Petikan dari Washington Post : Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of Malaysia's political opposition, has become known over the past decade as one of the foremost advocates of liberal democracy in Muslim countries. His many friends in Washington include prominent members of the neoconservative movement -- such as Paul Wolfowitz, the former World Bank president and U.S. ambassador to Indonesia -- as well as such Democratic grandees as Al Gore.
Lately, Anwar has been getting attention for something else: strident rhetoric about Israel and alleged "Zionist influence" in Malaysia. He recently joined a demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur where an Israeli flag was burned. He's made dark insinuations about the "Jewish-controlled" Washington public relations firm Apco Worldwide, which is working for Malaysia's quasi-authoritarian government.
Anwar is like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he regards as a friend and fellow traveler. Both know better than to indulge in such stuff. Both have recently begun to do it anyway -- after a year in which the Obama administration has frequently displayed irritation with Israel. "If you say we are growing impatient with Israel, that is true," Anwar told me. "If you say I am not too guarded or careful in what I say sometimes, that is also true."
Anwar, who was in Washington for a couple of days last week, spent a lot of time offering explanations to old friends, not to mention House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman and a Jewish leader or two. He said he regretted using terms such as "Zionist aggression," which are common coin for demagogues like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Why do I need to use it if it causes so much misunderstanding?" he said. "I need to be more careful."
Many of the Malaysian's friends are inclined to give him a break. "What Anwar did was wrong, but considering that he's literally fighting for his life -- physically as well as politically -- against a government that attacks him as being 'a puppet of the Jews,' one should cut him some slack," Wolfowitz told me.
But Anwar's story can also be read as a warning. His transition from pro-American democrat to anti-Israeli zealot is sobering -- and it is on the verge of becoming a trend.
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