Turkey v. Israel: Davos Forum Smackdown

By Thomas Nagorski

Jan 29, 2009 6:15pm

The World Economic Forum — that invitation-only, annual Alpine gathering at Davos, Switzerland — is a famous gathering of economists and politicians, journalists and artists, a place where the great issues of the day are hashed out over fine food and drink and — for those so inclined — excellent skiing. We’ve never been to the event — but we’re told Davos is NOT usually a forum for shouting matches between world leaders, or storming off stages, etc. But that’s what happened there today — as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan lambasted Israel for its incursion into Gaza and the carnage in its wake. Turkey has been — by regional standards — a strong supporter of Israel, but Mr. Erdogan was withering in his criticism today. "You kill people," Erdogan said. Israeli President Shimon Peres shot back, asking about the militant group Hamas, "Why did they fight us, what did they want? There was never a day of starvation in Gaza" and then asking Erdogan directly how he would feel if rockets fell on Istanbul. Erdogan began a response, and was cut off by the moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. At that point, Erdogan stalked off, saying "When it comes to killing, you know it too well." According to wire reports, those in the packed auditorium were stunned. Later, he told reporters, "President Peres was speaking to the prime minister of Turkey — I am not just some leader of some group or tribe, so he should have addressed me accordingly." Care to watch? Have a glass of wine, sit back (or fast forward). It’s interesting — if a little long. Here you are…

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