(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, found himself under fire Sunday morning for comments he made about the roots of some Muslim anti-Semitism—comments the White House distanced itself from.
Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper, reported Friday that Gutman told a conference that — and this appears to be a paraphrase — “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 told the audience, at a Jewish conference on anti-Semitism organized by the European Jewish Union, that he was sorry in advance if his words were not to their liking.
The newspaper described others at the event as being “visibly stunned by Gutman’s words, and the next speaker offered a scathing rebuttal to the envoy’s remarks.”
Asked to respond to the report, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said, “We condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms and believe there is never any justification for prejudice against the Jewish people or Israel.”
Gutman, a major fundraiser for President Obama’s 2008 campaign, issued a statement saying, “I strongly condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms. 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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