I've learned that Mayor Rahm Emanuel met Thursday with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak--who is delivering a message from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu--that he is not attempting to interfere in the U.S. elections on behalf of Mitt Romney.
Emanuel spokesman Sarah Hamilton confirmed that the meeting took place in Chicago's City Hall starting at 1:15 p.m. Chicago time and lasting between 45 minutes and an hour. She added that Barak and Emanuel--who often has met with foreign dignitaries who are in Chicago--originally had intended to meet six months ago.
That being said--the Thursday meeting took place as Netanyahu is seen increasingly as making statements that raise questions about Obama's commitment to defending Israel and preventing an Iranian nuclear strike--questions that could hurt Obama with Jewish voters.
Barak, a former Israeli prime minister, is in the U.S. to attend the Clinton Global Initiative and the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.
The Netanyahu camp complained that Obama would not meet with the prime minister while he was in the U.S. Netanyahu's protestations that he was not taking sides in the presidential elections on U.S. Sunday morning shows a few days ago only fueled stories that he favored Romney--an old friend from their days as consultants in Boston.
Emanuel --whose father is an Israeli-American--is a logical conduit. He is the figure in the Obama orbit most familiar to the Israeli government--having served as a front-and-back channel while he was President Barack Obama's chief of staff.
Emanuel earlier this month resigned as a co-chair of the Obama campaign in order to raise money for the SuperPac supporting Obama.