Skip To Content
Back to Opinion

Bibi and Barack Agree 100% — on Bagels!

Jerusalem — Scoff if you like, but this is something I do. I’m a Jewish journalist. We care about our food.

At the end of my White House interview last year with President Obama, I asked him for his favorite flavor of bagel.

How could I not ask the same thing of the prime minister of Israel? I’d be called an anti-Semite.

So at the end of a rather contentious session with Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday — more on that here — I had to ask him the same question.

He interrupted me before I even finished — not for the first time that evening — and said “sesame.” Then he quickly took it back. Motioning to his staff in the front row of an auditorium at the Israeli Foreign Ministry (Netanyahu is foreign minister, also), he asked for help in Hebrew to find the right word.

“Poppy seed!”


Despite their public differences, Netanyahu and Obama share an affinity for the round doughy staple covered with little hard black seeds.

You do agree on something, I pointed out.

“We signed a memo of understanding,” Netanyahu quipped, citing the unprecedented military aid agreement recently concluded by him and Obama. “You know, that’s a $38 billion bagel.”

I wasn’t allowed a follow-up question, so I wonder: Will the cost of that bagel change when Donald Trump is in the White House?

Contact Jane Eisner at [email protected] or on Twitter, @Jane_Eisner

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.