Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama Names Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff

Yesterday, President-Elect Obama asked Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel to serve as Chief of Staff in the Obama White House. Today, after a bit of apparent soul-searching, Emanuel accepted the offer. I'm sure that there will be quite a bit written about this appointment in the coming days (discussing Emanuel's temperament, his political agenda, and his ties to the Clinton administration, among other things). But I wanted to write briefly about one element that may not get as much attention.

Jews supported Sen. Obama in large numbers (a few percentage points higher than Sen. Kerry received, it turns out). But much of that support was either lukewarm or contained an element of cautious concern about whether a President Obama would be "good for the Jews" or "good for Israel". Well, the appointment of Rahm to the most senior position in the Obama administration (remember that Karl Rove was President Bush's Chief of Staff for much of the Bush administration) should be good news for Jews. Why? Simple: Rahm is Jewish. In fact, he is a very observant Jew and is a member of a "modern Orthodox" congregation. His father was born in Jerusalem and they spoke Hebrew at home. Rahm attended a Jewish day school in Chicago (and received a masters from Northwestern). He was a civilian volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces during the first Gulf War. I'd say all of that should be enough to qualify him as a friend of Jews and Israel.

So, I would have to say that President-Elect Obama's selection for his Chief of Staff, at least is that selection impacts policies dealing with Jews and Israel, looks pretty good.


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