Roger L. Simon

Know the new Israeli Prime Minister

Maybe you already do, because Ehud Olmert’s family sounds weirdly like my family – and a lot of others I know in NY and California. Newsday gave us the gossip yesterday, which Allison Kaplan Sommer says nobody seems to make a big deal about in Israel:

Olmert’s wife, Aliza, is a well-known artist and screenwriter. She supports Peace Now, a group that fiercely opposes Israel’s security barrier and Kadima’s [Olmert’s party] plans to complete it. It also promotes the division of Jerusalem for a Palestinian state and Israel’s withdrawal to its 1967 borders.

The Olmerts’ daughter Danna is a university lecturer of literature and a self-professed lesbian who lives openly with her partner in Tel Aviv. She is a member of Machsom Watch, a group of Israeli women who monitor checkpoints for human rights abuses and often confront Israeli soldiers on behalf of Palestinians. Her older sister, Michal, holds a master’s degree in psychology and runs creative thinking workshops. Married, she lives in Tel Aviv and is known to share her siblings’ leftist political leanings, but is not as outspoken.

The Olmerts’ son Shaul completed his military service, signed a petition of Yesh G’vul, a group of Israeli Defense Force soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories, and now lives in New York.

Their younger son, Ariel, dodged military service altogether and is studying French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. Both sons have retained their Israeli citizenship and are eligible to vote.

So how did they vote? With their politics or with pop? And more importantly, is the younger son demonstrating in Paris? (just kidding – but who knows?) Olmert himself, however, seems to have a relatively sanguine attitude toward the whole thing:”

There is a complex and, I think, fascinating dialogue between my children and me,” he said in a recent interview with the Hebrew daily Yediot Ahronot newspaper. “They have influenced me, and I am proud of it. I would like to think that I have also influenced them.”

Hmmm….seems like a potential Simpsons episode there.