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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 21, 2003

PRESIDENT ACTS ON SCHUMER, SENATE DEMAND, BLASTS MALAYSIAN PM FOR ANTI-SEMITIC CALL TO ARMS

After Senate unanimously passes resolution co-sponsored by Schumer asking the President to condemn anti-Semitic statements by Malaysian Prime Minister, Mr. Bush today called them "wrong and divisive"

After the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution cosponsored by US Senator Chuck Schumer that asked the President of the United States to condemn anti-Semitic remarks by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Mr. Bush today responded and called the remarks "wrong and decisive."

On Thursday, Mahathir opened the 57-nation summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Malaysia by characterizing Israel and Jews around the world as "the enemy'' who "rule the world by proxy." Late Friday afternoon, after a long and contentious debate on the Iraq War spending bill, the US Senate came together and unanimously passed Senate Resolution 247, which was co-sponsored by Schumer and a bipartisan group of 18 other Senators from across the country. This resolution flatly condemned Mahathir's remarks and asked the President to do the same thing.

"Mahathir Mohamad has become infamous over the years for his virulent hatred of Israel, and remarks like his will do nothing more than stir up more violence in the Middle East and around the world." Schumer said. "Every single US Senator joined us in condemning this, and by delivering the same message in person today President Bush presented the United States as a united front opposed to this kind of hateful rhetoric and strongly supportive of Israel," Schumer said.

According to White House spokesperson Scott McClellan, President Bush personally told Mahathir
this morning that the remarks were "wrong and divisive'' and "squarely against what I believe in.'' The President saw Mahathir at the meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Thailand.

President Bush's remarks today represent a turnaround on the issue for the White House – in May 2002, the President invited Mahathir to the White House and praised him as an ally in the war against terrorism. Mahathir is unrepentant about his remarks about Jews, saying that he was just "stating the facts.''

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