"In the ballroom after dinner I asked Rabin why on earth he had told the President it was my birthday, and he shot back, “What else should I have told him – the truth? If I did that, tomorrow there’d be a headline in the newspapers that you ate kosher and I didn’t, and the religious parties will bolt the coalition, and I’ll have a government crisis on my hands. Ani meshuga? Am I crazy?”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's delegation allegedly willingly ate traife (non-kosher food) while on a state visit to Poland earlier this year, Tablet Magazine reports.
“Many lawmakers we met said that during the last visit [to Poland] of the prime minister, the Israeli side didn’t insist on kosher meals. The Polish interpreted that as signifying that kashrut was not a very important issue,” Yesh Atid Member of Knesset Aliza Lavie reportedly told Army Radio.
This is a big deal in Israel for several reasons, but primarily because not long after that visit, the Polish government did not fight particularly hard to block proposed legislation to ban all ritual slaughter conducted without first stunning (or anesthetizing) the animal. The bill passed, effectively ending commercial shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter) in Poland.
Tablet points out that previous leaders of Israel's governments have behaved just like Netanyahu, and brings a story from the memoir of Yehuda Aviner, at the time he was an aide to Yitzhak Rabin.
At a state dinner in the White House, everyone is eating their meal – except Aviener, who is the lone member of Israel's delegation keeping kosher.
A couple of chairs away the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General George Brown…. Within minutes, the general caught sight of my still-empty place setting and, craning his neck to note my name card, boomed, “Yeduha, not eating with us tonight?” Whereupon, as if on cue, a butler stepped forward and placed before me a vegetarian extravaganza consisting of a base of lettuce as thick as a Bible, on top of which sat a mound of diced fruit, on top of that a glob of cottage cheese, and on top of that a swish of whipped cream, so that the whole thingamajig must have stood about a foot high. In contrast to everybody else’s deep brown roasted pheasant, it glittered and sparkled like a firework.
Gasps of admiration greeted this fiesta of color, and Barbara Walters began to applaud. This attracted the attention of President Ford who, half rising to see what the commotion was about, whispered something into Yitzhak Rabin’s ear, who whispered something back into his. Then, rising to his full height and grinning from ear to ear, the president raised his glass high and called out to me with an overflow of well-being, “Happy birthday young fella! Let’s sing a toast to our birthday boy.”
With that, the entire banqueting hall rose to its feet and, goblets aloft, chorused a hearty, “Happy birthday dear Yeduha.” And as they sang I slouched sheepishly further into my chair, mortified.
In the ballroom after dinner I asked Rabin why on earth he had told the President it was my birthday, and he shot back, “What else should I have told him – the truth? If I did that, tomorrow there’d be a headline in the newspapers that you ate kosher and I didn’t, and the religious parties will bolt the coalition, and I’ll have a government crisis on my hands. Ani meshuga? Am I crazy?”