Israeli politician suggests popping ‘nausea pills’ to stomach President Duterte’s visit
President Duterte arrived in Israel on Sunday for a four-day visit just after coming under fire for saying the high rate of rape offences in his hometown of Davao City is due to the “beautiful women” there. The Philippines strongman is notorious for his badmouthing of high-ranking politicians and institutions, and even for giving the finger to the whole European Union.
“It would have been more comfortable to receive a president here who had not made the kinds of comments we have heard, and it might be that we have to take a pill against nausea to receive him,” Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter said on Kan Bet radio.
“In any event he is here, and we cannot ignore it,” he said.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an editorial titled “A Hitler Admirer at Yad Vashem” – Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust – calling Duterte out for controversial remarks he made in 2016. Back then, he likened himself (somewhat) in his ambitions to Hitler, stating he would be “happy” to exterminate three million drug dealers and users in his country. He later apologized for his remarks, explaining that the opponents of his brutal war on drugs compared him to Hitler in the first place.
Duterte’s visit is aimed at giving the leader a chance to meet the tens of thousands of expats working in the country and commemorate Manila’s help in rescuing around 1,300 Jews from the Nazis during World War II. Apart from that, he is also reportedly seeking new arms deals with Israel.
Despite some politicians’ reluctance to welcome Duterte, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed him with open arms as he highlighted the historical ties between the two countries.
“Mr. President, we remember our friends. And that friendship has blossomed over the years, and especially over the last few years,” Netanyahu said in a speech ahead of the two leaders’ meeting on Monday.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it assigns “great importance” to the visit. Duterte himself abstained from making any new inflammatory remarks, calling Hitler “insane,” while speaking at Yad Vashem.
“I could not imagine a country obeying an insane leader, and I could not ever fathom the spectacle of the human being going into a killing spree, murdering old men, women and children. I hope this will not happen again,” Duterte stated.
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