President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his sincere apology to the Jewish community as he attended the Rosh Hashanah at Beit Yaacov Synagogue in Makati City on Tuesday, October 4.
Facing the Jewish people in Manila during their New Year celebration, the President refused to read his prepared speech and started his message with an apology to show his deep remorse over his remarks on the Holocaust.
“I came here with a prepared speech so that we can be together and meet to share the blessing of the day for the Rosh Hashanah. But more than that, I will not read my prepared speech. First because I’d like to greet you on your holiday and second because, I would like to apologize. And it comes from the heart,” he said.
Duterte maintained that he did not intend to derogate the Jews and he has high respect for them. He explained that his remark was just “a play of the tongue” and he promised not to do it again.
“Please accept my apologies and it will never happen again. We will always be friends and I said, even if we do not share the same structure of government, we have the common denominator and that’s our God,” he said.
The President noted that he traces his roots back to a multi-cultural ethnic background and even his children have Jewish blood from his first wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman.
He said he could never speak ill of anyone regardless of race or ethnicity. “Why would I defile the memory of the Jews? What will I get if I insult the Jewish people?” he asked.
The President also acknowledged the longstanding relationship of Israel and the Philippines. He praised the Israeli government for their honesty in doing business especially in the defense sector.
The apology was well received by the members of the Jewish Community as his speech was interrupted by several rounds of applause from the audience. PND