The latest news about the Bar Mitzvah of Zach Emanuel is that he went up to the Western Wall alone, without his father as is customary. Israeli and American security must have decided that allowing the President's chief-of-staff to join in his son would represent too tempting a target for rightist Jews -- the ones who murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
According to Ha'aretz, earlier in the day, the Emanuel family "surrounded by heavy security, was met during the visit by a crowd of angry far-rightists who accused him of being an 'anti-Semite' and 'hating Israel.' Police forces were on hand to dispel the demonstrators and to arrest their leaders, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Maezel."
The sooner the Emanuel family gets out of Jerusalem the better. There are few places in the world where President Obama is hated as much as he is in Jerusalem. Why? The combination of racism and the fear that Obama will actually produce an end to the occupation drives rightwing Israelis crazy and East Jerusalem's Jews are predominantly Orthodox settlers.
Now that the Bar Mitzvah is over, the Emanuels should get themselves to liberal secular Tel Aviv, Eilat, Haifa, a kibbutz, or just come home. One last thing: the President should not set foot in Israel so long as Israel's equivalent of the tea party right dominates the culture. If the half-Israeli, all-Jewish chief-of-staff to a President who provides Israel with more aid, by far, than any other country is not safe in Israel in Israel, who is? (Obama himself just approved an extra $200 million in aid; Israel is exempt to all the cuts applied here). The good news is that Rahm now has a hint of the kind of hate Palestinians endure nonstop.
It's time for the real Israelis (secular, liberal, tolerant, progressive) to take their country back. They should start by dumping the current government of fanatics. If they won't, America needs to start tightening the screws. A country cannot claim to be our best ally in the world when our leaders aren't safe there. It's time to re-think this relationship.
I look forward to the day the occupation ends and Israel can again be, what it once was, a strategic and moral asset to America and country of which all Jews can be proud. That is not the case today. Far from it.
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