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(photo credit: Courtesy)
US President Barack Obama has appointed Sam Kaplan, an American Jew, as ambassador to Morocco.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Kaplan, a Minneapolis attorney, was a key fundraiser for Obama's 2008 election campaign. A career diplomat, Kaplan is a political appointment.
Israeli diplomatic officials did not attribute a great deal of significance to the appointment of a Jew to an Arab capital, saying the precedent was set during the Bill Clinton administration, when Clinton appointed Marc Ginsberg as the US envoy to Morocco in 1994, and Dan Kurtzer as ambassador to Egypt in 1998.
Furthermore, the officials said, the appointment was not likely to raise any eyebrows in Morocco, both because Morocco already had a Jewish US ambassador in the past, and because Moroccan King Muhammad VI had appointed a prominent Jewish leader, Serge Berdugo, as an ambassador-at-large. Muhammad also has a Jewish adviser, Andre Azoulay.
According to the Star-Tribune, Kaplan and his wife, Sylvia, have long been major financers and players in the Democratic Party in Minnesota. The paper wrote that they raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for the Obama election effort, ranking them among the campaign's top 500 "cash bundlers," according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They were also among the biggest Minnesota fundraisers for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee for president.