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November 27, 2014 4:01 pm

Talking ‘Turkey’ to President Obama

avatar by Michael Widlanski


President Obama speaking on the phone with the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, September 2013. Photo: The White House

In Israel it’s Thanksgiving – the American holiday I really miss, the day that sums up what is beautiful in the American spirit -faith over adversity, settling the land, good neighborliness.

It’s not about eating turkey. Still, my Israeli-born wife Sara has decided to make us a festive meal and cook us a turkey, though I prefer to drink Wild Turkey than eat turkey.

As for me, I had a Thanksgiving dream involving the current violence around St. Louis, in neighborhoods we visited when I was a visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

In my Thanksgiving dream, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to visit St. Louis and the local community of Ferguson to try to help restore calm.

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“We call on both sides to show restraint,” said Netanyahu, sending a copy of his message to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

“We hope that America can live up to its democratic ideals,” said the Israeli foreign ministry spokesman (in my dream). It was clear he was enjoying the irony of throwing the State Department’s words back at it.

“We hope that American security officials will use minimum force and not commit any hate crimes or war crimes,” declared (in my dream) Labor Party leader Yitzhak Herzog, perhaps remembering how Barack Obama spoke about Israel’s use of force against terrorists firing rockets at Israeli cities a few months ago.

“We call on U.S. law enforcement to institute a full and open investigation of the use of deadly force,” wrote Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett in a separate letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

But this was only a dream.

No Israeli leader would dream of talking like that to Barack Obama, the president who speaks behind a presidential seal depicting an eagle.

And in foreign policy, Obama the “eagle” has been a “turkey” – slang for “a person who lacks good sense or judgment,” according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary.

“Talking turkey” is an idiom that means speaking frankly, and Israel should talk turkey to Obama, especially since he and his aides treat Israel like a clay pigeon, or a sitting duck, while publicly  calling its leaders “chicken-sh-t.”

Personally, I would be willing to eat an entire turkey and declare a national holiday in Jerusalem if Israeli leaders could develop a little courage to talk turkey to America’s “turkey.”

Michael Widlanski is the author of “Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat.” He was Visiting Professor in Washington University in St. Louis, and he has served as a reporter for The New York Times, Cox Newspapers, Israeli Army Radio and  The Jerusalem Post. He was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security, and he teaches at Bar-Ilan University.

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