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.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

Don’t ask me why I think old men are wise; this is something I was taught when I was a baby, and somehow it never left my brain.

Interfering with my thought process was a sudden, new development: A qadi decreed that Iftar in Jerusalem is at 7:49 p.m.

At 7:49 we were permitted to eat. I made up my mind to sit with the commanders. Wise is good, but mighty is better.

I could have joined the press table, but journalists sometimes bore me. Especially these days, when they are obsessing on the issue of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, they pretend to know everything and push their own political beliefs on reality. In truth, they know as much as everybody does, which is nothing, but they will never admit it.

Peres, of course, is different. He seems to know what the rest of us don’t.

“I know,” he said as he spoke about the peace talks, that “there are people who say nothing will come out of it, but I say it will.” And then he added: “I want to praise the two leaders who decided to renew talks: my friend Mahmoud Abbas… and the prime minister of Israel.”

Interesting that he reserves the “friend” title just for the Palestinian leader.

“We are all adults here,” Peres said as he continued, “and I know that there will be times of hardships… but we have no other alternative to peace… All of us were created in the image of Elokim.”

He used the Orthodox term for God: Not Elohim, but Elokim. Why? God knows.

Peres talked a bit more, and by the time he stopped, I started a little conversation with the big shots at my table.

How big are they?

I asked them, and they told me. To my left was a doctor in the security jail of Megiddo. Next to him was a “mayor” of a small village. The others seemed pretty much the same to me and, with one exception, everybody at the table was Circassian, not Arab. The one Arab there, a man dressed in civilian clothes, was a computer security specialist.

I exchanged a few words with him.

“Are Arabs and Jews getting along in this country?” I asked.

“No way.”

I assumed he was kidding. There were leading Muslims there, though not at the table, and if Arabs and Jews didn’t get along, why were they there?


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.