Ali Abunimah is correct to say — in reference to the racist remarks by Benjamin Emanuel, Rahm’s father — that “sons are not responsible for the racism of their fathers.” But Abunimah is also correct to expect Emanuel to distance himself from those remarks, as he has been asked to do by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
As Abunimah notes, Benjamin Emanuel was a member of Irgun, “the pre-state Jewish militia that carried out terrorist attacks on Palestinians and the British in the 1940s.” You may have noticed that National Review and Commentary have not been digging into the extremist past of the Emanuel family the way that they obsessively scrutinized every bit of information about Barack Obama’s other “extremist associations.” This is because these conservative organs don’t really consider political violence on behalf of causes of which they approve to be terrorism.
I do not suggest that Rahm Emanuel deserves to be judged on anything other than his own words and accomplishments, but I don’t think many would disagree that, were he the son of a former Arab Palestinian extremist, rather than a former Jewish Israeli extremist, he simply wouldn’t have been considered for the position of White House chief of staff, or probably have been able to make much of a political career at all.
This is because of the double standard that applies to the discussion of the Israel-Palestine conflict in the U.S. Americans identify much more closely with Israel than they do with the Palestinians, and thus tend to treat negative information about the former as exceptional, and negative information about the latter as the rule. Leaving aside why this is the case, the fact is that it places certain strictures on U.S. policy options, and create serious consequences both for the U.S.’s reputation and for the situation on the ground for Palestinians. Read more