December 5, 2011
The U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, recently told a conference hosted by the European Jewish Union that Israel is to blame for growing anti-Semitism harbored by people of Muslim faith.
“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,” Gutman reportedly said, according to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. “He also argued that an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism.”
According to the account in the Israeli paper, “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.”
In 2009, Obama nominated Gutman, a Washington, D.C. attorney, to be ambassador to Belgium.
UPDATE: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich responds on Twitter: “Pres Obama should fire his ambassador to Brussels for being so wrong about anti-semitism.”