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Getting intimate with the President

President Shimon Peres knows how to throw a party. This evening, the 4th Israeli Presidential Conference will begin at the Jerusalem International Conventional Center. “Facing Tomorrow” is the platform, and the three day event has rounded up an impressive roster of speakers and panelists.

I’m attended as a blogger and have been enjoying the back and forth I’ve had with the representatives at Finn Partners, the PR firm in charge of the conference. I particularly enjoyed the press release I got on Sunday, inviting me to have a “personal, interactive conversation with the President.”

I skimmed through the email and press release, and clicked the link to take me to the newly launched app on the conference’s Facebook page. Since, in my opinion, President Peres is an extremely social media-savvy politician, I was not at all surprised by this latest feature.

The page features the interior of what appears to be the room where President Peres has his TV media interviews. An Israeli flag next to a table with fresh flowers, a glass and some water, lights and camera equipment, and the telltale stain glass windows fills the screen. I called to my husband to bring me my good wig and put it on before I hit the button to begin the conversation. I didn’t actually think President Peres would be there, waiting for me to appear on a screen in the room. But, just in case, I wanted to make sure I was camera ready.

I had butterflies in my stomach, I was so excited. Finally, President Peres was going to stop being polite, and start getting real — ala The Real World. I knew that Snooki wouldn’t show up in the background, but secretly I wished she would. I called to my husband to make some margaritas.

The best way to describe this experience was that it is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but on screen. Categories pop up to the left, and one can select from a “wildcard,” “childhood,” “tomorrow,” “men and women,” and “you.” During each topic, as President Peres begins to answer pre-selected questions, one can select additional categories that appear on the left of the screen, to steer the conversation to where the viewer wants it to go.

Fortunately, the President gave the option to take this “conversation” seriously or “with a wink in my eye.” I went the wink route. If I’m going to have an opportunity like this, I wasn’t going to waste it on listening to him speak about politics and the Arab Spring, Syria or Egypt. I went straight to the “Men and Women” category and clicked my way around. I learned that President Peres is 100% for gay marriage (hooray!!)! That “women are born as a Mother, and men die as babies since they never mature.” Um, okay.

And, did you all know that President Peres writes poetry? Well, he doesn’t consider himself a poet, but he does enjoy writing poetry in his native tongue. A friend suggested he try his hand at writing poetry in English and the poem, called “Ray of Hope,” included the line “lets make hay.” Sigh, and you know that’s going to show up in a bestselling book of poetry someday. I did enjoy how he defined poetry, it would have made my Introduction to Poetry:101 professor at Queens College proud. I was also happy to hear that Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” was not his favorite poem, that was a different President’s.

But, after clicking around a bit and going back and forth with these pre-selected questions, I felt like something was just missing. Really, the hardest question they could come up with was “who didn’t you accept a friend request from on Facebook?”

So, here are some of the questions I would have asked President Peres:

1) You category – it’s wonderful to hear how important it is for you stay in shape, and to eat healthy. Do you realize how expensive it is to buy food in this country? I just paid 25 shekel for 10 lycée!

2) You category – you can’t only eat healthy! When no one is looking, what do you indulge in? How do you feel about pie?

3) Men and Women category – you mention that “young man”, Mark Zuckerberg, and Facebook, when discussing the Arab Spring. And, while you discuss your personal feelings about gay marriage, you made no mention of intermarriage. Nice congratulations note, BTW.

4) Men and Women category – I was confused by what you said about couples, I didn’t really understand how all women think men are “lazy,” “aggressive” and “talkative,” while men just wonder what “women want from them.” Perhaps, one day, you can explain that one a bit more.

Most importantly, I’m going to ask the one question everyone wants to know but is afraid to ask:

Mr. President, are you reading Fifty Shades of Grey?

About the Author
Shira Zwebner is a public relations consultant and writer living in Jerusalem. A Mommy blogger and recent Olah, Shira writes about living and raising a family as an American trying to find her niche within Israeli culture.