WASHINGTON (JTA) — Fidel Castro speculated as to the origins of Rahm Emanuel’s surname.
"What a strange surname!" begins the column in the Cuban newspaper Gramma penned by the retired and ailing Cuban dictator, and dedicated to musings about U.S. President Barack Obama’s chief of staff.
"It appears Spanish, easy to pronounce, but it’s not. Never in my life have I heard or read about any student or compatriot with that name, among tens of thousands."
Emanuel is a common Christian and Jewish name that appears in Isaiah.
Castro wonders whether the name derives from Immanuel Kant, the philosopher, and he notes that a woman kidnapped in recent years by Colombian rebels gave the name to her child born in captivity.
He then writes that Rahm Emanuel "was born in Chicago on November 29, 1959, the son of a Russian immigrant." In fact, Benjamin Emanuel is an Israeli. Castro also notes that Emanuel’s mother was a civil rights campaigner.
He eventually alludes to Emanuel’s Israeli roots, noting that he volunteered in Israel during the first Gulf War.
"Since that war, the peoples of the Near and Middle East have consumed a fabulous amount of weapons, which the U.S. military-industrial complex launches onto the market," Castro writes.