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Press Release

ADL Says U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Erred in Assessment of Muslim Anti-Semitism

New York, NY, December 5, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said it was disturbed by an assessment of Muslim anti-Semitism in Europe by the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, in which he suggested that the root causes of this anti-Jewish hatred in Europe was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a letter to Ambassador Howard W. Gutman, the League called his November 30 presentation in Brussels to a conference of lawyers organized by the European Jewish Union, "wrongheaded" and said that it "provides an unacceptable rationale for inaction" against anti-Semitism.

This assessment of Muslim anti-Semitism, and your attempt to distinguish it from traditional or classical anti-Semitism, is not only wrongheaded but could undermine the important effort to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe," wrote Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "When one tries to attribute this anti-Semitism to outside forces – in this case the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict – one not only misunderstands the role of anti-Semitism in that conflict, but provides an unacceptable rationale for inaction."

Mr. Foxman added, "Anti-Semitism, indeed Muslim anti-Semitism, was alive and well before the creation of Israel. Indeed, the extreme reaction to an independent Jewish state to this day in the Muslim world is connected to anti-Jewish attitudes that persisted for centuries. If the problem was that the Middle East conflict was coming to Europe, then Europe would be seeing attacks on Muslims by Jews, as well as Muslim attacks on Jews. Of course, there are no attacks by Jews against Muslims."

The League said that while it recognized his effort to provide an analysis of the new forms of anti-Semitism and to grapple with an issue close to his heart, the ambassador needed to "avoid characterizations that contradict efforts by the U.S. to dispel the notion that anti-Semitism could be rationalized in any way as an outlet for frustration with Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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