Is Rahm Emmanuel a good mayor
It is said that Rahm Emanuel once sent a former employee a rotten fish after the two men had parted ways. The unbridled temper of Rahm Emanuel was once more on everyone's lips when he quit his job as White House chief of staff to become mayor of his hometown of Chicago earlier this month. There will be elections on February 22nd, 2011.
Journalists and many Americans are now wondering whether such a renowned person has not already won the election. But it doesn't look like it. Quite a few refuse to support Emanuel because they know him as part of the Obama administration and do not agree with its Israel policy. These people won't vote for him, says Lori B. Sagarin, director of education at the Temple Beth Israel synagogue in Skokie, a suburb north of Chicago. The members of the reform community - there are around 450 households in it - for the most part represent a Zionist, but left-wing, democratic, social-liberal political point of view.
"I have never doubted that Rahm Emanuel is committed to the State of Israel," she says. The former chief of staff comes from a well-known Zionist family in Chicago. His father, Benjamin Emanuel, was born in Jerusalem. Before the founding of the Israeli state he was a member of the Zionist underground organization "Irgun". He later emigrated to the United States and became a very well known pediatrician in Chicago. “He treated a whole generation. People my age always went to Mr. Emanuel, ”says Sagarin.
Family Emanuel's wife, Amy Rule, converted to Judaism prior to marriage. The family is a member of Anshe Sholom Bnai Israel, a modern Orthodox community in Chicago. The couple has three children. Rahm Emanuel himself took part in a program run by the Israeli army for two weeks during the Gulf War in 1991 to help there.
As Emanuel's spokeswoman, Lori Goldberg, told the Chicago Tribune, the former chief of staff is a strong sponsor of Israel. "It is well known that Rahm supports the country." When he represented the state of Illinois in Congress from 2003 to 2009, she emphasized that he had many supporters in the Jewish community. "He will not rest, he will work hard to earn the support of Chicago's Jewish voters," Goldberg said.
Jewish voters will pay attention, for good reasons. When Emanuel became White House Chief of Staff in January 2009, his background fueled the hope that Washington politicians would see Israel as a victim. “This did not happen. Instead, the White House put pressure on Israel to negotiate with terrorists, ”says Cheryl Jacobs Lewin, co-chair of the Chicago branch of the Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI).
Skills But can international politics really influence mayoral elections? Chesky Montrose, 32, who lives on Devon Allee, an area with a large Jewish population, doubts it. Emanuel's chances of being elected mayor depend not only on his position in the White House, but rather on his ability to govern, says Montrose. Even if Emanuel used to be a member of Congress and Chief of Staff, he has never been in such a position of power as that of mayor. Jews, like all other people, have this in mind.
"Unlike his time in Congress, Emanuel's work experience should be judged in light of his role as chief of staff," says Cheryl Jacobs Lewin. He has not yet shown that he can find compromises, but that is necessary for the mayor of a metropolis like Chicago. He is also not a good listener and has not yet demonstrated other leadership qualities that the head of a large city needs, she said.
Principles Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Emanuel's Anshe Sholom Bnai Israel Community in the Lake View district of Chicago passed a milder verdict. He does not agree with the criticism of Rahm Emanuel. He believes that many Jews will vote for him even if they disagree with his policies.
"I think he's a very good manager, a person of principle," Lopatin told the Chicago Jewish News. “If he really could do it, he could do great things. You may think what you want of his politics: He is a principled man who is passionate about his values. He was very popular as a congressman - even among non-Jews. "
Corruption At the moment it looks as if it is not really about Rahm Emanuel's policy on Israel or his ability to govern, but rather about the political reality of Chicago. "We know that there is corruption in the city government," says Sagarin. The father of the current mayor Richard Daley is accused of having given orders for which he was supported in the election campaign. He's not the only one who is said to have such machinations. Former Illinois Governor George Ryan was imprisoned for a period of criminal business and fraud. Former governor Rod Blogojevich was also recently charged with corruption and blackmail attempts.
"It is not yet clear who will rule Chicago," says Sagarin. The city had white mayors for a long time. But now there is not just one Jewish candidate, there are also many African and Latin American candidates. Chicago remains the ultimate melting pot. "We will see how it goes on. One thing is certain: It will be a bumpy ride. "
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