After wife’s Obama joke, minister lauds US president

Silvan Shalom says American leader stands with Israel on security issues, though disagreements remain on Iran; White Houses brushes off tweet

Interior Minister Silvan Shalom in London on June 22, 2015 (screen capture: Channel 2)
Interior Minister Silvan Shalom in London on June 22, 2015 (screen capture: Channel 2)

Interior Minister Silvan Shalom on Monday praised US President Barack Obama’s security support for Israel, a day after his wife’s tweet about the US leader’s skin color drew accusations of racism.

Speaking at an event in London, the minister, who is also tasked with managing a strategic dialogue with the US, said firmly: “I can tell you very, very clear and sharp, that President Obama is standing with Israel in the most intimate and important issues for the safety and security of people of the State of Israel.”

A day earlier, Shalom’s spouse, Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, tweeted: “Do u know what Obama coffee is? Black and weak.” The TV presenter quickly deleted the tweet and apologized, but not before a firestorm erupted, with hundreds of commenters calling Nir-Mozes “arrogant,” a “disgrace” and “explicitly racist.”

Shalom declined to comment directly on the tweet by his spouse, but played up solid US-Israel ties, despite disagreements over the Iran nuclear deal.

“We might not see eye-to-eye on the issue of Iran and in that case we believe that it should be different, but among friends we can agree to disagree,” Shalom added, ahead of the June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal. “We want to do everything we can in order to bring better deal.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest zinged Nir-Mozes back over the tweet at a daily briefing, but claimed the White House was not dwelling over the gaffe.

“On Twitter, you’re limited to 140 characters, but it certainly has the capacity to be very revealing,” he said.

On Sunday night, Nir-Mozes removed the tweet and issued a number of apologies. “I apologize, that was a stupid joke somebody told me,” she wrote.

Later, she apologized to the US president directly and tried to offer reassurances that she was not racist.

Adopting a more lighthearted tone as she continued her online damage control, in another tweet Nir-Mozes wrote that she hoped her husband wouldn’t divorce her over the social media uproar.

Last month, Silvan Shalom was appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lead negotiations with the Palestinians and to oversee strategic dialogue with the United States.

In a separate incident last month, Nir-Mozes was accused of trolling Obama soon after the president launched his personal Twitter account.

In that tweet, the MK’s wife wrote “@POTUS well come, I hope u ‘ll write from The hurt of barack, and not from the head of Rrsedent Obama. Kisses from israel [sic].”

That tweet was also deleted shortly after, and Nir-Mozes later denied having written it. However, journalist Tal Schneider took a screenshot of the tweet and noted that it came from her account.

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