after starting his second stint as prime minister in May, has for decades been accused of anti-Semitism for his attacks against Jews, whom he has accused of perpetrating a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories.

“If you are going to be truthful, the problem in the Middle East began with the creation of Israel. That is the truth. But I cannot say that,” he said in an interview on BBC’s Hard Talk.

Calling Israelis “special”, Mahathir, prime minister of Muslim-majority Malaysia, challenged historical accounts that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, arguing that the figure was four million.

When asked why he described Jews as “hook-nosed” in his book The Malay Dilemma, he said: “They are hook-nosed. Many people called the Malays fat-nosed. We didn’t object, we didn’t go to war for that.”

The Anti-Defamation League, a U.S.-based organization against anti-Semitism, was not immediately available for comment but called out Mahathir’s “decades-long record of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” in a tweet in May.

“The world cannot accept this from any leader,” the tweet read.

Last week, when addressing the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Mahathir said the world “rewards Israel” for breaking international laws and committing acts of terrorism against Palestinians.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.