Australia’s treasurer attacks Malaysian PM Mahathir for ‘antisemitic’ comments
Australia’s treasurer has hit back at Mahathir Mohamad’s warning that Australia moving its embassy in Israel could encourage terrorism by citing a history of antisemitic remarks by the Malaysian prime minister.
The deputy Liberal leader, Josh Frydenberg, accused Mahatir of having form in making “derogatory comments” about Jews in the past, including calling them “hook-nosed”, questioning the number of people killed in the Holocaust and banning the classic Holocaust film Schindler’s List.
Frydenberg made the comments at a press conference and an interview on Radio National on Friday, as he maintained the pressure on the prime minister, Scott Morrison, to make a decision on the embassy independent of the rising backlash from Australia’s near neighbours.
Morrison’s trip to the East Asia and Asean summits in Singapore has been dominated by the Israeli embassy issue, after a public warning from the Indonesian trade minister that Jakarta would not sign off on a free-trade deal with Canberra if the move proceeded and Mahatir’s comments that “adding to the cause for terrorism is not going to be helpful”.
Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne that Australia “will make its own decisions in its own national interest”.