[Video below.] Reuven “Ruby” Rivlin, elected on Tuesday by the Knesset parliament to be Israel’s 10th president, has long been known locally as having a gregarious, and, at times, even parodic, sense of humor.
From his days on the 1980′s as a boisterous Jerusalem city council member, through his years in the Knesset as a staunch Likudnik, and two stints as Knesset Speaker, Rivlin, 74, has often provided impressionists and stand-up comics with loads of raw material for skits and satire.
And so, local television networks are riffling through their archives for appearances by Rivlin on entertainment and talk shows, and featuring his spots on Saturday Night Live-like parody and satirical programming.
Back in 1987, two popular Israeli comedians, Natan Datner and Avi Kushnir, did a Blues Brothers – inspired send up of the annual Eurovision Song Contest as Israel’s official entry: “Shir Habatlanim” – The Bums’ Song.
While they didn’t win, their irreverent song and dance routine became a overnight sensation in Israel.
Rivlin himself then parodied the song soon thereafter in his own performance (together with Labor Party member Uzi Baram) in a tribute to then legendary Jerusalem Mayor, Teddy Kollek.
“We quickly figured out during rehearsal that he was the better dancer, and I was the better singer,” Baram mused in reflection on the performance:
In more recent years, Rivlin skewered himself in an appearance on the satirical “Eretz Nehederet” (Wonderful Country) show.
In the skit, performed along with the show’s comedy troupe, Rivlin played himself as then-Speaker of the Knesset, who meets up with old buddies at the local coffee shop. “Hilarity ensues” when his pals who had been deriding him before he shows up, have no idea what he’s been doing since they last hung out together…
Meanwhile, in the real, offline Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday morning met with Rivlin and congratulated him on his election.
“We have known each other for several good decades,” Netanyahu told his one time arch political foe, but who are both sworn fans of Jerusalem’s Beitar soccer team, named after the Beitar Movement of revisionist Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky.
“We are both from Jerusalem, the sons of professors who were educated in the philosophy of Jabotinsky and we have much more in common – such as our football team,” Netanyahu said.
Political analysts say Netanyahu, who only begrudgingly supported Rivlin’s candidacy as the “least bad” option to stave off leftist Hatnua Party competitor Meir Sheetrit’s failed presidential bid, needed to publicly “bury the hatchet,” in the wake of Rivlin’s win.
“Joint work on behalf of all Israelis is before us,” the PM said. “We have gone through much together and I am certain that we will now know to put the less good aspects aside and work responsibly for the future of the State of Israel.”