Clinton Criticizes Israeli Democracy Treatment of Women
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned the comments of US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman, who stated on Wednesday that Muslim hatred for Jews stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. He claimed that what some call a growing movement of anti-Semitism 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.
Gutmans comments drew a tepid response from the White House on Saturday, which distanced itself from its envoy, but did not overtly criticize Gutman. We condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms. There is never any justification for prejudice against the Jewish people or Israel, it said in a statement.
At nearly the same time, in remarks at the Saban Conference of the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was harshly critical of Israels supposed drift away from democracy. According to the AP, a senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Clinton’s remarks were considered off the record, confirmed that she expressed concerns about developments in Israel, including the NGO law and recent comments from ultraconservative politicians. The State Department will not release a transcript of Clinton’s remarks.
Taken along with the bizarre opinion expressed by Defense Secretary Panetta that Israel is somehow responsible for the lack of progress towards peace in the region, and the US support for the changes in Arab regimes that have brought forth Islamist dominance of previously pro-American governments, the ZOA is very concerned about the direction of administration policy towards Israel.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, It is unacceptable for a US diplomat appointed by the President to categorize some anti-Semitic acts in Europe as being truly reprehensible, and others as more understandable because they supposedly stem from a hatred of Jews based on the Arab war against Israel and the Jewish people. It is appalling that he makes any excuse or rationale for Muslim anti-Semitism. Muslim anti-Semitism existed before the Jewish State of Israel was reestablished. The fact that he is himself a Jew does not forgive this shameful act. He is wrong on both the situation in Europe today, and on the history. The Ambassador should read The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History (Edited by Andrew G. Bostom Amherst, N. Y. : Prometheus Books, 2008) to learn about the true nature of Islamic hatred of Jews. Ambassador Gutman should be removed from his post without delay.
Daniel Pollak, Co-Director of Government Relations for the ZOA, said, The Ambassadors speech included a pre-emptive apology for disturbing the sensibilities of the mostly Jewish audience. He cited the stabbing of a Belgian Jewish Student by a Moslem school-mate and the case of noted Belgian neurosurgeon, who was forced to sever ties with a university because of anti-Jewish acts. But the good Moslems of Belgium cant be anti-Semitic, we are told, because they gave the Ambassador a standing ovation when he mentioned President Obamas speech to the Islamic world in Cairo. This incredibly naïve political appointee believes that once the Arab-Israeli dispute is solved anti-Jewish sentiment in Belgium would clearly abate. This is not a man who should be representing the United States anywhere.
The comments attributed to Secretary Clinton show a complete misunderstanding of democracy in Israel. Israel is trying to protect itself by limiting foreign governments from funding anti-Israel groups in Israel. In fact, the US has laws that prevent foreign entities from contributing to our political institutions, as well. For Secretary Clinton to note her objection to the local practice of Israeli buses to accommodate the religious concerns of Orthodox Israelis is even more absurd. To compare it to the bigoted segregation of the American South is absurd. Would Hillary Clinton now condemn orthodox synagogues for their separation of men and women during synagogue services and weddings?
These attacks against Israel and Jews by the Administration show a disturbing trend to blame Israel for every issue that emerges. The freedom and democracy enjoyed by women and men in Israel is not enjoyed by people anywhere in the Arab world. Where is Hillary Clintons condemnations of the lack of democracy in the Arab/Muslim world and the appalling treatment of its women? Anti-Semitism by European Muslims has nothing to do with Israel. ZOA demands that the administration make it clear that Israel is our ally, and not a punching bag.