For Barack Obama, Real 'Red Line' Is on Scorching Israel Tarmac

Trades Jokes With Netanyahu About Differences Over Iran

Red Line on Tarmac: Barack Obama walks with Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres at the airport in Tel Aviv. Despite the leaders’ well-publicized differences, they managed to share a few yucks over the ‘red line’ on the tarmac.
getty image
Red Line on Tarmac: Barack Obama walks with Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres at the airport in Tel Aviv. Despite the leaders’ well-publicized differences, they managed to share a few yucks over the ‘red line’ on the tarmac.

By Reuters

Published March 20, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Differences between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over setting a “red line” for Iran’s nuclear project were never a joking matter.

Until now, when both leaders uncorked some rapid fire one-liners during Obama’s tour of a partially U.S.-funded anti-missile system that he inspected after a red carpet welcome ceremony on Wednesday at Tel Aviv airport.

“Where do you want to start?” Obama asked an Israeli military official, in a comment picked up by TV cameras providing close coverage of the president and Netanyahu walking together toward the battery.

“We are following the red line, sir,” the officer replied matter-of-factly, referring to a red line painted on the tarmac that led to the missiles.

“The red line, okay,” said Obama, who smiled, gestured with his thumb toward Netanyahu and said: “He’s always talking to me about red lines.”

It was a rare moment of levity between the two, whose often testy relationship has been illustrated by stern-faced appearances before cameras during Netanyahu’s visits to the White House.

The public display of bonhomie lightened the tone at the start of a visit by Obama that is not expected to produce much in the way of policy initiatives.

In a speech at the United Nations in September, Netanyahu drew a red line on a cartoonish drawing of a bomb, depicting the point where he said Iran will have enough medium-enriched uranium to move rapidly toward building a nuclear bomb.

Netanyahu said at the U.N. that Iran could reach that point this spring or summer. Obama, who has pledged to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran has resisted setting any such deadlines. Tehran says it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes only.

Continuing his banter as he walked along the thin red line at the airport, Obama said with a smile: “So this is all a psychological ploy”.

Chuckling, Netanyahu shot back: “This was minutely planned.”

Obama also joked with some Israeli military officials as he hopped out of an SUV on the tarmac, and said: “I’m a young man. I’m always looking for a chance to walk.”

According to Israeli news reports, he nearly had to walk in Jerusalem, where a presidential limo had to replaced before his arrival after its tank was filled with diesel fuel instead of regular gasoline.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.