Rahm Emanuel goes after Bibi?

Posted: January 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

I didn’t like the “disengagement” threats that supposedly came from Rahm Emanuel last week. Thomas Friedman had the same idea a few weeks ago. It seemed weird back than, and it doesn’t sound any better coming from the White House now.

For those who missed the story, it all started when the daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported last week that Rahm Emanuel had a message for both Israelis and Palestinians:

“The US administration is tired of you, the Israelis and Palestinians. You’re wasting precious time and are missing an opportunity to make peace. There is going to be a stage in which we’re simply going to give up on this endless conflict and leave you alone.”

Soon enough, the American media caught up with the story, what caused Emanuel to claim he was misquoted.

The real problem, however, is not with the undiplomatic tone of Obama’s chief of staff, or with him threatening both sides publicly, but rather with the fact that this threat is actually no threat at all: Netanyahu’s greatest hope is that the administration would get off his back. If the US was to put the diplomatic effort on a hold, most of the Israeli prime minister’s immediate political problems would be solved. Emanuel acts like a parent demanding his 8 year old kid to stop beating up his younger brother, “or else,” he threatens, “I will go to my room.”

If the US was considering abandoning all of its interests in the region, it would have been another story. If the White House was threatening to stop the economical and military aid to Israel, Jerusalem would have had something to worry about. But this is clearly not the case. The current administration is committed to maintaining Israel’s military superiority over its neighbors, and Emanuel knows more than anybody what backlash the White House will suffer if it would even consider cutting some of the 3 billion dollars the US hands Israel every year (That’s why the right wing cheered Emanuel’s idea. Here is an example, on no else than the political blog of Israel’s best Basketball referee ever).

These kind of statements by Obama’s chief of staff looks, more than anything, like a sign of frustration, and it comes pretty early in the game. I don’t get this. After all we have been through, with all the damage of the lost eight years of George Bush, did the new administration really think that reigniting the process will be that easy?

Is Rahm Emanuel anti-Israeli? Netanyahu might be thinking so

Posted: July 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

cross-posted with FPW.

On Friday, Maariv published a quote from a source close to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming that Netanyahu is convinced that the person responsible for some of his troubles with the new American administration is none other than the White House Chief of Stuff, Rahm Emanuel. Netanyahu, said the source, is convinced that Emanuel is “polluting the atmosphere” against him. A very undiplomatic phrase indeed.

The obvious irony is that the appointment of Emanuel, a son of an Israeli and a known supporter of Israel, was praised by Jewish organizations and Israeli officials alike, while some Arab commentators considered it as a bad sign for the future. It is also hard to forget the ugly remark by Rahm’s father, Benjamin Emanuel, regarding the role his son would play in the WH. “[Rahm will] obviously influence the president to be pro-Israel,” the father reportedly said, “Why shouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House.”

All things considered, I think that Rahm Emanuel is pro-Israeli, but he is also pro-American and Pro-Obama, and therefore reflects the new administration’s policies. There is something childish about Netanyahu’s attitude to the whole matter. It seems that more than anything else, the PM, and other politicians and pundits here in Israel with him, are not just concerned by the tension with Washington, they are offended. It is actually hard for them to accept that what they perceive as “a cold shoulder” from our supposed-to-be-friends in Washington is not a personal insult, but rather an understandable change of policy, based on a different evaluation of the current situation than that of the previous administration.

Obama’s Middle East Plan

Posted: May 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The weekend papers dealt mainly with the new policy for the Middle East that US president Barak Obama is supposed to present in the following weeks, maybe even before his meeting with PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Most pundits and reporters agree on this: the administration is determined to prevent Israel from attacking Iran (it is unclear whether Israel can actually do that on its own, and without flying over American occupied Iraq. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine the US shooting down Israeli jets). Obama will offer the Iranians some kind of deal – maybe one which will include financial benefits, in exchange for freezing its nuclear program and giving the UN inspectors unlimited access to all facilities.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted: November 14th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: the US and us | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

Benjamin Emanuel, father of Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, has told Maariv last week that in his new job his son will “obviously influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why shouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House.”

I don’t think Benjamin Emanuel intended to insult anyone, and of course he didn’t want to hurt or embarrass his son. The problem is that in Israel today such racist remarks are so common, that nobody gives them a second thought. I think, that all Emanuel wanted to say was that his son will be a strong supporter of Israel in the White House, and that happened to be the way things came out of his mouth. And that, is the real problem.

The Jerusalem Post reports that Rahm Emanuel apologized on behalf of his dad. Most of the readers who commented on the JP web site said he shouldn’t have.