Israeli President tells Duterte: Hitler was 'the devil on earth'
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In a meeting marked by protests, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin reminded Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that Adolf Hitler, to whom Duterte once compared himself to, is seen the world over as "the devil on earth."
"We like you to know that it is not only the Jewish people but the whole free world at that time, all humanity at that time, felt that the Nazi leader, the [leader] of the Nazis people, Hitler was actually representing the devil himself. He was the devil on Earth," Rivlin told Duterte on Tuesday, September 4.
The two met for the first time at the Israeli President's official residence in Jerusalem, where Duterte is proceeding with a 4-day visit.
Rivlin also referred to the firebrand Philippine leader's visit to Israel's Holocaust memorial the day before.
"Probably you have realized yesterday the feelings when you visited the museum of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem to really feel the atmosphere and to feel the feelings of all the people that were part of this disaster that took place in the world between 1939 and 1945," he said.
As Duterte and Rivlin met, protesters gathered outside the President's residence held signs addressed to the visiting Philippine leader that read "Stop the killings!" and "Stop genocide."
Duterte, meanwhile, told Rivlin that Israel is the Philippines' preferred supplier of defense equipment. This is a reiteration of what he told the Jewish community in Manila back in September 2016.
"My orders to my military is that in terms of military equipment particularly intelligence gathering, we only have one country to buy it from them. That is my order specifically, Israel, because... America is a good friend but you know, if he would sell you something, he would also be listening," said the Philippine President.
During Duterte's presidency, the value of Philippine purchases of Israeli defense assets soared to US$21 million, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. In 2015, the year before Duterte took office, Israel sold only US$ 6 million worth of equipment to the Philippines.
In a written message on Rivlin's guestbook, Duterte said he hopes for stronger ties between Israel and the Philippines.
"May the ties between our peoples and our countries be further strengthened for the greater peace, progress, and prosperity for our nations. Mabuhay (Live long)!" he wrote.
Duterte's visit to Israel had proven to be as controversial as it was historic. The first sitting Philippine president to set foot in the Holy Land had also caused outrage among some Jews, newspapers, lawmakers, human rights advocates, and businessmen.
An Israeli CEO decided to boycott a forum of businessmen with Duterte to protest the President's presence in the country.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an editorial calling Duterte a "Hitler admirer" given a "red carpet" welcome in a land that has fresh memories of the mass murder of Jews under the Nazi leader.
Malacañang has found such sentiments "truly regrettable" but said it is part of the rights of a free press.
Days ahead of Duterte's visit, Israeli human rights activists wrote to Rivlin, urging him not to meet a "mass murderer" like Duterte as it would taint the institution of the Israeli presidency itself. – Rappler.com