Daily Israel Report

Obama's Jewish Chief of Staff Directed Rabin-Arafat Handshake

Obama's new Israeli-born Chief of Staff was active in the Oslo negotiations and choreographed the Rabin-Arafat handshake at the White House.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 11/6/2008, 8:07 AM

Rahm Emanuel, President-elect Barack Obama's new Jewish Chief of Staff, was active in the Oslo negotiations and choreographed the Rabin-Arafat handshake at the White House.

"It was an emotional moment for him," according to public relations consultant Richard Mintz, who worked with Emanuel. "He would like nothing more than to participate in another peace agreement signing."
He would like nothing more than to participate in another peace agreement signing.

Israeli media Thursday morning celebrated the appointment of Emanuel, a Chicago, Illinois Jewish Congressman who was born to former Israelis. His father was a member of the Jewish resistance Irgun movement during the British mandate and the Emanuels named him after an Irgun member who died in action. The parents met in Chicago after the older Emanuel moved there from Israel.

The family has three children, all living in the United States, although Emanuel volunteered in Israel during the Gulf War in 1991.

Rahm Emanuel rose in the ranks of the Democratic Party by proving to be an outstanding fundraiser and was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman in 1988. Emanuel impressed Bill Clinton during the 1991 presidential campaign and was appointed the campaign finance director.

Emanuel raised the colossal sum of $72 million, much of the money coming from the Jewish community, and the success catapulted him into becoming a senior advisor to Clinton after he was elected President.