My Iftar Dinner With Shimon Peres

A Surreal Ramadan Visit With the Israeli President

Rubbing Shoulders: The author (right) meets Israeli president Shimon Peres.
Isi Tenenbom
Rubbing Shoulders: The author (right) meets Israeli president Shimon Peres.

By Tuvia Tenenbom

Published August 31, 2013, issue of September 06, 2013.
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Following a night in Ramallah when I joined the Muslims for Iftar, the dinner meal for breaking the fast on Ramadan, I got into a van that goes to Jerusalem.

Two ladies with the most gorgeous hijabs sat next to me. I looked at them and noticed that Palestinian hijabs are very well made. Much nicer than the hijabs I saw in Turkey. Really. I don’t know if it’s politically correct to say it, but between you and me, these hijab-wearing Palestinian ladies are very, very sexy.

And the next morning, once I woke up, I read my iPad.

Arabs read the Quran, Jews read their Bible, I read the iPad.

My iPad informed me of something quite interesting. “President Shimon Peres,” the announcement said, will host at his residence “an Iftar dinner to break the Ramadan fast. The dinner will be attended by leading Muslim figures from within Israel, including imams, community leaders, ambassadors, heads of municipalities, national service volunteers and social activists.”

Naturally, a man such as I must mingle with leading Muslim figures foreign ambassadors. And so, and at the allotted time, I made my way to the president’s house. At the entrance, pictures of Barack Obama hang proudly on the wall. I don’t know if Obama hangs Peres’s pictures on his wall, and I wrote a note for myself to visit the White House once I’m back in the States so that I can find out.

Once we were at the dining area, an official told us that the breaking of the fast would take place at exactly 7:41 p.m. I was reminded of Orthodox Jews counting the moments for the end of the fast on Yom Kippur. Of course, this was the residence of Israel’s president, and we were talking Ramadan.

I looked around for the best table at which to sit. To my left was a table with old people; to my right was a table with army commanders — or at least this is what I thought they were: a group of healthy-looking men wearing uniforms with pieces of shiny metal on their shoulders.

Should I sit with the muscled men or with the wise?

A huge dilemma.


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