Bush visit get off on right foot

One wouldn't expect anything less than a red carpet reception for US President George W. Bush at Beit Hanassi, but more attention was paid to the red carpet the president would walk on than a bride pays to her wedding gown. Of course, there was more than one red carpet. The first led from the driveway opposite the entrance to the reception hall. Inside the hall there was another going almost the entire length of the hall and a third that ran across that one, taking up almost the whole width of the hallway. In addition, there was a Persian carpet on which stood Disraeli's table with the Beit Hanassi Guest Book, waiting for the signature of the president of the United States. A young man carefully vacuumed the main red carpet over and over. It couldn't possibly have contained a speck of dust - and even if it did, it was most unlikely that Bush would notice. But to the people at Beit Hanassi - both executive staff and maintenance workers - the condition of the red carpets was important. Bush was due to arrive at 3 p.m. A group of children holding American and Israeli flags was there to greet him and had already rehearsed several times. Peres came out just before three and threaded his way along the children, chatting to them briefly as he proceeded to the edge of the red carpet. He was particularly keen to talk to the little girl at the end of the line, who was the shortest and arguably the cutest child in the group. When Bush arrived, he worked his way through the lines of singing children and was enamored with the same little girl who had caught Peres's attention. The two presidents joined the chorus line, and Bush made happy arm gestures as his body swayed to the music. Once inside the hall, he was serenaded by 13-year-old Adi Bar-Lev from Ra'anana, who after presenting each president with a most exquisite ruby red rose, sang Somewhere Over The Rainbow in Hebrew and English, putting particular emphasis on the words: "The dreams that you dared to dream really do come true." When she finished singing, Peres gave her his rose. Beautiful, doe-eyed Sharyan Masrawi, 14, from Jaffa, then took up the song in Arabic and Bush gave her his rose. Miri Yachin, the Knesset's Chief of Protocol, came clutching a photograph that she had taken with Bush in 1998 when he visited the Knesset in his capacity as governor of Texas. She recalled she had quipped to him then that she only posed with presidents and prime ministers. to which he said: "I'm going to be president one day."