(AP). The Obama administration says it has full confidence in the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, despite comments he made about anti-Semitism that prompted angry responses from Jewish groups and Republicans.
Howard Gutman, who is Jewish and whose father survived the Holocaust, told a European Jewish gathering last week that some hatred of Jews reflected hostility toward Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. He said it was different from traditional anti-Semitism.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday that Gutman would remain in his post.
Toner said Gutman spoke as ambassador, yet expressed his own views. He declined to say if the administration disagreed with those views.
Alana Goodman reports in the Commentary magazine:
The Republican candidates have been weighing in all day on Belgium Ambassador Howard Gutman’s troubling remarks about anti-Semitism, but Democrats have been conspicuously silent. And it’s not just Democrats on the Hill. I called up the National Jewish Democratic Council to find out whether it would condemn Gutman’s comments. The response from NJDC spokesperson David Streeter: “We have no comment on it.”
A pro-Israel Democrat, appalled at the NJDC’s silence, emails me: “Democrats should speak out and remind Ambassador Gutman that anti-Semitism existed long before the modern State of Israel. There is no room in our party for anyone — including ambassadors — who seek to find excuses for anti-Semitism and the deep hatred among some Muslims for the Jewish people and our country. Supposedly intellectual descriptions and justifications for root causes of bigotry and anti-Semitic violence is neither intellectual nor intelligent.”
I am also getting various emails from Pro Israel advocates that have no party affiliation or are involved in any political campaign, that are expressing outrage on an expression that should not be tolerated by any means, demanding the very least from the Obama administration to fire the ambassador immediately:
"This IS antisemitism, and even incitement....This man needs to go home. Period. Just cause the Republicans look like fools right now, doesn't mean the current administration can get away with this. Or overlook this.."O writes this is an expression of a carefully thought out ideolgy that is being spread behind closed doors:
"..he wasn't being antisemitic as such (in the sense of disguising classical antisemitic tropes like well poisoning or organ harvesting as "anti-Israel criticism" or in the sense of being Judeocentric and having every global ill relate to Israel). But he was (a) apologizing and excusing rank Muslim antisemitism, by saying it was a result of Israeli self-defense campaigns (b) insisting that "old" European antisemitism didn't exist any more, which will be news in those countries like Greece where far right wing antisemites are part of the government and (c) doing both of those in a European forum as the face of the American administration (!!!)
Gutman's statements weren't one-offs. This was the expression of a carefully thought out ideology that he presumably also conveys behind closed doors to his counterparts..."