Obama's top IT man

By Geoffrey Paul
January 13, 2009

One of the most powerful positions in US governance is the head of the Federal Communications Commission which, in brief, is in overall control of how America communicates to itself, by radio, TV and broadband internet, as well as its outreach to the world by those means and, of course, satellite. The FCC is necessarily a major component in the planning of Homeland Security and, essentially, can say “yea” or “nay” to any plans within the area of communications. So who heads it, matters. And who will head it in the Obama administration is an old friend of the President-elect from his Harvard Law School days and a man who is not only an all-round legal eagle (he clerked for a well-known federal judge with the wonderful name of Abner J. Mikvah), but also has extensive hands-on experience in the fast-moving world of technology. In addition to that, and it matters to him, he is the son of Holocaust survivors.

Julius Genachowski, according to his cousin Rabbi Menachem Genack, who directs the well-known kashrut supervision organisation of the Orthodox Union (OU) in the US, attended yeshiva through high school and studied in yeshiva in Israel before going to Columbia and then Harvard, where he met Obama. According to Rabbi Genack, Obama and Julius bonded in part because both were outsiders - one a former yeshiva boy and son of immigrants, the other an African American with international roots.

Rabbi Genack writes in his understandably proud blog that not only did the two men attend each other's weddings but that : “Julius tells me Obama has always been able to relate to the Jewish experience because of his own background as well as the African-American experience of slavery and discrimination. Julius knows that part of Obama's agenda is to heal the breach between Jews and blacks and to restore the close ties that existed during the civil rights movement.”

That, after Crown Heights and Farrakhan, would really be something.


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