In an interview on Israeli TV, President Obama said that his middle name — “Hussein” — was one cause of distrust that some Israelis feel toward him.
“Some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion,” the president said.
On the other hand, he also pointed out, his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s middle name is “Israel.”
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports on the interview, which was taped Wednesday and aired today:
During the interview Wednesday, when confronted with the anxiety that some Israelis feel toward him, Obama said that “some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion.”
“Ironically, I’ve got a Chief of Staff named Rahm Israel Emanuel. My top political advisor is somebody who is a descendent of Holocaust survivors. My closeness to the Jewish American community was probably what propelled me to the U.S. Senate,” Obama said.
“I think that sometimes, particularly in the Middle East, there’s the feeling of the friend of my enemy must be my enemy, and the truth of the matter is that my outreach to the Muslim community is designed precisely to reduce the antagonism and the dangers posed by a hostile Muslim world to Israel and to the West,” Obama went on to say.