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Rahm Emanuel to Israel for Bar Mitzvah

Obama aide Rahm Emanuel will visit Israel this week for his son's bar mitzvah. Nationalists may deter Western Wall celebration.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 5/17/2010, 12:52 PM / Last Update: 5/17/2010, 4:02 PM

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White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will head to Israel this week for his son's Bar Mitzvah celebration. The celebration may be moved from the Kotel (Western Wall) to an alternate location due to concerns that the ceremony might draw protests.

In January, activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir, who serve as parliamentary aides to MK Michael Ben-Ari, wrote to Emanuel and suggested he avoid celebrating at the Kotel.

The two accused Emanuel of working against the Jewish People, and said, “We will take care to remind you during the length of your stay in Israel that the State of Israel will continue to exist no matter how much it angers you. We survived Pharaoh, and we will survive you and Obama as well.”

Upon hearing this week that Emanuel is likely to move the celebration, the two replied, “Emanuel has made the right decision... A person who hopes to give up the Kotel itself should not be celebrating in Jerusalem.”

"In any case, we feel for Emanuel's son, and we want to make it clear that we have nothing against his son. We will send his son a letter offering to tour Jewish heritage sites together... We'll take him to the Kotel and even pay for a jeep tour,” they added.

Emanuel aroused anger in January when he reportedly told Israel's consul-general in Los Angeles, Yaakov Dayan, that America is “fed up with you Israelis.” His harsh approach led to concerns that he was driving away President Obama's Jewish supporters.

Last week, he took a more conciliatory approach, telling a group of rabbis that the Obama administration had “screwed up the messaging” when it came to support for Israel. Obama does support Israel, he said, advising the rabbis to “watch what the administration does.”