Emails reveal Rahm Emanuel’s talks with Israeli airline
Emails released from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s private account included correspondence with the Israeli airline El Al. The emails revealed that Emanuel proposed to El Al leadership that the airline fly out of Chicago.
Emanuel released approximately 2,700 pages of emails from a personal account as part of a settlement in a lawsuit by the Better Government Association. The mayor also has an open lawsuit from the Chicago Tribune for allegedly violating Illinois’ open record laws by not releasing messages on personal devices that are related to city business.
In an email from 2015, Roey Gilad, then the Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, attached a letter from the CEO of El Al “answering the Mayor’s letter from the 2nd of October.” The email was sent to City of Chicago employees but CC’d Emanuel’’s private email account.
Gilad said in the email that he discussed “this issue” with El Al CEO David Maimon, Governor Mike Pence, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. He also requested that the Mayor call him to discuss the outcome of his talk.
The attached letter brings to light the subject matter of Emanuel’s letter that Maimon was responding to.
“I would like to also thank you for the kind invitation to visit you in Chicago and for taking the time to write to me about your thoughts and reasons why EL AL Israel Airlines should consider Chicago as part of our route network,” the letter read.
Maimon explained that although there are many reasons to fly out of Chicago,the route has viability issues.
“In the past Chicago was high on our list, but unfortunately, since the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, there has been a major change in our commercial relationship whereby those carriers no longer allow EL AL to offer their domestic flights on an EL AL ticket; this change had a significant impact on our analysis of the viability of a route to Chicago,” Maimon wrote.
However, Maimon did not completely write off the possibility of an El Al route to Chicago.
“If there is anything you can do to assist in this realm, we would be able to consider Chicago on the EL AL route map in the future,” the letter read.
Emanuel and Chicago Department of Aviation representatives also met with ”A high level delegation from EL AL Israel Airlines” last July to discuss the possibility of a flight from Chicago to Tel Aviv. El Al currently offers flights from Los Angeles, New York, Newark, and Boston airports.
El Al is the national airline of Israel and is also the airline of choice for many “Birthright” organizations. According to the airline website, El Al flew over 20,000 Birthright participants to Israel in 2016.
Rahm Emanuel and El Al airlines did not respond to PIA’s request for comment.