32 thoughts on “Duking it Out in Davos: Erdogan v. Peres – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Erdogan has been well known for his populist attitude. it’s this attitude which brought him to power and while it’s a common trait in many politicians, it’s really a fascinating thing to see it in the extent that he has. he always does whatever will grant him the biggest populity regardless of any ideology, social class, religion, any kind of backbone, or, as in this case, common sense and refinement expected from the leader of a country of over 70 million people.

    this latest antic -and the responses it got- made me chuckle. he’s aiming for bigger audiences now. gogo posterboy!

  2. I saw the video Richard and I was amazed – this 85 year old man spouting one lie after another.

    Let me signal some conspicuous fibs:

    1. Israel was interested in Gaza flourishing. It had wanted to see another Singapore there. Gaza was in fact nine times bigger than Singapore and Singapore had four million people whereas Gaza had only one and a half million (according to the CIA World Fact Book the Gaza Strip measures 360 sq kms and Singapore 682,7 sq. kms – he couldn’t even get that right).

    2. The crossings had always been open and there had always been a sufficient supply of fuel, food and electricity. he had personally read the reports on this every week and was satisfied that nothing was wanting.

    3. Because of Israel’s interest in Gaza’s welfare it had invested money in for instance the glass culture of strawberries but those Palestinians had destroyed it. Why?

    Well in a frank interview with James Wolfensohn, published in Haaretz on 21/7/07 we can find an answer to that. James Wolfensohn, one will recall, was the former President of the World Bank who was appointed special envoy for Gaza for the World Bank:

    ‘All the dreams we had are now gone’

    By Shahar Smooha / Photo by Tomer Appelbaum / BauBau

    .Wolfensohn landed in the Middle East in May 2005 in order to monitor the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and to help heal the badly ailing Palestinian economy. In the beginning he was full of hope: He was able to raise $9 billion ($3 billion a year for three years) to bolster the Palestinian economy, and in November 2005, three months after the disengagement, he served as the mediator between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in negotiations on transit routes and on access to and from the Gaza Strip. He also donated money of his own to help the Palestinians buy Israeli-owned greenhouses in Gaza ”

    Wolfensohn refers to the

    .”agreement that Condi [Condoleezza] Rice announced in my presence and in the presence of the European representative Javier Solana,” Wolfensohn continues. “But in the months following, every aspect of the agreement was abrogated. In fact, the sadness of it is that the last remaining aspect – the opening to Egypt [via the border crossing] – has seen the international observers reducing their representation because of non-usage [of the terminal]. So all the dreams that we had then have now gone, ”

    .He toured the Gaza Strip with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) immediately after the PA asserted its authority there, and recalls a euphoric atmosphere that dissipated very quickly

    “.I remember seeing the greenhouses with the chairman and looking at the fruits and everything, and there was a joyous atmosphere: ‘Boy, we’re about to get this going and we’re going to have hotels by the beaches and we’re going to have tourism and it’s going to be fantastic, and the Palestinians really know how to be hosts.’ But in the months afterward, first of all Arik [Sharon] became ill and the current prime minister came in, and there was a clear change of view”

    “.At that time, Wolfensohn recalls, powerful forces in the U.S. administration worked behind his back: They did not believe in the border terminals agreement and wanted to undermine his status as the Quartet’s emissary. The official behind this development, he says, was Elliot Abrams, the neoconservative who was appointed deputy national security adviser in charge of disseminating democracy in the Middle East – “and every aspect of that agreement was abrogated

    .The non-implementation of the agreement naturally had serious economic consequences. According to Wolfensohn, the shattering of the great hope of normality, which the Palestinians experienced so deeply when the Israel Defense Forces and the settlers left the Gaza Strip, brought about the rise of Hamas. “Instead of hope, the Palestinians saw that they were put back in prison. And with 50 percent unemployment, you would have conflict. This is not just a Palestinian issue. If you have 50 percent of your people with no work, chances are they will become annoyed. So it’s not, in my opinion, that Palestinians are so terrible; it is that they were in a situation where a modulation of views between one and the other became impossible.

    “.The issue of the greenhouses is especially painful to Wolfensohn because of his personal contribution to them. “Everything was rotting because you couldn’t get the fruit. And if you went to the border, as I did many times, and saw tomatoes and fruit just being dumped on the side of the road, you would have to say that if you were a Palestinian farmer you’d be pretty upset. So my view is to try and not demonize the Palestinians. I’m not denying that there are Palestinians who fire rockets and do terrible things; I know that that happens. But to get a fundamental solution, you have to have hope on both sides ”

    So much for those terrible Palestinians who according to Peres destroyed the greenhouses.

    His more general lies eg that Israel was only after peace and never fired a shot unless fired upon are not worth discussing.

    The Secretary General of the Arab League brought up the matter of the Arab Peace Initiative to which it never had had a response. Peres only came up with waffle on this with a vague reference to Iran and saying that things were oh sooo complicated. Yes, things tend to be complicated if you know that the condition for peace is to let go off occupied land and you are not prepared to do this.

    1. Regarding those greenhouses:
      Israel shuts off water, dries Gazagreenhouses. Excerpts:

      “After months of intense negotiations recently culminating in a deal allowing for the transfer of Gaza’s high-tech Jewish greenhouses to the Palestinians, several former Jewish residents who briefly returned to their farms told WND they were shocked to find most of their produce has died because Israel turned off the water in the area.”I couldn’t believe it. Almost all of my crops are dead, and the rest is dying,” Anita Tucker, one of the settler-farmers of Jewish Gaza told WND. “I hope the Palestinians aren’t expecting fresh produce. … A fortune in crops is now all gone.”
      The greenhouse deal, reached just days before the Gaza evacuation, sold the area hot houses for about $14 million to the Economic Cooperation Foundation, an international fund which in turn will transfer the structures to the Palestinians. The foundation consists mostly of private capital, including a personal $500,000 donation by James Wolfensohn, the former World Bank president who is a special Middle East envoy for the “quartet” of the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. About one-quarter of Gaza’s Jewish greenhouses were previously dismantled and moved to new communities in Israel by their owners. The foundation deal reportedly covers the majority of the remaining hothouses. The first payment to the former settler-farmers of Jewish Gaza was transferred this weekend to a committee working on their behalf. A final payment will be made later this month, a member of the greenhouse negotiating team told WND.
      But several Jewish Gaza settlers who were allowed to briefly return to their hothouses said most of the produce currently inside is now dead. Tucker, who owns large structures, said her hothouses were set to be watered by automatic irrigation systems.”The sprinkler systems didn’t work because Israel stupidly turned off the water after the Gaza withdrawal,” said Tucker. “All my work, down the drain.” A former resident of Jewish Gaza’s Ganei Tal farming community who asked his name be withheld said, “Most of the greenhouses in Ganei Tal are dried up. This better not effect our payment because it’s not our fault Israel turned off the water.”

  3. Pere’s lies were less shocking to me than the applause he received from the audience, excepting, of course, PM Erdogan.

    Are the Davos great and good really so morally spineless?

    Yes, it seems.

    Money, money, money…

  4. I wrote my column late at night: Wolfensohn was of course the special Gaza envoy for the “Quartet” not the World Bank.

    Yes Peter, it is quite clear that Israel after dashing people’s hopes added insult to injury by blaming them for it. Peres’ lie about the strawberries doesn’t seem to be a personal invention. I have seen (and reacted to it) before. However, didn’t he know any better?

    I am still puzzled by his shameless tirade. He was literally on the world stage there and yet came up with one porker after another. Gideon Levy, who was his personal assistant for years, has on at least one occasion in the past hinted that he does know better – that in private he made quite different remarks. Lying for your country is perhaps regarded as a form of patriotism over there. I read that the Israeli Foreign Ministry, headed by someone who also excels in this form of patriotism, has had the temerity to come up with a protest to the Turkish ambassador. Seeing the hero’s welcome Erdogan got at home I don’t think that emissary will be very receptive to it.

    It was interesting to heart Erdogan refer to Avi Shlaim and Gilad Atzmon. I wonder how many other political luminaries read their stuff (but are less willing to quote them).

    1. Alex: This is always the cheesy strategy of Israeli apologists. Instead of confronting head on Israel’s own heinous acts, they try to divert attention by asking why the world doesn’t denounce as vociferously the crimes of other nations. The issue isn’t the crimes of other nations for those who care primarily about Israel. The issue is ISRAEL. Erdogan’s welcoming of Sudan’s leader is an entirely separate issue fr. his criticism of Israel. If you want to criticize Turkey’s welcome of Sudan (though I didn’t hear this blogger or you denounce this until it was Peres’ ox that was gored) go right ahead. But it will not distract fr. the matter at hand, which is Peres’ shameful behavior and performance at Davos.

      Peres is alleged to have apologized for shreying at Erdogan though he’s chickened out of admitting it. He should do all that & more. I’ve never heard of a world leader bellowing publicly at another. It’s beyond the pale.

  5. Incredible to see a forum like this is putting so important people side by side in a format to only shout into the dark. Peres, am sure he is not proud of the recent atrocities himself, had no choice to raise his voice and defend his country fullblooded. Erdogan had no other choice than reacting to such a monologue, because the guilty became a strong accuser. The organisers could have thought better and make it a longer debate and together with public or telephone/email participation. It was unfortunate to leave such an important topic and people to a rather poor mediator.. The guy was not himself maybe but he really like a moron by “we will be served dinner soon, we have to cut it now”. If Erdogan was to finish he had a message but he could not finish, his point was as friends of Israel we dont want you to make new enemies in the region. Peace to all Israeli people, Palestine, Turkey and to rest of the Arab World.

  6. Richard, there has been a different view posted on Weiss’s blog, ie that Peres (or Israel for that matter) was being attacked by Ban-Ki Moon, Erdogan and a third person who I do not quite remember as of now. It also said that Erdogan had ten minutes to make one point and Ignateus cut him off to let Peres rebutt and that’s when Erdogan stormed off. (I haven’t had a chance to watch it because it is rather a long time to watch something.)

    Peres is a nut and nothing is going to save him.

  7. Well, I saw the whole video. Ignatius didn’t cut Erdogan off to let Peres rebut but …because it was time to go to dinner. How silly can you get.

    1. Yes, God forbid we can’t hear a few minutes of Erdogan rebutting Peres’ outrageous lies since we captains of the universe must get to our sumptuous repast. Just think about what this means: it’s more important to eat than it is to consider the hunger & suffering of Palestinians. Ignatius should be ashamed.

    2. it was time to go to dinner??? This is such an ignorance. People are dying in Gaza; one is trying to make a point and explaining who the guilty is… anf you say “it is time to go to dinner”

      This is inhuman

  8. I wasn’t trying to distract from anything – just trying to provide some context to your excitement. The real issue you should refer to is the drones – the man criticises Israel’s use of the drones in killing Gazan civilians and then buys them for himself. Surely there is a way for you to praise his critique of Israel (leaving aside the stuff about Gilad Atzmon) while pointing out that he is no hero?

    1. I listened to the entire hr. & didn’t hear Erdogan make a single reference to drones. However, drones are not in & of themselves built for targeted assassinations. They are surveillance vehicles. Hopefully, Turkey will not use them to assassinate Kurds as Israel does Palestinians.

  9. Everyone else gets 10 minutes to speak and Peres gets 25?!

    I am wondering about the impact of this episode and the surrounding issues of Palestine/Israel/Turkey on the secular-religious debate in Turkey.
    I have no animosity toward Islam, but I am opposed to any religion taking state power.

  10. Alex Stein, Erdogan was not the issue for me. Turkey is no concern of mine. Israel is.

    In a way I am grateful to Erdogan for needling Peres enough for Israel’s President to put on full display the lies the country lives by. We are familiar with most of those lies but now we had them directly from the horse’s mouth.

    I hope we will get a trancript of Peres’ tirade. It could be used for years in “the case against Israel”.

  11. “Participants said Peres was mostly alone in defending Israel’s role in Gaza, and for that reason he was given the final 25 minutes to speak. Earlier, Erdogan spoke for 12 minutes about the Palestinians’ sufferings.” [International Herald Tribune]

    OK, now I get it…Peres is given more time so he can defend atrocities and Erdogan gets half the time to express compassion and anger at the atrocities.

    Makes sense to me.

  12. Richard – do you know much about how the Turks have treated the Kurds? Are you unable to make a statement along the lines of “I am glad that Erdogan spoke out against Peres although we should be wary of heroising him too much.” Would that be unreasonable?

    1. More kurds living west rather than southeast of Turkiye. We are like nail and finger with all. Ozal ex-president and also PM Erdogan’s wife have Kurdish heritage. I know 5 ministers Kurd at Erdogan’s cabinet. We still have Ottoman spirit which treated equall all same as Jews…. I hope Jewish community takes back its support to Turkiye about Armenian bill in US house. So everyone play its role without showing finger, shouting or threatining. I am so proud of my PM and my nation.

    2. Of course, I’m quite familiar with Turkey’s abysmal record against the Kurds. But these are quite separate issues for me. I denounce Turkey’s treatment of the Kurds, but praise its attempt to expedite the Israel-Syrian peace process; and I also appreciate his approach to the Gaza conflict. If you had a balanced approach to this issue you too would understand that Erdogan’s initial presentation while critical, did not come anywhere close to the vile vitriol that Peres spewed against Turkey & Hamas in his own presentation.

      I make no mistake in viewing Turkey or Erdogan as paragons of virtue. But they’re head & shoulders above Israel & Peres in this matter.

  13. Turkey and Greece are a sort of model for Israel and Palestine. They used to fight but now they don’t. (That doesn’t mean they are friendly.)

    In a general way, most of the problems of the Middle East come from chopping up the Ottoman Empire.

    Zhua Bajie

  14. Ellen, since both of the previous speakers were on the subject of Israel’s killings, you would expect that Peres would ample amount of time to rebutt (but 25 minutes to make the counterpoint is rather gracious in itself, as if you expected anything different from Ignatius).

    How can Peres (or Israel) be let off the hook by deflecting criticism to other atrocities happening in this world?

  15. Joshua – it’s like this: the other day I got a 100 shekel find for jay-walking (is that how it’s spelt?). As the police officer was explaining to me what I did wrong, at least five other people did the same thing. His colleague was perfectly capable of apprehending them, but sat there doing nothing. Now, I had clearly broken the law (leaving aside the debate over whether jaywalking should be illegal), and as a result should be punished. But if the person punishing me ignores the other people doing the same thing before our very eyes, then I’m going to cast aspersions on his integrity. It will make me wonder if something else isn’t motivating him, or provide me an excuse to get away for my crimes. When justice and morality aren’t applied consistently, alarm bells will start ringing. You should be sophisticated enough to be able to simultaneously criticise Israel and demand more even-handedness from the self-proclaimed moral critics of the world’s media.

  16. Have any of you (including the author) watched the entire video? First, the lie (echoed by every MSM report on the event) that Erdogan was in some way cut off or not allowed to speak is clearly seen as such if you watch the video. In a forum where the UN secretary general, secretary general of the Arab League, and the PM of Turkey (for 16 minutes, by the way) unequivocally place the blame on Israel for the tragedy in Gaza, Peres is the sole voice representing the opposing viewpoint. So, even if it were true that he spoke for longer than each of the Hamas supporters on stage, 25 minutes out of 1:08 seems reasonable to me. Watch the video. After the one hour mark, Erdogan rudely and forcefully demanded time to respond to Peres after the event had ended (even though it is clear that this forum is NOT a debate). And how did he use this special exception? He says (to Peres) “You are very good at killing,” followed by “And the sixth commandment says ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ though we are here talking about killing.” I’m sorry, I though that Israel is a political entity. The fact that he makes this non-point, turning the discussion into an examination of Judaism, in a state of agitation, belies his true perspetive of the situation, that we are dealing with “the Jews.”

    To the author:
    Peres did not suggest that Erdogan was trying to smuggle explosives in his diplomatic convoy…he was stating that the reason for the delay was due to the historical fact that buses packed with explosives–and later detonated in Jerusalem–had crossed through that border crossing…thus the need for heightened security.

    Also, Peres did not deny that Hamas was democratically elected. His response to this was something to the effect of, “Democracy is a civilization. Hamas can’t just choose to participate in democracy for one day (elections), then take up arms and continue armed attacks on Israel for four years.” Indeed, if they want to participate, it is THEY that need to embrace diplomacy and negotiations.

    Which brings me to my last point: You condemn the “choleric” tone of Peres…after prominent, respected (somehow, since Erdogan has a documented history of anti-Semitism and Islamism) leaders place blame on Israel, then suggest that they need to embrace the democratically elected Hamas. To quote from the video (which, it seems, nobody here has viewed), here is the OFFICIAL CHARTER OF HAMAS, as read by Peres,

    “…the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, says: “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.” ([6] Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985),”

    “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that…There is no solution to the Palestinian question except by Jihad. All initiatives, proposals, and International Conferences are a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

    If I were Peres, I would be a little more pissed than “choleric” given what these other leaders are suggesting is the path to peace.

    1. Your entire reply is entirely disingenuous. You simply view the Davos forum through yr own ideological lens.

      the lie (echoed by every MSM report on the event) that Erdogan was in some way cut off or not allowed to speak is clearly seen as such if you watch the video.

      Erdogan was personally attacked by Peres during his lugubrious, repetitive & hectoring presentation. He insisted after Peres finished that he be allowed to speak on his own & Turkey’s behalf. The moderator allowed his a brief rebuttal and then shut him down. Most people besides you watching the video understand that Peres levelled a shouting, vicious polemic against Erdogan and believe that he should’ve been allowed a decent interval to reply. Besides, the excuse that the well fed potentates needed to eat their dinner & didn’t have time to hear any more fr. Erdogan was repulsive.

      In a forum where the UN secretary general, secretary general of the Arab League, and the PM of Turkey (for 16 minutes, by the way) unequivocally place the blame on Israel for the tragedy in Gaza

      That is simply NOT TRUE. All the Arab/Muslim speakers acknowledged there was so defense or excuse for Hamas’ attack on Israel. Did you not hear that or did the sound go dead at that pt. when you listened to the video?

      The fact that he makes this non-point, turning the discussion into an examination of Judaism

      This is ridiculous. Quoting the 6th commandment does not turn Erdogan’s comments into anti-Semitism or an “examination of Judaism.” Or do you forget that Christians also believe in the Ten Commandments. In fact. most of the world would agree with the 6th commandment. So how does quoting it turn Erdogan into a Jew-hater?

      Peres did not suggest that Erdogan was trying to smuggle explosives in his diplomatic convoy

      I didn’t say that. Peres said the reason we needed to delay you for 30 minutes was that Palestinians have packed dynamite into vehicles, with the clear intimation that Erdogan’s car might’ve also been packed with explosives. The very notoion that Israel had any right to delay Erdogan’s car at all is ludicrous. Did Turkey delay Olmert’s transportation when he visited Ankara for negotiations with Syria? No. To do so would’ve been a serious breach of diplomatic etiquette–something the IDF & Shin Bet apparently don’t give a crap about. In fact, they deliberately stopped his vehicle to express their displeasure that he was visiting Palestinians. That’s chickenshit pennyante stuff worthy of a 3rd rate banana republic, which Israel may yet turn into.

      Peres did not deny that Hamas was democratically elected

      Again, your “evidence” doesn’t reply to the passage I was referring to. Peres clearly says that Hamas was not democratically elected. He follows by saying that Abbas was. In effect, Peres is saying that the Palestinians may’ve had two elections (one for President & one for legislative posts), but we, Israel choose to recognize only one of them. Again, this is ludicrous but typical for Israel.

      Erdogan has a documented history of anti-Semitism and Islamism

      This is a stupid, boneheaded lie. Pls. “document” his “history of anti-Semitism.” As for “Islamism,” I don’t know what this means. That he supports bin Laden & hates the west? Ridiculous. If not that, then what precisely is “Islamism” & why is it odious? Erdogan is the “moderate Muslim” that Israel & those who support it should appreciate. That they don’t, only reveals the extent of their hatred of Islam.

      You’re only about the 100th pro Israel apologist who’s quoted the Hamas charter (circa 1988). Peres tried to do so as well during his remarks but his eyes or brain were so addled he made a botched job of it. Besides which, you & he should begin to realize that as soon as you attempt to wield that cugdel your reader/listeners eyes glaze over with sheer boredom. So if you want to waste your time & bore anyone you come into contact with go right on quoting ossified historical documents that no one remembers or care about (except you & Peres). As I’ve replied to all the previous apologists, the Hamas charter has as much impact on Hamas actions & strategy as the platforms of the Democratic or Republican parties have on their own actual political actions. That is, none.

  17. And this is why I read blogs – there was more information packed into this article than in all the (admittedly, short) blurbs of CNN, FOX, NBC, ABC, et al combined.

    Thank You, Richard.

  18. Yes Richard, you really joined a lot of pro and contra arguments in a very effective way. Thank you for your effort in defending the justice for all without any prejudices.

    I really don’t understand the motivation behind the arguments of pro Israel defenders. Why do you not condemn the criminal wars of some Israel soldiers? The Israeli state and people don’t have any part in this crime, if they don’t support the crime openly.

    We, the world community, should all see clearly that supporting war crimes of a small group today, will give legitimation to bigger war crimes tomorrow. This is a vicious cycle. If we don’t stop it today, it will cost us too much tomorrow. The history of the western world until WWII is an example for how big the vicious cycle of war crimes can grow.

  19. For someone who stated with pride that he has worked for peace (and was labelled a ‘traitor’ by his own people), Peres appeared like a rabid blithering idiot. I saw the whole thing (before some Israeli sympathiser suggests otherwise) and was astounded at the audacity and shere inability for Peres to accept any liability on Israel for the barbaric and inhumane slaughter that his country inflicted on Gaza. The excuses were pathetic. The man should be booked a seat at the Hague and answer for the war crimes his beloved Israel has committed!

  20. After tons of serious comment, I want to tell a joke about that I have just heard and has a stomach ache because of laugh:
    In Davos, a lady walks to the mens bathroom and the bathroom staff worn her that it is mens bathroom. She stops and ask “Is Mr. President Erdogan inside?” he says “no, why you asked?” she answers “so there is no problem hence there is no men here except him”.

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