15 thoughts on “Emanuel Apologizes for Father’s Anti-Arab Remark – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Rahm is a grovelling exilic Jew. Why should he have to apologize for what his father says? What if Obama carries out a policy that the Arabs don’t approve of, is Rahm going to apologize for that too? Are the Muslim Arabs in prominent positions going to apologize for the plague of suicide bombings around the world made in the name of their religion?

  2. Emmanuel isn’t responsible for the words that come out of his Dad’s mouth. It isn’t so much “apology” that I am interested in, but a clear statement that he does NOT share those ugly, racist views.

  3. I have to say that I think it’s better that Rahm apologized directly to an organization representing the Arab community, than to the ether. This generally does not happen in national politics – where almost any organization representing Arab Americans is unjustly considered persona non-grata.

  4. It’s a beginning, and was absolutely essential given that the terrorist father was claiming to speak for the son. Obama has lost a lot of credibility by appointing this Israeli (or any Israeli for that matter) to such a high post, when there is already so great a perception that we have too many Washington insiders with dual nationality and dual loyalty (often showing a definite bias toward Israel even at the expense of US interests)

    Obama knew he could never get elected without a certain amount of kowtowing to US zionists, but he needs now to do what he knows is the right thing and stop giving Israel a blank check and a blind eye.

  5. With all due respect, Rahm Emanuel’s father is not a native Hebrew speaker. In fact the author of the article specifically points out that Emanuel does not speak Hebrew fluently.

    אך אינו דובר את השפה באופן שוטף
    (He does not speak the language fluently)

    Since you have read the article in Hebrew, you also know that he did not say: “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel.”

    Instead, he was asked the question about whether his son will influence the President to be pro-Israel, to which he responded: “Why would he not do that?”

    The exact words he uses in Hebrew are:

    למה שלא יעשה את זה

    Neither the word “Israel” nor the word “obviously” appear anywhere in the quotation.

  6. One counterpoint to the apologists for Rahm’s apology: Emanuel is quoted as saying these are not the values he was brought up on. Problem is – racist, condescending attitudes towards Arabs are EXACTLY the values he WAS brought up with – assuming he was raised in an Israeli-centric household. Rahm’s father’s comments were not an accidental outburst but more like a reflection of true attitudes common to most israelis. The sad fact is that all israeli children (with the exception of some progressive households – how many I wouldn’t know) are raised on a diet of condescention, if not hate, towards all Arabs. Some manage to rise above those by force of an upright nature. Most don’t.

    To be fair, most israelis also experience – and express- the same basement racist con tempt towards numerous other ethnic groups, many even Jewish. Including Ethiopians, blacks in general, Mizrahis, Thais, and generally anyone who is not proper ashkenazi stock. And that before we even come to the issue of religion….

    So, if anything, I expect Rahm will be more circumspect in letting slip some unfortunate conviction, and probably even believes that neither he nor his brothers are guilty of same such as the father. But as for his true convictions and the color of his own soul, his actions speak more cogently than words. One apology (necessitated by a demand from the Arab-American committee) does not alter the fact that he is still an Israeli-American – probably in that order, with all that entails.

  7. @Bob: No, you’ve misunderstood the article. RAHM EMANUEL is not a native Hebrew speaker. His father was born in Israel & lived there much of his life & hence IS a native speaker. It is Rahm who was born here in the U.S. & knows some Hebrew but isn’t fluent in the language.

    The rest of yr comment is quibbling about semantics & has no relevance to the actual content of both Emanuel’s statement & his views. He agreed with a question assuming that his son would influence the White House to be pro Israel. And the actual racist statement he DID make in his own words.

  8. Thank you for the clarification.

    When you say that his father was born in Israel, you must mean that he was born in British Mandatory Palestine, correct? I am fairly certain that his father was born before Israel existed as a country (one source had indicated 1927).

    And, I stand corrected, he did say more than just what I highlighted in the quotation – my apologies.

  9. Irgun Rahm said his father’s comments didn’t reflect the values he was raised on. Of course those were the values he was raised on, the typically racist values of Israelis.

  10. @Bob: I believe Benjamin Emanuel’s brother was murdered around 1933, so yes he was born in Mandatory Palestine. I used the term ‘Israel’ only to denote that he was born in a place where Hebrew was the spoken language. I wasn’t being really precise though.

  11. @Dick Fitzgerald: A bit reductionist & simplistic, I’d say. As for who gave Rahm his values, he had a mother as well who was an American Jew. She appears to have pretty liberal politics. Reading Debbie Schlussel on this is just hilarious in her typically unintentional way. I’m guessing the mom influenced his politics more than the dad (though the Israel connection certainly derives fr. the dad).

  12. Richard,

    I have a few thoughts on Benjamin’s Emanuel facility in Hebrew that I would like to share.

    Benjamin’s parents were Russian and moved from Russia to Palestine to escape the Russian pogroms against Jews of the late 1910s.

    He himself was born in the late 1920s in Palestine during a period when Modern Hebrew had only very recently been introduced as a spoken language.

    It is likely, as the son of Russian Jews, that Benjamin would have spoken Yiddish as his primary language at home while growing up. Many Jews living in Palestine at that time would have spoken Yiddish, especially those who had recently arrived from Eastern Europe. (Also, a New York Times article indicates that one of Benjamin’s sons wrote notes to him in Yiddish during the 1980s asking Benjamin to send him money)

    For the last 50 years or so Benjamin has lived in the Chicago area where he worked as a physician. Presumably, he has been speaking English as his primary language for the majority of his life. He is now over 80.

    Considering all of this, it is quite possible that Benjamin’s Hebrew is less than perfect.

    If he was a native and/or fluent Hebrew speaker, what prompted this remark early in the article:

    “אפשר לדבר איתי בעברית, אין בעיה”

    (It is possible to speak to me in Hebrew, there is no problem)

    This suggests that he knows enough Hebrew to conduct the interview, but why would he have needed to say this (and why was it included in the article) if his ability to communicate in Hebrew was perfectly clear?


    (Note: This information comes from several articles sourced on the now-deleted Wikipedia entry – one was from CNN and the other, The New York Times)

  13. @Bob: Having been placed in precisely the same situation many times when I lived in Israel, in which Israelis presume they must speak to you in English and that you know no Hebrew–that’s what happened in this case. The reporter either began speaking to him in English & Emanuel notified him that he could conduct the interview in Hebrew; or the reporter asked whether he could conduct the interview in Hebrew & Emanuel assented.


    Emanuel Often Took ‘Peace Now’ Position and Praised Rabin as ‘Visionary’

    Edward Abington Jr. is a leading Arabist. A former consul general for the State Department in Washington, he once represented the Palestinian Authority in negotiations in Washington. A friend has sent along Abington’s comments on Rahm Emanuel’s likely stance re Israel/Palestine. Abington offered his views on a foreign-policy listserv called Salon. He then appends a lengthy statement from someone who is associated with Americans for Peace Now, about Emanuel’s record. Abington:

    There have been several postings in recent days about Obama’s decision to appoint Rahm Emanuel as his White House Chief of Staff. The postings have generally been negative, noting Emanuel’s father’s membership in an extremist Israeli organization and Rahm’s service in the IDF. I have an open mind about his appointment and think it was done because of his toughness and his ability, among other things, to deal with Congress and push Obama’s agenda there. The following assessment of Emanuel’s record in Congress was written a few days ago by someone who worked for me in the Middle East and in whom I have a lot of confidence. The author knows the Hill extremely well….

    ENTIRE POST- http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2008/11/congressman-emanuel-often-took-peace-now-position-and-praised-rabin-as-visionary.html

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