Saturday, November 8, 2008

Obama's Rahm

The appointment of Congressman Rahm Emanuel as President Elect Obama’s chief of staff made headlines in the Arab media. His Israeli roots were emphasized and his service in a civilian capacity in Israel during the first Iraq war was noted. This raises the issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Obama and Mr. Emanuel, as to the Arab-Israeli conflict, deserve the benefit of the doubt.

In an interview in the weekend November 8-9 Wall Street Journal Mr. Emanuel told Mr. Jason L. Riley

“I think the country is incredibly pragmatic” “Pragmatic and progressive. But you still have to mix and match different objectives. You have to be flexible.” “I don’t think the country is yearning for an ideological answer.”

When speaking about policy change, he did not mention the Arab-Israeli politics. The elections, he noted, provided “clear directions” to change health policy and energy policy. On energy- “to change an energy policy that has been exporting $700 billion of our wealth to countries overseas.”

This is good. The man does not think ideologically- he values pragmatism. And when he talked about energy policy he did not do what others have commonly done-link oil exclusively to Arab countries (leaving Canada, Mexico and Venezuela who are key exporters of oil to the US) and to terrorism.

This is a reasonable man who would help move along the peace process.

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