Erdogan had come ready for a fight. The folder he carried onto the stage - a folder that reportedly carried the seal of his Muslim party, and not that of the more secular-leaning Turkish foreign ministry - contained anti-Israel polemics downloaded from the Internet. Peres, too, was ready for battle, and after a twelve-minute speech by Erdogan, Peres responded at length, and boisterously. Erdogan was playing to type - his party has made Israel a special target of attack - but Peres was forced into a role he dislikes, that of reflexive defender of his tribe. In the recent past, Peres was famous for positing the idea that a new, modern, detribalized Middle East was in the making. But in Davos, he felt forced to play what he described to me after the event as an archaic role.
"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."