Leading Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are demanding that President Barack Obama fire the U.S. ambassador to Belgium following comments the envoy made last week on anti-Semitism, according to the Washington Post
“President Obama must fire his ambassador to Belgium for rationalizing and downplaying anti-Semitism and linking it to Israeli policy toward the Palestinians,” Romney said in a statement Sunday regarding the remarks by ambassador Howard Gutman at a European Jewish Union conference.
Gingrich also demanded Gutman’s resignation over the weekend in a tweet to his followers. “Pres Obama should fire his ambassador to Brussels for being so wrong about anti-Semitism,” Gingrich tweeted, according to the Post.
The Post noted that Gutman, who is Jewish, described two forms of anti-Semitism in his prepared remarks for the conference — one being “classic bigotry” against Jews and another “growing anti-Semitism” due to the failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Throughout the Muslim communities that I visit, and indeed throughout Europe, there is significant anger and resentment and, yes, perhaps sometimes hatred and indeed sometimes an 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,” the Post quoted from Gutman’s prepared remarks.
In response to the criticism of Gutman, the White House issued a statement Saturday saying, “We condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms and believe there is never any justification for prejudice against the Jewish people or Israel.”
Gutman also posted a statement on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Belgium.
“I strongly condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms,” he said. “I deeply regret if my comments were taken the wrong way. My own personal history and that of my family is testimony to the salience of this issue and my continued commitment to combating anti-Semitism.”
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