The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 35.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

The Malaysian Connection: If This Jewish Conspiracy Existed, I Would Love to Sign Up



cox.52.gif: hoc_beach.52.gif: hoc_crossing.52.gif: hoc_intro.52.gif: hoc_intro.52.tb.gif: hoc_lift.52.gif: hoc_loading.52.gif: hoc_pileup.52.gif: hoc_race.52.gif: hoc_row.52.gif: hoc_sunlight.52.gif: hoc_top.52.gif: rogers.52.gif:

Stacey E. Blau

You'd think it would have to be a joke. But not to Malaysia's prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad. In the face of Malaysia's crisis with its currency, the ringgit, which has plunged 30 percent in value in recent weeks, he has claimed that Jews are plotting to destroy the country's economy.

"We may suspect that they have an agenda, but we do not want to accuse," Mahathir said. "And incidentally we are Muslims, and the Jews are not happy to see the Muslims progress. The Jews robbed the Palestinians of everything, but in Malaysia they could not do so, hence they do this, depress the ringgit."

Mahathir backed off slightly after a torrent of criticism, claiming that his comments represented only what he had "been told by certain people." Still, he insisted, "sinister forces" were at work.

To be fair, it's not only the Jews who have for some reason unknown to most of us, incurred the wrath of the prime minister of Malaysia. Mahathir also has accused the Western press and American investor George Soros of plotting against the Malaysian economy.

I don't particularly fear for the Jews in Malaysia, since, first of all, there probably aren't many to fear for. Anyway, most people take a comment with more than a few grains of salt when it comes from the mouth of a man who blames the economic problems he clearly caused himself on George Soros one week and "modern sinister forces" the next. To be sure, the United States would step in on behalf of the few Jews in Malaysia if Mahathir attempted to do anything to them. More likely, however, Malaysia's prime minister won't become much more than he is right now - a joke.

My concern is of far wider significance. What I want to know about is this Jewish conspiracy that gets quite a lot of talk, not just from Mahathir. Since a very early age, I've heard bits and pieces about the alleged Zionist cabal that has for a long time ruled the economic world and made Jews rich. We've all heard the nasty talk about Jews endlessly hoarding and counting their money; Jewish loan sharks cheating borrowers to get rich; Jews starting any one of the medieval Bubonic plagues in Europe to spite the evil Gentiles.

For centuries upon centuries, the behavior of the non-Jewish world toward Jews has been characterized by endless suspicion, stereotypes, and persecution of the Jews. It's all there from stories like Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice to the stuff we read in European history textbooks in high school. The theory of the Zionist conspiracy controlling the economy has persisted quite remarkably.

As a Jew, albeit a seriously lapsed and pretty much nominal Jew, I want to know more about this conspiracy business. Specifically, I want to know how to get in on it. Considering that it supposedly has worked for centuries as a massive money-making machine, I'd certainly like to be a part of it.

Seriously, though, I'd think that someone in the know would have let me in on the conspiracy by this time. I'm Jewish, or at least by Jewish law, I was born Jewish, since my mom is Jewish. I'm from New York, where massive numbers of Jews are concentrated. I'm 21, and I'm graduating from MIT this year. I've got the credentials, I'm old enough, and - the bottom line, really - I could contribute.

I have, however, had no luck finding out anything about a conspiracy, let alone joining up. I asked my mom, my dad, and my rich and stingy grandparents about the conspiracy, and they've rebuffed my questions. Are they part of the conspiracy and simply keeping that fact from me? Are they waiting to spring the news on me and induct me at some future point? I'm skeptical about those possibilities. I'll admit that I'm beginning to doubt the existence of the whole thing, and, frankly, I'm quite sorely disappointed.

Mahathir's accusations about the Jewish conspiracy were off in a quite significant way. His claim is that the Jews are out to get the Muslims. But what about the Christians and the Hindus and the Shintoists and the Satanists for that matter? If you want to know the God's honest truth, conspiracy or no, I'd like to take the entire Gentile world for every ringgit it's worth. And at the rate that currency is plunging, that may prove to be a whole lot of ringgits.