Obama’s Israel address is expected to be the height of the upcoming presidential visit. The White House and the US Embassy have arranged for the services of an Israeli production company, which is assisting in planning and promoting the event. The goal? To reach all the Israeli universities this week and let them know the number of students each can send to the happening.
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In addition to invitations set aside for institutions of higher education, organizations encouraging co-existence and those serving special populations are also included. In total, 600 students and youth will be invited to attend, alongside 400 foreign correspondents.
The Americans have taken everything into account, including the audience makeup, asking that it be a fair representation of the country’s minorities. Yosi Shalom, chair of the Haifa University Student Union, said that in a letter sent to US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, he requested invitations based on the "unique social elements of our student body – Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Christians and Druze." The university explained that the lucky students will be selected from among all departments and possibly by lottery.
Ben Gurion University was informed Sunday that they were allotted 150 seats at the event. About 30 of them have been set aside for staff members. The rest are being raffled off to the students, who have already registered for the chance.
Also, in celebration of the visit, the US Embassy will be giving away 20 tickets. People interested in winning are invited to "like" the Embassy’s Facebook page and then explain why they should receive the tickets. Those who don’t win can take solace in a cultural happening which will take place at the Embassy’s American Center. It will include a rock show, children’s theater and discussion with a diplomat.
A team of US staffers arrived in Israel on Sunday, to take care of arrangements for Obama’s stop. They began their visit with a series of meetings meant to close the details – small and large. Bottom line – nothing is being left to chance. The visit's route has been set, the menu, the sheets, even the doctors who will remain at the ready – all arranged in advance.
Scheduled down to the last detail (Photo: AP)
In the Prime Minister’s Office, a Sunday meeting was held to update those involved on the state of preparations for Obama’s visit. The Foreign Ministry held its own meeting Monday morning, to close scheduling details on the Israeli side. The Americans are expected to slow it down a bit, as at the moment, the schedule is long.
Other than meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama is expected to get an up-close look at the Iron Dome installations, visit the Yad Vashem, go on a tour of the technology exhibits at the Israel Museum, and lay a wreath at the grave of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
During an event scheduled at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, Obama will view performances by Rita and David D'Or. D'Or will sing ‘Amazing Grace,’ which he preformed in New York on Martin Luther King Day 2012.
As if all these details weren’t enough, the organizers also have to deal with the fact that the swearing in of the new pope might take place at the same time as Obama’s visit, stealing some of its thunder.
Either way, General (Res.) Yaakov Amidror, head of the National Security Staff and the Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor said, "It is important to us that the president sees the beauty of Israel, as much as possible, in the short timeframe he has."
The Prime Minister’s chief-of-staff, Gil Shafrir added, "Everything is in its final planning stages."
Raz Shechnik, Mati Siber and Eitan Glickman contributed to this report.
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