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Emanuel Calls ADC to Repudiate Negative Comments About Arabs

posted on: Nov 13, 2008


Today, Congressman Rahm Emanuel, recently appointed White House Chief of Staff to President-Elect Barack Obama, called American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) President Mary Rose Oakar to repudiate negative comments about Arabs made by his father Benjamin Emanuel.

In the phone call, Congressman Emanuel said, “From the fullness of my heart, I personally apologize on behalf of my family and me. These are not the values upon which I was raised or those of my family.” During the phone call, Emanuel added, it is unacceptable to make remarks such as these against any ethnic or religious group.
ADC President Mary Rose Oakar said, “We cannot allow Arabs and Muslims to be portrayed in these unacceptable terms. I welcome Rahm’s apology and his pledge to meet with our Community. I also thank our members and friends who expressed concern about this matter.”


Dear Congressman Emanuel:

I am writing to you on behalf of the largest American-Arab Civil Rights group in the United States, with members in every State of the Union, founded in 1980. We work in coalition with all civil rights organizations.

This has been an historic election, one which energized our Country and gave many people the reason to vote for change. I know the Arab-American community was very involved in this presidential election, and voter turnout in the community was exceptionally high. We wish to congratulate you on being named, by President-Elect Obama, White House Chief of Staff. We were, however, deeply disappointed by comments made by your father, Mr. Benjamin Emanuel, on the momentous occasion of your announcement as Chief of Staff. According to numerous news stories in the U.S. and in Israel, he made the following comments in an interview with Ma’ariv, “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.”

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) 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 pledged a respect for the diversity of this Nation, and Arab Americans certainly add, in a positive way, to our Country’s diversity.


Hon. Mary Rose Oakar, ADC President
Kareem Shora, JD. LLM., National Executive Director

Cc; President-Elect Barack Obama