The role of Israel and Anti-Zionism in Malaysian political and cultural life

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the role that Israel plays in contemporary Malaysian politics. The chapter indicates how while Malaysia and Israel maintain no diplomatic relations and hardly any direct interactions, the constructions of Israel are surprisingly significant in Malaysia’s internal politics and international relations. Focusing upon the prominence and surprising veracity of anti-Israel beliefs together with antisemitism, the chapter explores how such discourses are closely connected to the internal persecution of minorities and the construction of Malay supremacy. The chapter then proposes that pushing for a dialogue with Israel has become a means by which the substantial non-Malay, non-Islamic, and/or politically radical citizens critique authoritarian Malaysian politics. Finally, moving on to the watershed Malaysian general election of 2018 (GE18), the chapter indicates how in contrast to many Islamic countries internationally, antisemitism and anti-Israel beliefs seem to have become more potent in Malaysia despite the supposed liberal breakthrough represented by the GE18.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIsrael-Asia relations in the 21st century: complexity and diversity in a changing world
EditorsRotem Kowner, Yoram Evron
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781003317142
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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