Israel’s Tourism Ministry did not pay for visiting White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s family to eat non-kosher food in Eilat, a spokesman for Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov said Monday, denying press reports.

Emanuel came to Israel on Friday for a 10-day trip with his family to celebrate the bar mitzva of his son Zach and nephew Noah. The ceremonies will be conducted later this week with the help of Emanuel’s rabbi in Virginia, Jack Moline, who is expected to come to Israel. Details of the bar mitzvas are still being kept a secret.

Yediot Aharonot reported Sunday that a Tourism Ministry official paid for the Emanuel family’s meal at Eilat’s non-kosher Boston restaurant on Friday. The report said the Emanuels ate cheviche, calamari and other seafood.

“We offered to help the Emanuels with their visit but they said no,” the spokesman said. “Our representative did not eat with them. We bring thousands of people to Israel. Our official events are kosher but when people are on their own we don’t pick at their plates or make sure they eat all their meals at the Knesset cafeteria.”

National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari wrote Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein complaining about taxpayer funds being used for a non-kosher meal and asking him to send the bill to Emanuel’s home.

“In my humble legal opinion there is no possibility of making the State of Israel pay for such a meal, as part of a private visit by the White House chief of staff and his family,” Ben-Ari wrote. “The public coffers are not up for grabs and the fact that the gentleman sponsors anti-Semitic policies in the White House is certainly no justification for digging into the public coffer at the expense of the old lady in the corridor of the hospital.”

Far right activist Baruch Marzel, who works for Ben-Ari, is determined to get to the bar mitzva and heckle Emanuel because he believes he is a traitor to the Jewish people. He said he believes the bar mitzva will be at a Jerusalem hotel on Thursday or Saturday.

“We are getting closer to him,” Marzel said.



Rabbi Andrew Sacks, who conducts Conservative bar mitzvas at the Robinson’s Arch area near the Western Wall, declined to comment about whether he was aware of details regarding the ceremony.

Those hoping to catch a glimpse of Emanuel Monday during a rumored visit to the Western Wall were disappointed. Emanuel and his family did not appear at the site, where reporters, photographers and at least one would-be protester were camped out. There was speculation that the family might choose a less public venue because of possible protests.

“We are having a great time in Israel, we are really enjoying ourselves and the people are excellent,” Emanuel, dressed in shorts, told Channel 2 on Monday.

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