Bibi, the comedian

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may well have a future in comedy.

Appearing Sunday night on the satirical political television program “Matzav HaOoma” (State of the Nation) he kept up with the show’s four comedian-hosts, Orna Banai, Einav Galili, Guri Alfi and Lior Schleien, with zingers of his own. And he was funny, though I am not convinced that some of his cabinet ministers will feel the same way.

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For example, as the hosts took potshots at Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon for the firestorm caused by his remarks about the Obama administration’s weakness in the international arena, Netanyahu responded: “Some of us need a word diet … Sometimes we need to act more, talk less.”

When asked what he would like to drink, the prime minister responded quickly “coffee with milk from a bag,” a reference to a lawsuit against the first family by a former employee of the prime minister’s residence who said that Sara Netanyahu refused to drink milk that comes in a bag, requiring the more expensive plastic containers, a demand she once made at 3 a.m.

Netanyahu turned serious when it came to his wife, defending her and professing his love for her. He also was able to speak seriously about the threat from Iran, the foundering Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, and the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Mission accomplished in his eyes, I imagine.

But for me, his appearance on what is essentially a comedy show cheapens the office and the office holder.

I realize that it has been done before, especially in the United States. President Obama has appeared on “The Tonight Show” and on “Saturday Night Live,” as have presidents before him. President Nixon paved the way appearing on “The Jack Paar Show” while vice president and on the premier of “Laugh In” while a candidate for president in 1968.

And it’s not even Netanyahu’s first comedy show appearance. Last spring he appeared on “Eretz Nehederet” (Wonderful Country), Israel’s equivalent of “Saturday Night Live.”

Nonetheless, with all the serious problems we here in Israel face, I do not want to see my prime minister yucking it up with political satirists. I want him in his office, watching out for the very issues that he was poking fun at last night.

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Marcy Oster is a JTA correspondent in Israel. She worked at the Cleveland Jewish News for nearly 12 years and was senior staff reporter when she made aliyah in 2000. She has won several awards for her writing from organizations including The Press Club of Cleveland, Society for Professional Journalists, Women in Communications and the American Jewish Press Association.