Israeli media scramble to uncover Sharon's weight21/12/2005 - 11:41:17
Israel’s most tightly-guarded secret has nothing to do with its military might. It is Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s weight.
After Sharon suffered a minor stroke on Sunday, reporters have been scrambling to find out how much the tubby leader weighs.
Hospital staff laughed when they were asked for the secret number, saying they did not have access to his medical file. And even journalists with insider information from the Shin Bet security service – responsible for Sharon’s security detail – could not obtain the figure.
Newspapers and radio talk shows focused on Sharon’s eating habits – which apparently consist of a lot of fatty meats and junk food – and even hired pollsters to find out what Israelis think of Sharon’s weight problem. One nutritionist said that Sharon, famous for his “disengagement” plan that pulled Israel out of Gaza, will now have to disengage from junk food.
“The heyday of gluttony is over. Sharon is starting a diet,” read a headline in the Yediot Ahronot daily newspaper. But Sharon’s aides denied the prime minister had committed to cutting back, saying old habits were hard to break.
According to Yediot, Sharon regularly ordered shwarma – greasy turkey or lamb in pita bread – and felafel – deep fried chickpea balls – to his office. Sharon’s armoured convoy also regularly stops at a popular Jerusalem humous restaurant to grab takeaway food for Sharon and his aides, Yediot reported.
Sharon often jokes about his weight, even jesting that the Shin Bet had yet to find an armoured vest large enough to cover his belly. Eli Yatzpan, a popular Israeli comedian, often mimics the prime minister by significantly padding his shirt, biting off entire loaves of bread and drinking orange juice out of huge jugs. Last weekend, an actor on the comedy show Wonderful Country depicted an enormous Sharon eating whipped cream off the bald head of Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz.
“It could really be that the prime minister doesn’t know how much he weighs ... because fat people don’t like to know how much they weigh,” said Maariv editor Amnon Dankner, which has also invested great, but so far unsuccessful, efforts into uncovering the coveted information.
“If fat people don’t like to know how much they weigh, they certainly don’t want to read about it in the newspaper. You want Arik to find out how much he weighs by reading about it in Maariv?” Dankner said, calling Sharon by his nickname.
Having failed to uncover Sharon’s weight, Maariv instead hired a polling service and found that 80 of the 498 surveyed wanted Sharon to lose weight, many of them saying because he was a role model.
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