By Daniel Llanto i FilAm Star Correspondent
The cordial welcome given to President Duterte in Israel was spoiled by a popular Hebrew-English newspaper that branded him an “unwanted guest” and protested his state visit there as a blotch in that country’s diplomatic relations.
In a lead editorial, the Haaretz newspaper in its September 2 issue lambasted Duterte for his administration’s war on drugs and the human rights abuses it spawned.
The editorial piece titled “A Hitler Admirer at Yad Vashem” also noted how Duterte earlier compared himself to Adolf Hitler in his vow to kill millions of drug addicts. Yad Vashem is the site of the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
“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 read.
Duterte was quoted as saying 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.
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.
Also criticized was Duterte’s recent remark that rape happens in his city of Davao because it has an abundance of “beautiful women.”
The President has repeatedly talked casually about rape even before he was voted to the Philippines’ top post. The Palace argued numerous times that Duterte’s rape remarks were just a “joke.”
The Israeli newspaper said, “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 with “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 with 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.”
The editorial said Israel’s decision to “roll out the red carpet” for Duterte once again proves that the Jewish state was willing to overlook human rights violations of “dubious regimes and leaders” for the sake of opportunities for arms deals and defense contracts. Duterte is said to be negotiating for Israeli weaponry.
Duterte got to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who expressed appreciation for the Philippine President’s visit amid scathing criticisms hurled at the Philippine leader who once made controversial comments about the Holocaust.
“We mark that this is the first visit by a President of the Philippines in the history of Israel.
It is deeply appreciated,” Netanyahu said in his opening remarks prior to the signing of agreements he and Duterte witnessed at the premier’s office in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu also thanked the Philippines for offering shelter to some 1,300 Jews escaping the Holocaust in Europe in 1937.
Duterte later apologized to the Jewish community, saying that it was not his intention to derogate the memory of Jews slaughtered during that period.
Other media outlets in Jerusalem also criticized the huge number of delegates brought along by Duterte. Israeli reported that Duterte was joined by 400 people in his four-day official visit in Jerusalem. The delegation included military and police officials who are expected to visit Israeli camps.
Also, in the lead group is presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio who earlier vowed to be with the President’s party in his state visits lest he become involved in kissing incidents similar to what happened in South Korea.
But Malacañang denied that the number of delegates in Duterte’s visit to Israel reached 400. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said less than 50 officials joined the trip but admitted that it was the business delegation that was “substantial.”