Forward Thinking

U.S. Envoy 'Blames' Israel for Bias (Echoing IDF)

By J.J. Goldberg

getty images
Howard Gutman

The long knives are out for another Jewish liberal who committed the sin of stating the uncomfortably obvious truth about the causal effect between Israeli policy and Muslim anti-Semitism.

It’s a truth that has been studied by Israeli security experts and acknowledged by Israeli governments, but it runs counter to the right-wing doctrine that Israeli policy and action exist in a vacuum and Muslims are only pretending to be enraged.

The latest to run afoul of the truth police is the American ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman. As reported in Friday’s Yediot Ahronot and posted on Ynet the next day, Gutman was addressing a group of European Jewish lawyers gathered November 30 to discuss anti-Semitism. In his remarks, posted in full on the website of the European Jewish Union, he drew a distinction between “classic bigotry” directed against Jews for being Jews—which his own father experienced as a Polish Holocaust survivors—and a newer form of Jew-hatred that is a spillover from the Israeli-Arab conflict and can therefore be mitigated by reducing Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

… there is significant anger and resentment and, yes, perhaps sometimes hatred and indeed sometimes and all too growing intimidation and violence directed at Jews generally as a result of the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories and other Arab neighbors in the Middle East.

This is a complex problem indeed. It requires its own analysis and solutions. And the analysis I submit is not served simply by lumping the problem with past instances of anti-Jewish beliefs and actions or those that exist today among minority haters under a uniform banner of “anti-Semitism.”

Predictably, partisan Republicans are jumping all over it, claiming it reflects President Obama’s supposed dislike of Israel, accusing Gutman of “blaming Israel for anti-Semitism” and calling for him to be fired (first out of the box: the Republican Jewish Coalition here, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and his Emergency Committee for Israel here, as well as Gingrich and Romney here).

In fact, the Israeli Defense Ministry and IDF have been studying the same question that Gutman addresses - European anti-Semitism as a spillover from the Mideast conflict - for the better part of a decade. And drawing more radical conclusions than Gutman did.

Read more



Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.