Upon hearing of his son’s new gig, the father of incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was quoted in the Israeli newspaper Ma’Ariv, saying, “Obviously, he’ll influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House.”
This has prompted a letter from American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee heads Kareem Shora and former Rep. Mary Rose Oakar, D-Ohio, to the junior Mr. Emanuel, congratulating him and President-elect Obama, saying they are "deeply disappointed by comments made by your father, Mr. Benjamin Emanuel."
The ADC, they write, "views this characterization of an Arab as an unacceptable smear. One can readily imagine the justifiable outcry if someone made a similar remark about African-Americans, Jews, or Hispanics, concerning cleaning the floors of the White House. Do the normal standards of decency and civility not apply when talking about Arabs? ADC asks you to disavow and repudiate these remarks publicly. We sincerely hope you will distance yourself from any demeaning characterization of any ethnic, religious, or racial group."
President-elect Obama is cc’ed on the letter.
UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Emanuel writes: “Today, Rep. Emanuel called Mary Rose Oakar, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and apologized on behalf of his family and agreed to meet with representatives of the Arab-American community at an appropriate time in the future."