In Washington, DC, many of the stories that appear in the paper become unexpectedly personal. Recently, an article appeared, ever so briefly, stating that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry were distraught by “Jewish activism in Congress.” Members of the Administration’s inner circle claimed that Jews, opposed to the Administration’s policies, were contacting Congress. These officials felt certain the Israeli Government was pulling the strings.
I gave the colorful fantasies of this particular White House no more thought. That is, until a few days later when I had an encounter with my neighbor, Dave, in the dog park. Dave along with his mixed lab, Sherman, fell in beside me and Enzo, my mixed up sheepdog.
“You’re Jewish, right?” asked Dave. The two dogs sniffed each other.
“That’s right. What gave it away?”
“You invited us to a Hanukah party at your house last year.”
“Oh, yeah, I guess that would do it.”
“Look, have you written to Congress recently?”
“Why, yes,” I admitted, “I wrote to Congressman Jim just last month.” At the mention of Congressman Jim’s name, Enzo reflexively lifted his leg to relieve himself.
“Why did you write?”
“Well, I think the Congress should maintain the sanctions on Iran.”
“And you came to this conclusion all by yourself?
I’ve had other conversations with Dave before and discovered him to be a straightforward literalist. He suffered from a complete absence of the sarcasm gene. Rather than reveal my ultimate political advisor was Mr. Greenjeans, I answered plainly. “Why certainly,” I said, “What are you getting at?”
“We have it on good authority that American Jews are being contacted by foreign agents of influence to incite them against the president.”
“You’re joking, right?”
Both Dave and Sherman halted abruptly, Sherman cocked his head and scrutinized us with deep suspicion. “This is no joke. Used to be American Jews would rather see a nuclear bombardment on Tel Aviv than publicly criticize Barack Obama. Now, they’re writing to Congress opposing the president’s policies. That wouldn’t be happening if there weren’t interference from outside.”
“I can see your point. “
“We have solid proof Jews in America are being contacted by Israeli agencies. And our intelligence is the best.”
“We collect information on all phone calls. Metadata. Everyday, we see thousands of calls originating from a single office in Jerusalem. These calls go all over the US to people with Jewish sounding names.
“Algorithms tag certain in our metadata. Politics, Obama, Palestinians, Negotiations, Policies, Building Permits. We tag these and other terms. Nothing gets past us. We know they’re talking politics.” Sherman paused to investigate a post.
“So, one day American Jews love Barack Obama and the next day, they don’t. You do the math. Somebody’s puling their strings.”
“How can I help? What do you want me to do?”
“If you get a call from Israel, remember everything. Get the name of who called, when they called and the message. Come to my house immediately afterwards. Whatever you do, don’t call me. Remember it’s for the good of your country.“
I gave my him word. Dave and Sherman disappeared into the woods, taking a trail used only by deer and intelligence operatives. I immediately forgot the whole business.
Several weeks later I had just finished dinner when the phone rang. The individual on the other end introduced himself in a mild Israeli accent as Erez. He asked if I was interested in politics and culture.
I couldn’t believe it! Here at last — after all those years of giving to the JNF — I was being contacted by an actual representative of the International Zionist Conspiracy seeking World Domination. It was like getting a snapshot of BigFoot. I was so excited I barely managed to ask him what was up.
“We know,” said Erez in sinister tones, “that you care about Israel.”
“Yes.” I said secretively. “I do.”
As he continued, I could imagine him stroking a white Himalayan cat. “We know that you’re interested in Politics in Israel, Negotiations with the Palestinians, Obama’s Middle East policies…”
“Yes all that’s true. Where are you calling from, Erez, if that’s your real name.”
“That is my real name and I’m calling from Jerusalem. Anyways, we know that you care about Israel because you’re a subscriber to The Jerusalem Times.”
“We are calling all our American subscribers and offering them a chance to receive a newsletter in easy Hebrew, Ivrit Kala. How’s your Hebrew?”
I was crestfallen, unable to speak. He continued, “It covers politics, Obama, negotiations with the Palestinians as well as Israeli movies, art, music, tourism, and trends all in simple Hebrew.”
“Erez, I’ll subscribe, but on one condition.”
“What is that.”
“In the future it would serve you and your buddies well to focus your sales pitch on Israeli movies, art, music tourism and trends. Drop the political talk.”
After he hung up, I sulked over to Dave’s house. He came to the door and we marched wordlessly over to the dog park.
“You were right, Dave. I just got a call from Israel.” Sherman squatted and prepared to relieve himself.
“See? I’m telling you, our intelligence is the best. Nothing gets by us.” Dave began fumbling in his pockets. “I left the house without a poop bag. Do you have one I could borrow?”
“Well, actually, Dave, your metadata is not picking up the whole story…” I began, handing him an extra poop bag.