Emanuel Apologizes for Father’s ‘Arab’ Comments, but Press Doen’t Publish Except on Blogs

[Landis Comment] The ADC got a quite apology from Rahm Emanuel in a phone call, but he declined to meet with them until an undetermined “appropriate time in the future.” No time could be more appropriate than now, when the new administration is reaching out and the wound is fresh.

Rather inexplicable, the main stream press is soft balling Emanuel’s first big text. None are carrying it even on an inside page. It is relegated to the blogs. A sad commentary on the position of Arabs in American society. One can take comfort in Emanuel’s apology to Mary Rose Oakar.

Emanuel Calls ADC to Repudiate Negative Comments About Arabs

Washington, DC | November 13, 2008 | www.adc.org | Today, Congressman Rahm Emanuel, recently appointed White House Chief of Staff to President-Elect Barack Obama, called American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) President Mary Rose Oakar to repudiate negative comments about Arabs made by his father Benjamin Emanuel .

In the phone call, Congressman Emanuel said, “From the fullness of my heart, I personally apologize on behalf of my family and me. These are not the values upon which I was raised or those of my family.” During the phone call, Emanuel added, it is unacceptable to make remarks such as these against any ethnic or religious group.

ADC President Mary Rose Oakar said, “We cannot allow Arabs and Muslims to be portrayed in these unacceptable terms. I welcome Rahm’s apology and his pledge to meet with our Community. I also thank our members and friends who responded who expressed concern about this matter. ”

NEW YORK TIMES political blog (not paper): Emanuel Apologizes for Father’s ‘Arab’ Comments
November 13, 2008, 3:47 pm

Emanuel Apologizes for Father’s ‘Arab’ Comments, By Sarah Wheaton

Representative Rahm Emanuel, President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff, called the president of an Arab-American group today to apologize for comments his father made to an Israeli newspaper.

In the remarks, Benjamin Emanuel discussed the potential impact of his son’s new position on U.S.-Israeli relations.

“Obviously he’ll influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House,” the elder Mr. Emanuel told the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, according to English-language reports in The Jerusalem Post and The Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Calling the comment an “unacceptable smear,” the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee had sent the younger Emanuel a letter (copied to Mr. Obama) calling on him to “disavow and repudiate these remarks publicly.”

“All we ask is to be treated in the same way as any other ethnic, racial or minority group,” said Kareem Shora, the A.D.C.’s executive director. “We’re not treating it as simply an Arab-American issue, we’re trying to treat it as an American issue.”

That led to Rahm Emanuel’s apology today.

“Today, Representative Emanuel called Mary Rose Oakar, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, apologized on behalf of his family and offered to meet with representatives of the Arab-American community at an appropriate time in the future,” said Nick Papas, a spokesman for the congressman.

Before Mr. Emanuel made his apology, Mr. Shora said the structure of the elder Mr. Emanuel’s remarks made their meaning clear. “The sequence of the statement was very important,” he said, adding that the ‘Arab’ line “was not separated in any way” from the ‘mopping’ line. He said there would be public outcry if “Arab” had been replaced with the name of any other ethnic group.

Benjamin Emanuel is not yet available for comment, according to an associate at the office of Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood agent and the congressman’s brother, to whom a message on the father’s answering machine referred press calls. Mr. Obama’s campaign declined to address the issue.




Comments (104)

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101. Shai said:

Alex, Alia,

Apropos Nakba, here’s something our very own Tzipi Livni said just 6 months ago, at the President’s Conference in Jerusalem: (first in Hebrew, for our Israeli readers)

“עם הקמת המדינה הפלשתינית, אנחנו רוצים לראות את סיומו של הסכסוך. הפלשתינאים יוכלו לחגוג יום עצמאות, אם באותו יום תימחק המלה ‘נכבה’ מהלקסיקון שלהם”

(Translation: “With the establishment of the Palestinian state, we want to see the end of the conflict. The Palestinians could celebrate their Day of Independence, if on the same day the word “Nakba” will be erased from their lexicon.”)

Alex, do you see what I mean? She has NO IDEA what the hell this is all about. She is, like most other Israelis, living in her own version of history. She is definitely not the sophisticated leader you would hope to see.

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November 15th, 2008, 10:11 pm


102. jad said:

Shai, you better watch out, someone is seriously jealous of you…this is so funny to read…

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November 15th, 2008, 10:17 pm


103. Shai said:


If it bothers you that I’m talking to our enemy, I’ll leave… 🙂

Actually, it’s past midnight here in the land of “milk and honey”… so I really am leaving. Good night to all.

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November 15th, 2008, 10:18 pm


104. AIG said:

Have fun, talk to whoever you want and keep bad mouthing Israel and Israelis for no good reason, it is your right.

We are in denial? Who wrote the books about actually what happened? Israeli historians. I accept what Benny Morris wrote. So where is the denial? You just read with your own eyes Syrians admiting that history is not taught well in Syria, and Israel is in denial? Not ONE Arab historian has written a book about what happened on the Arab side in 1948, I mean a serious book based on archival materials and real interviews. In fact, you cannot write good history in autocratic regimes. And Israel is in denial? The reason Morris could write his book is because by law, Israel’s government has to keep records and after a number of years these have to be opened to the public. And Israel is in denial? Have the Arabs looked at their modern history in a critical way as we have? Do they have freedom of speech and research at all? And WE are in denial? Yalla, you have gone completely mad.

If we want to move forward, let’s all look candidly and truthfully at the history. Not to assign blame, but to understand that there are absolutely no saints in the middle-east. It is clear to me that most people on this blog have read very little history, especially on the Arab side.

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November 15th, 2008, 10:42 pm


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