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U.S. won't dismiss official following anti-Semitism comment

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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 07:35 PM
Original message
U.S. won't dismiss official following anti-Semitism comment
The United States won't take action against the American envoy to Belgium over his recent and controversial comments on anti-Semitism, a top U.S. official said on Monday.

The statement was made following a demand by some Jewish groups and others that United States President Barak Obama take action against Howard Gutman, after the latter had told a conference on anti-Semitism organized by the European Jewish Union that Israels political positions serve as an explanation for anti-Semitism amongst Muslims.

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, who is Jewish, reportedly told those gathered, going on to argue that an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism."

His remarks drew criticism from several Jewish organizations that called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to rebuke him. On Sunday, two Republican presidential contenders went further, calling for Gutman's resignation.

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/u-s-won-t-dismiss-o...
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Lionessa Donating Member (842 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 07:51 PM
Response to Original message
1. Finally, something I agree with the administration. Excellent choice,
it's time to quit protecting Israel and those that support it's policies from the truth.
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King_David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 03:26 PM
Response to Reply #1
8. Yea it figures. nt
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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 10:57 PM
Response to Original message
2. Good news. n/t
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King_David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 03:28 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. Agree, they accepted his apology.Good to give the guy a break for apologizing.
:thumbsup:
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 04:51 AM
Response to Original message
3. Well, it's not like he said anything antisemitic...
Pretty stupid for a diplomat to open the can of worms that is antisemitism (unless it's heavily peppered with comments about how antisemitic the Palestinians are, and then it's okay), but diplomats are renowned for wading in boots and all into places where they say things that are clumsily worded and better left alone...
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 05:28 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. No one said that he did - he made a comment about anti-semitism
That statement attributed some anti-semitism to the actions of Israel.

For this statement, he apologized.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-07-11 03:38 AM
Response to Reply #4
20. I know. I wasn't saying he did either...
I was just saying I could understand calls to sack him, kick his arse, etc if he had said something antisemitic. Seeing as how he didn't and he did apologise for what was a clearly ill-thought out and badly worded thing, the Republican calls to sack him are a storm in a teacup...
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 05:31 AM
Response to Original message
5. Don't cave in to the Republicans
Edited on Tue Dec-06-11 05:31 AM by oberliner
Good show, Obama administration.

A "distancing" is all that was necessary here.

Plus he made a statement.
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aranthus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 10:34 AM
Response to Original message
6. Right choice.
This should be a non-issue. The Ambassador apologized; the Administration distanced itself from the comments. This is over.
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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
7. An ambassador smeared
Obama's man in Belgium faces calls for his firing after factual remarks on Israel and anti-Semitism

<snip>

"he 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 Gutmans 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.

Its worth quoting Gutman at length. He did make a distinction between anti-Semitisms, referring to the risk of oversimplifying and of lumping together diverse phenomena.

http://www.salon.com/2011/12/06/an_ambassador_smeared/
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Jefferson23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. Oh no, the author said, Obama's man in Belgium faces calls for his firing after factual remarks
on Israel and anti-Semitism.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 06:18 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. Justin Elliott of "Pinkwashing" fame
What a shocker that this is his take on things.
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Jefferson23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 06:40 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. No, the Israeli government is responsible for pinkwashing fame.
By SARAH SCHULMAN
Published: November 22, 2011

. IN dreams begin responsibilities, wrote Yeats in 1914. These words resonate with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have witnessed dramatic shifts in our relationship to power. After generations of sacrifice and organization, gay people in parts of the world have won protection from discrimination and relationship recognition. But these changes have given rise to a nefarious phenomenon: the co-opting of white gay people by anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim political forces in Western Europe and Israel.

In the Netherlands, some Dutch gay people have been drawn to the messages of Geert Wilders, who inherited many followers of the assassinated anti-immigration gay leader Pim Fortuyn, and whose Party for Freedom is now the countrys third largest political party. In Norway, Anders Behring Breivik, the extremist who massacred 77 people in July, cited Bruce Bawer, a gay American writer critical of Muslim immigration, as an influence. The Guardian reported last year that the racist English Defense League had 115 members in its gay wing. The German Lesbian and Gay Federation has issued statements citing Muslim immigrants as enemies of gay people.

These depictions of immigrants usually Muslims of Arab, South Asian, Turkish or African origin as homophobic fanatics opportunistically ignore the existence of Muslim gays and their allies within their communities. They also render invisible the role that fundamentalist Christians, the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Jews play in perpetuating fear and even hatred of gays. And that cynical message has now spread from its roots in European xenophobia to become a potent tool in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In 2005, with help from American marketing executives, the Israeli government began a marketing campaign, Brand Israel, aimed at men ages 18 to 34. The campaign, as reported by The Jewish Daily Forward, sought to depict Israel as relevant and modern. The government later expanded the marketing plan by harnessing the gay community to reposition its global image.

Last year, the Israeli news site Ynet reported that the Tel Aviv tourism board had begun a campaign of around $90 million to brand the city as an international gay vacation destination. The promotion, which received support from the Tourism Ministry and Israels overseas consulates, includes depictions of young same-sex couples and financing for pro-Israeli movie screenings at lesbian and gay film festivals in the United States. (The government isnt alone; an Israeli pornography producer even shot a film, Men of Israel, on the site of a former Palestinian village.)

This message is being articulated at the highest levels. In May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress that the Middle East was a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted.

The growing global gay movement against the Israeli occupation has named these tactics pinkwashing: a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life. Aeyal Gross, a professor of law at Tel Aviv University, argues that gay rights have essentially become a public-relations tool, even though conservative and especially religious politicians remain fiercely homophobic.

Pinkwashing not only manipulates the hard-won gains of Israels gay community, but it also ignores the existence of Palestinian gay-rights organizations. Homosexuality has been decriminalized in the West Bank since the 1950s, when anti-sodomy laws imposed under British colonial influence were removed from the Jordanian penal code, which Palestinians follow. More important is the emerging Palestinian gay movement with three major organizations: Aswat, Al Qaws and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. These groups are clear that the oppression of Palestinians crosses the boundary of sexuality; as Haneen Maikay, the director of Al Qaws, has said, When you go through a checkpoint it does not matter what the sexuality of the soldier is.

What makes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies so susceptible to pinkwashing and its corollary, the tendency among some white gay people to privilege their racial and religious identity, a phenomenon the theorist Jasbir K. Puar has called homonationalism is the emotional legacy of homophobia. Most gay people have experienced oppression in profound ways in the family; in distorted representations in popular culture; in systematic legal inequality that has only just begun to relent. Increasing gay rights have caused some people of good will to mistakenly judge how advanced a country is by how it responds to homosexuality.

In Israel, gay soldiers and the relative openness of Tel Aviv are incomplete indicators of human rights just as in America, the expansion of gay rights in some states does not offset human rights violations like mass incarceration. The long-sought realization of some rights for some gays should not blind us to the struggles against racism in Europe and the United States, or to the Palestinians insistence on a land to call home.

Sarah Schulman is a professor of humanities at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/23/opinion/pinkwashing-a...
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Sarah and Justin helped get the word out!
Thankfully they are on the watch to make sure Israel doesn't get away with trying to present itself positively with respect to its record on gay rights!
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Jefferson23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 08:29 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. You sound relieved..that's good. n/t
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 09:35 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. It was sarcasm
I don't see Israel promoting it's record with respect to gay rights as something problematic as Sarah and Justin do.

In fact, it's a little startling that they (and a few others) look at it from that perspective.
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Jefferson23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 09:44 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Same here, regarding the sarcasm.
From the OP: This message is being articulated at the highest levels. In May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress that the Middle East was a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted.

Startling Bibi doesn't add to his statement, yea, we just control that small thing called the occupation for 40 years..no biggie.

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King_David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 08:00 PM
Response to Reply #12
14.  Sarah Schulman's article was a buncha shit.
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Crunchy Frog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 09:49 PM
Response to Original message
18. An excerpt from the "offending" speech.
Edited on Tue Dec-06-11 09:55 PM by Crunchy Frog
And since I have come to Belgium, I have made my story well known and it has been well received by all. I have engaged at great lengths with the Jewish communities, giving speeches in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia and even before the World Jewish Congress on Barack Obamas relationship with the Jewish community and the Middle East. The speech, which argues that by becoming credible in the Arab world, President Obama has become Israels best and most valuable friend, is on our website and is available to any who are interested. And I appear regularly at Jewish community events such as memorials, tributes and celebrations.

I have engaged at great length as well with Muslim communities. I have done significant outreach with the largely Moroccan and Turkish communities throughout Belgium -- in Molenbeeck, in Anderlecht, in Hasselt and many other areas. Today alone, I met with leaders of a Flemish nationalist party to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian problem and the effect on the U.S. position with regard to UNESCO and other U.N. organizations, and with the largest mosque in Belgium to talk about the same topic and East-West relations. I host at my Residence an annual Iftar, last September sharing dinner in my ballroom with 180 leaders of the Muslim communities. I have available in fact copies of a column that was written two years ago by the former Mayor of Jeddah,Saudi Arabia, who was then the Saudi Ambassador to Belgium, talking about the advances of the Obama administration in East-West relationships following his participation at one of our Iftars.

And I follow closely and think often about issues of anti-Semitism in Europe. In the past few months, Jacques Brotchi, a Federal Senator and leading neurosurgeon, quit his affiliation with a Brussels university over issues of anti-Semitism and we are in the process of following up on those developments. We have been following up since last week when a Jewish female student was beaten up at a Belgian school by other students spewing racial epithets.

To some extent, I have unique exposure to these issues. And such exposure has left me convinced how complicated and changing this issue is. Generalizations about anti-Semitism in Europe are dangerous indeed always at risk of oversimplifying and of lumping together diverse phenomena.

So lets start the analysis with the clearest and easiest departure point. There is and has long been some amount of anti-Semitism, of 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. That hatred is of course pernicious and it must be combated. We can never take our eye off it or just dismiss it as fringe elements or the work of crazy people, because we have seen in the past how it can foment and grow. And it is that hatred that lawyers like you can work vigilantly to expose, combat and punish, maybe in conjunction with existing human rights groups.

I have not personally seen much of that hatred in Europe, though it rears its ugly head from time to time. I do not have any basis to think it is growing in any sense. But of course, we can never take our eye off of it, and you particularly as lawyers can help with that process.

So in some sense, that is the easy part of the analysis.

Lets turn to the harder and more complex part.

What I do see as growing, as gaining much more attention in the newspapers and among politicians and communities, is a different phenomena. It is the phenomena that led Jacques Brotchi to quit his position on the university committee a couple of months ago and that led to the massive attention last week when the Jewish female student was beaten up. It is the problem within Europe of tension, hatred and sometimes even violence between some members of Muslim communities or Arab immigrant groups and Jews. It is 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.

It too is a serious problem. It too must be discussed and solutions explored. No Jewish student and no Muslim student or student of any heritage or religion should ever feel intimidated on a University campus for their heritage or religion leading to academic leaders quitting in protest. No high school or grammar school Jewish student and no Muslim high school or grammar school student or student of any heritage or religion should be beaten up over their heritage or religion.

But this second problem is in my opinion different in many respects than the classic bigotry hatred against those who are different and against minorities generally -- the type of anti-Semitism that I discussed above. It is more complex and requiring much more thought and analysis. This second form of what is labeled growing anti-Semitism produces strange phenomena and results.

Thus for example, I have been received well by Belgians everywhere in this country. I always get polite applause and sometimes more.

But the longest and loudest ovation I have ever received in Belgium came from the high school with one of the largest percentages of students of Arab heritage. It was in Molenbeek. It consisted of an audience dominated by girls with head scarves and boys named Mohammed, standing and cheering boisterously for a Jewish American, who belongs to two schuls and whose father was a Holocaust survivor. Let me just share a minute or two with you of a video clip from that visit.

These kids were not anti-Semitic as I have ever thought of the term. And I get a similar reaction as I engage with imans, at Iftars, and with Muslims communities throughout Belgium.

And yet, I know and I hear at the same time that the cheering occurs for this Jew, that within that same school and audience at Molenbeek, among those at the same Iftars, and 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 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.

It is I believe this area where community leaders Jewish, Muslim, and third partieswhere diplomats and religious leaders, where lawyers and professionals from both communities, where mothers and fathers, where university leaders and school administrators, can make the most difference by working to limit converting political and military tension in the Middle East into social problems in Europe. But it is the area too both fortunately and unfortunately -- where the largest part of the solution remains in the hands of government leaders in Israel and the Palestinian territories and Arab countries in the Middle East. It is the area where every new settlement announced in Israel, every rocket shot over a border or suicide bomber on a bus, and every retaliatory military strike exacerbates the problem and provides a setback here in Europe for those fighting hatred and bigotry here in Europe.

I said that it is both fortunate and unfortunate that the largest part of the solution for this second type of problem too often lumped under a general banner of anti-Semitism is in the hands of Israel, the Palestinians and Arab neighbors in the Middle East. It is fortunate because it means that, unlike traditional hatred of minorities, a path towards improving and resolving it does at least exist. It is crucial for the Middle East but it is crucial for the Jewish and Arab communities in Europe and for countries around the globe that Mid-East peace negotiations continue, that settlements abate, and that progress towards a lasting peace be made and then such a peace reached in the Middle East. Were a lasting peace in the Middle East to be reached, were joint and cooperative Israeli-Arab attentions turned to focus instead on such serious, common threats such as Iran, this second type of ethnic tension and bigotry here in Europe which is clearly growing today would clearly abate. I can envision the day when it disappears. Peace in the Middle East would indeed equate with a huge reduction of this form of labeled anti-Semitism here in Europe.

It is at the same time somewhat unfortunate that most of the cause and thus most of the solution for tension and hatred in Europe, for growing problems at Belgian universities, for epithets in the streets, rest with governments and people a continent away. For, in some respect, citizens, parents, religious and community leaders here in Europe can simply try to promote understanding and patience, while ensuring law enforcement serves its mission, without being able fully to address the most root causes and most efficient cures.

It is a challenge for us all. I hope it is one you will address in this conference.

Thanks so much and all the best.

http://mondoweiss.net/2011/12/gutman-expresses-regret-o...

His father was a Holocaust survivor,

My father, Gitman Mogilnicki, grew up in a Polish town of Biala Rawska. As the Germans began to pressure the Poles, he left the town to try to join the Resistance. Having been rejected by the Resistance for looking too Jewish and having been gone but a week, he returned to find that the Jewish section of the town no longer existed. He spent the war with a few other escapees in the woods, never being caught, sleeping in dug out graves to avoid the bullets when the Germans fired along the ground, and stealing food in the middle of the night by risking missions to town.


so I doubt very much that he has any natural inclination to downplay the signifigance of anti-semitism.

I didn't see anything in there that I thought was either incorrect or wrong in a moral sense. I thought it was a really good speech, but with too much nuance for those who think in black and white and absolutes.




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King_David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. He apologized for it.
He knew he was wrong.
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