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US academic Bruce Gilley under fire for claiming Malaysia seeks ‘second Holocaust’

US academic Bruce Gilley faces backlash for accusing Malaysian leaders of endorsing a “second Holocaust against Jews” at Universiti Malaya. Malaysian Higher Education Minister calls for investigation as Gilley departs the country.



KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: A US academic facing criticism on social media for allegedly asserting that Malaysia leaders is advocating for a “second Holocaust against the Jewish people” during a talk he gave at Universiti Malaya.

Bruce Gilley, a professor of political science at Portland State University, presented a lecture titled “Will Malaysia Become an Active Middle Power” at UM on Wednesday (24 April) afternoon, during which he purportedly minimized Malaysia’s relationship with the US.

In a post on X, Gilley stated, “‘A country whose political leaders advocate a second Holocaust against the Jewish people will never be a serious player in world affairs, and will certainly never be a friend or partner of the US,’ from my keynote address yesterday in KL on Malaysian foreign policy.”

“This is a long-standing vice of Malaysian politicians going back to Mahathir’s (former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad) advice to learn from the Germans on how to kill Jews. ”

“Most explicitly, in October, agriculture (and food security) minister Mohamad Sabu promised a rally that ‘Israel will soon disappear’,” he added.

However, Gilley subsequently removed his initial post, expressing concern for the safety and well-being of his colleagues at UM.

“The quote from my keynote address reflects my views alone. I regret the harms I have caused to my academic colleagues, ” he said.

Politicians and civil society condemn Gilley’s controversial remark

Malaysia, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel, has consistently denounced the country for its numerous assaults on Palestine, including the ongoing conflict in Gaza, which has resulted in over 34,000 Palestinian deaths and 77,000 injuries since 7 October last year.

In response to Gilley’s statement, former Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah urged the foreign ministry and UM to provide further clarification regarding the lecture.

Amira Aisya Abd Aziz, acting president of the alternative party Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA), condemned Gilley’s remarks as “completely misleading and unacceptable.”

She emphasized that his comments misrepresented Malaysia’s stance in support of an independent Palestinian state.

“We have never advocated for a second Holocaust … Academic institutions should be very careful in inviting speakers and lecturers who are spreading pro-Zionist narratives,” she said in a post on Facebook.

Ooi Kok Hin, executive director of the institutional reforms movement Bersih, condemned Gilley’s remarks as “irresponsible and unfounded,” warning that such statements not only lack truth but also endanger the careers of local hosts.

On Thursday (25 April), Malaysian Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir ordered the cancellation of all programs and activities involving Gilley.

In a statement released by the ministry, it acknowledged and emphasized the seriousness of the issue concerning a foreign speaker making statements that are deemed to incite controversy and disrespect the sentiments of the community.

“Following that, any scheduled programs and activities attended by the speaker have been directed to be cancelled immediately.”

“UM has been asked to investigate this matter and report further details immediately,” it said.

Zambry, in his statement, also reminded all agencies under the higher education ministry to exercise caution and conduct thorough background checks before inviting speakers to events.

He stressed that all decisions must consider sensitivities and align with the government’s policies and stance.

“Although institutions of higher education are given autonomy to decide on intellectual programmes, it does not mean they have complete freedom to ignore the sensitivities of Malaysia’s majority,” he added.

Gilley says he left Malaysia, citing “not safe to travel”

On Thursday, Gilley on X also updated that he departed “safely” and described leaving as being “one step ahead of the Islamo-fascist mob whipped up by the government there,” further suggesting that Malaysia was currently unsafe to travel.

Gilley’s history of provocative actions

Gilley has a history of courting controversy.

In 2017, his article titled “The Case for Colonialism,” published in the Third World Quarterly (TWQ) journal, sparked significant criticism.

It triggered two separate petitions signed by thousands of academics, demanding its retraction.

The US’s National Association of Scholars (NAS) reported that these academics also called for an apology from TWQ regarding Gilley’s article and the dismissal of the editor(s) responsible for its publication.

NAS highlighted that 15 out of the journal’s 34-member editorial board resigned in protest.

Publisher Taylor and Francis responded with a detailed explanation of the rigorous peer review process undergone by the article, refuting allegations of “poorly executed pseudo-scholarship.”

Nevertheless, NAS stated that serious threats of violence against the editor compelled the journal to withdraw the article, both from print and online.

Gilley himself faced personal and professional criticism, along with receiving death threats.

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How EXACTLY does Malaysia “actively seeks” a second holocaust? I mean they barely have TWO airworthy aging Su-27 jet fighters in their “airforce”.

An academic who has not done enough research and shoots of his mouth is a danger to himself and the students he teaches. The university should dismiss him.

Another Idio+ stirring shi+.