President, PM duet with vocal stars in patriotic sing-along

Netanyahu chooses "Jerusalem of Gold"; Gantz hails an event marked by "more Zionism than cynicism."

President Peres with Miri Mesika 311 (photo credit: Channel 10)
President Peres with Miri Mesika 311
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Ahead of Tuesday’s ceremony at Beit Hanassi honoring 120 outstanding soldiers, top government and IDF officials led an emotional community singing of patriotic songs.

The event, moderated by actor Avi Kushnir, included a sing-along segment with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of General Staff Lt. General Benny Gantz, who were respectively accompanied by singers Miri Mesika, Kobi Aflalo, Harel Skaat and Meshi Kleinstein.RELATED:Peres kicks of Beit Hanassi Independence Day celebrationsPeres, Netanyahu and Barak wisely let the professionals do most of the singing, even though Skaat did his best to persuade Barak to pitch in; Gantz, however, proved well able to hold a tune.Kushnir bantered with each of the four dignitaries about the songs they had chosen to sing.When he asked Peres why he had chosen “Ken Efshar” (Yes, it’s Possible), the president replied, “I know you think I’m too much of an optimist, and I think you’re all too pessimistic. So I want to prove that I’m right.”A relaxed and smiling Netanyahu told Kushnir that he felt more at ease than he did this time last year, when he was on his way to the Bible quiz in which his son Avner was competing.Netanyahu chose “Jerusalem of Gold” because of what the song symbolizes.“It has everything in it,” he said, as he recalled the impact the song had when it was first sung by Shuli Natan in 1967, and how following the reunification of the capital soon after, people streamed through the alleyways of the Old City to the Western Wall where with great emotion they sang it together.Barak, a piano player in his spare time, demonstrated that he also has a gift for comedy. He chose to sing “Hineini Kan” (Behold I’m Here), which he said has become a theme song for politicians, especially capturing his own career in the song’s refrain: “I’m the man who keeps on returning again and again and again.”On a more serious note, Barak, who is Israel’s most decorated soldier having received four citations for valor, declared as he looked out at the veterans who fought in Operation Kadesh in 1956, that with all due respect to nostalgia, today’s soldiers are better trained and possess a better comprehension of what they are doing. “We have an army on which we can rely,” he said.Gantz, who sang “Lalechet Shevi Aharayich” (Being Captivated by You) as a duet with Meshi Kleinstein, told Kushnir that for him, the song represents a deep commitment to Israel. Asked if he was moved by the event, Gantz replied, punning dryly: “I’m always happy when there is more Zionism (Tsiyonut) than cynicism (tsiniyut).”Batsheva Harush, whose son Mor was recognized in the group of outstanding soldiers, was invited to choose a song on behalf of all the parents in the audience. She chose “Od Nire Yamim Aheirim” (We Will See Other Days). For Harush, the song expresses her hope that the nation will see peace soon.