As Netanyahu arrives in L.A. for show premiere, Israeli consulate’s absence is felt


On the morning that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due in Los Angeles for the beginning of a three-day trip to California, Israel's Foreign Ministry labor union went on strike to protest its wages, shifting management of Netanyahu’s trip, at the last minute, from the local consulate to the Prime Minister’s office.

But that didn’t stop the Israeli leader from attending the March 4 premiere of “Israel: The Royal Tour,” the latest in the PBS television series hosted by CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg, in which heads of state give Greenberg a tour of their country.

The premiere was held at Paramount Studios and was hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

In the hour-long show, [Related: CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg discusses “Israel: The Royal Tour” before the show's premiere Mar. 4 in Los Angeles.

Netanyahu also let the crowd in on an almost unheard of bit of information—his office agreed to give Greenberg full editorial control over the final product.

“I haven’t seen the film,” Netanyahu admitted, before ending his remarks and walking into the screening theater with the crowd following behind him.

Although the Foreign Ministry’s strike is not expected to throw a wrench into Netanyahu’s California plans, the sudden bow out from the local consulate did confuse some of the evening’s arrangements, which were supposed to include a press screening of the film—but didn’t.

In an email Tuesday from David Siegel, Israel’s Consul General in Los Angeles wrote, “The Foreign Ministry’s labor union was forced to announce a major labor dispute relating to critical issues involving the future of Israel’s Foreign Service.”

Among other things, the strike means that Israeli consulates around the world will suspend services to visiting Israeli dignitaries and most consular services to Israelis abroad

Netanyahu will be in California until Thursday, traveling north on March 5 to meet with Silicon Valley executives and Gov. Jerry Brown before returning to Los Angeles for his final leg on March 6.

It is the first time since 2006 that a sitting Israeli Prime Minister has visited California.

Before the event, the Journal caught up with Peter Greenberg, who said that despite having been to Israel dozens of times since he began reporting in 1970, touring the country with Netanyahu made this trip entirely different.

“You are seeing the country through the Prime Minister’s eyes and places that are important to him and experiences that are important to him,” Greenberg said, adding that his time on Masada with Netanyahu was his favorite part of the trip.

“He is such an eloquent storyteller and he actually, really, is a historian.”

“Israel: The Royal Tour” will premiere on Thursday, March 6 at 7 p.m. on PBS SoCal