A weird thing happened to Emanuel Rahm this week. He had to apologize to the Arab American community because of something his father said. When I read the transcript, it seemed fairly innocuous, but it can also be read as being fairly nasty if one is inclined to seek to read it that way. As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports:
“Obviously,” the senior Emanuel told the Israeli daily, “heâ€™ll influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldnâ€™t he? What is he, an Arab? Heâ€™s not going to be mopping floors at the White House.”
By the time JTA reached the elder Emanuel, a physician, it was clear his son had asked him to keep away from reporters. Picking up the phone, he said, “This is Benjamin Emanuel, the plumber,” and asked a reporter to call back in a week, after heâ€™d spoken in person to Rahm â€“ “if Iâ€™m still alive then.”
I understood the comment to mean that Emanuel will be influential, which is why he’s not going to be mopping the floors, and not that Arabs mop the floors. His father was merely indicating that Emanuel will be open about his views regarding Israel while an Arab in the same position would have a different point of view. Maybe I’m naive and his father meant the comment in a bigoted manner, but I don’t think so. It serves the purposes of many people to undermine Rahm by categorizing him as a partisan whose Israel views are tainted, and his father (inadvertently, I believe) gave them a huge assist. Emanuel apologized publicly but the matter will be fodder for the internet for years to come.
Welcome to the White House, Obama team. Better get used to it. And pray that Obama doesn’t have some innocent land deal in his past, lest we get several years of wasted investigations.