NEW YORK — The prime minister of Israel is “by design, the leader of the Jewish world,” the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office said Saturday.
During a Shabbat sermon in a Manhattan synagogue, Eli Groner several times referred to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the “leader of the Jewish people” and of the “Jewish world,” implying that he earned that title by virtue of heading the government of the only Jewish state.
The US-born Groner also recounted a tense meeting Thursday meeting between Netanyahu and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which took place moments after news broke of the terror attack in which Eitam and Naama Henkin were gunned down in the West Bank.
“When he entered the meeting, the secretary-general said to the prime minister, ‘I heard that two Israelis died.’ The prime minister looked him straight in the eye and said: ‘They were two parents. And they didn’t die; they were killed.’ From that moment, the meeting took on a different turn,” Groner said.
Ban had planned to talk about the Palestinian plight, but Netanyahu managed to have the conversation focus on Israel and its security challenges, he indicated.
“I wish that every Jew in the world would have been in that room” to witness the eloquence with which the “leader of the Jewish people – the prime minister is, by design, the leader of the Jewish world” – spoke out on their behalf, Groner said.
Groner, the son of a rabbi from Binghamton, in upstate New York, was a guest of honor at the Modern Orthodox Park East Synagogue, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
On Friday night, the community, led by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, hosted Groner, Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold and Netanyahu’s new military secretary, Brig.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano.