President Bush condemned Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad anew on Wednesday for maintaining that “Jews rule the world.” “You can’t pit people against each other,” Bush said.
In a conversation with reporters en route from Indonesia to Australia, Bush recounted confronting Mahathir two days earlier at an economic meeting in Thailand. Mahathir had previously made his comments about Jews at a summit of Islamic countries in Malaysia.
“I’m here to inform you that you’re going to see that I thought your comments were reprehensible,” Bush recalled telling Mahathir.
“I said they’re divisive and unnecessary. I didn’t yell at him. I just told him,” Bush said.
Bush added: “He knew how I felt, there’s no question about that.”
Mahathir replied that his remarks had been taken out of context, Bush said.
“It’s one of these situations where in order to achieve peace and freedom you can’t pit groups against each other,” Bush said. “And there’s a tendency to blame Jewish people, and that’s not how I think, and it’s not the policy of the U.S. government.”
Bush did not comment on Mahathir’s latest accusation, that the “great exponents of democracy” are “terrorizing the world” following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Mahathir did not specify any country by name in a speech in Indonesia, but his comments appeared to be aimed at Australia, the United States and Israel.