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Apologizing for Anti-Semitism: A Case Study

10:37 AM, Dec 5, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The entire text of President Obama’s ambassador to Belgium’s remarks on anti-Semitism is a useful case study in the genre of pseudo-sophisticated liberal apologia for Muslim anti-Semitism. Below, Ambassador Howard Gutman says that Israel, the Jewish state, is responsible for a new wave of anti-Semitic beliefs held by Muslims:

Howard Gutman

Ambassador Howard Gutman

"Thinking About Anti-Semitism in Europe 'Conference on Fighting Anti-Semitism in Europe: What is Next?' Speech by Ambassador Howard Gutman on November 30, 2011

"I am delighted and honored to get a chance both to meet all of you and to share some thoughts on the issue of anti-Semitism today in Europe.

"First, a couple of apologies. When I was asked to speak, I did not realize that I would be slated to do an “Opening” or “Welcome.” And the topic today is too important to dally too long with welcomes.

"So welcome. If you are new to Belgium, the frites, chocolate, and beer are terrific and have only the oval waffles called Liege waffles, put no toppings on them, and get them straight from the waffle iron.

"OK. So much for welcomes.

"The second apology is an apology in advance for my not saying what you would expect me to say. You see, the temptation always exists at conferences discussing perceived biases, prejudices, discrimination and even hatred, to cite a couple of anecdotal instances of violence or hatred, sound an alarm, rally a response, take the applause and sit down.

"But to me, the issues are too complex and too much in flux to simply take the easy path. This topic is too important and the time of each of you is too valuable to simply use this meeting as a group opportunity to decry hatred. Of course, we and all well-meaning among the brotherhood of man must decry hatred. But that is just the starting point, not the end of the discussion.

"So I likely will not just say fully what you expected and or maybe hoped to hear. I respect all of you too much to do that.

"But let’s start with some context. Who am I and from what background do I approach these issues?

"My story is not that atypical for the United States – it is in fact right at the core of the American dream. 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.

"He often wondered whether any from the town of Biala Rawska had been taken to camps rather than just having been slaughtered on the spot. But having spent the years after the war searching in vain for even one survivor, he finally concluded that, had the town been taken to camps rather than being killed then and there, surely one person would have survived. There was simply no one left.

"Having searched in vain for both survivors and employment in Warsaw and Berlin until 1950, he decided to come to the United States and start again. But the United States had quotas limiting the number of immigrants from Poland. So my father arranged illegally to purchase a false passport in which he transposed his first and last names, and Gitman Mogilnicki of Biala Rawska Poland became Mosher Gutman first of Danzig and then Max Gutman of the Bronx, New York, and the garment district in the lower East Side of Manhattan.

"Carrying forward with the next-generation-make-good story, I attended public schools. My father died when I was 16, never having discussed the war with me and never having told me even his real name. Upon his death, I went to work after school cleaning tables in a restaurant and through the student loan program, I attended Columbia University and then Harvard Law School. Having finished among the top of my class, I then clerked on our highest court, the United States Supreme Court, an honor given to the top roughly 40 law school graduates a year, I spent two years as a Special Assistant to the Director of the FBI for counterintelligence and counter-terrorism, and 27 years as a lawyer at a leading law firm and as an advisor to government officials and Democratic political candidates for office. I was on the Board of the Washington Hebrew Home for seniors and a member of two different shuls in Washington DC -- a reform shul and an Orthodox shul.

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