Searching for the elusive Rahm Emanuel

Right-wing activists planning to ambush the White House chief-of-staff.

May 24, 2010 17:34
2 minute read.
Rahm Emanuel with his children Zach, Ilan and Leah

Rahm Emanuel & kids 311. (photo credit: .)


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Right-wing activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir, better-known for their protest marches and raucous demonstrations, have assumed a sleuth-like role in recent days as they try to track down White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel, who, with his entourage, landed in Israel on Friday for a private visit, during which Emanuel’s son and nephew will celebrate their bar mitzvas.

Both Marzel and Ben-Gvir, who consider Emanuel to be at least partially responsible for the Obama administration’s less supportive stance toward Israel, have made clear their desire to heckle the coming-of-age ceremony, particularly if it is held at the Western Wall – which Emanuel has previously hinted he hoped would be the case.

But the chief of staff’s trip has been shrouded in secrecy, with both the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office offering few if any details of its itinerary and remaining especially tight-lipped with regards to the bar mitzvas.

While speculation as to why the trip has been so concealed from the public eye ranges from the threat of right-wing protests to rumors that Emanuel had been quietly asked not to hold the ceremony at the Western Wall – which the Palestinian Authority considers to be located in its future capital – the lack of disclosure has led Marzel and Ben-Gvir to do some snooping of their own.

“We sent some of our people down to Eilat over the weekend to try and look for him,” Ben-Gvir told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “We heard he was staying there, but we weren’t able to locate him. My guess is that he’s using an assumed name.”

An undaunted Ben-Gvir said he and his colleagues’ main goal was not to confront the chief of staff at a Red Sea resort, but to make sure they were on hand if Emanuel did in fact decide to hold the bar mitzvas at the Western Wall.

“We don’t know what day the ceremonies are supposed to take place,” Ben-Gvir said. “But it will have to either be on Monday or Thursday. Those are the days on which the Sefer Torah is read from, and while I don’t know what kind of bar mitzvas they’re planning on having, I’m pretty sure that even Reform Jews hold by that.”

Still, it remains unclear if Emanuel, who is a member of a modern-Orthodox synagogue in Chicago, was still planning to hold the ceremony at the Western Wall.

While it was announced on Sunday that Emanuel was to meet with President Shimon Peres on Thursday, and it was believed that he would then shuttle to a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, rumors also began to surface that the bar mitzvas would be held on Thursday as well, but in a nearby hotel.

Either way, Ben-Gvir said he and fellow activists would be standing by for “further developments.”

“We’re ready,” he said. “And if [Emanuel] wants to come to the Western Wall, we already have people there standing by.”

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