Op-ed: It was enough to hear about the heartbreaking shabbiness of the Prime Minister’s Residence’s kitchen or watch Sara Netanyahu’s hyperactivity during the US president’s visit to feel embarrassed at the impression our representatives gave during his time in Israel.

The only genuine moment in the overflow of artificial ceremonies and empty speeches during US President Donald Trump’s visit was actually provided by the first ladies of the United States and Israel. It was a particularly pleasant moment, when Melania Trump took Nechama Rivlin’s hand and intertwined her fingers with hers—and the two women slowly walked the red carpet hand in hand.

This image was so touching because of its authenticity. A quiet alliance between two outsiders, who are strangers to this position and definitely hate it. A soft moment between two women who have one thing in common: Their commitment to the position by virtue of their husband’s duties. From the look on their faces, it was evident that they would have rather been in any other place during those moments, as long as it was far from the cameras, from the commotion, from the heat and from the hundreds of strange faces surrounding them.

Melania Trump and Nechama Rivlin walk the red carpet hand in hand. The only genuine moment of the visit (Photo: Reuters)
Melania Trump and Nechama Rivlin walk the red carpet hand in hand. The only genuine moment of the visit (Photo: Reuters)


The tenderness in this meeting was especially noticeable in light of the hyperactivity of the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu. Her effort to see, to be seen, to talk, to stand out. A sort of mania that threatened to turn into depression at any given moment. That unstoppable flow of words that overshadowed everyone else—from the way she trashed the Israeli media on the Ben-Gurion Airport runway to the embarrassing and repulsive apology for the condition of the walls at the prime minister’s residence. This time, the highlight was a testimony provided by businesswoman Nicole Raidman, who supplied Mrs. Netanyahu with dresses from her luxury store at Tel Aviv’s Kikar Hamedina plaza.

Raidman posted heartrending images from the shabby kitchen at the prime minister’s residence—the exact same images we were exposed to in designer Moshik Galamin’s encounter with the veneer and the marble countertop. So it may be about time to impose a kitchen fee on Israel’s residents to pay for a new kitchen for our prime minister, if only to stop us from degrading ourselves in front of foreign guests that way.

There may have been more important things to deal with in the royal visit, but I must confess that I didn’t find them. It’s not just that the trivial things overshadowed the rest. Even those who talk about a successful visit, about a wonderful Zionist speech, about a president who is fantastic for Israel, are finding it difficult to see any achievements beyond the warm words, apart from vague promises about some peace process, without saying a single word about its essence: Neither the two-state vision nor the 1967 borders or the Palestinian right to self-determination. There was even no mention of Trump’s election promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

From the Israeli side, the visit was an example of provincialism, of lack of class. It’s enough to look at the English menu handed to the guests who attended at the festive meal at the prime minister’s residence to feel embarrassed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was given the title H.E.—His Excellency, while the prime minister’s wife was referred to as “First Lady,” which is definitely not her official title. Sara Netanyahu is in fact the third lady, after President Reuven Rivlin’s wife, Nechama, and Irina Nevzlin, the wife of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. What an urge to adorn themselves with incorrect titles. So much ego, pursuit of honor, immodesty. Can anyone imagine late Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s wife, Aliza, insisting on the title “First Lady?” Or late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin approving “His Excellency?”

America’s first couple dining with ‘His Excellency’ and ‘First Lady. So much ego, pursuit of honor and immodesty (Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
America’s first couple dining with ‘His Excellency’ and ‘First Lady. So much ego, pursuit of honor and immodesty (Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO)


If all this was just to get a hug, to hear what we are so fond of hearing and to enjoy the empty compliments the American president generously showered us with—we got that. One can also understand the prime minister, who was intoxicated by Trump’s comments. For eight years, Netanyahu waited for a president who would affirm the fears of a nuclear Iran, who would speak firmly against terror, who would present himself as Israel’s No. 1 friend and who would promise dramatically that Israel’s destruction would not take place on Donald J. Trump’s watch. According to Netanyahu’s applause and body language, one might have thought that the State of Israel—the strongest power in the Middle East—had just been rescued from a nuclear disaster.

As we sank into this ocean of praise, we forgot what America is not forgetting: That this president is suspected of ties to the Kremlin, that more and more Americans see him as a crook who tried to obstruct the investigations against him, and that his days as president may be numbered.

No one raised an eyebrow at the fact that the president arrived in Israel from Saudi Arabia, where he signed $110 billion arms deals, and that he developed particularly warm relations with Saudi King Salman. And this is a country considered until recently, even by Trump, the No. 1 exporter of terrorism and the funder of the world’s most radical mosque. One can only imagine what the Prime Minister’s Office and the right-wing camp’s speakers would have said had the deal with Saudi Arabia been signed by former US president Barack Obama.

Look at how fast we have devoted ourselves to a man who until a few months ago we didn’t believe would sit in the most important seat in the world, who apart from a variety of repulsive traits, is also known for his short temper, penchant changing his mind in an instant and a total lack of commitment.

It’s possible that there are things going on behind the scenes that we are not aware of. If that is happening, it’s thanks to special envoy Jason Greenblatt, a thorough and diligent person who has been busy studying the situation since being appointed a few months ago and forming a full and detailed picture of the problem. The question is how this hard-working and sensible envoy will connect to a short-tempered president like Trump, who is so concerned about his image, and who will reach Trump first: Special envoy Greenblatt or the special prosecutor in Washington.

As reported by Ynetnews