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Emanuel with Obama Photo: AP
Emanuel with Obama Photo: AP

Obama's Israeli adviser: Next White House chief of staff?

US Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who served as Clinton's adviser after volunteering for IDF service during Gulf War, may be appointed chief of staff if Democratic presidential candidate wins elections

Orly Azoulay
Published: 11.02.08, 11:25 / Israel News

Israel may earn more White House representation than it bargained for, in the event that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama emerges victorious from the November 4 elections.


Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who has served in the Israel Defense Forces and even speaks a little Hebrew, could be appointed the White House's next chief of staff.


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Chicago-born Emanuel, 49, is currently representing the state of Illinois in the House of Representatives. He is also one of Obama's most trusted advisors, and the presidential candidate has called him a friend as well as a political associate.


Emanuel's father, Benjamin, is an Israeli-born doctor. His mother, Martha, is an American Jew who works for a Chicago civil rights organization. As a child, Emanuel received a Jewish education at a conservative school and spoke Hebrew with his father at home.


When Bill Clinton began his campaign for presidency, he appointed Rahm Emanuel to direct the campaign's finance committee. But Emanuel left when the Gulf War broke out, in order to volunteer in the IDF.


He served in one of Israel's northern bases until the war ended, and upon his return to the US became Clinton's advisor in the White House for almost eight years.


In 2003 Emanuel decided to embark on his own political career, and was elected representative of the state of Illinois. In 2006 he was elected chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and assisted the party in gaining a majority in the House of Representatives.


Emanuel joined the Obama campaign during its dawning stages, after turning down an offer from Bill Clinton asking him to join his wife Hillary's campaign for the Democratic nomination to presidential candidacy.


The congressman's wife, Amy, converted to Judaism a short time before they were married. They have two children, both of whom study at a Jewish school in Chicago.


Obama has already announced that if he becomes the next US president, he would take Emanuel with him to the White House, possibly to serve as chief of staff.


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