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The borough’s large Jewish community can rest assured that Israel has a good friend in the White House.
So said Rep. Anthony Weiner of his former House of Representatives colleague Rahm Emanuel, who was tapped last week to become President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff.
Emanuel is a son of an Israeli immigrant father who fought to achieve Israeli statehood. He is also an active member of a modern Orthodox synagogue in Chicago.
“He [Emanuel] is a good friend. He’s one of the smartest political guys I know. He knows his way around the executive branch, having worked for President Clinton, and he knows his way around the legislative branch,” Weiner told this newspaper.
“And particularly important to me and many of your readers, he’s one of the staunchest supporters of Israel in all of Congress and it’s good to have that kind of voice so close to the president,” he added.
Weiner said Washington does not have a congressional Jewish caucus, but noted that Emanuel is also friendly with Sen. Chuck Schumer.
“He’s [Emanuel] going to do a great job and will strike the perfect balance with Senator Obama running an outsider campaign, but you do need to know where the levers are in Washington and Rahm Emanuel knows where they are better than anybody,” said Weiner.
Weiner, who last week was elected to Congress for his sixth term with over 90 percent of the vote, also noted that President-elect Obama represents the first time in many years that the administration will come from an urban area.
“Not since John Kennedy have we had a president from a city, so this is going to be a pleasant change,” he said, adding that the change will benefit New York City in that it will become less of a fight to address urban needs.
Weiner’s comments came following a Concerned Citizens of Bensonhurst town hall meeting last week at the St. Finbar community room on Bath Avenue and Bay 20th Street.
At the meeting, Weiner, who has already said he will run against Mayor Bloomberg in 2009, blasted the mayor for legislating for himself an opportunity to run for a third term.
It’s not the role of legislators to go against the will of the people who voted twice in referendums to limit all city office-holders to two terms, maintained Weiner.
“The true measure of leadership is not obtaining it, but giving it up,” he said.
Weiner also blasted Bloomberg for raising city taxes during his administration, and said that the $400 property tax rebate that homeowners will no longer get never really equaled the amount of their tax increases in the first place.
Weiner also promised the organization that he will look into getting them some federal money to stop Bloomberg’s proposed Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station at Shore Parkway and Bay 41st Street.
Weiner said he still supports the Atlantic Yards project and it is needed now more than ever for the jobs and economic development it would create.
However, he also cautioned the deal is in “real dire straights.”
“All I know is what I read,” said Weiner. If Barclay’s [bank] hangs in there, there’s a little money on the table, but it’s very difficult. Everything I’ve read said that it’s not a great time to be doing a great mega development.”
– with Robert Elkin
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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