President Obama performed a feat of political jujitsu on Thursday, winning applause for his response to a heckler who interrupted him during a speech at a university in Jerusalem. The heckler shouted something about Jonathan Pollard, who's serving a life sentence in North Carolina for spying on the U.S. for Israel, and others in the audience booed and hissed. Obama, however, smiled and calmed the crowd, saying that such interruptions were part of a healthy debate. Then Obama got laughs by saying: "I have to say that we arranged for that because it made me feel at home. You know, I wouldn't feel comfortable if I didn't have at least one heckler."
"Well, that may not have been the reaction the heckler was hoping for," says Daniel Politi at Slate. "He heckled, President Obama turned on the charm, and got a standing ovation." That may be true, but Obama's in Israel to patch up his relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and urge Israel and the Palestinians back to the bargaining table to talk peace. And, at least for a moment, the heckler changed the subject, calling attention to the movement to pardon Pollard, which is gaining momentum in Israel.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How I lost all my money
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to make the ultimate grilled cheese
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- The age of miracles is over — even for the religious
- 10 things you need to know today: December 21, 2014
- George W. Bush 'ran the country like a cable network,' and other political insights from Chris Rock
Subscribe to the Week