RJC Strongly Rebukes Belgium Ambassador's Reported Remarks Linking Israel, Anti-Semitism
Washington, D.C. (December 3, 2011) -- Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matthew Brooks released the following statement in reaction to the reported statement by U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman, that a “distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”
"The remarks reportedly made by President Obama's Ambassador to Belgium are outrageous," Brooks said. "It's no wonder that hearing such a message from this country's representative left an audience of European Jewish leaders 'stunned.'"
Brooks continued, "Unfortunately, this administration's policies of 'daylight' and pressure toward our ally Israel encourage the dangerously misguided tendency to make excuses for anti-Semitic hatred and bigotry.
"The linkage in the ambassador's remarks, blaming Israel for anti-Semitism, is a short step from the linkage that President Obama has expressed several times himself, that Israel is to blame for the unrest and instability in the Middle East. Both forms of linkage are fundamentally wrong.
"Given the importance of the US maintaining its leadership role in the fight against resurgent European anti-Semitism - including in Belgium - it is good that the administration has distanced itself from Ambassador Gutman's remarks. Now, it is essential that the administration address the question of how Gutman can credibly represent our nation in his important post."
The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday that Ambassador Gutman told his audience that "a distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians" and went on to advocate diplomatic concessions by Israel to Arab adversaries as a way to reduce the prevalence of anti-Semitism among Muslims.
According to the same report, “The legal experts at the event were visibly stunned by Gutman’s words, and the next speaker offered a scathing rebuttal to the envoy’s remarks.”
Yedioth Ahronoth went on to report:
Gutman also presented participants with a short video clip showing him received with warm applause at a Muslim school in Brussels. While he did not mention what prompted the warm reception, his message was that this is the kind of welcome given to a Jew who supports President Obama’s policy of openness to Islam... the US envoy was asked whether Obama’s policy did not cause America to lose its influence in the region. Gutman responded by saying that the Arab world appreciates Obama following his speech in Cairo, referring to an address delivered by the president in 2009.
The Weekly Standard today reported that "Gutman was a major fundraiser for President Obama’s 2008 election campaign. He bundled $500,000 for Obama, according to OpenSecrets.org, personally giving at least $2,300 to the campaign."