The war of the roses

PM says no to Christian gift of friendship flowers, so as not to upset Obama.

April 2, 2010 02:35
3 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu looking over shoulder 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Has the fight between US President Barack Obama and Israel become so fetid that it can overcome the fragrance of more than 10,000 roses?

That appeared to be the case on Thursday, when officials in the Prime Minister’s Office made clear that they cannot accept a donation of more than 1,000 dozen yellow roses from American Christians who were upset by reports of Obama’s treatment of Binyamin Netanyahu in the White House last week.

Florida-based radio host and author Janet Porter was so incensed by what she thought was Obama’s inappropriate behavior that she called upon her listeners to give Netanyahu yellow roses to symbolize friendship, with each bouquet costing a symbolic price of $19.48.

The response was overwhelming as Christian supporters of Israel went online to the Web site of Porter’s Faith2action organization and ordered the flowers, which were to be accompanied by a card with the words, “Be encouraged, Americans stand with you,” along with a quote from a psalm: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem.”

Porter contacted respected Beit Shemesh-based florist Richard Kovler, who would be ready to deliver the huge amount of flowers after Pessah ends next week. But he needs someone in the Prime Minister’s Office to receive them.

When Kovler contacted the appropriate Netanyahu adviser, he was told that the Prime Minister’s Office could not get involved, because Netanyahu must be very careful to avoid anything that smacks of disrespect for the president at such a sensitive time.

Kovler said it would be a shame if he went to Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood and was forced to leave the flowers in the street.

“I understand the politics of why the prime minister cannot publicly support this effort, but on the other hand if these flowers are rejected, it could also cause a lot of anger among the literally thousands of American Christians who are just trying to show Israel some very much needed goodwill,” Kovler said.

“It looks like [Netanyahu’s advisers] are spitting in the face of these friends, even though Obama could be out of office in less than three years while these friends will be with us for a long time.”

Kovler said he would donate a portion of the proceeds from the flowers to charity. One possible solution for where the flowers could go was Jerusalem’s two Hadassah hospitals. But hospital officials turned down the gift, because they were worried about the impact of that many flowers on patients with allergies.

Porter told The Jerusalem Post that she believes Netanyahu could still be persuaded to receive the flowers. She said that there was nothing anti-Obama on the card and that the campaign merely intended to show support for Israel.

“We are sending a message in a beautiful way that Obama needs to learn how to treat friends,” Porter said. “The prime minister needs to know that the Obama administration doesn’t speak for Americans. I want his office to be covered with flowers. All of Israel should know that the US people stand for Israel with the sweet aroma of encouragement.”

She went further in a column for the Web site WorldNetDaily, in which she expressed outrage that after US Vice President Joe Biden came an hour and a half late to a dinner in Jerusalem hosted by Netanyahu, when the prime minister came to the White House, Obama left the meeting in the middle to go have dinner with his family.

“I never heard whether Prime Minister Netanyahu was at least offered table scraps from Obama’s table,” she wrote. “No, those, I’m sure, went to the dog, who was treated far better than the leader of Israel.”

Porter is the president and founder of Faith2Action, which aims to turn people of faith into people of action to win what she calls the cultural war for life, liberty and the family. She has a nationally syndicated daily radio program, is a correspondent for Christian networks, and is the author of the book The Criminalization of Christianity.

Netanyahu’s spokesman responded by promising that the issue would be dealt with in a professional manner.

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