11:25 AM October 3rd, 2016
Brussels is now thinking twice whether or not to push through with its scheduled royal visit to the Philippines next year, according to a report by The Brussels Times.
The report came after President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial remarks that drew parallels with Adolf Hitler’s killing of Jews during the Holocaust and his repeated tirades against the European Union and the United Nations on the issue of human rights amid his administration’s bloody war on drugs.
Brussels State Secretary for External Trade Cécile Jodogne told La Libre Belgique that “it will be difficult to ensure” that the trade mission to be supposedly led by Princess Astrid to the Philippines in May 2017 would go ahead.
The report said Jodogne sent an email to the Agency for External Trade’s partners on Friday requesting for an emergency meeting “to discuss whether the royal visit to the Philippines should still go ahead.”
“I will ask for the visit to be moved to a different country. If Federal authorities and the two other regions don’t agree, Brussels will not send a political representative. I’m not saying no-one should go to the Philippines at all, but the problem right now is timing,” she was quoted as saying.
Duterte on Friday said he would be “happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts in the Philippines by himself in the same way that Hitler had murdered millions of Jews before and during the Second World War.
“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have …,” Duterte told reporters in Davao City upon arriving from an official visit to Vietnam, before pausing and pointing to himself.
The President’s remarks drew a barrage of condemnation from the United Nations, German and Israeli governments, the Pentagon and international rights groups.
Duterte on Sunday apologized to the Jewish community for his remarks, saying he did not intend to derogate their history. RAM/rga
Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/145985/brussels-mulls-scrapping-ph-royal-visit-after-duterte-hitler-remarks#ixzz4LznFdJAs
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Not that President Duterte would mind, since his world stops at the water’s edge and he’s not the leader of Israel, but he has probably lost fans in the Jewish state.
Yesterday Duterte apologized to Jews for his remarks likening himself to Adolf Hitler. I watched video footage of the speech, and the President did start off complaining about the comparison, which he said would make anyone mouth expletives. But then he rambled on, as he usually does, before returning to the topic. In disjointed Filipino and English, he said Germany had Hitler who killed three million Jews, while he would be “happy to slaughter” three million drug suspects.
The rambling statement could have used a lot of connecting words, to put his actual sentiments in proper context.
It’s unfortunate because as I have written, Filipinos have a special place in the hearts of Israelis, due to acts of kindness extended by our nation to Jews persecuted in the Holocaust. We’re the only nation with a large monument to that kindness at the War Memorial in the Israeli city of Reshion Lezion, built to commemorate the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis.
Fortunately for Duterte, the people that gave the world Albert Einstein are probably more ready than most to accept explanations about media reporting that lacks proper nuance or loses context in translation. During my visit a common lament I heard from Israelis was that their actions were often misunderstood, thanks in large part to a lingering narrative in the foreign media that portrays Jews as regional bullies.
I’ve written that Duterte has fans in Israel and may find some affinity with his hawkish Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. But Duterte must learn circumspection in his statements.
Administration officials can dispute it, but Rude Rody’s intemperate remarks are compounding his extermination of drug suspects, in the process reaping so much bad press for the country.
Philippine officials may be exerting more effort to convince the world that Duterte is simply trying to make the country a safer place for law-abiding citizens. But since he’s the President, his statements carry more weight and tend to sabotage that effort, making the world focus on the worst aspects of his war on drugs.
* * *
Duterte can look at Israel as an example of the impact of negative media reports on foreigners’ perceptions of a country. Like it or not, such perceptions affect tourism and investments that a country like the Philippines could use to create jobs and ease poverty.
Among the most remarkable aspects of my visit to Israel was how different it was from the image I had formed of the Jewish state, based mainly on foreign media reports.
My mother had expressed concern about my safety in what we all believed was a place torn by violence. Instead I found myself in a country with one of the lowest crime rates in the world, where women in bikinis walked along the beach even at night, where there’s a vibrant nightlife.
For sure, news reports of armed conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors were not made up. And there are still territorial issues that must be settled with the Palestinians. Missiles from Lebanon and Syria can strike any part of Israel any time.
But such attacks have always guaranteed blistering Israeli retaliation. And perhaps these days the volatile region is busy dealing with a common enemy, the Islamic State. So Israel has enjoyed calm for some time now. But good news is no news so this is hardly reported.
* * *
Last Thursday morning in Jerusalem, I was able to visit the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, where the late Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres was lying in state in a flag-draped casket.
There was an endless line of visitors wanting to pay their final respects to a founding father of the Jewish state. Foreigners were asked to present passports at the entrance and journalists needed government clearance to enter. But otherwise the security measures seemed surprisingly lax, especially considering that VIPs from all over the world were expected to arrive in the afternoon for the Friday funeral.
In the evening my return flight to Manila via Istanbul was delayed by nearly two hours. There was chaos as personnel kept changing the boarding gate assignments at Ben Gurion International Airport because the VIPs including US President Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Prince Charles had arrived. But at least the airport was never shut down, and my flight arrived on time at the NAIA.
That was the only problem I encountered during my visit. The entire country felt like an oasis amid a violence-torn Middle East. This was surreal in the light of my long-held perceptions about Israel. Today, if I were asked by a Filipino Christian who can go overseas only once in his or her lifetime to recommend the best country to visit, I’d say Israel, and never mind what you see on TV news.
* * *
It’s not just because the country is where Jesus Christ and the people who founded the Christian (and Jewish) faiths from the time of Methuselah lived. From my beachfront hotel in Tel Aviv, for example, it’s just a five-minute drive to the ancient city of Jaffa, where a tiny house is marked as the home of Simon the Tanner. The house is believed to be where Peter the Apostle lived and raised Tabitha from the dead.
Aside from the Biblical landmarks, however, Filipino tourists are also sure to be enchanted by the magnificent Israeli landscape, from forbidding deserts to the picturesque Mediterranean coastline to the Dead Sea. And Jewish history from ancient to modern times is compelling. Wherever you stand in the Middle East conflict, you have to be impressed with what the Jews have accomplished in their state.
And yet only three million foreigners visited Israel last year, with most of the tourists from the US, Russia and, increasingly, China. Only 15,000 Filipino tourists visited, 54 percent of them on religious tours or pilgrimage, according to Amir Halevy, director general of the Ministry of Tourism.
Halevy stressed that these days no place in the world is safe from deadly violence. But Israel, he said, has better experience in securing the public.
“Hopefully, people here will feel very safe,” Halevy told me.
He expressed hope that more Filipinos would visit, especially since the Philippines “is a very, very popular country in Israel… people here love the Filipinos.”
Let’s hope the love is not dented by the mouth of the Philippine President.
(philstar.com) | Updated October 3, 2016 – 9:45am
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent remarks have prompted Brussels to reconsider its scheduled royal visit to the Philippines next year.
The president earlier compared himself to German dictator Adolf Hitler and said that he would be “happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts.
Duterte, however, has apologized for his remark after drawing flak from the Jewish community all over the world.
Brussels State Secretary for External Trade Cécile Jodogne wants to cancel the trade mission led by Princess Astrid to the Philippines in May 2017, according to a report from La Libre Belgique.
Two missions are planned for next year—the Philippines in May and Ivory Coast in the second half of the year.
Jodogne had sent a letter to the Agency for Foreign Trade, which is in charge of organizing trade missions of the Belgian royalty, calling for a meeting regarding the mission to the Philippines.
“I do not say that she would never have to go to the Philippines. I think we can consider cooperation in all countries,” Jodogne wrote in French.
The top Belgian diplomat said that she will call for the mission to be shifted to another country.
Jodogne stressed that there is a timing problem on the scheduled royal visit to the Philippines.
“The mission takes place in a little over six months, and at the escalation of statements of the Philippine president, now is [the time] to say if we will or not,” Jodogne added.
Belgium is the seat of the European Union (EU), which has been criticizing the Philippine government’s anti-narcotics campaign due to the rising number of extrajudicial and vigilante killings of drug suspects.
Duterte challenged the EU and the United Nations to come to the Philippines for a debate on human rights and extrajudicial killings.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated at 11:59 a.m. to correct language used in letter. It earlier noted that the quote by Brussels State Secretary for External Trade Cécile Jodogne was in Belgian. It was in French.
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