As it is quite difficult to find out anything about Government ministers and
members of the Knesset from the speeches and shouted remarks which are
scrupulously published in the Minutes of the Knesset, we went one Tuesday to
enquire about this very point from the shop-owners around the Knesset: We
started, naturally, with Mr. Michael Genger, the lessee of the Knesset
restaurant. We were sent to him by his wife, who was suspicious about the whole
affair and who found nothing to say but “You can write this: members of the
Knesset eat very well here. Healthy food, clean and home-made.” We told her that
we are not writing advertising copy and that we needed details, so she sent us
on to her husband.
Her husband wanted to start with the same sort of
declaration and only after some persuasion agreed to tell us that: Levi Eshkol
eats quickly and doesn’t care what; Shitreet is on a diet, eats mainly dairy
products – cheese, sour cream, eggs, and cooked vegetables; Ben-Gurion doesn’t
eat meat or much bread, prefers fish and Tnuva products; Golda Myerson usually
has lunch at home, she likes English tea and cakes. The Minister of Agriculture,
fittingly enough, likes wholesome farm products – eggs, cheese, sour cream,
milk. MK Guri is a vegetarian, eats salads and dry bread and drinks weak tea.
Yigal Alon will eat anything you give him. Mikunis eats meat for lunch and dairy
food for supper. Surprisingly enough, Moshe Sneh, Wilner and Wilenska all follow
exactly the same routine.
We asked Mr. Genger if there were any gourmets
among the Knesset members.
“No,” said Mr. Genger. “They like simple
Jewish food. There are ministers who eat a lot and there are ministers who eat
less. But what? Everybody likes soup mit kreplach. On Wednesdays I make soup mit
kreplach and you should see how they attack it. On Tuesdays they also are happy.
Why? Because I make farfel mit kishkeh. And you know what? Even members of the
left wing parties like it very much. The ministers are very modest and they are
not snobs and that helps my work a lot. They serve themselves and never
complain. Prices are very moderate here. A meal with chicken is only IL 1.600,
and a standard meal IL 1.–. The Knesset personnel get a glass of tea for seven
piastres. I have very good food, believe me.
Why don’t you taste some
farfel mit kishkeh? You’ll see – it’s heaven!” We thanked Mr. Genger and left
We never eat farfel mit kishkeh when we’re on the job. We
walked into the greengrocery opposite the Knesset and asked the owner, a
50-year-old Sephardi, whether members of the Knesset ever came into his shop.
“What Knesset?” he asked. “Who Knesset? What you want from my life? I have
nothing to do with the Knesset.”
The woman who owns Cafe Taamon next door
said that many MKs have coffee in her place when they want to be alone, but that
she didn’t know their names. We didn’t get any cooperation from the Ora
The owner and a woman in a white jacket who was concocting some
prescription behind the counter refused to tell us a thing.
that many MKs and ministers patronized the pharmacy but that they couldn’t, oh
they definitely couldn’t, tell us what they bought. We told them that we were
not interested in serious diseases, that we would only like to know who bought
aspirin or sleeping pills. Nothing doing. All we extracted from them was the
information that ministers and Supreme Court judges get their medicaments free;
that is, the Ministry of Health pays for them.
Our success wasn’t very
great at the Dahlia Florist Shop either. The owner, a woman who was busy
arranging a bouquet of cultured narcissi, is a model of discretion. “In the
flower business,” she said, “there are many secrets. Many MKs buy flowers here,
but I can’t give you their names. Perhaps someone buys a bouquet for a beautiful
young girl while he has a wife at home.
Maybe his wife will read in the
paper that her husband bought flowers, and she will say, ‘Oh, I see you bought
flowers in Jerusalem. For whom did you buy the flowers, my Rosenkavalier?’ You
see, it might be unpleasant. Flowers in themselves are discreet and
Salon Robert, hairdressers for gentlemen and ladies, is the
last shop in the line. Mr. Robert, the owner, a middle-aged gentleman
wearing a white jacket with a long, narrow comb protruding from his pocket, who
is immaculately coiffured and shaved, handed us over to a young barber named
He was full of interesting information. “Levi Eshkol takes off
very little hair,” he said, “and he always complains about the
Zalman Aranne nothing special. Frenchstyle.
Minister of Posts used to like a very short cut. Now he likes it
It makes a good impression.
“I once cut Ben-Gurion’s hair
in the Eden Hotel. Oh, he has a special haircut. Zisling cuts his hair more or
less like Ben-Gurion.
Yona Kesse does’t like barbers. Israel Galili only
shaves here. I shaved Yigal Alon a few times. He once told me ‘Dir balak with
the razor. I have a knife too.’ So I told him, ‘Tell me when you don’t have a
knife or a gun?’ So he laughed.
“Dr. Foerder is a regular client, cuts
his hair, shaves, everything. There are many who come here for shampoo too, yes
indeed. Why not. Moshe Sneh shaves here.
Doesn’t let us touch his
moustache. Israel Rokach has his complet here: cuts his hair, shaves, shampoo,
eau de cologne, cream, everything. Golda Myerson doesn’t want anything. You know
she has a kuku, that bun in the back.”
It seems that some MKs even have
manicures at Salon Robert, and one of them, believe it or not, gets a pedicure
too, but we won’t disclose their names. We too can be discreet. Besides, who
knows, maybe we can use our knowledge for political pressure.
shouting at a speaker: “Down with you! Go get your manicure!”
– By arrangement