Israel accepts Duterte apology

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Israel, through its top diplomat in the Philippines, has accepted President Duterte’s apology for his remarks likening his war on illegal drugs to the Holocaust, or the extermination of six million Jews by the Nazis under Adolf Hitler.

The President apologized anew Tuesday night to the Jewish community, saying his mentioning the Nazi leader was meant to show how critics and political foes had portrayed him.

His Nazi remarks sparked outrage in the country and in the international community. Israel Ambassador Effie Ben Matityau said they have accepted the President’s apology.

“He is the President. He said it was never intentional so we accept his apology... from the start we knew his personality already, and we know it is not intentional,” Matityau told reporters after Duterte addressed members of the Jewish Association of the Philippines at the Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year celebration at the Beit Yaacov Synagogue in Makati.

The ambassador said the President’s visit to the Jewish synagogue symbolizes soul searching, forgiveness and atonement.

“The President made it clear what was already clear and known – that he did not mean disrespect to the Jewish people. Referring to his personal life, his wife Elizabeth Zimmerman is actually a daughter of a Jewish father who found the Philippines as a shelter and home,” Matityau posted on his Facebook account.

He added Duterte expressed his respect for and affinity to the Jewish people and Israel, as he relayed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu his desire to strengthen ties with Israel.

“On the other end, I made it clear that the President’s words speak for themselves and they are genuine coming from his heart. We believe that any reference to Nazi Germany that is not in the context of the most evil empire is not going to achieve anything and will be counterproductive,” he said.

“The Nazi empire murdered endless millions of people not for their wrongdoings but rather for being different race or religion,” Matityau said.

“The Jewish people were the ultimate target with an attempt to annihilate us to the last living soul only for the sole reason of hate coupled with racial supremacy and megalomania,” he said.

Matityau noted 1,300 Jewish refugees were granted visa and safe refuge in the Philippines by Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon.

The Philippines also voted for a United Nations resolution for the creation of the state of Israel.

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