President-elect Barack Obama‘s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel apologized Nov. 14 for disparaging remarks made by his father about Arabs. Benjamin Emanuel, speaking about his son to an Israeli newspaper last week, said, “Obviously, he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.” Rahm Emanuel called the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee to apologize, saying “These are not the values upon which I was raised or those of my family.” (Fox News, Nov. 14)
Good for him for disavowing the comments, but we’re a little skeptical about those “values upon which” he was raised. A Nov. 9 Time profile of Rahm Emanuel includes the following paragraph on his father:
Benjamin Emanuel, now an Illinois resident, is reported to have been a member of a Jewish nationalist “terrorist” organization, Irgun Zvai Leumi (IZL). According to a 1997 NY Times profile of Rahm and two equally successful brothers, the Emanuel family name was originally Auerbach, but it was changed in a tribute to an uncle Emanuel Auerbach who was killed in a “skirmish with Arabs” in Jerusalem around 1933. The Times article said only that Benjamin “passed secret codes” for the Irgun. Benjamin told Ha’aretz that his son was named after “Rahamim,” who the paper identified as a slain combatant belonging to Lohamei Herut Israel (LHI). Also known as the Stern Gang, LHI was an Irgun splinter group that carried out political assassinations in the name of Jewish nationalism, including those of the Swedish U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte and British diplomat Lord Moyne.
See our last post on Israel/Palestine.