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Jeffrey Goldberg on Emanuel: ‘Israeli Running the White House’

This blog thrives on ferreting out the unexamined assumptions of Israel’s uncritical supporters.  One of them is The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.  Israel Policy Forum just e-mailed me a panel discussion he conducted with Israel’s former New York consul general, Alon Pinkas.  The sheer chutzpah of Goldberg’s statements about Rahm Emanuel took my breath away:

The rumor about Obama’s “Jewish problem” was one of the non-stories of the campaign. Approximately 78 percent of the Jews who voted went for Obama. Obviously, they didn’t buy it. It is interesting, however, that if you had been able to tell people that “the guy who will be running the White House is essentially an Israeli,” it may have quieted some people down.

…Emanuel is emotionally tied to Israel in ways that very few politicians are, and is unyielding on Israel’s right to exist.


I’ve never been taken with the dual loyalty issues that occupy Phil Weiss.  But Goldberg has just backed into this one with his eyes wide open.  Should American Jews feel more comfortable that Rahm Emanuel is “essentially an Israeli” and will therefore do Israel’s bidding in the White House?  This somehow doesn’t make me more comfortable.  It makes me queasy.

I don’t mind having Israel’s perspective represented in policy discussions.  But to feel happy that Obama’s key aide represents Israel’s perspective in his own person–that’s too much for me.

And here now I’ve been trying to persuade my readers that regardless of Emanuel’s views he’s going to be subordinate to Obama’s views on Israel even if they might disagree with his own.  Goldberg comes along and blows my claim right out of the water.  Screw chain of command, Emanuel friggin’ OWNS the White House.  My God, what a train wreck Goldberg is.

To be fair, Goldberg follows up with this attempt to balance the equation:

…His low tolerance for nonsense and his willingness to get into people’s faces should give caution to those who think he will be some sort of “rubber stamp” to all of Israel’s policies.

But this statement seems almost an afterthought.  The preponderant emphasis is on the first passage and not the second.

The full audio of the discussion is here.

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  • Zvi Solow November 12, 2008, 4:52 AM

    But consuder this. Even ignoring the fact that it’s Imanuel’s parents who are ex-Israeli, and that his duties do not concern foreign policy, what a fantastic answer he is to those who see in any US initiative not potentially approved by the Likud an anti-semitic move.

    By the way, a story in Haaretz this week emphasized the growing importance of progressive Jewish initiatives & organisations such as J street during the Obama presidency.

  • Joachim Martillo November 12, 2008, 5:41 AM
  • Jerry Haber November 12, 2008, 5:58 AM

    According to a certain well-known mideast policy expert advisor of whom you are fond, Richard, Emanuel’s views or loyalties won’t be a factor in determining the administration’s Mideast policy. Yes, the “dual loyalty” issue is important in its own right. But Emanuel will be busy with other things.

  • Acai Berri November 12, 2008, 6:22 AM

    Dont worrk-there are plenty of Israelis who hate Israel. Thus someone holding dual citizenship cannot automatically be assumed to be a zionist or having pro-Israeli views. He will probably administer the tough love approach of J street

  • O.H. November 12, 2008, 8:00 AM

    “My God, what a train wreck Goldberg is.”

    Curious to know what you mean by this. Is because he is wrong or because he is dangerously honest?

  • ASC November 12, 2008, 9:28 AM

    Why does it follow that being “essentially an Israeli” or even sympathetic to Israel means one would be doing the bidding of the Israeli government? I’m an American, and often disagree with my government , and will even vote to change it if I am dissatisfied. And yet I am a patriot, eager to see my country and fellow citizens prosper, even when I disagree, sometimes passionately, with its elected leaders. Israelis, too, are a famously factious lot — in fact, Israelis pride themselves are their disdain for their own government, or at least its politicans.

    Goldberg’s point is that, contrary to the hysteria that Obama lacked a feeling for Israel in his gut, Emanuel represents someone with an attachment to the state and perhaps a more visceralor meotional attachment to its prosperity and well-being. Now whether that attachment plays itself out as support for the left or the right, the government’s stated polices or an American alternative, is a different question. But it’s not a question of loyalty, dual or otherwise.

  • Ira Glunts November 12, 2008, 10:33 AM

    Dear Richard,

    Jerry could be correct about Emanuel, but I question whether the same thing could be said about Dennis “Big Sticks and Carrots” Ross.

    It seems to me his main function on an Obama foreign policy team would be to represent Israeli interests.

    Ira Glunts

  • John Dickerson November 12, 2008, 11:41 AM

    Mr Haber: I’ll take YOUR word for it. I love your blog! I am also fond of that “certain well-known Mideast policy expert advisor”. (I think.) Keep up the good work.

  • John Dickerson November 12, 2008, 12:58 PM

    Don’t Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart
    Why Americans Shouldn’t Go Home
    by Tom Engelhardt

    On the day that Americans turned out in near record numbers to vote, a record was set halfway around the world. In Afghanistan, a U.S. Air Force strike wiped out about 40 people in a wedding party. This represented at least the sixth wedding party eradicated by American air power in Afghanistan and Iraq since December 2001.

    American planes have, in fact, taken out two brides in the last seven months. And don’t try to bury your dead or mark their deaths ceremonially either, because funerals have been hit as well. Mind you, those planes, which have conducted 31% more air strikes in Afghanistan in support of U.S. troops this year, and the missile-armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) now making almost daily strikes across the border in Pakistan, remain part of George W. Bush’s Air Force, but only until January 21, 2009. Then, they — and all the brides and grooms of Afghanistan and in the Pakistani borderlands who care to have something more than the smallest of private weddings — officially become the property of President Barack Obama……….

    ENTIRE ARTICLE- http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/11/12

  • JOHN DICKERSON November 12, 2008, 3:00 PM

    Cold War Hawks Nesting With Obama
    The Obama Administration
    by Robert Scheer — from Truthdig

    So, Vladimir Putin was right: It was Georgia that started the war with Russia, and once again it was President Bush who got caught in a lie. As The New York Times reported last week, “Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the long-standing Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.”

    The Bush White House knew–but kept from the American public–facts concerning provocation by Georgia’s U.S.-trained forces, which killed civilians in the capital of South Ossetia before Russian troops crossed the border. The provocation has also been documented in a BBC investigative report and by a growing consensus of other reliable sources…….

    ENTIRE ARTICLE- http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/18615

  • JOHN DICKERSON November 12, 2008, 3:28 PM

    Hangover Time: Focus on the Treasury
    The Obama Administration
    by Michael Fox

    Within the first forty-eight hours of Barack Obama’s election, important names started to be floated in the press; potential posts in the coming Obama administration to be filled by Clinton era holdovers. Rahm Emanuel is the right person for the job of White House Chief of Staff. The Chief of staff’s job is not one of policy making, but, rather, of policy enforcement. For this, Emanuel the “Blue-dog” Democrat will be very useful, undoubtedly helping to get support for liberal policies through the centrist Democratic caucus whence he comes. Additionally, and indisputably, the appointment of Israeli-American Emanuel should placate some who were unsure of Obama’s position on Israel policy…….
    ENTIRE ARTICLE- http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/18619

  • JOHN DICKERSON November 12, 2008, 10:05 PM

    A New Obama-Rahm Leak Policy?
    By: emptywheel @ firedoglake.com

    Maybe it’s the addition of beltway leaker extraordinaire, Rahm Emanuel, to the team, but it appears that the Obama team may have adopted a new policy on leaks, departing from their eerily disciplined no-leak approach during the campaign.

    Note this passage in NYT’s coverage of Obama’s request that Bush support a bailout for the auto industry….

    ENTIRE POST- http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2008/11/11/a-new-obama-rahm-leak-policy/

  • JOHN DICKERSON November 13, 2008, 1:07 AM

    November 11, 2008 — Middle East braces for more unwelcome moves by Obama

    President-elect Barack Obama’s honeymoon in the Arab Middle East may be short-lived if he makes any more anti-Arab and pro-Israel selections for his inner circle of advisers. Obama’s selection of Israeli Defense Force veteran and Illinois Representative Rahm Emanuel as his White House Chief of Staff did not go down well in the Middle East, according to a longtime Arab observer of the Washington political scene who spoke to WMR on background. Although the Emanuel selection was seen as “politics as usual” given the influence of the Israel Lobby over the Democratic Party, many Arab governments will be watching pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) director Dennis Ross, an Obama adviser.

    If Ross is appointed as Obama’s Middle East special envoy, a position he held during the Clinton administration, or to another top foreign policy position in the Obama administration, Obama’s relationship with the Arab World will be frozen from the start, said the observer. Arab capitals will also be looking at Obama’s selection for CIA director. If Obama, as is rumored, selects former Clinton National Security Adviser Anthony Lake, a 2005 convert to Judaism, as director of the CIA, it will not be viewed favorably in the Arab world. Lake’s Middle East attitudes are hawkish and mirror those of Clinton’s first CIA director James Woolsey who backed John McCain’s presidential candidacy.

    WMR also learned that Emanuel is known to be standoffish to the Arab media in Washington. During the Democratic National Convention in Denver Emanuel was asked for an interview by a Palestinian-American reporter. Emanuel mistook the reporter for an Israeli reporter and was happy to conduct an interview. However, when the reporter told Emanuel he was not an Israeli but with an Arab media outlet, Emanuel looked at his watch and said he had another commitment.

  • JOHN DICKERSON November 13, 2008, 1:18 AM

    November 10, 2008 — More on Emanuel’s shady past with the Clinton administration

    WMR has learned from U.S. intelligence sources additional details of prospective White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s ties with the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad. We have also learned that President-elect Barack Obama is fully aware of the problems with Emanuel’s past security woes within the Clinton administration, but that the President-elect faced the problem of delivering on a few political IOUs he handed out during the campaign.

    WMR has learned that Emanuel will be under a virtual probationary period as Chief of Staff and that if there is one whiff from the FBI or another law enforcement or intelligence agency that he is dealing with foreign intelligence agents, Obama will cut him loose as soon as practicable.

    Emanuel has, according to our sources, been the subject of FBI counter-intelligence surveillance for quite some time. FBI surveillance teams have seen Emanuel enter Washington, DC and Chicago synagogues at the same time known Mossad agents assigned to the Israeli embassy in Washington and the Israeli Consulate General in Chicago entered the facilities. FBI regulations prevented the surveillance teams from pursuing the parties into the places of worship.

    WMR has also learned that during Emanuel’s stint at the White House under President Clinton, Mossad became increasingly concerned that the identity of their top agent, an American who served in a high position in the Reagan administration and code-named “Mega,” would be exposed by the FBI’s counter-intelligence division. For that reason, the Mossad leaked information on two top Russian spies in the CIA and FBI, Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, respectively, in order to “cool the trail” leading to Mega. WMR has learned that Hanssen also spied for Mossad at the same time he was spying for the Russians and that this information was known to Emanuel. WMR has learned that the FBI established that there was a relationship between Hanssen, a Chicago native whose father was a Chicago police officer, and Emanuel, also a native of Chicago.

    The Mossad decided to “trade out” Hanssen to the FBI’s counter-intelligence division in order to keep the bureau pre-occupied trying to ferret out a mole within their own ranks and take the heat off Emanuel and the Clinton White House over the knowledge that Israeli intelligence had penetrated White House communications and this fact was related by Clinton to White House intern Monica Lewinsky during a phone conversation. Hanssen was convicted of espionage after he was pressured into not going ahead with a jury trial. Hanssen was warned that his wife would be denied his FBI pension if he insisted on a full jury trial. He is serving a life sentence in solitary confinement at the Federal Supermax Prison in Colorado.

    Ames was convicted of espionage in 1994 and Hanssen was arrested on February 18, 2001 in Vienna, Virginia, just a few weeks after George W. Bush took over the White House from Clinton.

    What ultimately led to Emanuel’s dismissal in 1998 from the Clinton White House was FBI intelligence that linked him to sabotaging Clinton administration initiatives to hammer out diplomatic deals between Morocco and the Western Sahara independence front POLISARIO, as well as diplomatic initiatives to ease tensions between Washington and the Palestinian Authority and Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq. Emanuel’s sabotaging of the Clinton initiatives led FBI Assistant Director John P. O’Neill to conduct an investigation of the U.S. mission to the United Nations since it was being used as a platform by Emanuel and his Mossad friends to sabotage the Clinton administration initiatives. Bill Richardson served as U.S. ambassador to the UN during this time frame and it was Richardson who was asked to find a job for Lewinsky at the mission after her name and relationship with Clinton became known to federal investigators working for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.

    On January 23, 1998, CNN reported: “Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr has issued subpoenas for documents to U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson and the entire U.S. mission, according to Richardson’s chief of staff, Rebecca Cooper. Cooper said, ‘The subpoenas are for documents only at this point, for all details pertaining to Monica’ Lewinsky. Cooper said Richardson and the staff ‘plan to comply fully.’ Richardson’s office offered Monica Lewinsky a job as junior assistant doing public outreach and cabinet agency assignments. She would have worked for the ambassador’s chief of staff in the New York office. Her job would have included working with grass-roots organizations across the country, like college model U.N.s and associations and other groups with interest in the work of the United Nations.”

    It was the FBI that revealed Emanuel’s intelligence work on behalf of the Mossad to President Clinton. Clinton then ordered Emanuel dismissed from the White House staff. Ironically, it was then-Chief of Staff John Podesta who helped to clean house. Podesta is now in charge of Obama’s transition team.

    There is also a belief by some observers in Washington that Emanuel is behind the pressure being exerted on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to keep Connecticut Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman within the Democratic caucus by letting him keep his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Reid favors tossing Lieberman off as Chairman because the former Democratic Senator supported Republican presidential candidate John McCain, spoke at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, and ran against the Democratic Senate candidate in Connecticut Ned Lamont. Sources in Washington also believe that Emanuel is behind efforts to challenge the House chairmanships of Michigan Representatives John Dingell and John Conyers of the Commerce and Energy and Judiciary Committees, respectively. Conyers and Dingell represent the largest Arab-American congressional districts in the United States.

  • Richard Silverstein November 13, 2008, 2:04 AM

    Zvi: I agree completely with you. If Emanuel really works for Obama’s agenda and that includes a very strong commitment to an end of settlements & a return to 67 borders & a real peace agreement–then yes, Emanuel would be invaluable.

    I’ve written here that this is what I believe will happen because I think Emanuel is too smart to think that Obama will simply allow him to create an Israel policy of his own that Obama will implement.

    But statements like Goldberg’s make me nervous.

    Regarding my “train wreck” comment. I don’t know whether Goldberg is “honest,” but his comments certainly are twisted. I personally don’t think Emanuel will view his job as advancing Israel’s interests in the White House. I hope & believe he is smarter than that as I wrote above. But hearing Goldberg imply that he might makes me very nervous because Goldberg represents views held by other American Jews & Israelis. What will happen if they believe Emanuel is “their man” in the White House & he actually does his job when the time comes & starts putting pressure on Israel to accede to Obama’s Mideast agenda? What if that agenda isn’t perceived as being as namby pamby as the Bush view of the I-P conflict? Think of the anger & disappointment that could ensue.

  • ellen November 13, 2008, 4:41 AM

    Richard said:
    “If Emanuel really works for Obama’s agenda and that includes a very strong commitment to an end of settlements & a return to 67 borders & a real peace agreement–then yes, Emanuel would be invaluable.
    I’ve written here that this is what I believe will happen because I think Emanuel is too smart to think that Obama will simply allow him to create an Israel policy of his own that Obama will implement.”

    It is not that Emanuel is going to create an Israel policy, he is going to enforce Obama’s.

    If Obama wanted a return to 67 borders and a real peace agreement why would he pick for his first and most powerful staff pick someone who opposes withdrawal and supports the Occupation?
    In the Congress Emanuel is known as a “hard-line” Israel supporter, which is hard to imagine what that entails in the US Congress, known as “Occupied Territory” for its virtually unanimous and unquestioned support of America’s pro-Israel bias.
    Anybody remember Israel’s war on Lebanon?
    Anybody remember the bombings which killed children?
    Do you remember the US Congress giving a green light to Israel to do what it would to Lebanon?
    In this Congress Emanuel is known as a “hard-line” Israel supporter.
    What does that make him?
    Someone likely to seek a genuine peace?
    Time to take off the rose-colored glasses.

  • Donald November 13, 2008, 7:25 AM

    Richard–You’ve identified the problem with Obama as a candidate as far as the I/P conflict is concerned. He’s got supporters like you convinced he agrees with you and supporters who think the way Emanuel thinks. As far as I can tell, his public statements have been mostly on AIPAC’s side.

    When the real Obama comes out of the closet on this issue, one way or another a large number of his supporters are going to feel betrayed.

  • Donald November 13, 2008, 7:27 AM

    “He’s got supporters like you convinced he agrees with you and supporters who think the way Emanuel thinks”

    That reads wrong–I meant “he’s got supporters like you convinced he agrees with you and on the other hand, supporters who think like Emanuel.”

  • John Dickerson November 13, 2008, 1:34 PM

    FROM MONDOWEISS:

    On Israel, Rahm Emanuel Is to the Right of George Bush (and the Paleos)

    Ali Abunimah in the Washington Times. Let’s say that again, Ali Abunimah in the Washington Times. This is great news. Oh, great alienated Paleo, welcome into your bosom the alienated Palestineo, and the alienated lefty-Jewo like me. This is the only way we can break the back of the Establishment Jewish leadership and their elitist running buddies. Abunimah on Rahm Emanuel and targeted assassination:

    In June 2003, Mr. Emanuel signed a letter criticizing President Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel. “We were deeply dismayed to hear your criticism of Israel for fighting acts of terror,” Mr. Emanuel, along with 33 other Democrats, wrote to Mr. Bush. The letter asserted that Israel’s policy of assassinating Palestinian political leaders “was clearly justified as an application of Israel’s right to self-defense.” Such killings violate the Geneva Conventions, and the State Department’s human-rights report specified that there were more civilian bystanders killed in Israeli assassination attempts than actual targets in 2003.

    For Palestinians, long experience suggests that no matter who occupies the White House, their rights and aspirations will always be a distant second to Israel’s preferences.

  • John Dickerson November 13, 2008, 2:26 PM

    Some Chicago Jews say Obama is actually the ‘first Jewish president’

    By Natasha Mozgovaya @ Haaretz

    Quite a few of Barack Obama’s “friends from the past” have popped up recently. It’s doubtful whether he even knows their names, but in the Chicago Jewish community many people really are long-time friends of the president-elect. Some of the older people in the community say that they “raised him,” while others half-jokingly call Obama “the first Jewish president.”

    They raised contributions for him, provided him with contacts, and also enjoyed hosting him and believed in his glorious future in politics. During most of the campaign, when rumors were spreading among American Jews that Obama was a closet Muslim who was more supportive of the Palestinians and was interested in granting the president of Iran legitimacy, his support among American Jews did not even come close to that enjoyed by Bill Clinton. But at the moment of truth, according to the exit polls, it turns out that 78 percent of Jews voted for Obama……

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1037029.html