Olympic Diary / Ad hoc joining of Peres' party
BEIJING - Morale among members of the Israeli delegation reached a peak when they met with President Shimon Peres, who had arrived only hours earlier. Peres also seemed very happy. He asked questions, was respectful and received lots in return. The good times were rolling, and Hatuel, who is guaranteed the gold were self-confidence a competitive sport, even invited the octogenarian for tea in her room.
However, we must always be mindful that we, being the chosen people, have to be different. Despite all the security precautions an unexpected problem suddenly occurred: An hour and a half before the meeting between the athletes and Peres, we were told that Chinese authorities would not let us attend. But Peres' entourage would not allow a few frantic Chinese security officials to waste such a photo-op, so a solution was quickly found, a very Israeli solution: Journalists would be included as members of Peres' own entourage, not an easy operation to carry out.
"Get in the cab quick," one of Peres' men said. "Call this number and a person who speaks Chinese will direct the driver to the pickup point" - the secret pickup point, of course. We enter a car in the presidential motorcade outside the hotel where the president will be staying, right next to the Olympic stadium, a location picked because the ceremony will end right before the Sabbath.
After a hurried ride we arrive at our destination, and all were pleased. Except, that is, the Chinese gardener who saw how an Israeli bodyguard roughly treated a bush of his making to be sure it did not conceal any bombs.
The hotel's Chinese staff was so amused by the sight that they took photos of the Israeli repeatedly. Which party is more uptight over security issues, the Israelis or the Chinese, remains unknown, but it does not matter so long as everything turns out alright