A few days before Independence Day, about 12,000 men and women gathered in the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv to sing in a choir along with President Reuven Rivlin, Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
They divided into three vocal groups and sang “Al Kol Eleh.” A video clip of the performance was broadcast on the social networks and at the traditional ceremony honoring 120 outstanding soldiers, on the lawn of the President’s Residence on the holiday.
The event was part of the social initiative Koolulam. The municipality, the Social Equality Ministry and the President’s Residence cooperated in organizing it. Journalists reporting from the venue noted that the positive vibe and the cooperation among the various groups were in sharp contrast to the ugly quarrel that preceded the torch-lighting ceremony.
Well, not exactly. Just like every year, on the morning of Independence Day, in the guest room of the President’s Residence, the dignitaries who participate in the ceremony for the outstanding soldiers gathered: the prime minister and his wife, the defense minister and his wife, the chief of staff and his wife and all their aides and advisers and spokespeople.
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There were over 25 people in the room. They were joined this time by Gamliel, who was invited by Rivlin since the Koolulam video clip was shown to the hundreds of people on the lawn, as part of the ceremony. The invitees waiting for Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, were enjoying themselves until Sara Netanyahu’s eyes fell on Gamliel.
The prime minister’s wife approached the minister and barked at her: “What on earth are you doing here?!” Gamliel was happy to tell her about the social initiative and so on. Sara already knew what she was talking about. “Why are you even cooperating with Rivlin? What do you want with him? You know that’s he’s against us,” she fumed.
According to witnesses who were in the room, the tongue lashing lasted for quite a while, in relatively low tones. Gamliel tried to explain the purpose of the initiative – to bring together various communities and populations in the country. After all, that’s the raison d’etre of her ministry, the Social Equality Ministry.
Sara was not impressed. She continued to chastise Gamliel in harsh words about her terrible crime of appearing alongside the president. When she finished venting her spleen, she informed Gamliel: “That’s it, we’re finished with you!” and left, shaking with anger.
It was a disgraceful, embarrassing situation, one of the witnesses told me. The prime minister’s wife reprimanding a cabinet minister whose ministry dared to cooperate with the president. She was doing so in the President’s Residence, as Rivlin’s guest, a moment before he entered.
Gamliel’s response was not available. She was on her way to New York. A spokesperson on behalf of Sara commented, “We don’t take empty gossip seriously.”