// With Emanuel, Obama Could Be Sending Signal to Israel
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Author Topic: With Emanuel, Obama Could Be Sending Signal to Israel  (Read 2171 times)
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« on: Nov 07, 2008 12:06 PM »

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barack Obama, by tapping a prominent Jewish congressman to be his chief of staff, earned renewed support from the Jewish community here and abroad. 

His choice, Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, has already accepted the job. Obama's offer could be an early signal to the Middle East that the new president intends to follow through on his promises to uphold the U.S.-Israeli alliance in his administration.

"It's just another indication that despite the attempts to imply that Obama would somehow appoint the wrong person or listen to the wrong people when it comes to the U.S.-Israel relationship ... that was never true," said Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council.

Forman said Obama's selection of Emanuel helps build confidence that the United States will be vigilant in responding to any threats to Israel posed by Iran.

"Rahm has certainly never been accused of being too naive or not decisive in his analysis of these types of issues," Forman said.

Here and around the world, the selection brought swift reaction. The Web site for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Wednesday was filled with articles on what an Obama presidency would mean for Israel. The top story, on Emanuel, noted his deep Jewish roots.

Emanuel is the son of a Jerusalem-born doctor who worked for the Israeli underground before the nation's creation following World War II. The congressman belongs to an orthodox congregation in Chicago and worked as a volunteer in Israel during the first Gulf War. He had dual citizenship in the United States and Israel, but gave it up when he was 18.


« Reply #1 on: Nov 07, 2008 12:11 PM »

Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is no pal of ours, Israel's foes say

JERUSALEM - Palestinians Thursday blasted President-elect Barack Obama's choice of Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff - and the appointee's father may have poured fuel on the fire.

Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, once a member of the Irgun militia that fought for Israel's statehood, was asked in an interview with the Hebrew daily Maariv if his son's appointment would be good for Israel.

"Obviously, he will influence the President to be pro-Israel," said the elder Emanuel, who immigrated to the U.S. from Israel in the 1950s.

"Why shouldn't he do it? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floor of the White House."

There was no immediate comment from Rep. Emanuel's congressional office.

While Palestinian leaders maintained a diplomatic silence, many ordinary Palestinians reacted with fury in comments posted on Web sites and chat rooms.

"With the appointment of this Zionist, Barack Obama is proving that he is more Zionist than the Zionists," said Subhi Abu Ishira on the Palestinian NGO network, referring to the anti-Arab remark by Benjamin Emanuel.

The Window into Palestine blog called Rahm Emanuel "the son of a terrorist, a real living terrorist."

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, official spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said he had no view on Emanuel's appointment but doubted the optimism surrounding Obama's election would reach the Palestinians.

"He is talking about change," Abu Rudeineh said. "But for it to affect us, we have to see a change of American policy in the Middle East. The American policy is the same. It's not going to be changed."

« Reply #2 on: Nov 07, 2008 12:14 PM »

Will the Arab World Take Issue With Rahm's Israeli Roots and Pro-Israel Views?
November 06, 2008

Israeli newspapers are already rejoicing about President-elect Obama's selection of Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., to be his White House chief of staff.

As the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz notes, Emanuel "is the son of a Jerusalem-born pediatrician who was a member of the Irgun (Etzel or IZL), a militant Zionist group that operated in Palestine between 1931 and 1948." Emanuel's father told the newspaper that his son was named after a fallen combatant named Rahamim.

In the Israel newspaper Ma'ariv, Emanuel's father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel said, "Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

Rahm Emanuel headed Bill Clinton's finance committee during the Arkansas governor's first presidential run, but he left to be a civilian volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces during the 1991 Gulf War. He rust-proofed brakes in one of Israel's northern bases.

Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifadah seems upset at Obama's selection of a "pro-Israel hardliner."

"There could not be a more provocative appointment than Rahm Emanuel, if he wanted to send a signal that he is going to stick by a quite hard-line pro-Israel policy," Abunimah said on Democracy Now.

Abunimah pointed out that Emanuel's middle name is "Israel," and described Emanuel's father as "a gun runner for the Irgun, the Zionist, pre-Israel Zionist, militia that carried out numerous terrorist attacks on Palestinian civilians, including the bombing of the King David Hotel. Of course, Rahm Emanuel himself is not responsible for any of that, but his record is sometimes far to the right of President Bush when it comes to supporting Israel."

In the coming hours we'll see what the reaction is from the Arab media.
« Reply #3 on: Nov 07, 2008 01:29 PM »

Obama picks ex-Israeli soldier as chief of staff
Dubai (AlArabiya.net, Agencies)

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has asked Illinois congressman and former soldier in the Israeli army, Rahm Emanuel to head his White House staff as he moves quickly to fill government jobs in his incoming administration.

Party sources said the job was offered to fellow Chicagoan Emanuel on Wednesday, just hours after Obama was elected, and he was expected to quickly accept the post -- making him one of the most important people of Obama's new inside circle.

Emanuel volunteered to serve in the Israeli army and did a two-month stint at a base in northern Israel during the 1991 Gulf War, Israeli public radio reported.

Israel radio stations and newspapers pointed out Emanuel's Occupied Jerusalem-born father was once a member of Irgun, an underground, ultra-nationalist Jewish movement that fought British troops before the 1948 creation of the state of Israel.

A former Clinton adviser, Emanuel has a reputation of being a master strategist. But he has also been viewed as a highly partisan fighter in the rough world of Washington politics.

"I am a man who has been called temperamental, vindictive, foulmouthed and mean. And that's just my mom bragging about me," he said in a self-deprecating speech at an annual dinner held by Washington journalists last year.

Republicans questioned if Emanuel could pull off Obama's goal of bringing congressional Democrats and Republicans together to end gridlock and approve major legislation -- a key element of Obama's campaign appeal.

Emanuel served in the Clinton administration and helped engineer the 2006 Democratic takeover of the House, ending 12 years of Republican rule.

He has strong ties to Obama's inner circle through his close friendship with the president-elect's top political strategist, David Axelrod. Axelrod had done political consulting work for Emanuel.

Israeli media hails decision

Israeli media on Thursday hailed Barack Obama's choice of Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff, with one daily calling the Democrat of Israeli descent "our man in the White House."

"It is obvious he will exert influence on the president to be pro-Israeli," Emanuel's father, who moved to the United States in the 1960s, told the Maariv daily.

The newspaper headlined the article: "Our man in the White House."

"Emanuel is pro-Israeli, and would not be willing to consider accepting the job unless he was convinced that President-elect Obama is pro-Israel" Israeli website Ynet, cited a source close to Emanuel as saying.


As White House chief of staff, Emanuel would serve as gatekeeper to Obama, deciding who has access to the Oval Office.

The duties of the position vary from administration to administration, but generally the chief of staff serves as the president's top adviser, plays a major role in selection of the president's appointees, and manages other White House officials. He would help plan the president's agenda.

While seen as a tough guy, Emanuel, 48, also has an artistic side as seen by the fact that he once studied ballet.

He was elected to the House in 2002 from Obama's hometown of Chicago and quickly moved into leadership.

After Democrats won back the House, Emanuel was elected as chairman of the Democratic Caucus, making him the party's fourth-ranking member in the chamber.

Obama, who will be sworn in as president on January 20, is moving quickly to put together his new administration.
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 12, 2008 10:44 PM »

Arab-American group blasts Emanuel’s dad
November 12, 2008

WASHINGTON (JTA)—An Arab-American group wants Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel to repudiate remarks made by Emanuel’s father.

President-elect Obama last week named Emanuel, an Illinois congressman whose father is Israeli, as his White House chief of staff. In an interview with the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, Benjamin Emanuel said, "Obviously, he’ll influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House."

In an e-mail blast, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee urged its members to protest the "detestable" comments by fax or through e-mail.

The ADC also wrote a letter to Emanuel asking him to repudiate his father’s comments, saying it "views this characterization of an Arab as an unacceptable smear."

"One can readily imagine the justifiable outcry if someone made a similar remark about African?Americans, Jews, or Hispanics concerning cleaning the floors of the White House," the letter said. "Do the normal standards of decency and civility not apply when talking about Arabs?"

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« Reply #5 on: Nov 13, 2008 01:04 PM »

So, it's going to be business as usual, hummm...   Sad

That's why I voted for Cynthia McKinney...
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 14, 2008 03:52 PM »

November 13, 2008, 3:47 pm
Emanuel Apologizes for Father’s ‘Arab’ Comments
By Sarah Wheaton
Representative Rahm Emanuel, left, President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff, called the president of an Arab-American group today to apologize for comments his father made to an Israeli newspaper.

In the remarks, Benjamin Emanuel discussed the potential impact of his son’s new position on U.S.-Israeli relations.

“Obviously he’ll influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House,” the elder Mr. Emanuel told the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, according to English-language reports in The Jerusalem Post and The Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Calling the comment an “unacceptable smear,” the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee had sent the younger Emanuel a letter (copied to Mr. Obama) calling on him to “disavow and repudiate these remarks publicly.”

“All we ask is to be treated in the same way as any other ethnic, racial or minority group,” said Kareem Shora, the A.D.C.’s executive director. “We’re not treating it as simply an Arab-American issue, we’re trying to treat it as an American issue.”

That led to Rahm Emanuel’s apology today.

“Today, Representative Emanuel called Mary Rose Oakar, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, apologized on behalf of his family and offered to meet with representatives of the Arab-American community at an appropriate time in the future,” said Nick Papas, a spokesman for the congressman.

Before Mr. Emanuel made his apology, Mr. Shora said the structure of the elder Mr. Emanuel’s remarks made their meaning clear. “The sequence of the statement was very important,” he said, adding that the ‘Arab’ line “was not separated in any way” from the ‘mopping’ line. He said there would be public outcry if “Arab” had been replaced with the name of any other ethnic group.

Benjamin Emanuel is not yet available for comment, according to an associate at the office of Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood agent and the congressman’s brother, to whom a message on the father’s answering machine referred press calls. Mr. Obama’s campaign declined to address the issue.
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 21, 2008 04:57 PM »

Chicago Sun Times
Letter to the editor

Emanuel's apology was right thing to do
Recommend Comments

November 18, 2008

I think I speak for a good chunk of Chicagoland's large Muslim community when I applaud Rahm Emanuel for doing the right thing by apologizing for his father's disparaging comments about Arabs. I think most of us could not care less what views his father holds but wondered how much of those views his son shared, especially now that he is going to be in a pivotal position as a gatekeeper to the next president. Emanuel laid much of our concerns to rest when he went beyond a formal apology and actually reaffirmed his own values of inclusiveness and equal opportunity. Our hope in change is rekindled.

Ahmed Rehab,

executive director,


« Reply #8 on: Nov 22, 2008 02:13 AM »

peace be upon you

The Muslims and the Arabs have focussed on the "slight" of "mopping the floor" being implied for Arabs. That is not the issue at all. Something is wrong with us as we continue to see wrong where it does not exist, and ignore the prejudice where it does.

What is wrong is that an American who served in the Israeli army, will now be the Chief of Staff for the Obama White House. This clearly a tilt towards Israel.

Gitmo and the winning back of the rule of law within the US were to be expected, as the Bush policies have backfired. In any case, this election was not about Gitmo or the image of the US among Muslims. It was about the US economy.
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