06 December 2011

"Subtypes of antisemitism"

Excerpts from a column in today's Salon:
The U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, is facing an intense campaign by hard-line pro-Israel voices in the U.S. who want him fired over remarks he made about anti-Semitism late last month.

Gutman, an Obama fundraiser turned ambassador, as well as a Jew and child of a Holocaust survivor, was addressing a Brussels conference devoted to combating anti-Semitism in Europe last month when he launched into a discussion of the relationship between the Israel-Palestine conflict and tensions between Muslims and Jews.

The first thing to note about the Gutman affair – which has now prompted Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, as well as pundits at Commentary and elsewhere to call for his firing – is that the initial reaction was based on a woefully inaccurate account of his remarks.

Gutman was paraphrased by the Israeli news outlet Ynet as saying, “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 clear suggestion is that Gutman was engaging in apologetics for certain forms of Jew hatred.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz then put that line in quotation marks even though no such words had passed Gutman’s lips.  In fact, a reading of his real remarks shows that he explicitly repudiated the idea that any anti-Semitism should be tolerated, rather than condemned...
The article then cites his exact words re "traditional" antisemitism -
... hatred and violence against Jews, from a small sector of the population who hate others who may be different or perceived to be different, largely for the sake of hating. Those anti-Semites are people who hate not only Jews, but Muslims, gays, gypsies, and likely any who can be described as minorities or different...
 - and the more recent version -
...a tension and perhaps hatred largely born of and reflecting the tension between Israel, the Palestinian Territories and neighboring Arab states in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem...
The Salon article continues with additional analysis of his comments and the reactions of the politicians and analysts in the media, concluding that -
...the Gutman affair is more about driving a particular narrative about tensions between the Obama administration and Israel than it is about any supposedly controversial remarks.


  1. And this is noteworthy? Isn't that the be-all and end-all of the current crop of Republicans: Discredit Obama in any way they can, and the truth be damned.

    PS: The captcha starts with my initials.

  2. Of course the irony is that the Palestinians are a Semitic people too. Thus, Israel could be said to have an anti-Semitic foreign policy.

  3. "The Israeli newspaper Haaretz then put that line in quotation marks even though no such words had passed Gutman’s lips."

    That's a common ploy used by people who are keen to find anti-semitic sentiment. It helps to promote the "victim" status of certain minority groups.

  4. This sort of reminds me of what the other side of the aisle did to Lawrence Summers when he was at Harvard, although in this case there is more outright misquoting.

    A few things to point out here: (1) most people decide their opinions on matters based on their first impressions especially when it fits their narrative, and (2) people in government are not magically immune from (1). Isn't that an awesome thought ...

  5. Other things never uttered...
    I can see Russia from my house.

    Just because she didn't say it, doesn't mean she's not stupid.

  6. He should go, what he said is nonsensical, dumb and uninformed.


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