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Thursday, 6 November 2008

Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is no pal of ours, Israel's foes say

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, November 6th 2008

BY MATTHEW KALMAN
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

JERUSALEM - Palestinians Thursday blasted President-elect Barack Obama's choice of Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff - and the appointee's father may have poured fuel on the fire.

Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, once a member of the Irgun militia that fought for Israel's statehood, was asked in an interview with the Hebrew daily Maariv if his son's appointment would be good for Israel.

"Obviously, he will influence the President to be pro-Israel," said the elder Emanuel, who immigrated to the U.S. from Israel in the 1950s.

"Why shouldn't he do it? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floor of the White House."

There was no immediate comment from Rep. Emanuel's congressional office.

While Palestinian leaders maintained a diplomatic silence, many ordinary Palestinians reacted with fury in comments posted on Web sites and chat rooms.

"With the appointment of this Zionist, Barack Obama is proving that he is more Zionist than the Zionists," said Subhi Abu Ishira on the Palestinian NGO network, referring to the anti-Arab remark by Benjamin Emanuel.

The Window into Palestine blog called Rahm Emanuel "the son of a terrorist, a real living terrorist."

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, official spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said he had no view on Emanuel's appointment but doubted the optimism surrounding Obama's election would reach the Palestinians.

"He is talking about change," Abu Rudeineh said. "But for it to affect us, we have to see a change of American policy in the Middle East. The American policy is the same. It's not going to be changed."

With Michael Saul in New York

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