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Outspoken Rahm Emanuel goes off-the-record when asked about Israel

Israel/Palestine
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Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel

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.

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24 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    April 8, 2014, 12:15 pm

    “I don’t understand why Isaac Chotiner of the New Republic allowed him to go off the record.”

    Oh, I do. You play the game or you hit the showers. Chotiner wants to keep playing.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      April 8, 2014, 12:50 pm

      @ Woody
      Yeah, generically, these days, it’s called “access journalism,” as distinguished from real journalism. Journalism is no longer a heroic/noble profession, always seeking to help the bedrock of US democracy, informed consent, which is now passé.

      • MRW
        MRW
        April 9, 2014, 6:12 am

        Exactly.

        BTW. Newsflash. This?

        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.

        Their thumbs on the scale are losing them more than non-Jewish support for Israel.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      April 8, 2014, 1:25 pm

      Yes.

    • Krauss
      Krauss
      April 8, 2014, 2:33 pm

      It’s not just that. Chortiner is a “liberal” Zionist of the old TNR mold, just like Jonathan Chait. Both of them have carried water for neocons numerous times in the past, just like both attacked Chas Freeman in 2009.

      Chortiner isn’t just interested in the status quo for the sake of career advancement, he has an ideological vested interest in keeping it going, even if his career would stumble as a result.

      He’s one of those types who will choose Jewish over democracy if he ever had a choice, like Chait or like Goldberg, even if they all pretend that isn’t the case, that’s how they act. They will continue to pretend the 2SS is viable for many decades to come, in order to avoid going public what they believe in private: Jewish supremacism forever.

  2. annie
    annie
    April 8, 2014, 12:23 pm

    R.E…….geography does not have the same value it did in 1967.

    what does that mean?

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      April 8, 2014, 12:47 pm

      I assumed that it meant that Emanuelle recognizes that the supposed “security threat” that those favoring the oppression of the Palestinians keep talking about is complete nonsesne. Given the disparity in weapons, and the geopolitical situation in the world, there is absolutely zero military/security need for Israel to be anywhere in the West Bank. It’s an excuse so that the sadists can continue to torture their victims. But I think Emanuelle is at least accepting the fiction that there was some secuirity reason for seizing the West Bank in 1967. That’s a lie, of course (at it had to do with nothing other than the Israelis inability to slake their thirst for stolen land and their ideological commitment to oppressing Palestinans), but Emanuelle seems to be engaging in the fiction but recognizing that it is no longer even a viable fiction today.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        April 8, 2014, 12:55 pm

        @ Woody
        Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Thanks to the US, Israel’s weapons really minimize the power of land warfare with troops on the ground. The old “second line of land defense” is passé. The analogy is to the US switching from WW2 warfare to contemporary drones and special forces & Iron Dome, etc.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        April 8, 2014, 2:36 pm

        the fiction that there was some secuirity reason for seizing the West Bank in 1967.
        Good point. Ben Gurion remained extremely upset that the West Bank was seized, although his concern was a political governance one. But you are not allowed to talk about it here because of an American thing that is not R. Emanuel’s business.

    • kalithea
      kalithea
      April 8, 2014, 7:17 pm

      I’m glad you singled out that comment, because out of everything he said, the usual b.s., that sentence stood out for me too and here’s my interpretation.:

      I believe he means that American leaders no longer view settlement expansion in the way that International Law i.e. the Geneva Convention defines it: as a war crime and illegal operation. Israelis have managed to almost trivialize settlement expansion by demanding that Israel’s U.S. advocate insist that the Palestinians engage in the peace process with no pre-conditions like settlement freeze thereby mitigating the gravity of settlement activity over the years in everyone’s perception so they can get away with more each time, which they have. This is what Zionists do; they push the envelope further and further until they get what they want regardless of the law.

      R.E. is playing that same game; it’s an inherent part of Zionist hubris; making it appear that the geography acquired is already a done deal; the hell with what was pre-67. Chotiner should have insisted on clarification; but then his is Zionist journalism and ambiguity messes with American perception of truth which is just fine with Zionists.

      No doubt R.E. would rather remain ambiguous in his comments on Israel in his current position, hence his off-record remarks. If only Chicagoans knew what a rabid Zionist he really is!

  3. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    April 8, 2014, 12:46 pm

    “I know. I’m just dredging up old stuff”. Unfortunately still relevant as any observer of the comments sections of Israeli newspapers would confirm, just ask Max Blumenthal. On a more optimistic note, the Palestinians hope to sign up to 48 UN Agencies at the end of April see.. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10791-shaath-the-pa-to-join-48-international-organisations-and-treaties-at-the-end-of-april

  4. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    April 8, 2014, 1:38 pm

    Emanuel is a liberal, and many liberal supporters of the Israeli system, including Jstreet, blame Israeli political problems on Netanyahu for being right wing. Plus, Emanuel is close to Obama.

    The facts that Rahm said openly would lay the blame on Netanyahu’s feet – Hamas is weak, Abbas is willing, and there is no security issue on the 1967 lines. That leaves Netanyahu as the unmentioned issue. That is, if the Palestinian “side” is not an obstacle, then it means Netanyahu is.

    So the opaque part was a blaming of Netanyahu.

    The next part is more interesting. He actually censors himself a second time:

    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.

    What is the “American _______” that blocks politicians from saying the same things that have been said in Israel, a debate that is wholly different from Netanyahu’s negotiations, and is not Rahm Emanuel’s business nor does he want to talk about? In fact, he repeats on his own four times that he does not want to talk about it. He does not even want to go off the record about it, which is why it is more interesting.

    • Keith
      Keith
      April 8, 2014, 4:27 pm

      W. JONES- “Emanuel is a liberal….”

      Surely you jest. Emanuel is a kickass neoliberal who seeks to privatize as much as he can as fast as he can. I know that liberals ain’t what they used to be, however, calling Rahmzy a liberal is going too far.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        April 8, 2014, 7:21 pm

        Hello, Keith. Liberal does not necessarily mean the same as leftist. There is a school of “liberal economics.”

      • Keith
        Keith
        April 9, 2014, 5:45 pm

        W. JONES- “Liberal does not necessarily mean the same as leftist. There is a school of “liberal economics.”

        You are saying that Rahm Emanuel is a liberal economist? If not, then the more common usage of the term “liberal” would seem to apply. If so, then “liberal” Rahm and “liberal” Phil would have a lot in common, birds of a feather, so to speak?” And if a classical liberal is not on the left, where exactly on the political spectrum does he reside?

        You may have a point. In our current state of debasement of the political discourse occasioned by the rapid rightward drift of political thought, a “liberal” probably can be considered part of the “soft” right. Even so, Emanuel’s neoliberal credentials are hard to ignore and correctly identified as right-wing authoritarianism occasionally camouflaged by liberal rhetoric. I have nothing but contempt for Rahm Emanuel, but if you feel justified in categorizing him alongside “liberal” Phil, who am I to object? Phil is capable of clarifying any ideological misunderstandings.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        April 10, 2014, 2:23 am

        Hello, Keith.

        It sounds like you are aware of the continuum of economic schools, ranging from anarcho-communism to socialism to social democracy to keynesianism to liberalism to neoliberalism to conservatism to neoconservatism and all other such strains.

        Regarding Phil’s politics, I assumed he would be social democratic or an advocate of “welfare capitalism”, based on a strong concern for people’s welfare. The main thing I am confused about with Phil is how on one hand he had very positive interviews with Mark Braverman and Joel Kovel and then said he would not have Christian friends unless….
        However I don’t want to put words in his mouth, and would just like to get a better understanding of what he meant.

  5. seafoid
    seafoid
    April 8, 2014, 1:54 pm

    Rahm off the record said “Zionism is FUBR. Those muppets in charge now – bibi, Danon, Lieberman- I wouldn’t put them in charge of a lemonade stand . Am Israel chai but under new management”.

  6. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    April 8, 2014, 3:13 pm

    “old stuff” often lets us know how a person may have developed a particular view or opinion. “old stuff” helps shine the light on how we may have gotten to a particular place.

    Could not stand when Clinton many of our Reps etc were repeating “move on, next chapter, don’t be about the past, turn the page” when it came to many of us doing what we could do to push for accountability for the lies created, cherry picked and disseminated to the American public to convince many to support a deadly invasion.

    “old stuff” is often relevant

  7. April 8, 2014, 3:15 pm

    This Rahm is an immense part of the problem. Not saying anything is as bad as condoning all the horrors that Israel commits.

  8. Boomer
    Boomer
    April 8, 2014, 4:02 pm

    So he was a “volunteer for Israel’s army during the first Gulf War.” I don’t recall Israel being involved in that war. The U.S. Army was involved, however, and was accepting volunteers.

    • Nevada Ned
      Nevada Ned
      April 8, 2014, 7:15 pm

      Rahm Emanuel claims that work as a civilian volunteer for the IDF.
      Why is this significant?

      RE is aware of a famous legal case governing dual-citizenship. If you read the US Constitution, it says clearly that anyone who serves in the military of another country thereby surrenders his US citizenship.

      In the case in question, Mr. Afroyim emigrated to the US from Poland, became a US citizen, and then moved to Israel, voting in an Israeli election. Afroyim tried to return to the US, the US govt objected, saying he had given up US citizenship. A long series of court battles ensued, and Afroyim eventually won his case. The court stressed the facts that the man had been a civilian (not a soldier) in the Israeli military, and had been a volunteer (unpaid).

      So it’s interesting that RE claims he was an unpaid civilian volunteer in the IDF. It shows that he is aware of the Afroyim case, and aware of the critical conditions that allowed Afroyim to keep his US citizenship.

      It’s also important to realize why the US Constitution was changed, and at whose behest.

      • Nevada Ned
        Nevada Ned
        April 8, 2014, 7:33 pm

        The first sentence above should read
        “Rahm Emanuel claims that he worked as a civilian volunteer for the IDF”.

  9. MRW
    MRW
    April 9, 2014, 6:45 am

    John Nichols wrote a great piece in The Nation (“Trade Wars”) wiping the floor with this guy. This was around the time that Lou Dobbs was doing his anti-immigration pieces for three years in the service of the Lobby via CIS (And Stephen Steinlight) on CNN whipping up the anti-immigration foes. This was after Goldman-Sachs, which represented Mexico in 1995, destroyed the Mexican Peso shortly after Rahm Emanuel pushed NAFTA over the goalposts in 1994, as he bragged to Nichols, and ruined the mom-and-pop farm businesses in northern Mexico that led to massive immigration a few years later. Clinton promised to make Goldman Sachs whole in 1995/96, which he did on Emanuel’s suggestion. Whole. No one in this country noticed. After the destruction of the mom-and-pop establishments in 1996/97, Emanuel through a year-long series of op-eds in the WSJ convinced the US companies operating in northern Mexico to leave $2.22/hr Mexico for $0.60/hour China by begging for China’s entry in the WTO.

    What was supposed to be protected and promoted by NAFTA within our regional trading area was destroyed by this creep. And they later used Lou Dobbs to cover their deeds and turn Americans against their own best interests…not that most would know what those are, jingoism is so easy to pass for completion of a high school education in this country that any argument will do.

  10. adele
    adele
    April 9, 2014, 6:44 pm

    Au contraire Phil, this never gets old —> “…What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.”

    Above mentality manifests itself in society as such —> Israeli teens dressed as the KKK on purim.
    http://mondoweiss.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/purim.03-580×326.jpg

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