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Obama’s choice for chief of staff puts ‘Israel’s man in White House’

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Agence France Presse
Friday 7th November, 2008

CHICAGO: After the euphoria of his historic election win, Barack Obama got down Thursday to choosing a presidential team that faces a mountain of problems, not least the economic crisis and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democrat dodged the limelight after being elected America’s first black president, but behind-the-scenes activity picked up with the formal creation of a team to handle his transition to power ahead of the January 20 inauguration.

In an immediate reminder of the mammoth task ahead, the Dow Jones share average plummeted nearly 500 points Wednesday on resurgent fears of a deep recession. This was followed by large sell-offs and a raft of negative financial data in Asia and Europe.

Democrats said Obama had asked combative Congressman and former Bill Clinton White House aide Rahm Emanuel, 48, to be his chief of staff, a vital post that helps set the tempo of the administration.

Israeli media on Thursday hailed Barack Obama’s choice of Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff, with one daily calling the Democrat of Israeli descent “our man in the White House.”

Radio stations and newspapers pointed out Emanuel’s Jerusalem-born father was once a member of Irgun, an ultra-nationalist Jewish terror group behind such slaughters of civilians as the bombing of the King David hotel which killed 92 people in 1946.

Emanuel himself volunteered to serve in the Israeli Army and did a two-month stint at a base in northern Israel during the 1991 Gulf war, public radio reported.

“It is obvious he will exert influence on the president to be pro-Israeli,” Emanuel’s father, who moved to the US in the 1960s, told the Maariv daily.

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The newspaper headlined the article: “Our man in the White House.”

While Clinton, the last Democrat in the White House, took weeks to announce his Cabinet, Obama does not have the luxury of time as more than a trillion dollars is dispensed to bail out Wall Street.

Obama has hinted at possible names to take over as treasury secretary.

He noted to CNN last week that his economic advisers include Clinton’s last Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, 53, as well as former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker, 81, and mega-rich investor Warren Buffett, 78.

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This article was posted: Friday, November 7, 2008 at 5:29 am

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