WASHINGTON (JTA) — A major Jewish communal leader is criticizing the Obama administration’s top official dealing with anti-Semitism.
Alan Solow, a longtime backer of President Obama and chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, issued a statement criticizing the U.S. offical, Hannah Rosenthal.
At issue is a report in Ha’aretz stating that Rosenthal criticized Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, who had described the positions of J Street, a dovish pro-Israel group, as "inimical" to Israel’s interests.
Rosenthal, who was on J Street’s board until her appointment earlier this year, reportedly told Ha’aretz that the comments were "most unfortunate."
"As an official of the United States government, it is inappropriate for the anti-Semitism envoy to be expressing her personal views on the positions Ambassador Oren has taken as well as on the subject of who needs to be heard from in the Jewish community," Solow said in his statement, according to Politico. "Such statements have nothing to do with her responsibilities and, based upon comments I am already receiving, could threaten to limit her effectiveness in the area for which she is actually responsible."
Two left-wing members of the Conference of Presidents — Americans for Peace Now and Ameinu — issued statements earlier this month criticizing Oren over his comments about J Street.
The White House is reportedly circulating a statement from a State Department official praising the Israeli ambassador.
Rosenthal, who could not be reached by JTA for comment, reportedly said that the current Arab-Israeli conflict is "unacceptable" and said that American Jewish views across the spectrum, from right to left, "need to be at the table" in considering the need for Israel to make peace. And she cautioned against confusing criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism.
"I do believe that some of the criticism against Israel is anti-Semitism but not all of it is," Rosenthal was quoted as saying in the Ha’aretz interview, which was published Thursday. "And I think that healthy democracies — and Israel is one — have to do self reflection and the world looks at the light unto the nations and says I agree to this policy or I don’t agree — that is not anti-Semitism."
Rosenthal described the United Nations Human Rights Council’s persistent singling out of Israel as "crossing the line" into anti-Semitism. She defined it as "having the U.N. single out Israel for 170 resolutions over the last five years — when everybody knows that Sudan is committing genocide and they have only five resolutions."