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Trump and Bibi Have Their Cake and Eat It Too

A chef made a chess-themed dessert for the American and Israeli leaders. Metaphors abound.

Jonathan Zalman
May 23, 2017
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Donald Trump (L) Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, May 23, 2017.Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Donald Trump (L) Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, May 23, 2017.Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

This much we know: Desserts and Donald Trump do not mix. It all began with Trump’s haunting presidential victory cake. Then there was that “most beautiful” chocolate cake the president downed in Palm Beach with his Chinese counterpart while ordering 59 missiles to strike Iraq—I mean Syria. Yes, Syria, that’s the place. On Monday, during the Israeli leg of his first foreign trip as Leader of the Free World, Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu ate a dessert that is an insult not only to their collective egos, hair dyes, and intelligence, but also the most ancient game in the world: chess.

The story, with credit to Haaretz, is basically this: Trump got on a big plane, went to some important places in the Middle East, said some things, and then got hungry in Israel. So he sat down for some grub with Melania, who sat across from Bibi and his wife, Sara, for a meal made by Israeli chef Segev Moshe. They ate sliders with beet ketchup, which is an affront to junk food; a salmon dish dubbed “the path to peace,” which is an affront to, well, paths to peace; and other over-the-top options, while washing it all down with Israeli wine. But the weirdest part of the dinner, apart from an edible Big Apple (get it? A+ for originality, Israel), is a this poorly conceived dessert—chocolate, coffee, and halvah pralines—that uses chess as a central theme.

Let’s break down this dessert:

1. Who knew Bibi’s nose would look so beautiful in a silhouette?

2. Which chess piece, or pieces, in particular do these dessert-figures resemble? They looks like melted gremlins stuffed into some medieval chainmail costume. So I’m guessing they’re knights. By this logic, I think chef Moshe needs to study up on his chess game. There are four knights in a standard game of chess, not six.

3. If Trump and Bibi are all about producing peace in the Middle East and forging some semblance of a peaceful Israeli-Palestinian co-existence, then why are the two world leaders facing in different directions? Why aren’t the facing each other, gazing into each other’s eyes? Now that would represent togetherness.

4. When the pieces in a game of chess are set up, the black and white armies are nowhere near each other, as there are four empty rows between the warring sides. Does this mean that Trump and Bibi are already at it? Yes! OK, point for you, chef Moshe!

5. The position of the pieces feel stuck, condensed in some battle that isn’t going anywhere. This vaguely reminds me of zugzwang, a situation wherein subsequent moves only worsen a player’s position on the board. Seems about right, doesn’t it? Guess we’ll have to find out in real-time because I imagine they ate the pralines. Though I’m sure they took their silhouettes home in a doggy bag.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.