LOCAL Jewish leaders have responded with concern to the visit of a prominent Arab businessman and management speaker with a history of incitement and anti-Semitism.
Kuwaiti-born, US-educated Tareq Al-Suwaidan is currently in Australia as a guest of Human Appeal International delivering seminars and speeches in Sydney and Melbourne. He was previously in the country two years ago.
He lectures across the Middle East, is general manager of an Arabic television station and is a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait.
Al-Suwaidan presents himself as a moderate; however, only three months ago he reportedly told Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds TV that politicians were “influenced by two things and two things only: money and the media, both of which are controlled by the Jews”.
He went on to endorse armed resistance in Gaza and the West Bank and rule out negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, saying the land belonged to the “entire Islamic nation”.
“The most dangerous thing facing the Muslims is not the dictatorships. The absolutely most dangerous thing is the Jews. They are the most dangerous. They are the greatest enemy,” he said.
Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said Al-Suwaidan’s message to non-Western audiences made it clear that his Western-friendly persona was an “act of deception”.
“He has said that Western civilisation is on the brink of destruction and that Muslims can and should help bring this about,” he said.
“Some of his disgracefully racist views about Jews are reminiscent of those of the Nazis. It is unfortunate that Australian government officials have been gulled into granting such a person an entry visa to Australia.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein said the Australian authorities should be reviewing whether Al-Suwaidan met the criteria for entry into Australia. “Moreover, Human Appeal International should publicly and unequivocally dissociate themselves from such inflammatory comments and sentiments,” he said.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff said the anti-Western, anti-Jewish remarks attributed to Al-Suwaidan were extremely concerning and highly offensive. “How could anyone consider these to be moderate views?”
Human Appeal International regional director Bashar Al-Jamal told The AJN that he was unaware of Al-Suwaidan’s remarks when inviting him to Australia. He further invited anyone who was concerned to attend Al-Suwaidan’s next lecture on Monday, June 18 in Granville to address their concerns to him directly.
Businessman and management speaker Tareq Al-Suwaidan