Peres hosts Seinfeld at Beit Hanassi

Comedian "excited" by warm welcome and "amazed" by how popular his sitcom is in this country.

Peres seinfeld 248.88 (photo credit: GPO)
Peres seinfeld 248.88
(photo credit: GPO)
Comedian, actor and scriptwriter Jerry Seinfeld arrived in Israel Thursday to promote his computer animated film Bee Movie which he co-wrote, co-produced and stars in. The film premieres here this week, and Israel is Seinfeld's first stop on a world tour to promote it. On Friday, Seinfeld toured Yad Vashem, Jerusalem's Old City and Masada. He also met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres. He told Peres that he was very excited by the warm welcome that he had received in Israel, and amazed by how popular his sitcom Seinfeld is in this country. "You can imagine how much people like you here and respect you," Peres told Seinfeld as the two sat in suits and ties in front of Israeli flags at Beit Hanassi. Seinfeld explained his movie to the 84-year-old Nobel peace laureate. "It's about a bee who's not sure that he wants to go into honey," Seinfeld said, as Peres laughed. "They tell him he has no choice." The DreamWorks-Paramount flick that Seinfeld co-wrote and co-produced debuted November 2 and has been in first or second place among top hits in US theaters since, bringing in $94 million. Peres told reporters on Thursday night that he had been looking forward to his meeting with Seinfeld, whose show he enjoys, and whom he finds to be extremely funny. "He's a very energetic and industrious fellow," said Peres. The meeting was originally intended to be open to the media, but Seinfeld's people requested a closed session. Although Beit Hanassi spokeswoman Ayelet Frish worked hard to try to have the media included in the meeting, saying that all things considered, it was not fair, Seinfeld's people remained adamant. Beit Hanassi respected the wishes of the president's guest, whom Peres invited to come back for the 60th anniversary celebrations of the state, and to participate in a mega-event that Peres is organizing. Seinfeld, who happily accepted the invitation, may be more amenable to the media the next time around. Seinfeld, 53, first came to Israel in 1971 as a 17-year-old and worked as a volunteer on Kibbutz Sa'ar in the Western Galilee near Nahariya. Kibbutz Saar, like the state, will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year which gives Seinfeld added impetus to return. Recalling that first visit as a youth, Seinfeld told Peres that as an adult he was no less excited to be coming back to tour both the holy and the scenic sites. Like most Jews who meet with any of Israel's leadership, Seinfeld wanted to know straight from the horse's mouth exactly what the situation is in Israel. He was equally interested to know the secret of Peres's good health, unflagging optimism and long life. The secret to good health and long life, said Peres, was to let the mind govern the body, to eat properly, to continue to work energetically, and to read as much as possible. It must have been obvious to Seinfeld when Peres quizzed him about the film, its plot and the computerization techniques that part the secret of Peres's longevity is that Peres remains eternally young in spirit, ever curious about innovations and those things that he does not yet know about. A constant advocate for Israel's human resources, Peres made sure that Seinfeld was aware that even though Israel be a small country geographically, its human potential is enormous. The Israeli mind, the creativity and the daring of Israelis are the key to the true greatness of Israel, Peres declared, and cited examples of what is happening in Israel's motion picture industry, science, medicine, agriculture and technology. On the latter subject he shared the non-pollutant green-car concept of cars with electric engines that he and businessman Shai Agassi are promoting. Peres also shared some information about what Israel is doing to develop weapons to be used in counter-terrorism. Israel has changed a lot since Seinfeld's first visit, and he was obviously impressed as he enthused to Peres how beautiful he found the country to be, and how many trees there were in comparison the situation more than thirty years ago when there were so many barren areas. No sooner did Seinfeld start talking about trees than Peres invited him to step outside and tour the gardens of Beit Hanassi where there are many trees, including olive trees which are the symbol of peace and a fig and olive hybrid, which is even more so. • AP contributed to this report