Thursday, January 29, 2009
Turkey's Erdogan Blasts Israel at Davos
“When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill,” Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan told Shimon Peres, the President of Israel at a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland today. “Mr. Peres, you are older than me,” he said. “Your voice comes out in a very high tone. And the high tone of your voice has to do with a guilty conscience. My voice, however, will not come out in the same tone', Erdogan added before walking out of the stage. Leaving the conference, Mr. Erdogan said, “And so Davos is over for me from now on.”
Mr. Erdogan was dismayed at the applause for Mr. Peres by the Israeli supporters at Davos. "I find it very sad that people applaud what you said," Erdogan said. "You killed people. And I think that it is very wrong."
"You kill people," Erdogan told the 85-year-old Israeli leader. "I remember the children who died on beaches. I remember two former prime ministers who said they felt very happy when they were able to enter Palestine on tanks."
"I did not target at all in any way the Israeli people, President Peres, or the Jewish people," Erdogan told a news conference afterward.
"I am a prime minister, a leader who has specifically expressly stated that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity," he said.
In a news conference immediately after the panel discussion, Mr. Erdogan said he was particularly upset with the Washington Post's David Ignatius, the Jewish-American moderator, who he said had failed to direct a balanced and impartial panel, according to the New York Times.
Other panelists included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Amr Moussa, the Arab League’s secretary general, joining Mr. Peres and Mr. Erdogan. Participants said Mr. Peres was mostly alone in defending Israel’s role in Gaza, and for that reason he was given the final 25 minutes to speak.
Upon his return to his home country, the Turkish leader was greeted by a jubilant crowd of more than 5,000 supporters, many waving Turkish and Palestinian flags, who flooded Istanbul's airport when his plane touched down about 2 a.m. Friday, Istanbul time.
This incident should be a wake-up call to the Israelis. After all, secular and "moderate" Turkey has been one of the few countries in its neighborhood having friendly relations with Israel.
Israel has been on the defensive as the reports of alleged war crimes have been trickling out of Israel since its recent Gaza offensive.
In one reported incident in Zeitoun, Gaza on January 4, where the frightened members of an extended family were hiding from Israeli bombardment and ground assault as Attiyah, 46, (husband) and Zinad Samouni, 35, (wife) mother of eight children opened the door, the Israeli soldiers in cold blood shot Attiyah dead and then went on a rampage to massacre the other members of the Samouni clan in this small hiding place.
“So far dozens of bodies, mostly women, children and elderly, have been recovered, almost all from the same extended family. The 48th corpse – horribly decomposed – was found on Monday but there are fears others lie under the rubble and soil churned up by Israeli armoured vehicles,” reported Tim Butcher of The Daily Telegraph of London. Navi Pillay, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights has already called for war crimes investigations against Israel for the massacre that took place in Zeitoun on January 4th and 5th.
Doctors at Al-Shifa hospital reported seeing unusual burns on their victims that most likely came from the use of white phosphorus against civilian targets in Gaza. The phosphorus burns get worse when water is poured on them, something the Palestinian doctors observed. Israel denies using phosphorous shells against people in Gaza, but at the same time Israel says it is investigating the allegations. Israeli government has announced the formation of a special legal team to defend Israeli soldiers against potential war crimes charges stemming from the recent three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip.
MSNBC cable channel is reporting that the Israeli move reflects growing concerns in Israel that officers could be subject to international prosecution for the large number of civilian deaths in Gaza, despite the army's claims that Hamas militants caused the casualties by staging attacks from residential areas.
The reported war crimes allegations against Israel must not be allowed to go un-investigated. Any attempt by Israel and its allies to resist independent investigations will be seen as cover up. If the investigations show evidence that war crimes have been committed, the Israeli soldiers and those who ordered this war must be brought to justice in an international criminal court. The US, UN and Europeans must pursue this process honestly with the same vigor as they did with the perpetrators in Germany, Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
Here's a video of Prime Minister Erdogan speaking at Davos:
Here's a video about Israeli behavior in Zeitun, Gaza:
Transcript of Prime Minister Erdogan's Remarks at Davos
Israel's Gaza Attack is Criminal, Not Defensive
Gaza Killings-A spectator Sport for Israelis