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Present drug menace more alarming than Jews’ concerns

/ 12:04 AM October 13, 2016

The Oct. 1 banner headline “Heil Digong?” which came with a photo of President Duterte and AFP officers raising a fist suggestive of Adolf Hitler and his followers making their trademark Nazi salute, added fuel to the fire the former started for comparing himself and his drug war to the Hitler and the Holocaust.

There was no question that Jewish uproar would follow as the comparison is taboo, and any denigration of the 6 million Holocaust victims is still regarded as blasphemous to Jews. Of course, Duterte knows his history, so the Inquirer banner headline the day after,  “Du30 says sorry to Jews” served to appease the offended, even when many Filipinos could not understand what harm was done that deserves such apology of presidential proportions.

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In his provocative analogy, Duterte said he would kill 3 million addicts in the country, just as Hitler (his SS soldiers actually executed the Final Solution) exterminated 6 million Jews in gas chambers in Poland. Duterte was describing a “drug holocaust” creeping in his beloved country.

More than 16 million Filipinos who voted for him to be president are relying on him to save millions of Filipinos who have succumbed to “shabu” and protect millions of others from crimes driven by addiction to the mind-altering drug. And that is more significant than the past, as far as we are concerned.

We mourn the Jewish families that perished in the genocide and share in the grief of the victims’ living relatives. The efforts of the World Jewish Congress to preserve the victims’ memory and to fight anti-Semitism to prevent similar genocides deserve the support of everyone who values life and religious tolerance. Monitoring and acting against neo-Nazis, distasteful emulation of Hitler, anti-Semitic remarks and remnants of the Nazi regime are all for the interest of Jews around the world.

But the reality is the drug problem is more alarming than the concerns of the Jews. And Duterte is perhaps the only world leader right now who is trying to give the scourge as much global attention as terrorism, religious extremism and civil wars.

Critics choose to gang up on Duterte for his manners, instead of appreciating the good he is doing and lending him moral support.

Israelis know very well that racism has no place in the Philippines. Unlike the United States and the European Union, the Philippines does not harbor aging Nazi prison guards sought by Nazi hunters for crimes against humanity in connection with their roles in the Holocaust. Bilateral relations with the Jewish state is also very strong and healthy, and thousands of Filipinos even work in Israel as househelp, nannies or caregivers for senior citizens. So Jews should be a little bit considerate about Duterte’s rants, which were never really meant to insult them and their history.

—MAYUMI TAN, [email protected]

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TAGS: adolf hitler, drug war, holocaust, Jews, Rodrigo Duterte
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