The U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, has been under fire for saying that Israel is responsible for Muslim anti-Semitism, comments he made last week at a European conference on anti-Semitism.
Audience members, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported, “were visibly stunned by Gutman’s words.” And already Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has called for President Obama to fire Gutman. “Pres Obama should fire his ambassador to Brussels for being so wrong about anti-semitism,” Gingrich tweeted yesterday.
But who is Gutman?
For starters, he was a major fundraiser for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. He bundled at least $500,000 for Obama, according to OpenSecrets.org, and has been a major donor to the Democratic National Committee.
And that is why, after Obama’s election, Gutman was given an ambassadorship, which has traditionally been a way for president’s to thank those who have provided help along the way.
Yet Gutman was just the kind of person candidate Obama seemed to dislike.
For decades, Gutman was a Washington lawyer and lobbyist, seemingly representing just about anyone who would pay him, regardless of his clients’ moral standing. As Hot Air reported, Gutman “was once a lobbyist, but more recently a lawyer whose clientele included Susan L. Rosenberg. Who is she? Rosenberg is a one-time member of the Weather Underground terrorist group who was charged in the notorious 1981 Brink’s robbery that left a guard and two police officers dead. Her pardon was blasted across the political spectrum.”
(Hmm. What is it with Obama and the Weather Underground?)
Additionally, as the Washingtonian reported, Gutman “represented former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada against charges of human-rights abuses.” During this time, Los Tiempos reported, “67 people lost their lives during severe street protests in 2003, whilst Sanchez de Lozada was in power. Sanchez de Lozada and the other two ministers left the country during the unrest.”
In 2008, his last year before taking his government position, Gutman earned a cool $1.8 million.
“I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race — and I’ve won,” then-President elect Obama said after the 2008 election. “I don’t take a dime of their money, and when I am President, they won’t find a job in my White House.”
Gutman’s not in the White House—he’s in Belgium. He also had the good fortune of not being an official lobbyist for a few years before fundraising for Obama, even if he seems to have engaged in lobbying-like activities as a lawyer.
Fortunately for Gutman, even if the White House does the right thing by recalling him from his post, he will find a rich market in Washington for lobbyists willing and eager to blame Israel for the anti-Semitism of the Muslim world.