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Activists'' 'Operation Rahm Emanuel' Continues

Activist Itamar Ben-Gvir says the Emanuel family is planning to celebrate in a hall that is not authorized to hold such events.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 5/26/2010, 7:19 PM / Last Update: 5/26/2010, 9:07 PM

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Activist and parliamentary aide Itamar Ben-Gvir is continuing “Operation Rahm Emanuel,” in which he probes the behavior of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who is in Israel for his son's Bar Mitzva. On Wednesday, Ben-Gvir charged that the hall in which the Emanuel family plans to celebrate the Bar Mitzva is not licensed to host such events.

The Emanuel family plans to celebrate in the Davidson Center in the archaeological park in Jerusalem's Old City, according to Ben-Gvir. Ben-Gvir has appealed to the Jerusalem District Court to call on the city of Jerusalem and on East Jerusalem Development Ltd to explain why the Emanuel family was given permission to use the center for a private event.

In addition, he has called to move the Bar Mitzvah to an alternate location. The “basic values of the state of Israel” determine that rules must be followed, even by the White House Chief of Staff, he said. “The principle of rule of law does not allow a Bar Mitzvah to be held in a place not licensed for such events,” he added.

The Davidson Center is next to the Western Wall (Kotel) in the Old City of Jerusalem and houses archaological finds and an auditorium where a film about coming to Jerusalem in Temple times is shown to visitors. The area is one of many in Israel's capital that was under Jordanian control between 1948 and 1967.

The Obama administration has publicly condemned Israel for building Jewish housing in such neighborhoods of Jerusalem, which the Palestinian Authority has demanded as the capital of a future PA state.

Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel, who serve as aides to MK Michael Ben-Ari, wrote to Emanuel in January and suggested that he move the Bar Mitzvah away from the Western Wall, and added, “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.”

The two later explained their demand that Emanuel move the celebration, saying, “A person who hopes to give up the Kotel itself should not be celebrating in Jerusalem.”

Earlier this week, MK Ben-Ari criticized both Emanuel and the Tourism Ministry over reports that a ministry representative was handed the bill for Emanuel and his family after they dined in a non-kosher seafood restaurant in Eilat. The Tourism Ministry denied that it paid the bill, however.