The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is to be commended for its principled, moral decision to prevent Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s Malaysia from hijacking the Paralympic world swimming championships in defiance of the ideals of the international Paralympic movement.
As the IPC point out, that movement is all about the ideal that sport can bring people together and help overcome differences, whether they involve differing physical abilities, or political or religious beliefs and allegiances. It is just common sense that a country that openly says it will ban paralympic athletes because of their nationality simply cannot host a major Paralympic event.
It is a pity that Prime Minister Mahathir has decided that the noble ideals of the Paralympic movement are of secondary importance to his long-standing, overwhelming hatred for Israel and the Jewish people.
Malaysia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, which it has been boycotting since 1948. Its policy of estrangement has nothing to do with settlements or occupation. For nearly 50 years its current Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has been among the most vocal and unashamed purveyors of antisemitism on the international scene, making no distinction between the State of Israel and Jews.
At a time when majority Muslim nations like Chad are openly embracing Israel, Mahathir, at the age of 93, has decided Malaysia must remain stuck in the permanent state of denial he has promulgated throughout his career. His stance is not only racist and unconscionable, it has never in any way advanced the cause of peace or assisted the Palestinians to establish a state of their own.
The IPC’s emphatic, ethical decision in this case should be a model for all other sporting bodies when faced with similar discriminatory conduct by host states.
Colin Rubenstein AM, Executive Director
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)
For additional information, contact AIJAC on (03)-9681-6660.