Bikes, fish and one very slipp

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY NOGA TARNOPOL­SKY

IT STARTED out as the kind of univer­sal bear hug that only Boris John­son can de­liver.

Whether it was his off-script com­ments dur­ing his bi­cy­cle ride with Tel Aviv mayor Ron Hul­dai, out-star­ing a grey mul­let in Jerusalem’s Ma­hane Ye­huda mar­ket, or prompt­ing bursts of laugh­ter dur­ing his Win­ston Churchill me­mo­rial lec­ture, the in­domitable Lon­don mayor lav­ished on Is­rael his usual com­bi­na­tion of hu­mour, wit and eru­di­tion — and it went down a treat.

On Wed­nes­day, how­ever, the con­flict caught up with him.

Com­ments he had made dur­ing his tour at­tack­ing those be­hind the BDS move­ment prompted Pales­tinian activists to make threats against him on so­cial me­dia, and most of Mr John­son’s planned en­gage­ments with Pales­tinian groups were then can­celled over se­cu­rity con­cerns.

Mr John­son’s back­ing for this cor­re­spon­dent — who was banned from at­tend­ing one meet­ing be­cause of my Is­raeli pass­port — added to the furore.

Is­rael, on the other hand, greeted Mr John­son rap­tur­ously.

Plough­ing tire­lessly through two 15-hour days, the mayor rung open the Tel Aviv stock ex­change and wan­dered through Jerusalem’s Old City, from holy site to holy site, en­joy­ing face recog­ni­tion af­forded few for­eign may­ors.

In the Mus­lim quar­ter, one man, open­ing up his shop, shouted out “Prime Min­is­ter! Prime Min­is­ter!” As the fa­mil­iar blond mop ap­proached the Ko­tel, an­other passer-by shouted out: “Good job, Boris! Fol­low af­ter David!”

In Tel Aviv, Mr John­son held a pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion with Is­rael’s for­mer pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres, who urged a few hun­dred Arab and Jewish youths in at­ten­dance to cre­ate “twit­ter storms”.

Mr John­son held pri­vate meet­ings in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem with high-tech en­trepreneurs and rode an­other bike through the driz­zling rain to high­light the ad­van­tages of Mo­bil­eye tech­nol­ogy, which is now pre­vent­ing ve­hi­cles from run­ning over pedes­tri­ans in Eal­ing.

Af­ter a mini-van equipped with the tech­nol­ogy dodged the hel­meted mayor, a Mo­bil­eye ex­ec­u­tive claimed hu­mor­ously: “We saved the mayor of

Is­raelis greeted the Lon­don mayor rap­tur­ously

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

From left: Boris in Ma­hane Ye­huda mar­ket in Jerusalem; bik­ing with Ron Hul­dai; cook­ing with As­saf Granit; and play­ing foot­ball with Reu­ven Rivlin

PHOTO: REUTERS

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