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Talking back to Erdogan

In his Impromptus column yesterday, Jay Nordlinger wrote:

Something that happened last week caused a flashback in me. Let me explain: Speaking at a U.N. event in Vienna, the Turkish leader Erdogan blasted Zionism as “a crime against humanity.” Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general, sat on the stage with him, silent.

Erdogan and Ban Ki-moon shared a stage in Davos, in 2009. Ban blasted Israel, though in indirect terms. Erdogan blasted Israel. Amr Moussa, still the Arab League boss, blasted Israel. The room was thick with lies and moral perversity.

Then it was time for Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, to speak. He blasted back. He spoke basic truths, passionately, clearing out, for a while, the lies and perversity.

I’m pretty sure this was the most thrilling and gladdening thing I have ever seen in public life. I don’t believe I have ever witnessed a performance so great and gratifying as Peres’s. I know that righties like me are supposed to dislike the oft-dovish, though not always dovish, Peres. Be that as it may . . .

I wrote up the experience for NR, here.

Jay is a seasoned journalist and a man of great judgment, so those are striking words.

I wrote about Peres at length last year in “Notes on Tomorrow 2012,” my look back at the the fourth annual presidential conference held in Jerusalem this past June. The roster of those who accepted an invitation from President Peres to speak at the conference was incredibly impressive. I noted, however, that among the few members of the world community who might not have responded favorably to an invitation from President Peres was Erdoğan, for whom Peres had choice words at Davos in 2009 in one of the transcendent moments of his career. Peres’s 2009 remarks are available on YouTube in three videos here, here, and here, and they are still worth a look.

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