US backs ambassador after anti-Semitism comments

December 5, 2011 - 3:36 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says it has full confidence in the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, despite comments he made about anti-Semitism that prompted angry responses from Jewish groups and Republicans.

Howard Gutman, who is Jewish and whose father survived the Holocaust, told a European Jewish gathering last week that some hatred of Jews reflected hostility toward Israel's treatment of Palestinians. He said it was different from traditional anti-Semitism.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday that Gutman would remain in his post.

Toner said Gutman spoke as ambassador, yet expressed his own views. He declined to say if the administration disagreed with those views.

The White House on Saturday condemned anti-Semitism in all forms. Gutman did as well.

Jewish groups expressed outrage. Some Republican presidential candidates have demanded Gutman's resignation.