- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DEFENDing An AMBASSADOR

The Obama administration is defending the U.S. ambassador to Belgium and ignoring calls from many Jewish-American leaders to denounce the envoy for remarks they see as blaming Israel for anti-Semitism among European Muslims.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner this week said the administration has “full confidence” in Ambassador Howard Gutman, a political appointee and top campaign fundraiser for President Obama in 2008.

White House spokesman Jay Carney denounced anti-Semitism and referred to a statement the ambassador issued on Sunday, expressing “regrets” that his remarks were “misinterpreted.”

In a speech last week to the European Jewish Union in Brussels, Mr. Gutman, who is Jewish, linked anti-Semitism among Muslims in Europe to failure in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He also drew a distinction between “classic bigotry” against Jews and anti-Zionism against Israel.

Mr. Gutman said he found “significant anger and resentment” throughout Muslim communities in Europe against Jews “generally as a result of the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories … .”

American Jewish leaders demanded that the administration go further than issue a general condemnation of discrimination against Jews.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to “immediately rebuke Gutman for excusing Muslim hatred of Jews.”

The center’s director, Rabbi Marvin Hier, and Associate Director Abraham Cooper denounced Mr. Gutman’s “twisted logic” as “beyond shocking.”

“America has always taken the lead in condemning hate in all its manifestations, not providing a moral free pass to extremists whose hatred of Jews besmirches the Muslim religion and has spawned violent hatred against Jews across the Middle East and beyond,” they said.

Doris Wise Montrose, president of the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, accused the Obama administration of finding “something new to blame on Israel.”

“Ambassador Gutman’s wild theories are particularly troubling, given the ongoing campaign by the White House to undermine Israel,” she said.

“Everyone is baffled by why President Obama would again and again pressure Israel, while letting the Palestinians literally get away with murder … .”

Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said Mr. Gutman’s comments reflect a broader lack of support for Israel in the Obama administration.

“This continues to show the hostility of the administration to Jews in Israel and its misplaced sympathy for Muslims and radical Muslims,” he said.

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