When Rahm Emanuel was first tapped by President-elect Obama to be his chief of staff, Jews kvelled. Amid uncertainty and anxiety in some quarters over Obama’s views toward Israel, the selection of the son of an Israeli veteran of the pre-state Irgun militia as the White House chief of staff offered some reassurance.
Since then, of course, Rahm has become a special point of contention in the increasingly contentious Israeli-American “special relationship.” Indeed, it was recently reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu had called Rahm and fellow senior White House staffer David Axelrod “self-hating Jews” — a report that a Netanyahu spokesman eventually denied, but not before the alleged remark in question was cited on The New York Times Op-Ed page.
Now, Rahm Emanuel’s dad has been dragged into the fray. The last time Benjamin Emanuel spoke to the press, his son ended up having to issue an apology to Arab Americans. Now, in remarks to a Haaretz reporter, the elder Emanuel expresses exasperation over attacks on his son, and insists that he himself is a Netanyahu backer. He tells Haaretz:
I’m simply surprised that in Israel they jump down his throat. I love the country, my children are Zionists, they came to Israel every year, and I don’t know why they’re attacking Rahm. I support Netanyahu, I was a member of the Etzel [Irgun].
As to his son’s views, he said:
We don’t talk about his work. I don’t have anything to say about it. And I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t talk to journalists. My son told me not to talk to any journalist, not an American, not a Frenchman. I spoke once and they turned everything upside down.
Read the rest of Haaretz’s lengthy profile of Rahm here.
And if that’s not enough to sate your Rahm appetite, check out this hilarious spoof video that the irascible Emanuel made touting his qualifications to be vice president.