Israel: A Presidential Dinner in the News Again


pMaariv has learned that the catering service selected for the presidential banquette in the President’s Residence last week, honoring visiting US President Barak Obama did not have a permit from the Ministry of Health.

This marks the second major faux pas in the Presidential Residence. On last Independence Day, in a more serious incident, the catering for the award ceremony for outstanding soldiers served non-kosher shwarma. It was learned that the meat went bad and the caterer purchased tens of kilograms of non-kosher shwarma at a butcher in the Israeli Arab community of Abu Gosh so he could fill the order.

Ministry officials are quoted in the report; telling officials on Mr. Peres’ staff of the issue before the meal was prepared, but the warning was ignored as the caterer was used. The day preceding the event officials in the President’s Residence attempted to persuade health officials to grant a permit, albeit without success.

When asked to comment, officials on the president’s staff are quoted by Maariv as explaining they only learned of the issue a short time before the banquette and there was nothing to be done. They feel the issue is a technicality, explaining the company recently moved to a new commissary, compelling the application for a new permit.

Health Ministry officials are quoted as saying if they had been notified in advance they would have worked to rectify the situation. Officials explain the company is in the process of receiving a permit, which is being held due to “technological issues”. They add that officials on the president’s staff were informed the company lacked a permit.

The statement released by the President’s Residence explains when the situation became known to them it was late in the program and a change was not possible. They brought in professional inspectors to oversee the event and to make certain there was no compromise of health standards. The statement adds the inspectors were brought in from a company that is authorized by the Ministry of Health.

The caterer explains that the issue of the permit is a technical one, the result of moving into a new location. Officials add that the entire move was supervised by food health experts to maintain the company’s high standard.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. President Obama’s health and safety were not at risk. His security staff carefully screen all his food. As the article makes clear, the issue here was food safety and NOT kashruth since Obama’s entourage don’t really care if the hashgacha is Badatz or Circle K.