Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama, Emanuel, and Israel

"Rhambo" has Obama's ear (Photo: AP)

Is Barack Obama's choice of Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff a message to Israel? Is it an attempt to beat back attempts in the campaign's waning days to portray the President-elect as lukewarm on Israel -- the kind of guy who pals around with Palestinians? This is what Fox News is suggesting. However, I would speculate that Obama's choice of Emanuel, a former non-combatant member of the IDF, is even less predicative of American policy on Israel going forward than the Senator's friendship with Rashid Khalidi. It's only possible to think that the selection of Emanuel amounts to a statement about Israel by placing undue weight on a few details of the man's biography and ignoring his record and the political imperatives of the day. Obama went out and got an operator, not an ideologue. Or is it a signal to Turkey? Rahm was the most powerful member of the House to oppose the Armenian genocide resolution! One could chalk up all the hubbub about Rahm's Israeli connection to a kind of ethnic and national pride. But in light of the bizarre readings of the American political tea leaves out there right now -- see Amos' post below on one bizarre Greek commentary -- it seems less than innocent to inflate this aspect of the story right now. Fox News is guilty of significant exaggeration here: Ha'aretz "noted his deep Jewish roots." What? As far as I can tell, only Rahm's Zionist/Israeli ties were aired in the Israeli daily: "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." For what it's worth, I've seem Emanuel address his Jewishness twice on television. He was more or less ecumenical with Bill Maher, a "worried Jew" with Charlie Rose.


Amos said...

There is a Ha'aretz article that just went up, which quotes William Daroff, director of the D.C. office of the United Jewish Communities (represents the Federations) as saying that

"Rep. Emanuel is among the smartest political tacticians and policy-makers that is on the scene in Washington," and that

"Rep. Emanuel is also a good friend of Israel, coming from good Irgun stock, davening at an Orthodox synagogue, and sending his children to Jewish day schools."

Pretty funny. Good Irgun stock - that's the first time I've ever heard something like that in American media.

I agree with Noah that the main reason for Obama's pick was Rahmbo's reputation for getting the job done. The statements from Daroff and another fellow emphasize this too. But I think these guys (not Fox) may be trying to spin a little for Obama with the aim of reassuring the 23% of American Jewish voters who cast their ballots for McCain.

Anonymous said...

Well it shows that there are no investigative reporters any more, all is spin. Please check when was RE father born? What schools did he go to in Israel? who were his friends? Not one word from one friend, call this reporting call this news, call this media,shame. Where did he get his MD, when? When did he get his MD papers in the USA ? Where was he in 1945-1948? Tell about one person from the so called Irgun who knows him ?How old was he then? What is this "stock" business? Who were his parents? His relatives? his social circle? Bull and more bull and even more. There are prople in Israel and abroad who know. I know some things, but I am not going to do the media job for them. But as I say nowadays it is all bull and spin. Shame.

Anonymous said...

emanuel, is also a citizen of israel. there will obviously be a conflict of interest. who will he serve -israel or USA. will he pass sensitive material onto israel.
i could imagine the fuss if a arab with dual citizenship was in in the obama administration.
the USA has become a maxi-state of israel.