You are going to shake his hand, aren’t you, Prime Minister Netanyahu?
How could you?
I am referring to Israel’s welcome of Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines.
And why is he coming to Israel?
Because during the Holocaust, the Philippines offered sanctuary to Jews fleeing the Nazis (irony alert). Also, because the Philippines supported the 1947 partition plan. There is also the opening of a direct flight route from Tel Aviv to Manila. There will be an agreement to bring in Filipinos to work in hotels in Israel. And, because many Filipino Christians will want to visit Israel. And, it’s the sixtieth anniversary of the beginning of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
To which I say: big deal.
Why? Because Duterte has compared himself to Hitler. He has said that he wants to kill three million drug addicts in the Philippines.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews,” Mr. Duterte said. (Check your math and your history, you unspeakable…) “Now there are three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
In fact, the Philippines has cracked down on drug dealers, with some estimates of the death toll going as high as 3,000.
Then, this past Thursday, Duterte analyzed the sensitive issue of gender by proclaiming that rape will continue to be a problem as long as there are beautiful women.
On the one hand, we should not be surprised. Like Trump, Bibi has a proclivity for strong men, tyrants, and bullies, such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Russia’s Putin.
Israeli human rights organizations are aghast. They have urged President Reuven Rivlin not to meet with Duterte.
Writing on behalf of at least 24 other human rights activists, Israeli lawyer Eitay Mack argued that Duterte “poses a threat not just to Philippine citizens but also the peace of the whole world…There is no doubt that when the international community stands idly as a leader calls for massacres, and in fact commits massacres, against specific population groups, it legitimizes other murderous leaders.”
Bibi is welcoming, with supposedly open arms, a tyrant who compares himself to Hitler. That would mean that this miscreant admires Hitler.
Help us understand this, Bibi.
You throw the doors open for Duterte.
And yet, critics of Israeli policy like Peter Beinart — an observant Jew, a Zionist, albeit a critical Zionist — get harassed upon entry into Israel.
I respect Peter. He is way smart, even if I don’t always agree with him. But, this is a man whom your officials choose to detain at Ben Gurion Airport — and a Hitler wannabee gets a free pass?
Here’s another thing I don’t understand.
Duterte said that he admired Hitler.
You know who else has said that he admires Hitler?