Emanuel’s Father Calls Arabs Floor Cleaners

It will be interesting to see if Emanuel feels compelled to say anything about his father’s statement. Probably not. So far it hasn’t been quoted in the main stream press. Some say his pro-Israel views and loyalty to his boss may actually benefit Obama’s ability to make peace in the Middle East and pressure the Israelis.  “Israelis will not be able to pull the wool over his eyes,” and “complete loyalty to his boss [Clinton] made the Israelis afraid to talk near him,” Haaretz’s Natasha Mozgovaya and Anshel Pfeffer write.

Most pundits, however, believe Emanuel’s appointment does not augure well for an Arab-Israeli peace.

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.””

Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel

Barack Obama once joked at a charity dinner that when Rahm Emanuel severed his middle finger, it almost rendered him mute. Obama, criticized by Republicans during the campaign for his contacts with Palestinian advocates, named in Emanuel a person with strong family ties to Israel.

Benjamin Emanuel participated in the Irgun, a pre- statehood group seeking independence for Israel. As he was putting up posters to promote the resistance, he was struck on the head by a British officer’s baton, a wound that is still visible today. Benjamin’s brother, Emanuel, was killed, and he changed the family name from Auerbach to Emanuel in his honor.

It was a competitive family. Emanuel’s mother jokingly calls her middle son, “Rahmbo.” When he was 17, Emanuel severed half of his middle finger while working at an Arby’s restaurant.

Haaretz on Emanuel, “U.S. Jews laud Obama pick of Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff ”

“Choosing Rep. Emanuel is a sign that President-elect Obama is learning from the mistakes of the two most recent Democratic Presidents, who brought in Washington outsiders to run the White House, and did so at their own peril – often finding themselves in battles with the Washington Democratic establishment. Emanuel’s selection will avoid such ‘freshman mistakes’,” The UJC official continued.

“Rep. Emanuel is also a good friend of Israel, coming from good Irgun stock, davening at an Orthodox synagogue, and sending his children to Jewish day schools,” Daroff concluded.

Ira N. Forman, Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), echoed Daroff’s approval, saying in a statement Thursday that “Obama made an outstanding selection. Emanuel has been a forceful and effective leader within the Democratic Party. His voting record and leadership in support of the U.S.-Israel relationship are outstanding.”

“Emanuel has deep Jewish roots and strong ties to the Jewish community. Emanuel, the son of an Israeli immigrant, has a proven commitment to Israel’s security and served as civilian volunteer on an Israeli military base during the Persian Gulf War of 1991,” the statement continued.

“We congratulate Emanuel and look forward to continuing to work with Emanuel in his new role in the Obama administration.” Forman added.

Emanuel, a hard-charging Chicagoan, accepted Obama’s offer for the job after struggling over family and political considerations. By moving into a top White House job for a second time, Emanuel will have to put aside hopes of becoming speaker of the lower chamber.

The son of a Jerusalem-born pediatrician who was a member of the pre-state Irgun, Emanuel was a key figure in the administration of former President Bill Clinton, where he was known for his blunt management style. His selection is a shift in tone for Obama, who chose more low-key leadership for his presidential campaign.

In the tense talks with the Palestinians at Wye Plantation in 1998, the Israeli team headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was especially wary of one of President Bill Clinton’s aides – Rahm Emanuel. His fluent Hebrew, his instinctive grasp of the “Israeli” mind set and above all his complete loyalty to his boss made the Israelis afraid to talk near him.

Ten years later, Israel’s next prime minister will meet Emanuel in a loftier post, as Obama’s chief of staff.

“He has a kind of directness and coarseness that is very familiar to Israelis,” a veteran Israeli diplomat told Haaretz yesterday. “But it doesn’t necessarily bring him closer to us. One thing is certain – Israelis will not be able to pull the wool over his eyes.”


Emanuel… represents the worst of the Clinton years. His profile as regards Israel is explored well on this site by lawyer John Whitbeck. He’s a former Israeli citizen, who volunteered to serve in Israel in 1991 and who made brisk millions in Wall Street. He is a super-Likudnik hawk, whose father was in the fascist Irgun in the late Forties, responsible for cold-blooded massacres of Palestinians. Dad’s unreconstructed ethnic outlook has been memorably embodied in his recent remark to the Ma’ariv newspaper that “Obviously he [Rahm] will influence the president to be pro-Israel… Why wouldn’t he be [influential]? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.”

Working in the Clinton White House, Emanuel … He favored the war in Iraq, and when he was chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 he made great efforts to knock out antiwar Democratic candidates. On this site in October and November, 2006, John Walsh documented both the efforts and Emanuel’s role in losing the Democrats seats they would otherwise have won.

In 2006 Emanuel had just published a book with Bruce Reed called The Plan: Big Ideas for America, with one section focused on “the war on terror”. Emanuel and Reed wrote, “We need to fortify the military’s ‘thin green line ‘around the world by adding to the U.S. Special Forces and the Marines, and by expanding the U.S. army by 100,000 more troops. …Finally we must protect our homeland and civil liberties by creating a new domestic counterterrorism force like Britain’s MI5.” Recall that Obama has been calling throughout his recent campaign for an addition of 92,000 to the US Army and US Marine Corps.

Emanuel and Reed had fond words for the mad-dog Peter Beinart, neocon warrior theoretician for the Democrats, roosting Marty Peretz’s The New Republic, and author of The Good Fight where Beinart explained why a tough new national security policy is as essential to the future of of progressive politics as a united front against totalitarianism and communism was to the New Deal and the Great Society. …

Walsh took a hard look at the 2006 Democratic primary race between Christine Cegelis and Tammy Duckworth in Illinois’s 6th CD, a Republican District, which had elected the disgusting Henry Hyde from time immemorial. In 2004 Cegelis, who iwas only mildly antiwar, ran as the Democrat with a grass roots campaign and polled a remarkable 44 per cent in her first run. It was not too long before Hyde decided to retire, and the field seemed to be open for Cegelis in the November poll, in 2006.

Enter Rahm Emanuel, who promptly dug up a pro-war candidate, Tammy Duckworth. Although she had both her legs blown off in Iraq, she remained committed to “staying the course” in Iraq. Duckworth had no political experience and did not live in the 6th District. Emanuel raised a million dollars for her and brought in Joe Lieberman, Barak Obama, John Kerry, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton to support her. Despite all this help and with the Cegelis campaign virtually penniless, Duckworth barely managed to eke out a primary victory by a measly four percentage points.

To win the House, the Dems had to win 15 seats from the Republicans. Walsh identified 22 candidates hand picked by Emanuel to run in open districts or districts with Republican incumbents. Of these, nine adopted a US “must win” in Iraq position and only one of Rahm’s candidates was for prompt withdrawal from Iraq.

Then, after the election, Walsh assessed Rahm’s supposed brilliance in winning back the House. “Looking at all 22 candidates hand-picked by Rahm, “ Walsh wrote, “we find that 13 were defeated [including Duckworth], and only 8 won! And remember that this was the year of the Democratic tsunami and that Rahm’s favorites were handsomely financed by the DCCC. The Dems have picked up 28 seats so far, maybe more. So out of that 28, Rahm’s choices accounted for 8! Since the Dems only needed 15 seats to win the House, Rahm’s efforts were completely unnecessary. Had the campaign rested on Rahm’s choices, there would have been only 8 or 9 new seats, and the Dems would have lost. In fact, Rahm’s efforts were probably counterproductive for the Dems since the great majority of voters were antiwar and they were voting primarily on the issue of the war (60 per cent according to CNN). But Rahm’s candidates were not antiwar. … [read the rest]

Daily Star Editorial:

Instead of panicking over fears that his administration’s approach to the peace process will be decided by at least two high-profile men, Dennis Ross and Rahm Emmanuel, whose pro-Israeli sentiments are a matter of public record, we should be preparing to make the best of whatever situation arises.

The presence of Ross, for instance, does not necessarily mean that he will influence policy. It would guarantee, however, that if Obama means to honor his campaign pledge to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict early, he would have a walking repository of information at his disposal. Ross was at the heart of then-President Bill Clinton’s repeated bids to strike a peace deal in the 1990s, and although those efforts ultimately failed, knowledge of why they failed will be crucial to any future attempt. In addition, both Ross and Emmanuel would be useful “cover” for the inevitable cries of “anti-Semitism” that will result if and when an Obama administration has to pressure an Israeli government to accept a fair agreement….

The challenge for Arabs and Muslims, therefore, is not to stand around and wait for the new president to make all their dreams come true. It is to forget virtually everything they know about past American heads of state and figure out how to talk to this one.

Stephen Zunes on Emanuel: “Is Obama Screwing His Base with Rahm Emanuel Selection?”

Emanuel was a major supporter of the Iraq War resolution that authorized the invasion of Iraq. Indeed, he was the only one of nine Democratic members of Congress from Illinois who backed granting Bush this unprecedented authority to invade a country on the far side of the world that was no threat to the United States at the time. Even more disturbingly, when asked by Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” whether he would have voted to authorize the invasion “knowing that there are no weapons of mass destruction,” Emanuel answered that he indeed would have done so, effectively acknowledging that his support for the war was not about national security, but about oil and empire. Not surprisingly, he has also voted with the Republicans in support of unconditional funding to continue the Iraq War and has consistently opposed efforts by other Democrats to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. occupation forces from that country and related Congressional efforts to end the war.

At a time of record budget deficits, Emanuel has been a passionate supporter of increased spending for the Pentagon and has resisted efforts by fellow Democrats to trim excesses in the Bush administration’s bloated military budget. For example, he has repeatedly voted against amendments to cut funding for Bush’s dangerously destabilizing missile defense and even voted against an amendment to identify unnecessary Pentagon spending by examining the need, relevance and cost of Cold War weapons systems designed to fight the former Soviet Union.

A major hawk regarding Iran, Emanuel has also voted against Democratic efforts to prevent the Bush administration from launching military action against that country and has joined the administration in exaggerated claims about Iran’s alleged nuclear threat. He is not opposed to nuclear proliferation if it involves U.S. allies, however. Emanuel has consistently voted against a series of Democratic amendments that would have strengthened safeguards in the Bush administration’s nuclear cooperation agreement with India to prevent U.S. assistance from supporting India’s nuclear weapons program.

Emanuel is also a prominent hawk regarding Israel, attacking the Bush administration from the right for criticizing Israel’s assassination policies and other human rights abuses. He was also a prominent supporter of Israel’s 2006 attacks on Lebanon, even challenging the credibility of Amnesty International and other human rights groups that reported Israeli violations of international humanitarian law. Emanuel’s father had emigrated from Israel in the 1950s, where he had been a member of the terrorist group Irgun, which had been responsible for a series of terrorist attacks against Palestinian and British civilians in mandatory Palestine during the 1940s. Emanuel himself served in a civilian capacity as a volunteer for the Israeli army in the early 1990s.

It is unclear how serious of a blow Obama’s selection of Emanuel is to those who hoped that Obama might actually steer the country in a more progressive direction. It’s easy to see it as nothing less than a slap in the face of the progressive anti-war elements of the party

 Hiring Emanuel shows Obama’s hand

…. Whether it’s ripping up contributions of political donors who lacked the good survival sense to write a bigger check, or mailing a dead fish to express his extreme displeasure or repeatedly stabbing a steak knife into a table to punctuate a list of Democratic politicians he was putting on a “dead” list, Rahm Emanuel mastered hardball long before Chris Matthews peddled it on TV. Would Emanuel be displeased by the above description? Nope. He revels in the legend….. If you hire an enforcer, are you, de facto, an enforcer, too? Yes.

A new Syrian law which bans Kurds from owning property without the consent of the authorities has stirred unrest in Kurdish regions. 
 Nearly 200 rallied in the Syrian capital in protest to a decree issued by the President Bashar Al-Assad forbidding the sale without prior authorization of land and property in border areas.Reports indicate that Police detained 192 of the demonstrators including eight leaders from political parties.


The protestors were, however, released a day after to ‘reassure them that the decree was not aimed at the Kurdish population but applied to all of Syria’s border regions,’ a human rights group, the National Organization of Human Rights in Syria, said in a statement.


Persuading the Uncertain and Punishing the Recalcitrant: Al-Qaeda Seeks to Absorb Iraq’s Awakening Councils By Murad Batal al-Shishani

There are indications that al-Qaeda’s struggle with Iraq’s U.S.-sponsored tribal Awakening Councils is far from over. An attack on the Baquba home of Awakening Council militia leader Shaykh Abdul Karim Hassan al-Dahlaji on October 29 left three family members dead and 14 others injured. A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the raid was likely to have been carried out by al-Qaeda. Four days later, a roadside bomb killed Shaykh Abbas al-Tami and his family near Baquba, the capital of Diyala province. The shaykh was the head of the Majmaa tribe and a prominent Awakening council leader. These incidents appear to be part of a strategy imposed by al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in their fight with the Majalis al-Sahwat (Awakening Councils). READ FULL STORY

IDF concludes drill simulating war with Syria and Lebanon
By Amos Harel
Haaretz.com, 7 November 2008

The Israel Defense Forces Northern Command concluded a large-scale exercise yesterday which simulated a double-front conflagration with Syria and Lebanon.

The drill, codenamed “Shiluv Zro’ot III” (Crossing Arms III), was the second largest of its kind since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The exercise drilled the Israel Air Force and the Home Front Command in dealing with protocol and problem-solving missions under the simulated firing of thousands of rockets and missiles into the heart of Israel’s population centers.

In addition to the Northern Command, the air force and the home front command, Crossing Arms involved the IDF Military Intelligence directorate and the general staff. Unlike headquarter-level exercises from the past, Crossing Arms entailed the deployment of troops on the ground, comprising mainly reservists.

Additionally, helicopter gunships and airplanes were sent on mock raids and evacuation missions. The aircraft did not fire live ammunition, according to army sources.

During the drill, the striking aircraft were under orders to focus on imaginary long and medium-range missile launchers. The responsibility for knocking out shorter range rockets lay on ground troops that were ordered to carry out an on-paper invasion into Syrian and Lebanese territory.

Speaking before subordinate officers, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said that the importance attached to Crossing Arms III stemmed from the fact that it involved all IDF operational arms, and from the fact that it was put together in a way which internalized the lessons of the Second Lebanon War.

During the exercise, Ashkenazi flew aboard a Boeing Integrated Defense Systems AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter. He also went aboard an Israel Navy submarine. Other visitors included President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Major-General Yishai Bar – who commanded one of the drill’s assault armies under Northern Command Chief Gadi Eizenkot – announced his retirement during the drill. Yishai said he will retain his position as commander of the IDF’s all-purpose reserves army, but will do so as a reservist himself.

Restoring America’s standing
By Mark A. Heller
The International Herald Tribune, 7 November 2008

….Obama will have to make good on his campaign pledge to restore America’s standing in the world, which has taken a fearful beating in the last five years.

He has already accomplished a good part of that task just by not being George W. Bush. …Whatever he does, Obama will be hard pressed to overcome the resentment caused by the perceived habit of the United States, as the biggest kid on the block, to act with insufficient regard for the role of international institutions and international law.

In late October, a cross-border raid by U.S. forces on foreign fighters in Syria suspected of aiding the insurgency in Iraq was denounced by Syria and a few others as a violation of Syrian sovereignty. For the most part, however, Syria’s complaint elicited little sympathy, probably because the Syrian regime had itself, over the previous four decades, directly or indirectly (through the use of proxies) violated the sovereignty of every one of its five neighbors…

More than 1.5 million Kurds comprising nine percent of the total population live in Northern regions of Syria bordering Turkey and Iraq. 

Comments (73)

Ghimar said:

Whatever Emanuel, his father, his grandmother and future sones and daughter would say, UN Security Resolution no. 497 of 1981 will be/shall be penetrated. By then, we would watch closely how “floors get cleaned”.

November 8th, 2008, 7:15 pm


anonymous said:

Josh. I’m not fan of Rahm Emanuel’s father. Your headline puts “floor cleaners” in quotes. Those are not the exact words he used. What he said was insulting, but your use of quotes compromises your journalistic/academic integrity. The headline stands fine without the quotes.

November 8th, 2008, 7:30 pm


Joshua said:

OK, Anonymous – point taken and quotes dropped. That is undoubtedly what he meant, however.

November 8th, 2008, 7:40 pm


norman said:


Did he really say that or just explained that he( His son ) will be pro Israel as he is not an Arab and not going to the white house to clean floors but to be chief of staff .I do not see it that he meant that Arabs clean floors .

November 8th, 2008, 7:46 pm


Shai said:


I read the Ma’ariv text from the interview they conducted with him. You couldn’t escape the racist comment, with a direct link between Arab and floor-cleaner. Let’s not let unquotes lessen the severity of his words. Now’s the time to expect Rahm’s condemnation. The time it takes him to do so is inversely related to the amount of trust he’ll have amongst Arabs in America, and the rest of the world.

November 8th, 2008, 7:53 pm


Ghimar said:

Azizi Josh, it is already splashed all over. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/11/7/123842/541

November 8th, 2008, 7:55 pm


ugarit said:

Believe me they won’t let an Arab clean the floors in the White House. 😉

November 8th, 2008, 8:44 pm


norman said:

مصادر: سورية سلمت العراق 18 مطلوبا من تنظيم “القاعدة”

نقلت قناة الـ(B.B.C) الإخبارية عن مصادر قولها إن السلطات السورية سلمت 18 مطلوبا من تنظيم “القاعدة” كانوا محتجزين لديها إلى الشرطة العراقية في الأنبار.

الأمم المتحدة تطالب إسرائيل الانسحاب من الجولان وإلغاء قرار ضمه

وطالب القرار الذي صدر يوم الجمعة, وجاء تحت عنوان “الجولان السوري المحتل”, إسرائيل بـ”الإلغاء الفوري لقرارها بضم الجولان”, معتبرا “جميع التدابير والإجراءات التي اتخذتها وستتخذها (إسرائيل) بهدف تغيير طابع الجولان السوري المحتل ووضعه القانوني ملغية و باطلة وتشكل انتهاكاً صارخاً للقانون الدولي ولاتفاقية جنيف المتعلقة بحماية المدنيين في زمن الحرب”.

ودعت الأمم المتحدة من خلال قرارها “جميع الدول الأعضاء في الأمم المتحدة إلى عدم الاعتراف بأي من التدابير والإجراءات المخالفة للقانون الدولي التي اتخذتها إسرائيل في الجولان المحتل”.

وصوت لصالح القرار 161 عضواً في الأمم المتحدة فيما امتنعت سبع دول بينها الولايات المتحدة عن التصويت وصوتت إسرائيل لوحدها ضده

November 8th, 2008, 9:50 pm


Anna said:

As an American I do not want Rahm Emanuel to neither influence my President to be pro-israel nor to “clean floors”.

November 8th, 2008, 10:04 pm


Alia said:


If Emmanuel and or Obama do not respond to this statement appropriately, would you consider writing an “open letter to President-Elect Obama” on the matter ? Counterpunch would publish it in addition to S.C. and from both sources it would reach a big audience- since so many news agencies and newspapers check both sites. What do you think?

November 8th, 2008, 10:13 pm


Alia said:

The question now is when do we suspend dibelief? When Ross is appointed?

November 8th, 2008, 10:15 pm


Alex said:


If President Obama appoints Denis Ross and if Emanuel does not say any thing to distance himself from that statement by his father, then I will take your advice.

In fact, I am already writing it in my head : )

November 8th, 2008, 11:08 pm


norman said:

Alex ,

I am glad .

November 8th, 2008, 11:14 pm


why-discuss said:

Offensive for offensive!
Emanual’s daddy probably meant that the arabs should clean the s.. his son will soon do in the White House. A good omen for Obama..

November 8th, 2008, 11:30 pm


Alia said:


That is great.

Since Edward Said passed away, there has not been a credible Arab voice to be heard consistently in such places.

November 8th, 2008, 11:55 pm


Alex said:


I think of the collective voice (including yours) of the many interesting Arabs writing, posts or comments, in all the exciting new blogs as our compensation for the loss of Edward Said.

November 9th, 2008, 12:20 am


Joshua said:

I think it would be useful to get a petition and statement going.

Perhaps we could have a poll asking whether Emanuel should publicly distance himself from his father’s remark? Can we do that Alex?

Perhaps we can encourage other bloggers to post a statement along the following lines?

The anti-Arab remark made by Rahm Emanuel’s father is not consistent with the spirit of change and ethnic equality that President Elect Obama promises to bring to the White House. Arab Americans have put great hope in his election. They believe that they have a part to play in building a new and more equal America.

A public statement by Rahm Emanuel explaining that he does not approve of his father’s remark would go a long way in reassuring us that the president elect and new administration value Arab Americans. We all hope to move beyond the divisiveness of the past to create a future of mutual respect. By distancing himself from his father’s remark, Rahm Emanuel will demonstrate that he does not share his father’s opinion of Arabs and will help the new administration act as an honest broker in the Middle East and at home.

Maybe we can encourage other bloggers to post this?

November 9th, 2008, 12:26 am


SimoHurtta said:

The father professor emeritus Tatu Vanhanen of present Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen had been some years ago giving racist interviews that the IQ of Whites and Asians is higher than the “lower races”.


This interview caused a big scandal in Finland and the Prime Minister had finally to say publicly that he doesn’t share his fathers views on this race / IQ matter. Our PM was rather annoyed when gave that announcement. Almost annoyed as in a court case about a book which his old girl friend wrote about their relationship.

Let’s see if Emanuel publicly condemns his fathers views of Arabs job “qualifications”. If not it certainly will hunt him later. I can imagine the next Arab ruler visiting White House asking him where are the Arab cleaners – I want to speak with them. 🙂

November 9th, 2008, 12:41 am


Enlightened said:


Do we seriously think that Rahm should pay for the sins of the father?

Technicalities and semantics aside, the statement is RACIST, which ever way you look at it!

I would support what Josh has suggested but would add one minor detail, Rahm is not responsible for his fathers views (dinosaur that is) a simple statement to suggest that these are not his views and he does not support them, rater than a fully fledged apology would suffice in my view.

November 9th, 2008, 12:43 am


Alex said:


I added that poll.

For those of you who still did not notice, we have semi-daily polls for your opinions .. take a look at the top part of the left column.

It would be more interesting if enough of you participate in these polls.

November 9th, 2008, 1:07 am


Joshua said:

Enlightened, I have made the changes you suggested.

Thanks, Alex. You are the man.

November 9th, 2008, 1:10 am


Joshua said:

Thanks, Alex. I have voted 🙂

November 9th, 2008, 1:24 am


norman said:

I linked SC to the comment section in the Huffington post , on one of the comment,

I do not know how good that is , I could not find my comment later.

November 9th, 2008, 1:33 am


Alia said:

Joshua and Alex,

Thank you both.


He is not responsible but he and Mr. Obama should be responsive. Out of frustration and a need to understand, I started reading David Mendell’s book : “Obama from Promise to Power”. Mendell, a Chicago Tribune reporter was assigned to Obama starting in 2004 after his speech to the DNC…the book ends some time in 2007. It is based on lots of material, Obama’s own books, interviews with him, his close advisors, his family, teachers etc…Mendell goes into details about how Obama, as soon as he became a potential presidential candidate, withdrew from controversy; coached by his strategist Axelroad he became supremely cautious with every move he made…

It bothers me personally, that he would lower himself as has been described repeatedly in front of the Knesset but, that, when it comes to the Arabs, there is no necessity for caution or accountability..Can you imagine the consequences, if Rahm’s father had referred to Jews in this way? There will be no end to threats and protest …

Who is going to respond in the name of the residents of the Arab Bantustan? Dinosaur or no dinosaur are you not tired of the stonewalling? I am.

November 9th, 2008, 1:45 am


Enlightened said:


I take your point. But with some reservation. Politics is devoid of emotion and any sense of justice. Primarily it is all about interests and power.

I would urge you however not to take too personally the rantings of an old man whose time on this earth is not too long, as he is a relic of a very old era that we are trying to change.

I for one would wish, that these old antiquated views ( and there are many on the Arab side towards Jews and Israelis ) would erode and wither away.

I did not get caught up in the euphoria of Obama’s election like some, but change is slow and we have to be patient. I can assure you of one thing however, I don’t thing that Rahm’s father’s view is the view of the majority in Israel, That time is long gone. The days when we used to dehumanize each other have slowly been forgotten.

I think that we should forgive the rantings of the old man! Human decency and a love for peace should tell us that those that wanted headlines used him, but thats another fight.

November 9th, 2008, 2:17 am


Enlightened said:

Alia This article from Haaretz: by Gideon Levy:

Gideon Levy / Let’s hope Obama won’t be a ‘friend of Israel’
By Gideon Levy

The march of parochialism started right away. The tears of excitement invoked by U.S. president-elect Barack Obama’s wonderful speech had not yet dried, and back here people were already delving into the only real question they could think to ask: Is this good or bad for Israel? One after another, the analysts and politicians got up – all of them representing one single school of thought, of course  and began prophesizing.

They spoke with the caution that the situation required, gritting their teeth as though their mouths were full of pebbles, trying to soothe all the fears and concerns. They searched and found signs in Obama: The promising appointment of the Israeli ex-patriots’ son, whose father belonged to the Irgun, and maybe also Dennis Ross and Dan Kurtzer and Martin Indyk, who may, God willing, be included in the new administration.

But in the background, a dark cloud hovered above. Careful, danger. The black man, who had associated with Palestinian expats, who speaks of human rights, who favors diplomacy over war, who even wants to engage Iran in dialogue, who will allocate more funding for America’s social needs than to weapons exports. He may not be the sort of “friend of Israel” that we have come to love in Washington, the kind of friend we have grown accustomed to.
What’s the panic all about? The truth needs to be said: At the base of all of these fears is the angst that this president will push Israel to end the occupation and move toward peace.

Well, maybe Obama will not be a “friend of Israel.” May the great change he is promising not omit his country’s Mideast policy. May Obama herald not only a new America, but also a new Middle East.

When we say that someone is a “friend of Israel” we mean a friend of the occupation, a believer in Israel’s self-armament, a fan of its language of strength and a supporter of all its regional delusions. When we say someone is a “friend of Israel” we mean someone who will give Israel a carte blanche for any violent adventure it desires, for rejecting peace and for building in the territories.

Israel’s greatest friend in the White House, outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, was someone like that. There is no other country where this man, who brought a string of disasters down upon his own nation and the world, would receive any degree of prestige and respect. Only in Israel.

Only in Israel does the prime minister place George Bush’s portrait in his den, in his private home. Only in Israel does the prime minister travel to visit him in the White House.

That’s because Bush was a friend of Israel. Israel’s greatest friend. Bush let it embark on an unnecessary war in Lebanon. He did not prevent the construction of a single outpost. He may have encouraged Israel, in secret, to bomb Iran. He did not pressure Israel to move ahead with peace talks, he even held up negotiations with Syria, and he did not reproach Israel for its policy of targeted killings.

Bush also supported the siege on Gaza and participated in the boycott of Hamas, which was elected in a democratic election initiated by his own administration.

That’s just how we like U.S. presidents. They give us a green light to do as we please. They fund, equip and arm us, and sit tight. Such is the classic friend of Israel, a friend who is an enemy, and enemy of peace and an enemy to Israel.

Let us now hope that Obama will not be like them. That he will reveal himself to be a true friend of Israel. That he will put his whole weight behind a deep American involvement in the Middle East, that he will try to solve the Iranian issue through negotiation – the only effective means. That he will help end the siege on Gaza and the boycott of Hamas, that he will push Israel and Syria to make peace, that he will spur Israel and the Palestinians to reach a settlement.

We should hope Obama will help Israel help itself, because that is how friendship is measured. That he will criticize its policy when he must, because that, too, is a test of true friendship.

Let him use his clout to end the occupation and dismantle the settlement project. Let him remember that human and civil rights also apply to the Palestinians, not only to black Americans. And apropos world peace, he needs to start with peace in the Middle East, home to the most dangerous of conflicts, which has been threatening the world for a century now, and is feeding international terrorism.

A true friend of Israel needs to remember that Israel may be “the only democracy in the Middle East,” but not in its own backyard. That next to Sderot, which he visited, is Gaza. That “common values” must not include a cruel occupation. That friendship does not mean blind and automatic support.

Let him speak with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, as often as he can and with whomever is willing to talk. And let him do it before the next war, not after it. Let him remember that he has the power to do all that.

Changing the Middle East was in the power of each and every U.S. president, who could have pressured Israel and put an end to the occupation. Most of them kept their hands off as if it were a hot potato, all in the name of a wonderful friendship.

So bring us an American president who is not another dreadful “friend of Israel,” an Obama who won’t blindly follow the positions of the Jewish lobby and the Israeli government. You did promise change, did you not?

November 9th, 2008, 2:30 am


Alia said:


It is the context that makes these remarks and the lack of response to them more significant.

Some Israelis on the morrow of his election to the Presidency were worried that Obama was going to abandon them despite all his reassurances throughout the campaign; the Arabs and the Muslims whom he had openly snubbed throughout the campaign were still generally hopeful. Even after Rham’s appointment, many of us were willing to remain optimistic…but this is going too far. Relic or nor relic, Obama’s and Rahm’s silence is ominous.

November 9th, 2008, 2:33 am


Alia said:


Thank you and here is something else from Israel that I particularly liked:

Come, Obama, Change My Life

Obama my dear, they tell me that you are going to change the world. Do me a favor, come and change my life personally.

Come to Israel, grab its stupid leadership by the throat and take its foot off the neck of another people. Come and force us to do what is clear, and written, and fitting, and necessary, come and get us out of the Territories, if necessary do it with a smile that reveals million-dollar teeth. If necessary bare your teeth and force us to do it.

Make it so that I don’t have to get up in the morning – I who hate to get up early, to go to the checkpoints, to watch and to weep. Make it so I will not have to see 19-year-old children who have been duped into believing that they are defending the home front by pointing rifles at five-year-old children.

Make it so that when my daughters take a shower for half an hour I don’t have to think about Ayad’s family from Awarta that puts buckets under all the washbasins in order to reuse the water which is more precious than gold. Because the settlements need the West Bank’s water more than the Palestinians do.

Make it so that when I sit in a traffic jam I don’t have to think about the vast numbers of cars that are standing at the entrance to Tul Karem while each one is checked by soldiers and dogs because there has been a warning that they’re about to blow up Tul Karem.

Make it so that when my sister urgently rushes to the hospital to give birth and when I rush my husband to the hospital practically with red lights flashing, I don’t have to think about the women giving birth and the heart patients and the wounded people who are stopped at the entrance to Nablus because their vehicle has no permit to enter.

Make it so that when I see a soldier in uniform on the street I do not wonder what he did last night. What house he entered in a “Straw Widow procedure”,* what boy he beat up in the alleys of Hawara because he smiled the wrong way.

Make it so that in the morning I don’t hear the satisfaction in the voice of the radio newsreader who relates that the IDF has killed six terrorists.

Obama my dear, this autumn I did not go to the olive harvest. It didn’t work out. Please make it so that I will not suffer from pangs of conscience because I am not doing enough. That I am living my own good life, pursuing my career, while for the other people just to get home safely is a career in itself.

Please relieve me of this pain that I have all the time deep in my belly. It never lets up, I can never really enjoy life, children, friends or work, because my mind is preoccupied with the image of the shepherd in Baq’a standing by the locked gate and shivering with cold because the redhead with the key has not showed up, and the bound blindfolded boy, and the three-year-old girl who got hit on the head by the carousel at the checkpoint, and the barriers of dirt and the concrete blocks that stop the lives of so many people from flowing smoothly.

Come, Obama, come and save us from ourselves.

And if that is what they mean when they say you are not a friend of Israel, then don’t be a friend. We have already had friends who arm us and justify every horror we carry out and save us from the international courts. Be a true friend. Save us from ourselves. And don’t do it for the world, do it only for me, so I can have peace. You owe it to me. I do not believe in God but still I prayed for you.

*The IDF practice of forcibly occupying private Palestinian homes temporarily, for tactical purposes – translator

Edna Canetti wrote this for MachsomWatch. Ther piece was translated from Hebrew by George Malent.

November 9th, 2008, 2:38 am


Enlightened said:


Patience, my dear patience. Lets see what the next few days hold before we form any opinions.

November 9th, 2008, 2:39 am


Alia said:


We will see, Inshallah.

November 9th, 2008, 2:46 am


Avi Salam said:

Dear Dr. Landis,

I have read the English version of Ma’ariv’s interview with Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, Rahm Emanuel’s father. And in a few words, I found it surprising and worrisome, that a clique of intellectuals, including you and many of those who comment on your blog, would interpret, or spin, some of the phrases in the interview as racist remarks.

On the part of the question on whether Congressman Emanuel would try to help the state of Israel from within his new post as the Chief of Staff, it is very clear that what Dr. Emanuel meant was that his son is a Jew, not an Arab, and hence he would do his best to make sure the US president would continue, at least if not more, the same US support to the state of Israel.

On the part of the question on whether Congressman Emanuel would be able to help the state of Israel, Dr. Emanuel’s response meant that of course he will, he was not hired to sweep the floors of the white house, he will be the Chief of Staff.

We all have suffered from a wrong Bush administration support to the state of Israel, Americans, Israelis, and Arabs. With people of impeccable integrity and public service track record like Congressman Emanuel in the White House, I am assured that a positive achievement, similar to what happened during the Carter and Clinton administrations, is more likely to happen during the upcoming Obama administration.

US support to the state of Israel is unquestionable. However, what matters most is not whether or not the US administration supports Israel, it is whether we support Israel the right way or the wrong way. The wrong US support to the state of Israel, for instance, is to force Israel to engage in a lost war for five weeks during July of 2006 with Lebanon, instead of letting the Israelis decide for themselves what is best for their country.

Once again, I am more hopeful that the Obama administration, made of brilliant-minded personnel including the president elect himself, will usher everyone involved into the right direction.

Yours truly,
Avi Salam
(A US citizen of Syrian descent)

November 9th, 2008, 3:39 am


Shai said:

Avi Salam,

I fully agree with what you said. But I also read the Ma’ariv article in Hebrew, immediately as it was published (it was their interview), and there at least, the two did seem quite connected. There was essentially no transition between “Arab” and “cleaning floors”. But you know what – I’ll accept that even I may be reading something that’s not there (even in Hebrew). So why isn’t Rahm Emanuel picking himself up, and apologizing for his father’s words, that were so bluntly misinterpreted? Why isn’t he saying exactly what you did? Is it fear that bringing this up will legitimize it in any way? Is this the courage we expect of a White House Chief of Staff? I promise you – eventually he WILL apologize, or clarify, those words. But if he does it in 5 weeks from now, instead of yesterday, it will demonstrate a certain level of insensitivity. After all, if people out there don’t understand you (or your cohorts), shouldn’t you clarify things quickly? If this was about Obama’s Mideast policy, you can bet Rahm would have spoken out in the middle of the night, in his pajamas…

November 9th, 2008, 5:07 am


ausamaa said:

Well, it is nice to know what Emanuel’s father thinks of Arabs so early. If he called Arabs floor cleaners, then Barak Obama must have taken notice; African Americans must rank lower down the civiliy scale than Arabs, Turks, or Asians in such chauvenistic minds.

In a way, such remarks are “good”; let Obama start his term by trying to distance himself from such remarks RATHER than by trying to assure and prove to Israelies that he is not pro Arab! Which he isnt anyway.

For the time being, I dont think Abu Hussain has either Arabs or Israelies or Iranians on his mind yet…so give time and let us wait and see how he will reconcil the “justice” he mentioned in his victory speech, and the injustices he has suffered as an Afican American with America’s “higher interests” as they are currently defind. Better to count on the Belosi effect than on Obama’s sense of Justice.

November 9th, 2008, 5:13 am


larry said:

what exactly does what his father said have anything to do with him? is it his responsibility to condemn any anti arab statement anyone ever makes? to do so would go against the commandment of honor your father and mother

November 9th, 2008, 5:24 am


Alex said:


My friends Avi (Syrian) and Shai (Israeli),

AIG is now trying hard not to throw up after reading the two of you self hating Jew and self hating Arab.

But seriously

Avi, … I am absolutely happy to give Rahm Emanuel (and Obama) a chance … really, no problem. Rahm knows how to get things done, and that’s a good enough reason to hire him as chief of staff.

But if Denis Ross is appointed Middle East envoy then it will be a bit too difficult to interpret it in any positive way.

Yoav, please try to interview Emanuel and ask him these two questions

1) What he thinks of his father’s remark

2) How involved he plans to be in any future Middle East peace process activities.

November 9th, 2008, 5:31 am


Joshua said:

Dear Avi Salam,
I hope you are right that we have misinterpretted the comment and that it is an innocent observation that his son is not Arab.

It would be nice to have it cleared up. It is clear that many have interpreted it as a gratuitous swipe at Arabs.

I believe everyone on this forum shares your hope that Obama will “usher everyone involved into the right direction.”

November 9th, 2008, 5:39 am


AIG said:

What is not honorable about cleaning floors? I have cleaned many floors in my life and I find such work quite honorable. Floors do not clean themselves, you know. Probably because floors are mostly cleaned by women in the Arab world and most Arabs are bigotted against women that they can be offended by such a remark. When some Syrian writes that Jews drink the blood of christian children, I am not offended, i just form a very bad view of the writer. And of course, I would not be offended if someone thinks Jews predominantly clean floors. Big deal. The guy is an idiot, so what? It is a clear show of lack of self-esteem that people find this offending if in fact that is what Emmanuel’s father means.

In any case, what has this got to do with Emmanuel? The best thing to do is to ignore this.

November 9th, 2008, 5:47 am


Shai said:


“And of course, I would not be offended if someone thinks Jews predominantly clean floors.”

What is this, Saturday Night Live time? You’d call such accusation the biggest form of antisemitism you can possibly imagine. AIG, I’d like to think you’re consciously choosing to hide your insensitivity to advance your political agenda (or just to be annoying), but I’m beginning to think you’re not even making a choice here.

November 9th, 2008, 5:56 am


jad said:

A small advise from your syrian “enemy”;
Your comments sounds much better when you write them in a more rational and objective ways. The one you wrote above is not one of them.

November 9th, 2008, 6:09 am


AIG said:

Drinking the blood of Christian children is bad. Cleaning floors is just fine. As I said, I have done that many times in my life. If would not be antisemitic if someone thought Jews are predominantly accountants, or lawyers or bankers or airline pilot or floor cleaners. Each is an honorable profession. It would be antisemitic if someone thought all Jews were mean or penny pinching or want to control the world etc.

November 9th, 2008, 6:26 am


Avi Salam said:

Dear Alex,

I know you were joking about the “self-hating” remark, however I cannot help but say that I am not a self-hating Arab, and I can extend the same to Shai – he is not a self-hating Jew. I think of myself as an American citizen first and foremost, who happened to be of Syrian descent. I just do not allow myself to blindly defend morally and ethically wrong stances taken by anyone (Arabs included first, since I am of Syrian descent).

Having said that, why can’t we give the Emanuels the credit of the doubt, since I do not recall anyone, neither on this blog, nor anywhere else, quoting any of the Emanuels with any similar remarks.

I believe the one to blame here is the Ma’ariv journalist who asked such an unintellectual, and insinuative question to begin with.

Yours truly,
Avi Salam
(A US citizen of Syrian descent)

November 9th, 2008, 8:05 am


Murphy said:

“Probably because floors are mostly cleaned by women in the Arab world and most Arabs are bigotted against women that they can be offended by such a remark.”

Now, ordinarily one would assume this comment is a rather weak attempt at a joke, and shrug it off as such. But you remember that this comment was made by AIG, who is so thoroughly steeped in the extreme anit-Arab racism which pervades Israeli society and you realise – to your horror – that he’s being serious.

“Cleaning floors is just fine. As I said, I have done that many times in my life.”

Oh well, AIG. If you of all exalted people have cleaned a floor in your life, then of course it’s OK. I suppose some of your best friends are Arabs too? And Arab floor cleaners at that?

November 9th, 2008, 10:27 am


qunfuz said:

It’s amazing that America has elected a black president. For the American Republic, it’s a great day, and it shows us all, again, how dynamic a society America is. But America the empire continues to be the monster it always was. Obama has made his positions – on Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan – abundantly clear. And they are stupid imperialist, aggressive militarist, racist and insulting positions.

I can’t understand why so many people have fallen for the theatre and are excited about Obama. I’ve written more about this here: http://qunfuz.blogspot.com/2008/10/plague-on-both-their-houses.html
Time to address the American people, not their corporate and zionist – backed ‘representatives’. This is what Edward Said recommended – not jewels for Albright but talks in churches and community centres to show ordinary people how the zionist/ evangelical narrative they’ve heard on the middle east is false. And time too to address Chinese power and people. China is the coming power, and it has been penetrated in recent years by Fox news, not by al-Manar.

November 9th, 2008, 1:18 pm


off the Wall said:

Dear President Elect Barak Obama Transition Team
I understand that you are struggling to fill numerous federal positions in the next 10 weeks. Please find below my resume

Name: Off the Wall
Objective: Seeking a position as a floor cleaner

Relevant qualification: Arab

Irrelevant qualifications:

20 Years of research experience
25+ Refereed journal articles
100+ Conference presentations

Current position
Research professor

Dr. Emanuel
My mom (she knows how well I can clean floors)
My wife (who can attest that I can clean floors, and also wash dishes, also, I can take trash out)

Address: To be furnished upon request

November 9th, 2008, 5:15 pm


Shai said:


I’ve cleaned floors as well. Does that mean, according to Dr. Emanuel, that I’m an Arab? If not, can I be one? (Our cleaning lady is Jewish, but I’m now going to have to fire her…) 🙂

November 9th, 2008, 5:45 pm


AIG said:

I can’t believe the position the so called “liberals” on this blog are taking. It seems you believe that there is something dishonorable about being a janitor. I just cannot understand your attitude. Do you look down on janitors? Do you think they are inferior in anyway? I guest you must, otherwise you would not have found the remark offensive.

Unlike you, I believe that being a janitor is just as honorable as being an un-tenured research professor or a lawyer or a dentist or a cab driver or a secretary. You must respect each person as a human regardless of his/her line of work. What is not honorable, is not to work and not support your family.

November 9th, 2008, 6:13 pm


Off the Wall said:

Now to the serious part.
I have struggled most of yesterday with Dr. Emanuel’s comment. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt particularly with the interview being translated from Hebrew, with direct translation being responsible for the lack of reasonable parsing of the comments and the misunderstanding of the fact that it may be two different references, the first regarding Rahm being Jewish and not Arab and therefore being expected to be pro-Israel, and the second being a reference to his high position as opposed to being irrelevant to policy issues. I still think that this is very possible, but what I read from our friends who can read Hebrew make the racist connotation a slightly stronger possibility. Yesterday I spent most of my day in the Arab American festival in southern California, and by the end of the day I found myself smiling as I kept imagining what kind of jobs these thousands of Jovial Americans do for living and wondering, whenever I see a child, as to whether she will one day be one of the leaders of this country. However, and I digress here, I could not help but being a “self hating” Arab when I saw a row of flags of all Arab countries, and felt compelled to recognize the high percentage of autocratic states being represented by these flags, which also represent a collection of the countries most at risk of having modernity pass them by. Many of us may know these feelings.

I just read NEWSWEEK’s 7 parts series on the recent historic election and I recall that when the Issue of Pastor Wright first came out, one of Obama’s advisors called it a “blessing in disguise”. I think that this election has been a blessing in disguise for Arab Americans. There was the woman in red, whose ignorant incoherent comment and the lame response it elicited from Senator McCain forced several in the media to take a strong stance that culminated with Powell’s powerful comment regarding Arab Americans. Now we have a comment that may be an innocent comment of a proud father (who has all the right to be extremely proud of his son), may have carried a hint of anti-Arab racism. Personally, I do not think that Rahm Emanuel must apologize on this Father’s behalf, or even disown his father, It is Dr. Emanuel’s responsibility to clarify his point of view and the only thing Rahm should do is to ask his father to do just that. If he failed, then it would be his responsibility to inform us all that he can not disown his father, or Israel racist history and her marvelous accomplishments for both are parts of his history, and that he can rise above that. His boss did such before.

Needless to say, as Dr. Emanuel’s comment and its ramification continue to circulate in the blog sphere, the reality of Anti-Arab bias in the US will become further exposed and the Citizens will have to think about it. Slowly but assuredly, commentators and blogs will begin to find holes in the current “Arab = Terrorist” narrative and the more holes punctured in that narrative, the better it is. We have a role to play here, but we have to be smart, direct, well prepared, and above all, organized and on the message. We have a role to play. I agree that a position must be taken and I get very frustrated with lame comments that attempt to dress one form of bias or justify a stereotype by saying (So what is not honorable about doing so and so job for living). AIG’s comment is one of those meek excuses. Well, I cleaned floors (carpets), flipped burgers and made countless ham and cheese breakfast sandwiches for students in the student union. I cleaned homes and prepped them for rental in university family housing, I, and a few other foreign students did these jobs well, but these are not the only jobs we could and can do well.

November 9th, 2008, 6:15 pm


norman said:

Avi Salam,

I had the same impression as you did and explained that in comment # 4 ,


I am impressed , If anything good comes out of this , It is that we know about you achievement , please do not expect the same from me , I just work from 8 AM to 7 pm daily except weekend when i work 10 to 2 ,


As i always told you , you are an Arab and your skills are making that clear , I mean your computer skills ,

I think the fastest the Jews think of themselves as Arab Jews the sooner will have peace , That means they belong .

November 9th, 2008, 6:18 pm


Saghir said:

It is amazing how people keep writing about peace between Israel and its neighbors while the facts on the ground point otherwise.

Let us look at the following facts:

Both the Israeli and Arab populace distrust if not hate each other.

Israel is yet to commit to suspend its settlement activities.

Israel continues to refuse the ease the suffering of Palestinians under occupation, especially in Gaza. Ban Ki-Moon of the U.N. reportedly is “deeply distressed about the plight of the civilian population in Gaza”. Does anyone care to listen or do anything about it? I don’t think so. Road blocks remain. The demolition of houses is ongoing.

As for the Arab side, Palestinian national reconciliation is going nowhere. Egypt has tried and failed to bridge those differences.

Who does Egypt blame?

Syria and Iran of course.

For its part, Syria did not even show up to the weekend meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The world has put its hope in the new U.S. President and on his ability to put this conflict on a fast-track.

While Obama contemplates his move, Israel may elect Netanyahu.

Syria keeps sending hints that it wants peace while it fights sisterly KSA.

For all the talk of peace on this forum, the above facts on the ground point to exactly the other direction.

November 9th, 2008, 6:47 pm


Shai said:


When everyone was mocking Qaddafi’s recommendation to the Arabs to invite Israel to enter the Arab League, I was actually thinking “hmmm… not such a terrible idea…” For peace in our region, and to ensure my daughters and the children of all parents in our region do not have to serve in armies and in wars, I am willing to become an Alaska governor! 🙂

Like I’ve written here before, once you get to know enough Jews and Arabs, but up close and personal, you realize just how similar we truly are. We not only look alike, speak very similar languages (many identical roots), but indeed also think alike. If we just got a chance, if our leaders finally had the courage to change our fate, and to bring us to those safer shores of peace, we’d find we are back where we belong, together.

November 9th, 2008, 6:51 pm


Shai said:


It’s one of those cases, where I don’t think I could disagree with even a single punctuation mark in your comment. You are absolutely right, and your facts are correct.

But, and forgive me for sounding cynical, haven’t we always refused to be “confused by the facts”? So why not now? I claim that at the root of all these terrible things is nothing innate, no insurmountable barriers, nothing we cannot break down if we only try correctly. Our problems are emotion-based, not logical. Find the way to people’s hearts, and their mind will change accordingly, I am absolutely convinced of that.

So why hasn’t it worked for over 60 years? Because it does require courage, and the kind of leaders that can truly lead their people, not ones that are led themselves. But I’m optimistic, certainly now with a new administration in Washington, already intent on changing some 200 Bush-made decisions, and of course his policy in the Middle East.

I am hopeful, Saghir, because being anything else, makes life less worthwhile for me. Isn’t that true for others as well?

November 9th, 2008, 7:04 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dear Shai

I move to recognize you as an Arab, but we need a proof of your floor cleaning credentials 🙂

These were group accomplishments not only mine. Yours are not to be taken lightly, you are a healer for heaven’s sake. BTW, I was not trying to show off, I was jut trying to show the absurdity of Dr. Emanuel’s generalization. Sorry if I came as a stand offish.

Dear AIG
I am not the one who used floor cleaning in derogatory manner, it was Dr. Emanuel’s comment. Murphy’s short by very insightful comment figured it out so well. Of course cleaning floors or toilets is no less honorable of a job than my current job, what is not honorable to think of it as the only contribution a whole group of people can give their society. It is no less racist or than saying that Africans are only good at sports or dancing, or women are not as good in math as men. Another dishonorable thing is to refuse and to deny floor cleaners a “living wage” as conservatives have been doing in congress at the national level and in state houses for nearly ever. Now this is a liberal issue I can fully count on Rahm Emanuel to correct and I will be doing whatever he and his boss ask me to do in order to correct this injustice.

November 9th, 2008, 7:09 pm


norman said:


Israel can break that mistrust today by desegregating schools and housing in Israel , by having laws that protect people , Israelis , from discrimination in housing and work and schools , That was the theory that a Jewish Radiologist explained to me in the early eighties , Unfortunately nothing changed and what Saghir said might be true and a calamity has to happen for Israel to change course .

November 9th, 2008, 7:20 pm


Shai said:


I know. But Israeli society is not ready for that yet. In the long run, there’s no doubt that desegregation must take place. We must get rid of “Jewish towns” and “Arab villages”. We must not only offer Arabs to move into predominantly Jewish communities, but indeed create a reality which encourages them to do so.

But, unfortunately peace agreements, and the end to our Occupation, will have to precede this.

November 9th, 2008, 7:24 pm


AIG said:

Syria can easily break the distrust by becoming liberal and democratic and giving Israel an example to follow. Why don’t you practice what you preach? It will have some credibility then. Your theory is that Israel is heading towards a calamity. Mine is that Syria is because of its lack of reforms and unconstrianed population growth. The future will tell who is right. Based on the last 60 years, I am quite confident in my position.

November 9th, 2008, 7:32 pm


jad said:

OTW, could you pleas stop showing off..I only have half of your years experience, and because of you I wont get the great job offer they have at the White House. 😉
Seriously, I totally agree with everything you wrote.

November 9th, 2008, 7:34 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dear Shai
You never cease to astonish me with your capacity for optimism. You must have seen the best and worst in humanity and have come from that struggle, I dare say, rather victorious.

Dear Norman
One of the many things I admire about you is your relentless commitment to the rule of law as the key foundation in democracies. Please keep hammering that point through, we need that.

Dear Jad
I want to make it up to you, I heard that there are a few vacancies in the department of commerce? Would you be interested? This may have the potential for promotion to the WH in 2012 unless Palin wins that election, in which case, we all will be exiled to the country of Asia 🙂

November 9th, 2008, 7:58 pm


Shai said:


You can always clean the floors of the Chinese shuttle, on our joint trip… 🙂 And I’ll clean the walls… (since it’s basically the same, in space)


I think you’re mistaken. Africa is a country. Asia is a rock-group! (Oh, so is “Africa”…)

November 9th, 2008, 8:01 pm


jad said:

Dear OTW,
I really appreciate the headsup about those positions at the DOC but I still want to go through the interview at the WH….I’m going to bring my best equipment so you better watch out.

I thought that we postponed the chinese mission when Obama won? are you still going out there? You still need lots of chopsticks practicing my friend and some advance cleaning skills 😉

November 9th, 2008, 8:12 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dear AIG
Thank you very much for bringing population explosion into the discussion. I fully agree with your comment about the dangers posed to Syria and many other developing countries by the uncostrained population growth and the lack of measureable democratic reforms. In fact, studies show that with even the most extreme climate change scenario, the impacts of population growth on per-capita availabilty of water and food in the ME, Africa, and some parts of Asia will dwarfs that of climate change. It will even get wors as a sizable portion of our grain productions in developed and water rich countries will be geared towarads bio fules.

As for lack of democratic reforms as well as euqal treatment reforms, It can not be easily quantified, but I am afraid that if both are not addressed within a generation (at maximum), it will add insult to injury and doom the entire region including Israel. We are both guilty of violence. Arab leaders by denying their citizens their rights and Israel by its subjugation of Paletinian and the continuing theft of their lands and resources in the west bank and by the inhumane seig on Gaza. At the root of both problems is a strong committment to cultural, physical, and emotional violence whether internal or external, you are as gulity as we are in that and no one has a higher moral ground. If you approach things the way NORMAN does, you can easily think of the solution in legal, humanistic, and ethical manner. I believe he practices what he preaches. Can you do the same?

November 9th, 2008, 8:32 pm


Shai said:


Alright, it was going to be a surprise… but yes, you and I are still going up there. But we’re coming down sooner than planned. To show our fellow countrymen images of our region from outer space, with no borders, no hatred, no painful history. Only shades of green, brown, and yellow, and the peacefulness of a bright blue sky. This, we’ll tell them, is not only a future dream, it is also our present, right under our feet.

November 9th, 2008, 8:32 pm


Off the Wall said:

Daer Jad
Ok body, may the best win, as Bush said, bring it on 🙂

November 9th, 2008, 8:42 pm


AIG said:

Hogwash. Population growth will not doom Israel. Already it is desalinating water and is in fact a world technological leader in this. Furthermore, unlike Syria and Egypt, a very small part of the Israeli economy is based on agriculture. And, as of now the average Israeli is 6-7 times richer than the average Syrian and the gap is growing.

I don’t care one bit what Norman thinks or believes. I only care what he has in fact achieved, what he in fact practices. And I look at the Arab countries and all I see is oppressive regimes. Norman wants to teach me a lesson in democracy? Have him fix his home first, so I see he is sincere and does not practice double standards. Fatah and Hamas want me to believe that I should take risks for peace? Let them treat each other and the unaffilated Palestinians just like I treat my fellow Israelis. I would accept as a first stage that they treat their people like Israel treats its “second class” Arab citizens. Then I may begin to trust that all the human rights, non-violence and kumbaya BS is real and not part of a show to eliminate Israel.

November 9th, 2008, 9:05 pm


Alex said:


Maximum two more comments for the next 18 hours … you already posted 4 today.

November 9th, 2008, 9:07 pm


AIG said:

And by the way OTW,
Of course Israel is much more moral. No one expects you to treat your enemies better than you treat yourself. No one expects you to take care of other people’s children better than you take care of your own.
The Arabs are oppressing their OWN people. Israel is at war with the Palestinian people and is occupying them. This is totally different. You expect Israelis to supply oil to people who shot rockets at us. Most Israelis would think you are just plain crazy. The Palestinian and Jewish people are at war over the same piece of land. That is the reality. Until there is a peace agreement, don’t expect me to help them win.

November 9th, 2008, 9:12 pm


norman said:


I do not what you think I am , I am not the president of Syria , I do not even know the Ambassador , I agree with you Syria needs Democracy and i would like that to happen , But unfortunately I am not in a position of power to do that , until then there are other things that Syrians need and deserve , Good education, good health care , good jobs , they need to eat food not words ,

about desegregation , treat the Christians and Muslim Israeli citizen the way Jews are treated in the US , you should know how the Jews are treated in the US, I am sure you keep up with anti semitism in the US and how they can become chief of staffs and all other jobs and opportunities that are available to them.


The only reason that Obama became president is that the fear that wights have of blacks was shattered with the civil right movement and desegregation , the only way for the Israeli Jews not to fear the Christian and Muslim Israelis is to know them , knowing the Syrians on SC will not help, going to Egypt and Jordon did not help .


You have to meet them on a daily bases and know that they are as human as you are and have the same feelings and aspirations that you have.

November 9th, 2008, 10:15 pm


Off the Wall said:

You are hopeless, you think that by talking tough you are winning the argument. And by throwing off big, stern sounding words you intimidate me and others.

As for israel being protected by the (Ashkelon) desalinization plant, the plant, which is quite an impressive facility that utilizes reverse osmosis, is likely, at maximum capacity to produce between 5-7% of the current national water demand. How is that going to solve the problem when your population reaches 12 millions. I agree that at the current, the cost of the plant, which is approximately $200 million, means that a good investment of 4 to 5 billions, which is not beyond Israel’s economic capacity, will probably suffice for construction (BTW, the projected revenues are astounding at 800 millions). The Ashkelon plant, however, requires “Gas” to run its in-house power facility. Where would that come from? is Egypt a guaranteed supplier without the autocrat Mubarak? and without true peace with Egyptians, how about Algeria?. Israel is yet to build a civilian nuclear power plant. While the lack of water may be a major issue for other countries espcially Syria and Jordan, A Marshal plan for the two countries is not beyond belief and there are quite few capable engineers in both countries to run such plants. Desalinization is energy intensive and when the time is due, the autocratic gulf countries will easily surpass Israel. Heck, Makhlouf himself may get into the game given the high rate of return for after all the most advanced RO membrane manufacturing is in Taiwan, which will do business with everyone if the price is right.

I do not think that Norman is teaching anyone a lesson in democracy, if any one is a hypocrite it is you. You have been teaching all of us here about democracy, but you fail to see the huge in your eye. Non of us here owes you any explanation of Arab regimes, for non of us defends their undemocratic practice. But you see nothing wrong with Israel. You fail, rather intentionally to consider that as people we need each others. All you see is your powerful western Israel.

You see Israel as fortress to guard you from the barbarians at the gate. The $ 26,600 PC/GDP in Israel is definitely grand in comparison with the $4,700 PC/GDP in Syria. No one can argue against that, but it is a number not far from the $19,800 of Saudi Arabia and far below the $55,900 of yet another loathsome autocratic country of Kuwait or the $37,000 of UAE. With 76% of Israel’s GDP being service oriented, and the anticipated redrawing of globalization as a result of the recent collapse of the financial system, Israel is poised to see hard days, probably less than her neighbors, but nonetheless hard days. Wake up, and smell the falafel

November 9th, 2008, 10:32 pm


Shai said:

Norman, absolutely! But I’m saying I don’t think this egg will come before the chicken. Desegregation will happen long after superficial peace-treaties will be signed. Jews in Israel will need to live through a decade or two, seeing that Muslims and Christians in neighboring countries are not trying to kill them. Then they will start focusing inwards. I know it should happen the other way around, but I doubt it will.

November 9th, 2008, 10:32 pm


AIG said:

1) Israel has a concrete plan to build a civillian nuclear power plant and this will certainly come to pass if Netanyahu is elected.
2) Israel has the technology to desalinate water and it will invest in plants as needed. My point is simple that it is much more prepared than its neigbors.
3) Of course you owe us an explanation of what the Arab regimes are doing because you want us to make peace with them. Also, the fact that the Arabs are a world laggard in democratizing reflects also on you, the Arab people. It is not only the tyrants who are to blame. It is also the people that let them stay and do nothing. My point is simple, the Arabs do not want democracy or can’t achieve it? No problem, have it your way, but do not use any argument that includes human rights or some other kumbaya BS. If these arguments do not convince the Arab people, why do you think they will convince us? They will just show how hypocritical you are. Let me repeat. I don’t care about what your intentions are or what you believe. I only care in what you achieve. And in 60 years you have achieved nothing on the democratization front.
4) You are right about one point, all I see is my western Israel. And all I care about are facts on the ground. Israel is in the best position it has ever been in the last 60 years and you still ask me to smell the felafel just as previous versions of yourself have been telling Israel for the last 60 years. Enough of your implied threats and unrealistic BS. I have smelled the felafel and the solution for Israel is simple, it must isolate itself from the Arab world and be part of the western world. The Arab world is so screwed up I want nothing to do with it until it reforms. In fact, that is how Israel survived and became prosperous. It oriented itself to the Western world and not to the Arab world.
5) As you agree, the coming financial squeeze and economic downturn will only make Israel stronger relative to its neighbors. So what is your point exactly?

November 9th, 2008, 11:01 pm


Off the Wall said:


Few on this site are as critical of KSA as I am, but I can not find the negative in the FORBES article. To the contrary, i think that what the article describes is a wonderful development in ARAMCO that is working deligently to utilize advanced technologies to improve the effeciency, productivity, and long term sustainability of resource extraction based economy.

I guess one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. What I read in that article was a desctription of a state or the art monitoring and prediction system that uses scientific methods and high tech instruments to assess and monitor oil fields. Where is the waste in that. These are giant oil fields located in complex geological formation that are the hardest to quantify and model. What the article refers to as a number of cells is astounding and anyone who did some work on solving partical differential equations commonly used in ground water and oil motion simulations can tell you that they are probably at shock and owe at this marvelous accomplishment. Just consider the notion of pre-development simulation of the oil field for purposes of cost benefit assessment. One single simulation would easily pay the cost of the whole system by identifying the optimal way of developing this precious resource.

Another thing I read in the article is ambitious plans for future economic sustainability. This by far is much superior, IMHO, to the cities of salt, and useless towers being built in Dubai. I have to say here, and i find it very strange coming from me, KUDOS ARAMCO.

Finally, one might say, it is not developed by Arab engineers. I have a little different take on that. As much as I detest the segregation of sexes in KSA, i had the chance to study with one of the graduates from KSA’s flagship university of petrol and minerals university. The fellow, a saudi from middle class family, was the most oustanding student during graduate school, we, his fellow graduate students ate his dust as the saying goes. He impressed all of our professors and I am sure that his students now at that university are lucky to have him as their professor. I would not be surprised if he has a hand in some of this system development, and I would not be surprised if some of his students are now running big part of the system.

November 10th, 2008, 12:53 am


The Skeptic الشكاك » Son of Irgun! said:

[…] Well, he took the job. Now he needs to tell his Dad to shut up and stop talking to the press.] November 6, 2008 | In Palestine, Region, United States, World […]

November 10th, 2008, 2:02 am


Off the Wall said:

I am always happy to learn of any country, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions, that has concrete plans to address the looming water shortage problem. Israel is not different in my book and if what you say is right, and i believe that it is, Israel is to be congratulated for such plans. I wish you all the luck in realizing these plans. May be we can, if you do not go nuts in your isolation, contract Israeli firms to develop similar plants in Syria. It would be much cheaper, and more economically rewarding to both sides.

Nonetheless, I still believe that you are preaching to the quire, and shouting in the wrong ally. I dare you to find anyone on this forum who is happy about the state of economic, political, and cultural development in the Arab world including Syria. We can see the sad state of affairs, and most of us are quite loud in condemning this sad state of affairs and in offering lessons from our own experiences, being expats, to improve the situation. The mere fact that we write here is a testament to our recognition of such state and of our deep desire to change that state of affairs. You are never going to love Syrians and Syria more than I do, nor would I be able to love Israel and Israelis more than you do. But the difference between us is that I am telling you of my grievances against you in hope that you try to address them, and you continue to condescend and lecture me and others. This is typical and we are used to it from your politicians and journalists who keep insulting us as they get more confused about how to deal with multi-dimensional Arabs that do not conform to images that were never true to begin with.

Yet, many of us here, with the exception of you and your supporters, and despite of our differences, have demonstrated not only flexibility, but a capacity of seeing and encouraging positive developments when they occur and have learned to be happy to embrace them. A simple example is the recent appeal court decision in Syria regarding Michel Kilo, Some of us see in that decision a step forward as the appeal court develops a spine and challenges the decision of security court. We sow similar positive development and cases where the Israeli supreme court, on rare occasions, sided with Arab citizens of Israel. But we were disappointed when that august court approved torture of Palestinian so called “terror suspects”. You are acting like Marie Antoinette, we are happy to see some bread after long period of hunger and you are asking us why aren’t we revolting for not having croissant. Your early immigrants developed democratic institutions but your allies have done their best to subvert our attempts, which were contemporary to the birth of your nation for a true democratic reforms.

I refuse to start every argument I make on this site by condemning those you want me to condemn just to receive your blessing as an enlightened Arab nor do I expect you to start every argument by condemning Israeli practices. Heaven knows, I even do not bring up the subject unless it is very necessary to highlight.

You call us hypocritical, so be it. If you think that I will lose sleep because you called me so, or that I will be intimidated by your imagined authority when you call my arguments bs, hogwash or mere crap, who gives a damn. I do not expect to change your mind as you seem to have little or no time to venture outside your bubble, and what I just read from you tells me that you want to convert your bubble into a mini metallic Dyson sphere. Go for that if you wish, but your isolation will not and can not be completed unless you reach an amicable settlement with those you oppress. This is not a threat, it is a fact of life. Your practices will forever prevent your country from full membership in civilized Europe because Europeans are less likely to vote for your membership in the EU as long as the occupation continues and a majority of European citizens continue to you’re your country, rightfully or mistakenly, as a major threat to world peace. Intimidating Europeans by threatening to call them anti-semetic will no longer work. Go ahead isolate yourself and apply for EU membership, today before tomorrow.

I am baffled at my success and the success of those who have much more intellect than I do in irritating you even when we do not try to do that. Is it because we threaten your cozy notions of self righteousness without reinforcing the cartoonish image of the hateful, violent mouth frothing Arab, and by that force you to recognize our humanity to your dismay and to the dismay of those who worked so hard to cultivate that image (on both sides) . I know your answer, please do not use four letter words, I consider them received but I do not want you banned. Contrary to what you think, I believe that you have helped all of us.

November 10th, 2008, 2:16 am


jad said:

Dear OTW,
Your comments are always clear and very objective.
I also wish that we can meet the Syrian gang of SC one day, maybe we can have a reunion somewhere in the country of north america!

You said (Contrary to what you think, I believe that you have helped all of us.) personally I think AIG is always up for something but good for nothing

November 10th, 2008, 4:41 am


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