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!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • 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.