After being accused by ultra-Orthodox media of dining at a “pig restaurant” during a meeting in New York last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that he does not, in fact, eat non-kosher meat during public or private events, emphasizing that, as the leader of Israel, he believes upholding Jewish traditions is of paramount importance.
Referring to a lunch date last Monday with casino mogul Sheldon Adelson at the upscale, meat-and-dairy-mixing restaurant Fresco by Scotto, Netanyahu, who was said to have ordered the veal chops, insisted he had made sure to only chow down dishes that were kosher.
“I make it a point not only in the prime minister’s residence and at public events, but at private events as well I do not eat non-kosher food,” Netanyahu said during an interview with Channel 2 News.
“We uphold the tradition and I uphold the tradition and that is my practice, also as prime minister of Israel, but beyond that, because we hold these customs as a Jewish family.”
Israeli ultra-Orthodox press was outraged by the prime minister’s choice of a non-kosher restaurant for the meal, following his speech to the United Nations. The Kikar HaShabat website featured the restaurant menu and circled items that mixed milk and meat, in an article headlined: “A Lack of Sensitivity: The Jewish Prime Minister Netanyahu Dined with Adelson in a Pig Restaurant.”
Netanyahu subsequently attended an evening dinner at an exclusive seafood restaurant, Maariv reported on Thursday.
The prime minister ate at The Chart House in New Jersey, a restaurant that provides a spectacular view of Manhattan from across the Hudson River, as well as a lot of shrimp, oyster, crabs, lobster, squid, and clams — none of which are considered to be kosher.
The prime minister wasn’t the only representative of Israel at the event, which was attended by donors, billionaires, family and friends.
According to the report, Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer and his wife attended, as did Netanyahu’s chief of staff Ari Harrow and other members of his entourage. Dermer and Harrow are both Orthodox.
However, the Chart House menu does include a dish called a “Hummus Trio,” which, according to the restaurant’s website, is “a classic combination of traditional, roasted red pepper & edamame served with grilled pita & plantain chips,” all of which are kosher ingredients. The Fried Asparagus of “jumbo spears, topped with fresh tomatoes & blue cheese butter” could also squeeze through with a passing kosher grade. Everything else on offer is enough to make observant Jews wince.