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Best and Worst of the 5th Annual Israeli Presidential Conference

An Israeli Presidential Conference virgin, I donned my blue dress and prepared for Bill Clinton's address.

Shiny press pass in hand (who knew that bloggers were considered press these days?) and Mac on lap, I braced myself for inspiration and he did not disappoint. Billy wasn't the only one to impress: Tony Blair and Dan Ariely are welcome to fight over who gets to be my new boyfriend. I bet Yair Lapid (who, when he speaks in English, may as well be reading porn aloud) could rock that party - he's still a youn'gn. Excuse me, but since when did Brits and economists become sexy? Clearly, studying Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes did nothing for me. College, shame on you.

If you want an intellectual review of the conference (ok, as intellectual as I get) you can find my snobby, academic thoughts over here.

This one is for fun.

Throw 5,000 Jews, 157 speakers, 5 Nobel laureates and Dr. Ruth in a conference hall, sprinkle with snark, and here's what you get:


1) Dr. Yossi Vardi - the best moderator at the conference, an absolute stitch, roasting everyone on his panel including Dr. Ruth, who sat in the front row and invited herself on stage. I wanted to pinch his cheeks.

2) Robert LoCascio - gave me a Jewish mother joke I hadn't heard (tough to do.) He's an Italian American, and insists that the difference between Jewish mothers and Italian mothers is demonstrated best when their children refuse to eat. The Italian mother counters with "If you don't eat your food, I'll kill you" whereas a Jewish mother says "If you don't eat your food, I'll kill myself."

3) Audience - The only time I have ever seen the following mingling together in Jerusalem: miniskirts, black kippahs, covered hair and Sharon Stone.

4) Professor Dan Ariely - In addition to being the greatest mind and most earnest speaker I was exposed to at the conference, he also sported mismatched socks - one with a bright smattering of cartoon stars, the other neon stripes. I heart Dan.

5) $5 words: I heard two different speakers in two different contexts use the word "bifurcation" correctly. Clinton offered "burgeoning" and "resplendent" both within his 15 minute speech. Since I'm a vocabulary snob, you might liken this experience to Paula Deen at a butter exposition.

6) Weili Dai, who introduced herself as a geek.

7) Tony Blair - what an orator! He's a sound-byte machine. My faves: "The conventional wisdom of today may be the disposable folly of tomorrow" and "Democracy isn't just a way of voting, it's a way of thinking."

8) Ron Arad's best quote of the afternoon: "Every one's interpretation is welcome, even if it's wrong." Ron would get along great with my dad.

9) Paula Stern aka @asoldiersmother - I had the pleasure of sitting next to her for the first morning plenary - she modestly, quietly, attempted to make this calculation: "$500K for Clinton to speak for 15 minutes - that's over $30K/minute. He just made a joke that cost us $15,000."

10) Loudspeaker announcements in Hebrish - I kid you not, I heard "Livdok ha information" in an official voice, in every room.


1) Sharon Stone - Not only was she very clearly too cold, she strung an embarrassingly long list of cliches together and called it a speech. To her detriment, she also mentioned biting babies. Perhaps we should have called in Mike Tyson and called it a day.

2) Mayor Rahm Emanuel - Somebody must tell this man that Jerusalem and Chicago are not the same city. And that we cannot vote for him from here. And it was hard to see him since the wheelbarrow with his ego in it was blocking every one's view.

3) James Snyder - His poor panel; he didn't allow any of them to get a word in edgewise. I felt badly for Ron Arad, who tried several times, unsuccessfully, to interrupt. Eventually he gave up and let James finish his sentence.

4) Lobby Music - Muzzaked adult contemporary? Tom Petty covers? Please - give us credit for just a bit of taste. May I remind you that there were Nobel laureates present? Because I know they're not listening to this stuff at home.

5) Marc Benioff's suit - Hello, Miami Vice. Nuff said.

6) The ability to pick out the female Israeli attendees from a mile away - It stated right on the conference booklet: attire is business casual. I believe that business casual does not include microskirts with knee high boots, stilettos, sequins or face paint to rival Tammy Faye. You are a gorgeous group of rockstar women - maybe next year you could refrain from the plumage and earn some more of the respect that you rightfully deserve?

7) Dana Weiss - oh, Dana. Let's take you shopping for a pair of trousers that fit.


Inspiration abound, plus two tweetups that included wine and cake (my two favorite things in the world - don't judge) I'm ready for a weekend. Oh wait, I am hosting a dozen kindergartners this afternoon for my middle son's birthday party. Yeah, that'll be relaxing.

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