Bibi lets his hair down

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, reviews an honor guard as he attends a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin Wall in Moscow, Tuesday, June 7. Netanyahu is Russia on an official two-day visit.

NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of columns about my recent trip to Israel. Visit my website for the previous three columns. “ Next week, Bibi talks Israeli initiatives

We were invited to a briefing with Bibi Netanyahu.

With all the bad press the TSA has received due to the huge back-ups at security stations in U.S. airports, we should be taking a page out of Israel’s “security clearance procedures’” book.

Don’t get me wrong. Entering the building that houses the office of the Prime Minister of Israel is an intense experience. Passports are scrutinized, facial recognition programs are scanned and, seemingly unrelated to much of anything, questions are asked by Israel’s security employees who have been trained to read reactions, body language and other psychological indicators within a brief period of time before admittance is granted.

As in past briefings, we found Bibi to be articulate and downright charming. Surprisingly though, given that his party’s coalition is fragile, the horrible press both he and his wife continue to receive and of course the never-ending missile attacks from Israel’s Arab neighbors; he was surprisingly casual, easy and relaxed as he simply spoke with us.

No prepared buzz words or punchlines, no rehearsed sound bites, he was not in “politician mode” at all — very un-Bibi who is the consummate politician!

He had just come out of a meeting with Francois Hollande, President of France. In the meeting, Hollande proposed an initiative aimed at resuming talks between Israel and the Palestinians, with a “UN-type committee format.”

Bibi actually laughed saying given that a UN committee has actually stated the Jews have no connection with the Temple Mount, among other slights and outrageous statements and actions against Israel on the General Assembly floor; he shook his head. Using that description of the proposed process was not a very effective way for the French President to make Bibi very receptive to their efforts.

He talked of the failed Arab Spring. With the rise of ISIS, Arab States which were so focused on the destruction of Israel, using the Palestinian cause as a focal point for their ultimate goal, are now working with Israel because ISIS is an immediate, direct threat to them.

This change of focus has pretty much left the Palestinians on their own. He mused that perhaps this might be a time after all for serious talks with the Palestinians — if there were anyone to talk with!

And, Israel is “Pivoting East.” He smiled. Unlike the US president who called for such a pivot but didn’t follow through, Israel is flourishing on the global scene. Like never before, diplomatic missions are coming to Israel from Russia, China, India and other Asian Nations.

Thinking back on the briefing, I have to ask myself, with all of the craziness in our world, how could the Prime Minister of Israel be so cool and laidback?

Beats me! But, I wish that cool could be bottled and sold to some of our politicians!

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist. Comments can be addressed to

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