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megimoo
08-17-2009, 09:20 AM
As the Obama administration presses Israel to cease settlement expansion as part of a renewed push for a Middle East peace deal—a course of action that many Israelis have interpreted as evidence of the president’s favoritism towards Palestinians—Israelis have increasingly focused their disappointment not on Obama, but rather on his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

An observant Jew with deep ties to Israel, Emanuel is viewed as something of a native son, his rise through the ranks of American politics celebrated by Israelis who reveled in details such as his childhood summers spent in Israel and his volunteer stint during the first Gulf War in an Israeli military program for civilians.

When Emanuel was tapped to be Obama’s chief of staff, a headline in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz kvelled “Obama's first pick: Israeli Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff,” while the Jewish news service JTA went with “Rahm Emanuel: attack dog, policy wonk, committed Jew.”

But in a dramatic emotional shift, Israelis have become increasingly disenchanted with Emanuel, and the disappointment is especially intense on the Israeli right, which supports Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his opposition to Obama’s call for ceasing settlement activity.

Israelis across the political spectrum were skeptical of Obama’s commitment to the Jewish homeland during the presidential campaign but many viewed Emanuel as a guarantor of their interests, the best hope for continuing the U.S. government’s favorable treatment of the Jewish state.

Today, however, widespread unhappiness with their treatment at the hands of the Obama administration has led to feelings of betrayal—and Emanuel is bearing the brunt of it.

Self-hating?

In April, a hard-line Israeli Knesset member, Yaakov Katz, wrote Emanuel accusing him of “condescending” to Israelis and their leaders, and in May delivered a speech from the Knesset floor in which he blasted Obama’s demand that Israel cease settlement building. He also invited Emanuel—whom Katz has called “an Israeli Jew”—to “return to Israel” and to stay in the settlement Katz helped create.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0809/26173.html