JERUSALEM — Acclaimed mentalist Lior Suchard appears to have met his match: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Suchard, who has wowed audiences around the world by guessing their secret bank PIN numbers or the names of their childhood crushes, went head to head with Netanyahu in front of a group of journalists, only to come up empty in an awkward duel with the seemingly inscrutable Israeli leader.
In one of his famous routines, Suchard asks his guest to scribble a picture on a piece of paper, while Suchard stands across the stage and draws an identical image. But when he tried the game with Netanyahu on Wednesday night, Suchard was unable to match Netanyahu’s doodle: a Jewish candelabra with the words “Long Live the Jewish People” underneath.
Suchard often speaks to his guests shortly before they appear on stage — something that Netanyahu refused to do. The Israeli leader, who has frustrated a string of world leaders with his tough stances on diplomatic issues, also drew his picture ahead of time — not during the exchange.
“There’s no way you could have seen this because I just drew it,” Netanyahu said.
“OK let’s negotiate,” Suchard replied.
As the exchange continued, Suchard began to guess the PIN code of an audience member who said he was from Nigeria.
“Lior, don’t run away from me,” Netanyahu said. “I don’t know what your connections are in Nigeria.”
As Suchard made more small talk and continued to guess the Nigerian man’s PIN number, Netanyahu again said, “Don’t run away.”
Netanyahu finally held up his drawing, Suchard looked and said, “I was completely wrong.” He refused to show his own drawing.
“This was an Israeli deception campaign,” Netanyahu quipped.
“This is how you influence people,” Suchard responded, as he correctly completed the other man’s PIN number.
Netanyahu was meeting journalists after a difficult week, in which embarrassing recordings emerged of his eldest son frequenting strip clubs on a taxpayer-subsidized drunken night out with his friends in an official government car accompanied by a driver and bodyguard.
Suchard told The Associated Press that he saw “a lot going on” in Netanyahu’s eyes during their 2-minute exchange.
Suchard was discovered a decade ago by winning an Israeli reality show hosted by Uri Geller, the veteran mentalist known for his spoon-bending stunts. The 36-year-old Israeli has appeared on major American late-night shows and is a sought-after performer around the world.
He claims his show is not magic, but rather an elaborate mix of mathematics, psychology and intuition.