What’s in a name?


Well, to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, quite a lot.


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Joe Lieberman, the Orthodox senator from Connecticut, told the Christians United for Israel conference on Tuesday that this past Passover – the first he had celebrated in Jerusalem – his 12th grandchild was born, in Israel, during his trip.


Netanyahu heard of the simcha and called Lieberman, who said his grandson was named Binyamin.


Netanyahu, never one to be accused of modesty, told Lieberman to tell his children, “They’ve chosen a perfect name.”


But Lieberman explained to the CUFI crowd that the reason his grandson had been named Binyamin was that his Biblical namesake had been the only of Jacob’s children to be born in the Land of Israel.


(Oh well, Bibi!)


Lieberman’s anecdote wasn’t the only time names came up at the panel the senator participated in along with Gary Bauer, now president of the American Values organization, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Ari Fleischer, who worked for George W. Bush on his campaign for president from his home base in Texas before eventually become a White House press secretary. (Read my story about Lieberman’s weightier comments on Iran here.)


Fleischer noted that growing up with Jewish parents in New York, he had been raised to believe that New Jersey was a southern state. So when he got to Texas he was a bit of a fish out of water. Nothing made that clearer than when he gave his name and people repeated it with some confusion.


“Ari? Is that R.E.?” they would say. Kind of like the J.R. character in Dallas.


To make him an honory Texan, Bush -- famous for doling out nicknames -- later christened him "Ari Bob," in keeping with the region''s penchant for having two first names.


Of course, that’s better than the name Bauer gave Fleischer during his introduction Tuesday. Not having a pitch-perfect command of Yiddishe names, perhaps, Bauer mangled the pronunciation so that it sounded like he was introducing “Mr. Flusher.”


No one suggested that was a perfect name.


- Hilary Leila Krieger

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