Ali Abunimah: Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post

Dandelion Salad

Reposted with permission from Jewish Peace News

by Racheli Gai
Jewish Peace News
Nov. 7, 2008

Obama’s first pick – of Rahm Emanuel – for White House chief of staff, is not an indication of “change”, but rather of more of the same, when it comes to Israel/Palestine.

In addition to being a pro-Israel hardliner, Emanuel has been known, according to Abunimah, as a “prominent supporter of neoliberal economic policies on free trade and welfare reform.”

If this early choice is any indication, Obama will need a lot of pressure from the grass roots level for serious change to occur.

Cynthia Peters has written a wonderful article that brings home this point:

Here is the email address for Obama’s Transition Office. Let’s flood it with letters and phone calls beginning today.

I heard yesterday of difficulties in accessing the above site, so while
Obama is still a US Senator, one could contact his office:
713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-2854
(202) 228-4260 fax
(202 228-1404 TDD



Ali Abunimah: Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post

The Electronic Intifada
5 November 2008

During the United States election campaign, racists and
pro-Israel hardliners tried to make an issue out of
President-elect Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein. Such
people might take comfort in another middle name, that of
Obama’s pick for White House Chief of Staff: Rahm Israel

Emanuel is Obama’s first high-level appointment and it’s
one likely to disappointment those who hoped the
president-elect would break with the George W. Bush
Administration’s pro-Israel policies. White House Chief of
Staff is often considered the most powerful office in the
executive branch, next to the president. Obama has offered
Emanuel the position according to Democratic party sources
cited by media including Reuters and The New York
Times. While Emanuel is expected to accept the post, that
had not been confirmed by Wednesday evening the day after
the election.

Rahm Emanuel was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1959, the
son of Benjamin Emanuel, a pediatrician who helped smuggle
weapons to the Irgun, the Zionist militia of former
Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, in the 1940s. The
Irgun carried out numerous terrorist attacks on
Palestinian civilians including the bombing of Jerusalem’s
King David Hotel in 1946.

Emanuel continued his father’s tradition of active support
for Israel; during the 1991 Gulf War he volunteered to
help maintain Israeli army vehicles near the Lebanon
border when southern Lebanon was still occupied by Israeli

As White House political director in the first Clinton
administration, Emanuel orchestrated the famous 1993
signing ceremony of the “Declaration of Principles”
between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin. Emanuel was elected to Congress
representing a north Chicago district in 2002 and he is
credited with a key role in delivering a Democratic
majority in the 2006 mid-term elections. He has been a
prominent supporter of neoliberal economic policies on
free trade and welfare reform.

One of the most influential politicians and fundraisers in
his party, Emanuel accompanied Obama to a meeting of
AIPAC’s executive board just after the Illinois senator
had addressed the pro-Israel lobby’s conference last June.

In Congress, Emanuel has been a consistent and vocal
pro-Israel hardliner, sometimes more so than President
Bush. In June 2003, for example, he signed a letter
criticizing Bush for being insufficiently supportive of
Israel. “We were deeply dismayed to hear your criticism of
Israel for fighting acts of terror,” Emanuel, along with
33 other Democrats wrote to Bush. The letter said that
Israel’s policy of assassinating Palestinian political
leaders “was clearly justified as an application of
Israel’s right to self-defense.”

In July 2006, Emanuel was one of several members who
called for the cancellation of a speech to Congress by
visiting Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki because
al-Maliki had criticized Israel’s bombing of Lebanon.
Emanuel called the Lebanese and Palestinian governments
“totalitarian entities with militias and terrorists acting
as democracies” in a 19 July 2006 speech supporting a
House resolution backing Israel’s bombing of both
countries that caused thousands of civilian victims.

Emanuel has sometimes posed as a defender of Palestinian
lives, though never from the constant Israeli violence
that is responsible for the vast majority of deaths and
injuries. On 14 June 2007 he wrote to US Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice “on behalf of students in the Gaza
Strip whose future is threatened by the ongoing fighting
there” which he blamed on “the violence and militancy of
their elders.” In fact, the fighting between members of
Hamas and Fatah, which claimed dozens of lives, was the
result of a failed scheme by US-backed militias to
violently overthrow the elected Hamas-led national unity
government. Emanuel’s letter urged Rice “to work with
allies in the region, such as Egypt and Jordan, to either
find a secure location in Gaza for these students, or to
transport them to a neighboring country where they can
study and take their exams in peace.” Palestinians often
view such proposals as a pretext to permanently “transfer”
them from their country, as many Israeli leaders have
threatened. Emanuel has never said anything in support of
millions of Palestinian children whose education has been
disrupted by Israeli occupation, closures and blockades.

Emanuel has also used his position to explicitly push
Israel’s interests in normalizing relations with Arab
states and isolating Hamas. In 2006 he initiated a letter
to President Bush opposing United Arab Emirates
(UAE)-based Dubai Ports World’s attempt to buy the
management business of six US seaports. The letter, signed
by dozens of other lawmakers, stated that “The UAE has
pledged to provide financial support to the Hamas-led
government of the Palestinian Authority and openly
participates in the Arab League boycott against Israel.”
It argued that allowing the deal to go through “not only
could place the safety and security of US ports at risk,
but enhance the ability of the UAE to bolster the Hamas
regime and its efforts to promote terrorism and violence
against Israel” (“Dems Tie Israel, Ports,” Forward, 10
March 2006).

Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish
Democratic Council, told Fox News that picking Emanuel is
“just another indication that despite the attempts to
imply that Obama would somehow appoint the wrong person or
listen to the wrong people when it comes to the US-Israel
relationship … that was never true.”

Over the course of the campaign, Obama publicly distanced
himself from friends and advisers suspected or accused of
having “pro-Palestinian” sympathies. There are no early
indications of a more balanced course.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is
author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-
Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).


Added by Dandelion Salad:

For those saying that he has dual citizenship with Israel, this is what Wikipedia has on their page for Emanuel:

…Moskal also charged that Emanuel had dual citizenship with Israel and had served in the Israeli Army.[12] Rahm was a civilian volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1991 Gulf War and was born a citizen due to his father’s (dual) Israeli-U.S. citizenship, but relinquished it when he turned 18.[13][14]


The Irony of the Ecstasy By Adam Engel

Nader: Obama will be like Bush + Obama recruits “Rahmbo” Emanuel + Howard Zinn

Dear God, Please Give Me A Bailout So I Can Believe! By Gary Corseri

A Look Under the Hood at the (Potential) Obama Administration

Class divisions begin to emerge in Obama coalition

Obama advisers discuss preparations for war on Iran


18 thoughts on “Ali Abunimah: Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post

  1. Pingback: Bill Moyers Journal: Changing Times + Obama + Racism + Studs Terkel | Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: Rahm Emanuel on Obama Administration Agenda Formulation « Dandelion Salad

  3. Pingback: Repairing the Congress-Citizen Disconnect by Cameron Salisbury « Dandelion Salad

  4. Pingback: Jeff Halper on the Obama Administration and the Occupation: A Bone in America’s Throat « Dandelion Salad

  5. Pingback: Methinks they do protest too much By William Bowles « Dandelion Salad

  6. Pingback: Bush will NEVER be able to set foot outside the U.S.! Jeremy Scahill & Naomi Klein « Dandelion Salad

  7. Pingback: Remember Arafat? By Mike Whitney « Dandelion Salad

  8. Pingback: Who are the Architects of Economic Collapse? by Michel Chossudovsky « Dandelion Salad

  9. Anyone else totally sick of right-wingers trying to act like their complaints have any merit? Get over yourselves, Obama won fairly and no, he is not a Muslim or a terrorist or a socialist—and more’s the pity about the latter, because quite frankly if there’s anything this country needs right now it’s a social democrat like Dennis Kucinich or Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader at the helm. Unfortunately, one can never trust the American people to vote in their own interests.

    Obama is anything but the crazed leftist the right-wing is making him out to be, and this appointment proves it. Don’t worry, right-wingers; he’s just as militant, capitalistic, and pro-Israeli as John McCain.

  10. Pingback: Michael Ratner on Obama and civil liberties « Dandelion Salad

  11. Pingback: Reflections on class and race in America by Barry Grey « Dandelion Salad

  12. Pingback: Alex Jones speaks out on Obama’s team on Russia Today « Dandelion Salad

  13. Pingback: Mumia Abu-Jamal on Pres. Barack Obama « Dandelion Salad

  14. sfokc6125, the electoral college electors have not yet voted. So, what you described has not happened for a reason. Most of the states have yet to certify the votes cast in their respective states, that has to happen next.

    Search on electoral college.

  15. Pingback: Mosaic News - 11/6/08: World News from the Middle East « Dandelion Salad

  16. Under the Constitution The vote was illegal .

    Article. II. – The Executive Branch
    The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted.

    This never happened. The votes were not transported and count in the this manner. The election was not Constitutional and the winners or losers were not leagal or right.

    Anyone taking the oath of office at this point will be committing Treason against the American People and the Constitution.

  17. Pingback: Does a Leopard Change Its Spots? by William Bowles « Dandelion Salad

Comments are closed.