The headline of the interview of Rahm Emanuel in The New Republic is: “Stark Raving Rahm: Tell us what you really think, Mr. Mayor.” The joke being that the Chicago mayor doesn’t censor himself. But actually he does.
From Isaac Chotiner’s interview:
IC: You mentioned your dad went to Israel. What do you think went wrong at the beginning of the administration with the Obama-Netanyahu relationship?
RE: So since I brought up Israel, I get to answer questions like that?
IC: It was a segue. I did my best.
RE: I give you credit for trying. [Laughs.] I wish we could talk off the record. [Goes off the record for a couple minutes.]
IC: If I can go back on the record, how optimistic are you about a peace deal?
RE: I am uncharacteristically optimistic, just on the optimism side of fifty percent.
IC: Why now?
RE: I think it is a framework deal, which is different and easier than a final deal. And I think the parties have enough in common about the framework, which they have known for ten years.
IC: But why is there the will now?
RE: Hamas is as weak as it’s going to be. Abbas is ready to work with Israel. Israel has a security concern involving geography. But geography does not have the same value it did in 1967. And I want to say that there is nothing I just said that major figures in the national security apparatus of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and Israel haven’t said publicly. Nothing!
IC: Sometimes American politicians can’t say things that have already been said in Israel—
RE: You are not allowed to here! Because the American—well, for whatever reason, that is a whole different debate. I don’t want to talk about this. It is not my business. I don’t really care. But Israel’s national security apparatus has concluded what I have observed. [Laughs.]
My surmise from this opaque exchange is that Emanuel, who served as a civilian volunteer for Israel’s army during the first Gulf War, upholds a traditional prohibition imposed by the lobby: we can say anything we like about Israel in Israel, but we can’t do so here, because we can’t count on non-Jews to support Israel unless we keep our thumb on the scale.
I don’t understand why Isaac Chotiner of the New Republic allowed him to go off the record. The correct procedure here on such an important subject is to say, Sorry, I’d love to hear what you have to say, but this interview is for my readers not for me. If you can’t talk about it, why not?
Emanuel’s father aided the terrorist group the Irgun. Here is Time Magazine on repulsive statements Emanuel’s father made in 2008 about his son’s relationship to Obama:
In an interview with Ma’ariv, Emanuel’s father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son’s appointment would be good for Israel. “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel,” he was quoted as saying. “Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.”
I know. I’m just dredging up old stuff.
Update: Emanuel apologized for his father’s comments.