Israeli President Shimon Peres Wants Friends

At no point in history was the Hebrew word for “friend” more popular than after President Bill Clinton uttered those two famous words as he eulogized his assassinated friend, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Jerusalem in 1995. “Shalom Chaver” quickly became a famous slogan and bumper sticker quote.

Now, one man who was Yitzhak Rabin’s friend, colleague and peace partner is campaigning for chaverim, friends. Not real friends, but Facebook fans. On the same day he delivered a very well-received speech to close to 13,000 pro-Israel supporters at AIPAC Policy Conference on Sunday, Israeli President Shimon Peres launched his new Facebook page.

President Peres has had a very good week. After AIPAC honored the 88-year-old leader on Sunday for his storied career in Israeli politics and for his lasting commitment to peace, he met privately with President Obama. During his AIPAC appearance Peres found a very supportive audience who saluted him with many standing ovations. All this week Shimon Peres has been on a tour of the Bay Area where he’s meeting with hi-tech leaders of Silicon Valley.

His California itinerary includes meetings with leading venture capitalists, as well as with Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. During his meeting with the Facebook founder, President Peres launched his official personal page on the Facebook site. While Peres might not be the first 88-year-old with a Facebook account, he is the first one whose chief agenda is to use his Facebook page to create a dialogue with Arabs who live in countries that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg interviewed the Israeli President about his Facebook ambitions and he explained,  “The matter of peace is no longer the business of governments but the business of people. Today the people are governing the governments. And when they begin to talk to each other, they are surprised: We should be friends.”

So, how he is Shimon Peres seeking to make friends on the social networking site? Rather than giving away a free iPad as many businesses do when they launch a new Facebook page, Peres released a new YouTube music video (see below) asking everyone to be his friend on Facebook in the name of peace. The video was launched last Sunday as Peres was speaking at AIPAC. I’m certain this video will go viral because, well, the sight of an 88-year-old rock star who happens to be the president of the Jewish state is “must see TV.” Peres, with his iconic deep Israeli accent, has become a beloved father figure to the Israeli people. It is remarkable to see him so eager to exploit social media in the name of forging a lasting peace in the Middle East. I wish him well… and I hope that he gets a lot of friends to join him on Facebook.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Alan Dershowitz Sees Potential in "Curb" Episode

When I blogged about Larry David’s brilliant “Palestinian Chicken” episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, I focused on the role that the yarmulke played in that episode and didn’t really get into the meatier (get it?) issue that chicken can potentially play in Israeli-Palestinian relations. I figured someone would find value in that comical episode and try to use it to bring the two sides in the Mid-East crisis together for dialogue. I was just surprised when I heard it was Alan Dershowitz.

Speaking with Prof. Alan Dershowitz in my office at the
University of Michigan Hillel Foundation in 2005.

In an interview with the Columbia Current, Dershowitz explained his role in making sure Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu saw the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode:

“I recently sent a copy of ‘Palestinian Chicken,’ that Larry David gave me, to Prime Minister Netanyahu — with the suggestion that he invite Abbas over to watch it together,” he said, referring to the episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” centered around the heated competition between a kosher deli and a Palestinian chicken joint in Los Angeles. “And maybe if they both get a good laugh, they can begin a negotiating process … So it may be that Larry David will not only win Emmys, but he may even qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize, if his episode could bring together Netanyahu and Abbas, and bring Abbas to the negotiating table.”

Was it a coincidence that Larry David named the Palestinian Chicken restaurant
Al-Abbas or was it a wink at Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority?

Wow! I really think it would be fun to watch Abbas and Netanyahu viewing that episode of Curb together. The only thing that would top that would be if Larry David, Jeff Garlin and Bob Einstein were there in the room too. What would they all be eating during the viewing? Obviously, (kosher) Palestinian chicken!

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller