A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 28, 2010

Breaking: Rahm Emanuel is Human, Jewish. Israel Marvels.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (whose father was an old Irgun fighter) was in Israel for his son's Bar Mitzvah and was seen, at the Western Wall, shedding a tear as his son prayed.

Now, a man whose father fought for Israeli independence and who is accompanying his son to Israel for Bar Mitzvah would, it would seem, have a perfect right to tear up a bit at the Kotel. (The Jerusalem Post's version is here, and here's an account of how a right-wing activist sought to block the Bar Mitzvah.)

But he and family had already been heckled (to the point of the hecklers being held by police) in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City after they called him an "Anti-Semite" and "Israel hater." He also visited the Aish HaTorah Yeshiva, a controversial movement that promotes Jewish Orthodoxy but has also been accused of propaganda.

Many Israelis who oppose the Obama Administration have tended to focus on Emanuel's role because of his background. But most of his concerns involve domestic policy, and this is a personal trip for a very personal reason.

To Rahm Emanuel: glad you can show emotion despite your reputation. To his son Zach, celebrating Bar Mitzvah, mazel tov. To everybody else, turn the cameras off and shut up. This isn't a policy issue, or an Israeli issue, it's a Jewish issue. And a very personal one. Like Queen Elizabeth I, I seek no windows into men's souls. Rahm Emanuel's policy positions are well within the Israeli political spectrum, and he's no anti-Semite. But as a father, I know there are red zones, and they involve your kids. Don't go there, whatever you think of Emanuel or his policies. Let his son become a man at Judaism's holiest site. And again, mazel tov.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

Thanks for this, Mike. All of us -- Jews, Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Israelis and Americans -- need to hold dear the human values that don't know those distinctions.