Israeli newspaper calls Duterte an 'unwanted guest' in editorial

Israeli newspaper calls Duterte an 'unwanted guest' in editorial
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during their meeting in Jerusalem Sept. 3, 2018.
Ronen Zvulun / POOL / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Israel may be a historic first for the country, but an Israeli newspaper branded him as an “unwanted guest” and his visit “a shameful diplomatic stain.”

The lead editorial of Haaretz, a newspaper published in Hebrew and English, did not mince its words against the Philippine leader, who, it noted, is accused of human rights violations in the guise of “war on drugs and organized crime.”

"In exchange for a mess of pottage—abstaining or supporting Israel in a few UN votes—a controversial leader has won a warm embrace from Israel. In the process, he has also won public absolution for his anti-Semitic remarks," the editorial, dated September 2, read.

Duterte and Jews

The piece, entitled “A Hitler Admirer at Yad Vashem,” noted that the firebrand leader earlier compared himself to Adolf Hitler and “boasted” that he would be happy to slaughter three million drug addicts.

Duterte said in 2016: “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

This statement did not sit well with Jewish groups, the United Nations, Germany and other members of the international community. The Israeli government described Duterte’s statement as “unfortunate” and believes the president would clarify his words.

Duterte later apologized for his remark.

The Israeli newspaper’s editorial also pointed out that the Philippine leader “who compared himself to Hitler” is set to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance center and a memorial in honor of Filipinos who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

Duterte and his rape remarks

The paper also noted that days before coming to Israel, Duterte said that rape happens because of “beautiful women.”

Duterte defended his recent controversial remark as “freedom of expression.”

The president has repeatedly talked casually about rape even before he was voted to the Philippines’ top post. The Palace has argued numerous times that Duterte’s rape remarks were just a “joke.”

The newspaper said that “Israel has never been choosy in its international relations,” but it could not determine whether Duterte is “worse” than other leaders the country has had “official or secret ties.”

“Yet this time, too, the government doesn’t seem to have agonized over the question of whether Israel should go out of its way to host a man like Duterte will all the trappings of respect,” it added.

It also called on the Israeli government to “disclose the nature and scope of its arms trade with countries.”

Previous reports said that Duterte would push for an arms deal with Israel but an official confirmation has yet to be issued about it. — Kristine Joy Patag



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