Extremists threats at Rahm Emanuel son's barmitzvah

By Simon Griver, May 21, 2010
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Rahm Emanuel is planning to go to Israel for his son's barmitzvah.

Rahm Emanuel is planning to go to Israel for his son's barmitzvah.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is in discussions with his family about whether to hold the barmitzvah of his son Zack in Israel next week after he received threats from right-wing extremists.

Mr Emanuel had told a conference in Washington last year that he was going to arrange the barmitzvah by the Western Wall in late May. Israel's Foreign Ministry received an enquiry in January from Mr Emanuel's office about the logistics.

However, although the White House has confirmed that the family will be in Jerusalem for a "private visit", it will not confirm that the barmitzvah would be held at the Kotel. Speculation is rife that Mr Emanuel has changed his plans after receiving a threatening letter from Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir, who both have multiple convictions for assault, incitement and supporting terror.

"We promise to greet you as you should be greeted," they wrote, "not with flowers and sweets, but with the booing and repugnance that you represent."

The activists seem to be copying the tactics of the South African Zionist Federation, which last month threatened to disrupt the Johannesburg barmitzvah of the grandson of Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the UN's report on Operation Cast Lead, by demonstrating in front of the synagogue.

Israeli sources have also raised the possibility that the US government has told Mr Emanuel that it would not be appropriate for a senior member of President Barack Obama's administration to hold such a high-profile event in a part of Jerusalem where it does not recognise Israel's sovereignty.

A spokesman for the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz, said, "The Emanuel family is not expected to celebrate a barmitzvah by the Kotel in the next two weeks. However, we cannot rule out an impromptu ceremony."

Last updated: 12:16pm, October 14 2010