Jewish Journal


November 6, 2008

Rahm’s father: Arabs clean the White House floors *



Sorry, Rahm Emanuel. I know it’s tough having a father who gets you in trouble when he opens his mouth. I mean, I don’t know personally, but I can imagine. Maybe you and Mel Gibson can grab a beer and commiserate.

Why, you ask, would the guy who’s just been tapped to run Barack Obama’s administration be feeling sorry for himself? Read this story from the Jerusalem Post, via Phil Weiss and Commentary (not exactly kissin’ cousins), you’ll understand:

In an interview with Ma’ariv, Emanuel’s father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son’s appointment would be good for Israel. “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel,” he was quoted as saying. “Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.”

Sheesh, I know one father who would be disappointed if his son’s boss turned out to be a Muslim. (We, of course, know he isn’t; we also know it shouldn’t matter.) Not coincidentally, Emanuel’s father was a member of the Irgun, which is fairly remembered as a Jewish terrorist organization.

Emanuel is known as a tough guy, but certainly one that will push Israel and its neighbors to work toward peace. For more on that Jeffrey Goldberg explains why Rahm is a good choice for the White House and for Israel:

Peace-processors take heart: Rahm, precisely because he’s a lover of Israel, will not have much patience with Israeli excuse-making, so when the next Prime Minister tells President Obama that as much as he’d love to, he can’t dismantle the Neve Manyak settlement outpost, or whichever outpost needs dismantling, because of a) domestic politics; b) security concerns, or c) the Bible, Rahm will call out such nonsense, and it will be very hard for right-wing Israelis to come back and accuse him of being a self-hating Jew. This is not to say that he’s unaware of Palestinian dysfunction, or Iranian extremism, but that he has a good grasp of some of Israel’s foibles as well. All in all, it’s a very heartening choice.

Probably, so long as Emanuel doesn’t bring pops in on Muslim-Jewish relations.

*Updated: So a few of you have disagreed with my reading of what Dr. Emanuel said. And I think you were correct. But I’m going to blame the JPost for this. The way this quote is broken up is awful: “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel,” he was quoted as saying. “Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.”

To me, that says two things: Rahm is pro-Israel and Arabs clean the floor of the White House.

What I think he meant was: Rahm, who isn’t Arab, is pro-Israel and he’s also now a really important guy.

Dr. Emanuel kind of missed a transition in there, but shame on the JPost for contorting the quote like that, and shame on me for being a moron.

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