Western nations have forsaken ‘core values’ in Gaza: Veteran Malaysian statesman Mahathir Mohamad

Western nations have forsaken ‘core values’ in Gaza: Veteran Malaysian statesman Mahathir Mohamad

In interview with Anadolu, Malaysian veteran weighs role of the US, EU in Gaza- Palestinians reacted to continued oppression by Israel, says 98-year-old politician- By supporting Israel, US and the European countries show that ‘they do not hold to the core values’- Mahathir Mohamad calls for reforms at the UN and Organization of Islamic Cooperation- Hopeful of youth, former 3-time prime minister calls on younger generation to rise against injustices

By Halil Ibrahim Medet

ISTANBUL (AA) - Veteran Malaysian statesman Mahathir Mohamad in a broadside at the Western nations said “core values,” including the right to and sanctity of life, have been abandoned by the US and European nations in Gaza.

Mahathir, who led Malaysia three times as one of the world's longest-serving prime ministers, told Anadolu in an exclusive interview that there was a need for reforms at the UN, as well as inside the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to deal with common problems affecting the world, including Palestine.

In the wake of the Israeli war on Gaza, Mahathir, 98, rued that there was “no more civilization.”

“I feel that what is happening to the Palestinian people in Gaza is something that nobody expects.”

But Mahathir contended that Palestinians had reacted to continued oppression by Israel.

“For 70 years, the Israelis have been oppressing the Palestinians. They have actually built settlements on Palestinian land. They have built walls in Palestinian land.

“They have taken Jerusalem as their capital. All these things are against international law and against the Palestinians,” he said.

The Malaysian politician added: “If you oppress the Palestinian people, the Palestinian people have a right to take action against Israel, and I think that is what they did on the seventh of October last year.”

Israel, flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7, 2023 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas.

Nearly 37,900 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and around 87,000 others injured, according to local health authorities.

“If Israel had the right to look at the security, so have the Palestinians," said Mahathir.

- US, EU support for Israel show they don’t value human rights, freedom

Mahathir said that over several centuries, “humanity has developed values, core values, which we all accept” and they include the right of man, the right to life, the sanctity of life, and the freedom from oppression and free speech.

“These are things that we accept and we value. But it is quite clear that when the Israelis committed genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, the support given by America and the European countries show that they do not hold to the core values we talk about,” the veteran Malaysian politician said.

Mahathir said the US and the EU nations “do not think about human rights, they do not think about the sanctity of life, and they actually help the Israelis to commit genocide by providing Israel with the weapons, with the bombs and rockets to kill Palestinians.”

The Western nations “have forsaken the very values that they promoted in the past, values which show that humanity has reached a certain level of civilization where we are very concerned about the rights of people and human life,” said Mahathir.

“That is to say, a civilization that is fair, follows the rule of law, no persecution, freedom, etc., all those have been overthrown by the very people who conceived these values. … They have forsaken their own values.”

- Rid the UN of veto power

On the failures of the UN to implement its decisions in Gaza over the past eight months of the war, Mahathir said the idea to have the world body was “good,” but “it is drawn up only by the victors, the countries which won the Second World War.”

He said those who took the lead in setting up the UN “gave themselves certain privilege, veto powers.”

“That is to say that no matter how many people, how many countries support a resolution, they can veto the power. .… That is where the United Nations fails,” he explained, referring to the US veto on several UN resolutions regarding Gaza which aimed to stop the war.

Backing his call for a UN without veto power, Mahathir said the world body had “done a good job” in certain areas, including in medicine and helping food distribution.

“But in terms of ensuring that there will be no wars, no killing, that the United Nations has failed, because the five countries with the veto powers normally would reject anything that is not in their own interest,” he said.

- Reforms at OIC

Without specifying, Mahathir said many Islamic nations “have not been strong in terms of their governance of their countries.”

“Because of that, there are a lot of violence, even civil wars, in Islamic nations,” he said. “And because of this, the Islamic nations cannot manage their affairs properly.”

The Malaysian veteran said the Islamic nations had “a lot of money, … because they have the oil and they make tons of money."

But, he regretted, “the money is not spent in strengthening their country's concern.”

“In fact, most of the money is used to buy dollar bonds. Buying dollar bonds is like lending money to the US, and what the US does with the money is not good for the Muslim countries,” he claimed.

Pressing for the need to initiate reforms at the OIC, Mahathir said the decisions inside the Muslim bloc “can only be passed if there is consensus.”

“That is to say any resolution made by the OIC, must be agreed to” by all 57 member nations, he said.

“If one country does not agree, then that resolution cannot be carried out.”

“So, there is a need for us to revert to majority decision, not through consensus,” he recommended.

“If you do that, then maybe we can reach some agreement on some issues, for example, on the defense of the Muslim ummah,” he noted.

“Obviously, we have the money, we have the manpower, but we are not organized to protect Muslims.”

Referring to individual cases, Mahathir also advised against taking the law into one's own hands.

“Individuals on their own take action because of revenge. … They kill the Europeans who are not involved in the conflict between Palestine and Israel,” he said, stressing such actions were “not good” for the Muslims.

“We have to have a proper strategy on how to manage our problems, and that should be done by a committee or a cabinet of senior members to decide what the Muslims should do, not to just go around killing people, but to carry out a strategy to win back the Palestinian land for the Palestinians,” said Mahathir.

- Fear of US sanctions

Mahathir said Israel was committing international crimes like stopping ships on high seas which “is not according to the Law of the Sea.”

“You see, you are in international waters, you are free. But Israel has stopped ships in international waters and seized their cargo,” he added.

“The problem that we have is that the Europeans created Israel, and now they want to defend Israel, even when Israel commits crimes.”

Acknowledging that sanctions cost nations dearly, Mahathir said: “There is not much we can do, because the US is a very powerful country, and if you go against the US, the US may apply sanctions against you.”

“If it is just Israel, we can act against Israel. But now we have not only the US, but European countries are supporting Israel in their genocide, and if we act against Israel, we may be sanctioned by America and by the European countries,” he said.

“Most countries are not willing to accept beings sanctioned by them because it is damaging for their economy,” he added.

- Hopeful of youth, new leadership

Mahathir, who will celebrate his centenary in the next two years, however, struck a note of optimism with the growing young generation which “see things as they are truly.”

The youth “are not influenced by their own government,” observed Mahathir, citing widespread youth movements around the world while governments were siding with Israel.

“They are not against the Jews. They are not anti-Semitic. They are just against the action of Israel in Gaza killing people,” he said.

Mahathir said: “We have hope that the young people will reject the policies of their own government and overthrow their own government, and we should see new leadership coming from among the young people who will hold to their core values, … about human rights, about freedom, about press freedom, about lack of rule of law, etc.”

“If the government supports Israel, we have hope for the young people to retain good values, so that we can bring back our civilized values that have been lost by their leaders.”

Young people “give us hope,” Mahathir said, adding: “Then in the future, we may find young leaders who will bring back the civilized values that we used to uphold before.”

Urging the youth to listen to Anadolu broadcasts, Mahathir said: “They will know that although they may be nationals of some (other) countries, but when their government goes wrong, they should tell the government that it is wrong, and they should demonstrate against the government, even if the government send in the police to take action against them.”

*Writing by Riyaz ul Khaliq

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